Charles V (24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558) was Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria from 1519 to 1556, King of Spain ( Castile and Aragon) from 1516 to 1556, and Lord of the Netherlands as titular Duke of Burgundy from 1506 to 1555.
Sep 17, 2021 · Charles V, (born February 24, 1500, Ghent, Flanders [now in Belgium]—died September 21, 1558, San Jerónimo de Yuste, Spain), Holy Roman emperor (1519–56), king of Spain (as Charles I; 1516–56), and archduke of Austria (as Charles I; 1519–21), who inherited a Spanish and Habsburg empire extending across Europe from Spain and the Netherlands to Austria and the Kingdom of Naples and reaching overseas to Spanish America.
Charles V1500–1558King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor. C harles V became the most powerful monarch of his day, ruling over an empire that included what is now Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, parts of Italy and central Europe, and large areas in the Americas. He spent much of his reign trying to reform the Roman Catholic Church and fighting the two greatest threats to its power: Islam and Protestantism.
Charles V, King of Spain as Charles I, was to reign together with his mother, Joanna of Castile. Lucas Cranach the Elder. Portrait of Charles V, 1533. In Spain this assumption of the royal title was regarded as a breach of custom, and caused comment and discontent. Castile and Aragon were separated by long traditions of hostility, despite their union under Ferdinand and Isabella.
Spain and the Politics of Charles V/Carlos V (ruled 1516-56). When Isabella and Ferdinand , heirs respectively to the crowns of Castile and Aragon (which included Catalonia, the kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Sardinia), married in 1469, they laid the foundations of Spain’s Golden Age.
- The Succession to Spain
- Charles Causes Problems
- The Revolt of The Comuneros 1520-1
- The Rise of The Holy League
- Rural Rebellion and Failure
- The Germania
- Charles Returns
Charles inherited the Spanish Empire in 1516; this included peninsular Spain, Naples, several islands in the Mediterranean and large tracts of America. Although Charles had a clear right to inherit, the manner in which he did so caused upset: in 1516 Charles became regent of the Spanish Empire on his mentally ill mother’s behalf. Just a few months later, with his mother still alive, Charles declared himself king.
The manner of Charles’ rise to the throne caused upset, with some Spaniards wishing for his mother to remain in power; others supported Charles’ infant brother as heir. On the other hand, there were many who flocked to the court of the new king. Charles caused more problems in the manner in which he initially governed the kingdom: some feared he was inexperienced, and some Spaniards feared Charles would focus on his other lands, such as those he stood to inherit from Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian. These fears were exacerbated by the time it took Charles to put aside his other business and travel to Spain for the very first time: eighteen months. Charles caused other, much more tangible, problems when he arrived in 1517. He promised a gathering of towns called the Cortes that he wouldn’t appoint foreigners to important positions; he then issued letters naturalizing certain foreigners and appointed them to important positions. Furthermore, having been granted a large subsidy to the cr...
During the years 1520 - 21, Spain experienced a major rebellion within its Castilian kingdom, an uprising that has been described as "the largest urban revolt in early modern Europe." (Bonney, The European Dynastic States, Longman, 1991, p. 414) Although certainly true, this statement obscures a later, but still significant, rural component. There is still debate on how close the revolt came to succeeding, but this rebellion of Castilian towns - who formed their own local councils, or 'communes' - included a true mix of contemporary mismanagement, historical rivalry, and political self-interest. Charles wasn’t completely to blame, as pressure had grown over the last half-century when towns felt themselves increasingly losing power versus the nobility and the crown.
Riots against Charles had begun before he had even left Spain in 1520, and as the riots spread, towns began rejecting his government and forming their own: councils called comuneros. In June 1520, as nobles remained quiet, hoping to profit from the chaos, the comuneros met and formed themselves together in the Santa Junta (Holy League). Charles’ regent sent an army to deal with the rebellion, but this lost the propaganda war when it started a fire that gutted Medina del Campo. More towns then joined the Santa Junta. As the rebellion spread in the north of Spain, the Santa Junta initially tried to get Charles V’s mother, the old queen, on their side for support. When this failed, the Santa Junta sent a list of demands to Charles, a list intended to keep him king and moderate his actions and make him more Spanish. The demands included Charles returning to Spain and giving the Cortes a much greater role in government.
As the rebellion grew larger, cracks appeared in the alliance of towns as each had their own agenda. The pressure of supplying troops also began to tell. The rebellion spread into the countryside, where people directed their violence against the nobility as well as the king. This was a mistake, as the nobles who had been content to let the revolt carry on now reacted against the new threat. It was the nobles who exploited Charles to negotiate a settlement and a noble led army which crushed the comuneros in battle. The revolt was effectively over after the Santa Junta was defeated in battle at Villalar in April 1521, although pockets remained until early 1522. The reaction of Charles wasn’t harsh given the standards of the day, and the towns kept many of their privileges. However, the Cortes was never to gain any further power and became a glorified bank for the king.
Charles faced another rebellion which occurred at the same time as the Comunero Revolt, in a smaller and less financially important region of Spain. This was the Germania, born out of a militia created to fight Barbary pirates, a council which wanted to create a Venice like city-state, and class anger as much as a dislike of Charles. The rebellion was crushed by the nobility without much crown help.
Charles returned to Spain in 1522 to find royal power restored. Over the next few years, he worked to change the relationship between himself and the Spaniards, learning Castilian, marrying an Iberian woman and calling Spain the heart of his empire. The towns were bowed and could be reminded of what they had done if ever they opposed Charles, and the nobles had fought their way to a closer relationship with him.
- Death and legacy
Charles V (Spanish: Carlos; French: Charles; German: Karl; Dutch: Karel; Italian: Carlo) (24 February 1500 21 September 1558) was ruler of both the Spanish Empire from 1516 and the Holy Roman Empire from 1519, as well as of Habsburg Netherlands from 1506. He voluntarily stepped down from these and other positions by a series of abdications between 1554 and 1556. Through inheritance, he brought together under his rule extensive territories in western, central, and southern Europe, and the Spanish colonies in the Americas and Asia. As a result, his domains spanned nearly four million square kilometers and were the first to be described as \\"the empire on which the sun never sets\\".
Charles was the heir of three of Europe's leading dynasties: the Houses of Valois-Burgundy (Netherlands), Habsburg (Holy Roman Empire), and Trastámara (Spain). He inherited the Burgundian Netherlands and the Franche-Comté as heir of the House of Valois-Burgundy. From his own dynasty, the Habsburgs, he inherited Austria and other lands in central Europe. He was also elected to succeed his Habsburg grandfather, Maximilian I, as Holy Roman Emperor, a title held by the Habsburgs since 1440. From the Spanish House of Trastámara, he inherited the crowns of Castile, which was in the process of developing a nascent empire in the Americas and Asia, and Aragon, which included a Mediterranean empire extending to Southern Italy. Charles was the first king to rule Castile and Aragon simultaneously in his own right, and as a result he is sometimes referred to as the first King of Spain. The personal union, under Charles, of the Holy Roman Empire with the Spanish Empire resulted in the closest Europe would come to a universal monarchy since the death of Louis the Pious.
Because of widespread fears that his vast inheritance would lead to the realization of a universal monarchy and that he was trying to create a European hegemony, Charles was the object of hostility from many enemies. His reign was dominated by war, and particularly by three major simultaneous conflicts: the Habsburg-Valois Wars with France, the struggle to halt the Ottoman advance, and the Protestant Reformation resulting in conflict with the German princes. The wars with France, mainly fought in Italy, resulted in recovery of territory lost at the beginning of his reign and included the decisive defeat and capture of Francis I of France at the Battle of Pavia in 1525. France recovered and the wars continued for the remainder of Charles's reign. Enormously expensive, they led to the development of the first modern professional army in Europe, the Tercios. The struggle with the Ottoman Empire was fought in Hungary and the Mediterranean. After seizing most of eastern and central Hungary in 1526, the Ottomans advance was halted at their failed Siege of Vienna in 1529. A lengthy war of attrition, conducted on his behalf by his younger brother Ferdinand, continued for the rest of Charles's reign. In the Mediterranean, although there were some successes, Charles was unable to prevent the Ottomans increasing naval dominance and the piratical activity of the Barbary Corsairs. Charles opposed the Reformation and in Germany he was in conflict with the Protestant Princes of the Schmalkaldic League who were motivated by both religious and political opposition to him. He could not prevent the spread of Protestantism and although he won a decisive victory against the Princes at the Battle of Mühlberg, 1547, he was ultimately forced to concede the Peace of Augsburg of 1555, which divided Germany on confessional lines. Due to the irregularity of Charles assuming the royal title while his mother, the legitimate queen, was alive, the negotiations with the Castilian Cortes in Valladolid (1518) proved difficult. In the end Charles was accepted under the following conditions: he would learn to speak Castilian; he would not appoint foreigners; he was prohibited from taking precious metals from Castile; and he would respect the rights of his mother, Queen Joanna. The Cortes paid homage to him in Valladolid in February 1518. After this, Charles departed to the crown of Aragon. He managed to overcome the resistance of the Aragonese Cortes and Catalan Corts, and he was finally recognized as king of Aragon and count of Barcelona jointly with his mother. The Kingdom of Navarre had been invaded by Ferdinand of Aragon jointly with Castile in 1512, but he pledged a formal oath to respect the kingdom. On Charles's accession to the Spanish throne, the Parliament of Navarre (Cortes) required him to attend the coronation ceremony (to become Charles IV of Navarre), but this demand fell on deaf ears, and the Parliament kept piling up grievances. During Charles's reign, the Spanish territories in the Americas were considerably extended by conquistadores like Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro. They conquered the large Aztec and Inca empires and incorporated them into the Empire as the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru between 1519 and 1542. Combined with the circumnavigation of the globe by the Magellan expedition in 1522, these successes convinced Charles of his divine mission to become the leader of Christendom, which still perceived a significant threat from Islam. The conquests also helped solidify Charles's rule by providing the state treasury with enormous amounts of bullion. As the conquistador Bernal Díaz del Castillo observed, \\"We came to serve God and his Majesty, to give light to those in darkness, and also to acquire that wealth which most men covet.\\" After the death of his paternal grandfather, Maximilian, in 1519, Charles inherited the Habsburg Monarchy. He was also the natural candidate of the electors to succeed his grandfather as Holy Roman Emperor. He defeated the candidacies of Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, Francis I of France, and Henry VIII of England. The electors gave Charles the crown on 28 June 1519. In 1530, he was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Clement VII in Bologna, the last emperor to receive a papal coronation. Despite holding the imperial throne, Charles's real authority was limited by the German princes. They gained a strong foothold in the Empire's territories, and Charles was determined not to let this happen in the Netherlands. An inquisition was established as early as 1522. In 1550, the death penalty was introduced for all cases of unrepentant heresy. Political dissent was also firmly controlled, most notably in his place of birth, where Charles, assisted by the Duke of Alba, personally suppressed the Revolt of Ghent in mid-February 1540. Charles abdicated as emperor in 1556 in favor of his brother Ferdinand; however, due to lengthy debate and bureaucratic procedure, the Imperial Diet did not accept the abdication (and thus make it legally valid) until 24 February 1558. Up to that date, Charles continued to use the title of emperor. Much of Charles's reign was taken up by conflicts with France, which found itself encircled by Charles's empire while it still maintained ambitions in Italy. In 1520, Charles visited England, where his aunt, Catherine of Aragon, urged her husband, Henry VIII, to ally himself with the emperor. In 1508 Charles was nominated by Henry VII to the Order of the Garter. His Garter stall plate survives in Saint George's Chapel. In 1545, the opening of the Council of Trent began the Counter-Reformation, and Charles won to the Catholic cause some of the princes of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1546 (the year of Luther's natural death), he outlawed the Schmalkaldic League (which had occupied the territory of another prince). He drove the League's troops out of southern Germany and at the Battle of Mühlberg defeated John Frederick, Elector of Saxony and imprisoned Philip of Hesse in 1547. At the Augsburg Interim in 1548 he created a solution giving certain allowances to Protestants until the Council of Trent would restore unity. However, Catholics mostly resented the Interim and some actively opposed it. Protestant princes, in alliance with Henry II of France, rebelled against Charles in 1555, which caused Charles to retreat to the Netherlands.
While Charles did not typically concern himself with rebellions, he was quick to put down three particularly dangerous rebellions in the vital territories of Castile, the Frisian lands, and later in his reign in the port city of Ghent. Once the rebellions were quelled the essential Castilian and Burgundian territories remained mostly loyal to Charles throughout his rule.
Charles was only 56 when he abdicated, but after 34 years of energetic rule he was physically exhausted and sought the peace of a monastery, where he died at the age of 58. Upon Charless abdications, the Holy Roman Empire was inherited by his younger brother Ferdinand, who had already been given the Austrian lands in 1521. The Spanish Empire, including the possessions in the Netherlands and Italy, was inherited by Charless son Philip II. The two empires would remain allies until the 18th century.
From his Burgundian ancestors he inherited an ambiguous relationship with the Kings of France. Charles shared with France his mother tongue and many cultural forms. In his youth he made frequent visits to Paris, then the largest city of Western Europe. In his words: \\"Paris is not a city, but a universe\\" (Lutetia non urbs, sed orbis). He was betrothed to both Louise and Charlotte of Valois, daughters of King Francis I of France, but they both died in childhood. Charles also inherited the tradition of political and dynastic enmity between the royal and the Burgundian ducal lines of the Valois dynasty. Charles was very attached to the Burgundian Low Countries where he had been raised. These lands were very rich and contributed significantly to the wealth of the Empire. He also spent much time there, mainly at Brussels. This stands in contrast with the attitude of his son Philip who only visited the Low Countries once.
Charles V's European territories. Red represents the Crown of Aragon, magenta the Crown of Castile, orange his Burgundian inheritances, mustard yellow his Austrian inheritances, and pale yellow the balance of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1506, Charles inherited his father's Burgundian territories, most notably the Low Countries and Franche-Comté. Most of the holdings were fiefs of the German Kingdom (part of the Holy Roman Empire), except his birthplace of Flanders, which was still a French fief, a last remnant of what had been a powerful player in the Hundred Years' War. As he was a minor, his aunt Margaret of Austria (born as Archduchess of Austria and in both her marriages as the Dowager Princess of Asturias and Dowager Duchess of Savoy) acted as regent, as appointed by Emperor Maximilian until 1515. She soon found herself at war with France over the question of Charles' requirement to pay homage to the French king for Flanders, as his father had done. The outcome was that France relinquished its ancient claim on Flanders in 1528.
From 1515 to 1523, Charles's government in the Netherlands also had to contend with the rebellion of Frisian peasants (led by Pier Gerlofs Donia and Wijard Jelckama). The rebels were initially successful but after a series of defeats, the remaining leaders were captured and decapitated in 1523. Charles extended the Burgundian territory with the annexation of Tournai, Artois, Utrecht, Groningen and Guelders. The Seventeen Provinces had been unified by Charles's Burgundian ancestors, but nominally were fiefs of either France or the Holy Roman Empire. In 1549, Charles issued a Pragmatic Sanction, declaring the Low Countries to be a unified entity of which his family would be the heirs.
The Low Countries held an important place in the Empire. For Charles V personally they were his home, the region where he was born and spent his childhood. Because of trade and industry and the wealth of the region's cities, the Low Countries also represented an important income for the Imperial treasury.
In the Castilian Cortes of Valladolid in 1506 and of Madrid in 1510, Charles was sworn as the Prince of Asturias, heir-apparent to his mother the Queen Joanna. On the other hand, in 1502, the Aragonese Corts gathered in Saragossa and pledged an oath to Joanna as heiress-presumptive, but the Archbishop of Saragossa expressed firmly that this oath could not establish jurisprudence, that is to say, modify the right of the succession, except by virtue of a formal agreement between the Cortes and the King. So, upon the death of King Ferdinand II of Aragon, on 23 January 1516, Joanna inherited the Crown of Aragon, which consisted of Catalonia, Valencia, Naples, Sicily and Sardinia, while Charles became Governor General. Nevertheless, the Flemings wished Charles to assume the royal title, and this was supported by his grandfather the emperor Maximilian I and Pope Leo X. Thus, after the celebration of Ferdinand II's obsequies on 14 March 1516, Charles was proclaimed king of the crowns of Castile and Aragon jointly with his mother. Finally, when the Castilian regent Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros accepted the fait accompli, he acceded to Charles's desire to be proclaimed king and imposed his enstatement throughout the kingdom.[ Charles arrived in his new kingdoms in autumn of 1517. Jiménez de Cisneros came to meet him but fell ill along the way, not without a suspicion of poison, and he died before meeting the King.
Charles was accepted as sovereign, even though the Spanish felt uneasy with the Imperial style. Spanish kingdoms varied in their traditions. Castile was an authoritarian kingdom, where the monarch's own will easily overrode law and the Cortes. By contrast, in the kingdoms of the crown of Aragon, and especially in the Pyrenean kingdom of Navarre, law prevailed, and the monarchy was a contract with the people. This became an inconvenience and a matter of dispute for Charles V and later kings, since realm-specific traditions limited their absolute power. With Charles, government became more absolute, even though until his mother's death in 1555 Charles did not hold the full kingship of the country.
Soon resistance to the Emperor arose because of heavy taxation to support foreign wars in which Castilians had little interest, and because Charles tended to select Flemings for high offices in Spain and America, ignoring Castilian candidates. The resistance culminated in the Revolt of the Comuneros, which Charles suppressed. Immediately after crushing the Castilian revolt, Charles was confronted again with the hot issue of Navarre when King Henry II attempted to reconquer the kingdom. Main military operations lasted until 1524, when Hondarribia surrendered to Charles's forces, but frequent cross-border clashes in the western Pyrenees only stopped in 1528 (Treaties of Madrid and Cambrai).
After these events, Navarre remained a matter of domestic and international litigation still for a century (a French dynastic claim to the throne did not end until the French Revolution in 1789). Castile became integrated into Charles's empire, and provided the bulk of the empire's financial resources as well as its most effective military units. The enormous budget deficit accumulated during Charles's reign resulted in Spain declaring bankruptcy during the reign of Philip II. When he was released, however, Francis had the Parliament of Paris denounce the treaty because it had been signed under duress. France then joined the League of Cognac that Pope Clement VII had formed with Henry VIII of England, the Venetians, the Florentines, and the Milanese to resist imperial domination of Italy. In the ensuing war, Charles's sack of Rome (1527) and virtual imprisonment of Pope Clement VII in 1527 prevented the Pope from annulling the marriage of Henry VIII of England and Charles's aunt Catherine of Aragon, so Henry eventually broke with Rome, thus leading to the English Reformation. In other respects, the war was inconclusive. In the Treaty of Cambrai (1529), called the \\"Ladies' Peace\\" because it was negotiated between Charles's aunt and Francis' mother, Francis renounced his claims in Italy but retained control of Burgundy. A third war erupted in 1535. Following the death of the last Sforza Duke of Milan, Charles installed his son Philip in the duchy, despite Francis's claims on it. This war too was inconclusive. Francis failed to conquer Milan, but he succeeded in conquering most of the lands of Charles's ally, the Duke of Savoy, including his capital Turin. A truce at Nice in 1538 on the basis of uti possidetis ended the war but lasted only a short time. War resumed in 1542, with Francis now allied with Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I and Charles once again allied with Henry VIII. Despite the conquest of Nice by a Franco-Ottoman fleet, the French remained unable to advance into Juarez, while a joint Anglo-Imperial invasion of northern France, led by Charles himself, won some successes but was ultimately abandoned, leading to another peace and restoration of the status quo ante bellum in 1544.
The Crown of Aragon inherited by Charles included the Kingdom of Naples, the Kingdom of Sicily and the Kingdom of Sardinia. Aragon also previously controlled the Duchy of Milan, but a year before Charles ascended to the throne, it was annexed by France after the Battle of Marignano in 1515. Charles succeeded in re-capturing Milan in 1522, when Imperial troops defeated the Franco-Swiss army at Bicocca. Yet in 1524 Francis I of France retook the initiative, crossing into Lombardy where Milan, along with a number of other cities, once again fell to his attack. Pavia alone held out, and on 24 February 1525 (Charles's twenty-fifth birthday), Charles's Spanish forces captured Francis and crushed his army in the Battle of Pavia, yet again retaking Milan and Lombardy. Spain successfully held on to all of its Italian territories, though they were invaded again on multiple occasions during the Italian Wars.
In 1528 Charles assigned a concession in Venezuela Province to Bartholomeus V. Welser, in compensation for his inability to repay debts owed. The concession, known as Klein-Venedig (little Venice), was revoked in 1546. In 1550, Charles convened a conference at Valladolid in order to consider the morality of the force used against the indigenous populations of the New World, which included figures such as Bartolomé de las Casas. Charles V is credited with the first idea of constructing an American Isthmus canal in Panama as early as 1520.
The first war with Charles's great nemesis Francis I of France began in 1521. Charles allied with England and Pope Leo X against the French and the Venetians, and was highly successful, driving the French out of Milan and defeating and capturing Francis at the Battle of Pavia in 1525. To gain his freedom, the French king was forced to cede Burgundy to Charles in the Treaty of Madrid, as well as renouncing his support of Henry II's claim over Navarre. In 1536 Francis I of France allied himself with Suleiman against Charles. While Francis was persuaded to sign a peace treaty in 1538, he again allied himself with the Ottomans in 1542 in a Franco-Ottoman alliance. In 1543 Charles allied himself with Henry VIII and forced Francis to sign the Truce of Crépy-en-Laonnois. Later, in 1547, Charles signed a humiliating treaty with the Ottomans to gain himself some respite from the huge expenses of their war. Charles V made overtures to the Safavid Empire to open a second front against the Ottomans, in an attempt at creating a Habsburg-Persian alliance. Contacts were positive, but rendered difficult by enormous distances. In effect, however, the Safavids did enter in conflict with the Ottoman Empire in the Ottoman-Safavid War, forcing it to split its military resources.
Suleiman won the contest for mastery of the Mediterranean, in spite of Spanish victories such as the conquest of Tunis in 1535. The regular Ottoman fleet came to dominate the Eastern Mediterranean after its victories at Preveza in 1538 and Djerba in 1560 (shortly after Charles's death), which severely decimated the Spanish marine arm. At the same time, the Muslim Barbary corsairs, acting under the general authority and supervision of the sultan, regularly devastated the Spanish and Italian coasts, crippling Spanish trade and chipping at the foundations of Habsburg power.