From martin luther"s death in 1546 until the middle of the seventeenth century, european life was dominated by religiously and politically inspired violence. Europe engaged in almost a century of slaughter before religion ceased to be the primary motive or excuse for warfare. France descended into nearly 50 years of civil war before emerging with a united monarchy under the terms of the edict of nantes in 1598. War reached levels of human destruction higher than any previously experienced. Spain escaped civil strife and remained firmly catholic. The country"s unparalleled wealth, drawn from its american empire, gave spain enormous political leverage in european affairs. Philip ii"s long 40-year reign at the end of the fifteenth century forged spain"s all-powerful position during this era. superpower status, spain suffered defeat of its armada naval fleet at the hands of the english, who unlike the french managed to avoid civil war under the inspired leadership of queen elizabeth.