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Charles I of Austria

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Charles V Emperor

Charles (1500 - 1558) was the Holy Roman Emperor, King of Spain, Naples, and Italy, regent of Belgica Regia, and Archduke of Austria and the Austrian Domain. Charles is most commonly styled "Charles V" as Emperor, but he is also known as "Charles I" in Austria and Spain. Charles' reign is notable for the first documented usages of "His Majesty" and "His Imperial Magesty".

Early lifeEdit

Charles was the son of Philip the Handsome, the son of Emperor Maximilian I, and Joanna the Mad of Castile. He was born in Ghent, County of Flandria, Belgium, on 24 February 1500. Charles grew up in Malines, Duchy of Brabantia, Belgium, until the age of 17 (during the Middle Ages, you were an adult at the age of 15!) in 1517, and was tutored by the later Pope Hadrian IV. During his childhood Charles made frequent visits to Paris. He succeeded his father in the Burgundian possessions, i.e. Belgica Regia and Burgundy, after his father's death in 1506, although his aunt Margaret of Austria acted as his regent until he came of age in 1515. In 1516 following the death of his grandfather King Ferdinand II the Catholic, Charles inherited Aragon, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, and Navarre, and the guardian of his insane mother and became the regent of Castile, Granada and Spanish America. When his other grandfather Emperor Maximilian died in 1519, Charles inherited his possessions in Austria and was elected the Holy Roman Emperor on 28 June 1519. On 10 March 1526 he married Isabella of Portugal, the sister of King John III.

ReignEdit

In SpainEdit

Charles arrived in Spain in 1517, and he spent of the rest of his life there. On his first arrival he came to meet his regent Jiménez de Cisneros however Jiménez fell sick and died along the way, and it was suspected Charles had him poisoned. The Spanish were uneasy with his Imperial style and foreign upbringing. Prior to his reign, the kings in Spain were bound by laws under contract with the people. Charles established himself as an absolute ruler, although he did not legally become the king of Castile until his mother died in 1555. It was not long before resistance to his reign developed, due largely to heavy taxation to finance overseas wars the Spanish had no interest in and his preference in appointing Belgian people to high positions in the country despite qualified natives. The resistance culminated in the Castilian War of the Communities which Charles crushed, and Castile then became integrated into the Habsburg domain and supplied a large portion of its money and troops.

In Belgica RegiaEdit

Charles was in his minority when he succeeded his father in the Burgundian possessions in 1506, so his aunt Margaret of Austria was his regent. Margaret ruled the territories well and was an effective mediatary between the Emperor and the Burgundian subjects. She negotiated a treaty of commerce with England favourable to the famous Belgian clothmakers, and participated in the creation of the League of Cambrai in 1508. When Charles came of age in 1515 he rebelled against her influence, but soon came to realize her abilities, and he left her as regent intermittently from 1519 until her death in 1530.

Belgica Regia and in particular Belgium was favored by Charles, not only because it was his native country, but also because Belgium was economically thriving and one of the most attractive and important regions in Europe in general. It was Charles who introduced the Lion (with a sward) as the symbol for Belgium, in 1515. His successors would follow the tradition and use different symbols for other lands they conquered.

The Completion of Belgica Regia and the emergence of Holland Edit

In order to try and prevent Protestantism from developing in the County of Holland, in 1522 he established an inquisition. Charles expanded Belgica Regia through the annexation of Utrecht, Groningen, and Gelders. As many of the territories were fiefs of either France or the Empire, he instituted the Pragmatic Sanction of 1549 which declared Belgica Regia to be a separate domain and his family would be its heirs. Political dissention was fiercely controlled, and in 1550 the death penalty was made mandatory for heresy.

In the AmericasEdit

The territories of New Spain were greatly enlarged in Charles' reign through the brutal conquest of the Aztec and Incan Empires by the conquistadors. The conquests greatly increased Charles personal wealth, and in 1522 with the circumnavigation of the world he developed the belief that he was to rule the entire Christian world.

In GermanyEdit

Ruling his many lands proved a great challenge to Charles, and he increasingly granted more duties and responsibilities on his brother Ferdinand while he focused on other parts of his domain. In 1521 he called Martin Luther to the Diet of Worms, and dismissed his ideas of Reformation as a dispute between monks. In 1531 the Schmalkaldic League was formed between the Protestant rulers and cities of Germany which agreed to defend each other in case of attack from the Emperor. The Counter-Reformation was initiated in 1545 after the Council of Trent, and Charles gained to his side many princes of the empire. In 1547 he defeated the League, and in 1555 he initiated the Peace of Augsburg to try and curb religious fighting.

Later lifeEdit

In 1556 Charles abdicated his various positions and retired to the monastery in Yuste, Spain, although he kept himself informed on the affairs of the empire. The Holy Roman Empire and Austria were passed to his brother Ferdinand, and Spain and Italy were passed to his son Philip. Charles died of gout on 21 September 1558.



Preceded by:

Charles I

Succeeded by:

Maximilian I Holy Roman Emperor
1519 - 1558
Ferdinand I
Maximilian I King of Germany
1519 - 1558
Ferdinand I
Ferdinand II the Catholic King of Aragon
1516 - 1556
King of Spain
1556 - 1558
Philip II
Joanna the Mad King of Castile
1555 - 1556
Ferdinand III the Catholic King of Naples and Sicily
1516 - 1554
Philip I
Maximilian I Archduke of Austria
1519 - 1520
Ferdinand I
Maximilian I Duke of Carinthia
1519 - 1521
Ferdinand I
Maximilian I Duke of Styria
1519 - 1521
Ferdinand I
Francis II Sforza Duke of Milan
1535 - 1540
Philip I
Maximilian I Margrave of Carniola
1519 - 1521
Ferdinand I
Maximilian I Count of the Tyrol
1519 - 1521
Ferdinand I

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