Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor


Charles V of Habsburg (Ghent, February 24, 1500 – Cuacos de Yuste, September 21, 1558) was Emperor of the Holy Roman German Empire and Archduke of Austria from 1519, King of Spain (Castile and Aragon) from 1516, and Prince of the Netherlands as Duke of Burgundy from 1506 .

At the head of the House of Habsburg during the first half of the 16th century, he was the sovereign of an “empire on which the sun never set” which included in Europe the Netherlands, Spain and southern Aragonese Italy, the Austrian territories, the Holy Roman Empire extended over Germany and northern Italy, as well as the vast Castilian colonies and a German colony in the Americas.

Born in 1500 in Ghent, Flanders, to Philip the Fair (son of Maximilian I of Austria and Mary of Burgundy) and Joan the Mad (daughter of Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon), Charles inherited all the family possessions at a young age, given the mental illness of his mother and the early death of his father. At the age of six, after the death of Philip, he became duke of Burgundy and therefore prince of the Netherlands (Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg). Ten years later he became king of Spain, also coming into possession of the Castilian West Indies, and the Aragonese kingdoms of Sardinia, Naples and Sicily. At the age of nineteen he became Archduke of Austria as head of the House of Habsburg, and as a result, thanks to his Austrian heritage, he was designated Emperor of the Germanic-Italian complex (Holy Roman Empire) by the seven electoral princes.

Benefiting from the ambitious Austrian dynastic policy, Charles V resumed the project of the medieval emperors and set himself the goal of uniting a large part of Europe in a universal Christian monarchy. To this end he set up a vast army consisting of German lansquenets, Spanish tercios, Burgundian knights, and Italian commanders. To support the enormous cost of his troops, Charles V used the silver from the conquests conducted against the Aztecs and Incas by Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro and sought other sources of wealth by entrusting the Welsers with the search for the legendary El Dorado. Even greater were the tax revenues guaranteed by the economic power of the Netherlands.

In line with his universalistic design, Charles V traveled continuously throughout his life without settling in a single capital. He encountered three major obstacles in his path, all of which threatened imperial authority in Germany and Italy: the Kingdom of France, hostile to Austria and surrounded by the Carolingian possessions of Burgundy, Spain and the Empire; the nascent Protestant Reformation, supported by the Lutheran princes; and the expansion of the Ottoman Empire to the eastern and Mediterranean borders of the Habsburg dominions.

Appointed Defensor Ecclesiae by Pope Leo X, Charles promoted the Diet of Worms (1521) which banned Martin Luther, who was however saved by the Protestant princes. In the same year, a military conflict broke out with Francis I of France, which ended with the capture of the latter in the battle of Pavia in 1525. The shelved Lutheran question exploded again in 1527, when troops of Germanic mercenaries of Protestant faith stationed in Italy defected, descended on the Papal States and sacked Rome. Either because he had liberated Lombardy from the French or because he had caused the imperial troops to withdraw from the papal state, Charles V was awarded the iron crown of Italy by Pope Clement VII at the Congress of Bologna in 1530.

Between 1529 and 1535 Charles V faced the Islamic threat, first defending Vienna from the Turkish siege and then defeating the Ottomans in North Africa and conquering Tunis. However, these successes were thwarted in the 1940s by the unsuccessful Algiers expedition and the loss of Budapest. Meanwhile, Charles V had come to an agreement with Pope Paul III to initiate the Council of Trent (1545). The refusal of the Lutheran League of Smalcalda to take part in it provoked a war, which ended in 1547 with the capture of the Protestant princes. When things seemed to be going well for Charles V, Henry II of France guaranteed support to the rebellious princes, feeding again the Lutheran disagreements, and came to terms with Suleiman the Magnificent, sultan of the Ottoman Empire and enemy of the Habsburgs since 1520.

Faced with the prospect of an alliance between all his disparate enemies, Charles V abdicated in 1556 and divided the Habsburg Empire between his son Philip II of Spain (who got Spain, the Netherlands, the Two Sicilies, as well as the American colonies) and his brother Ferdinand I of Austria (who received Austria, Croatia, Bohemia, Hungary, and the title of emperor). The Duchy of Milan and the Netherlands were left in a personal union to the King of Spain, but continued to be part of the Holy Roman Empire. Charles V retired in 1557 to Spain to the monastery of Yuste, where he died a year later, having abandoned the dream of universal empire in the face of the prospect of religious pluralism and the emergence of national monarchies.

Charles was the son of Philip “the Fair”, son in turn of Emperor Maximilian I of Austria and Mary of Burgundy, heir to the vast estates of the Dukes of Burgundy. His mother was Joan of Castile and Aragon, known as “the Mad”, daughter of the Catholic King Ferdinand II of Aragon and his wife Isabella of Castile. By virtue of these exceptional ancestors, Charles was able to inherit a vast empire, which was constantly expanding and extended over three continents (Europe, Africa and America). In his veins, in fact, flowed blood of the most disparate nationalities: Austrian, German, Spanish, French, Polish, Italian and English.

Through his father he descended in fact, in addition to the Habsburgs, who had ruled over Austria for three centuries and the Germanic Empire for almost 100 years, also from the Polish Piast family, from the branch of the Dukes of Masovia, through his great-great-grandmother Cimburga of Masovia (and this lineage left him with an evident physical defect: the well-known “Habsburg chin”). Cimburga”s husband, the Duke of Styria Ernesto il Ferreo, was instead son of Verde Visconti and this made Carlo a direct descendant of the Visconti of Milan and therefore a legitimate pretender to the Duchy of Milan. Through his grandmother Maria, Duchess of Burgundy, he descended instead from the kings of France of the House of Valois, direct descendants of Hugh Capet, founder of the Capetian dynasty. From the Burgundian line Charles also boasted as ancestors the Dukes of Brabant, heirs of the last Carolingian prince, Charles I of Lorraine, a direct descendant of the founder of the Holy Roman Empire.

His mother Joan, on the other hand, brought him the descendants of the great Castilian and Aragonese house of Trastámara. They, in turn, had combined in their coat of arms the heritage of the ancient Iberian families of Barcelona, the first kings of Aragon, León, Castile and Navarra, descendants of the ancient kings of Asturias, of Visigothic origin. The kings of Aragon were also descendants of the Hohenstaufen through Constance, daughter of King Manfred; this fact allowed Charles (who was thus descended from Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, known as the “Stupor Mundi”), to inherit the kingdoms of Naples and Sicily. Finally, two of his great-great-granddaughters on his maternal side were Catherine and Philippa of Lancaster, both daughters of John of Ghent, cadet son of Edward III Plantagenet, King of England.

1500-1520: from birth to the coronation of Aquisgrana

On October 21, 1496, Maximilian I of Habsburg, archduke of Austria, as well as emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, through a shrewd “matrimonial policy”, made his son and heir to the throne, Philip, called “the handsome”, take in wife Joan of Castile, younger daughter of the Catholic sovereigns of Spain Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. The two moved in 1499 from Brussels to the ancient capital Ghent, located in the County of Flanders, where on February 24, 1500 Charles was born.

In addition to Charles, five other children were born to the couple. Eleanor, the eldest, married first Emanuel I of Aviz, king of Portugal and then Francis I of Valois-Angoulême, king of France. After him, in succession, were born: Isabella who married Cristiano II of Oldenburg, king of Denmark; Ferdinand who married Anna Jagellone of Hungary, starting a new Austrian branch of the Habsburgs; Maria who married Luigi II of Hungary and Bohemia and finally Caterina who married Giovanni III of Aviz, king of Portugal.

Charles would soon become the most powerful ruler in the world. The only male son of the maternal grandparents had already disappeared in 1497, leaving no heirs. Immediately afterwards their eldest daughter also died and in the same year 1500 the only son of the latter, Michael of Peace, who would inherit Castile of Aragon and Portugal, also died. Therefore, in the year 1504, with the death of Queen Isabel, her daughter Joan, mother of Charles, became the heir of all the properties of Castile and Charles himself became, in turn, potential heir.

At the death of his father on September 25, 1506, Maximilian in a short time found in Charles” aunt, Archduchess Margherita of Habsburg, the new regent, appointed governor of the Netherlands in 1507. His mother Joan was struck by alleged madness and found herself unable to govern, therefore the regency of Castile was assumed by his father Ferdinand the Catholic. Because of this infirmity, Joan of Castile became commonly known as “Joan the Mad”. Charles found himself at the age of six years to be the potential heir not only of Castile, but also of Austria and Burgundy, by his paternal grandparents, as his grandfather Maximilian of Habsburg had married Mary of Burgundy, the last heir of the Dukes of Burgundy.

Charles was educated by Robert de Gand, Adrian Wiele, Juan de Anchieta, Luis Cabeza de Vaca and Charles de Poupet lord of Chaulx. His tutor was in 1507 Adriaan Florensz of Utrecht, at that time dean of St. Peter”s and vice-chancellor of the university, the future Pope Adrian VI. From 1509 his tutor was Guillaume de Croÿ, Lord of Chièvres. The entire education of the young prince took place in Flanders and was cloaked in Flemish culture and French, despite his Austro-Hispanic birth. He practiced fencing, was a skilled horseman and an expert in tournaments, but his health was precarious and he suffered from epilepsy in his youth. On January 5, 1515, in the Hall of States of the Palace of Brussels, Charles was declared of age and was proclaimed the new Duke of Burgundy. He was then accompanied by a small council of which Guillaume de Croy, Hadrian of Utrecht and the Grand Chancellor Jean de Sauvage were part, while the court at that time was large and required substantial funding.

At the time of the coronation of Francis I of France, the king invited Charles as duke of Burgundy to the celebration party; he sent in his place Henry of Nassau and Michel de Sempy, who also dealt with state affairs: in particular they discussed a possible marriage between Charles and Renata of France (the second daughter of Louis XII of France and Anne of Brittany). Ferdinand II of Aragon would have wanted as heir the infant Ferdinand, younger brother of Charles, for this reason Adriano of Utrecht was sent to Spain with diplomatic intentions. On January 23, 1516 his maternal grandfather King Ferdinand of Aragon died.

Charles, when he was only sixteen years old, also inherited the throne of Aragon, concentrating in his hands the whole of Spain, for which he could boast the title of King of Spain to all intents and purposes, taking the name of Charles I.

On March 14, 1516 there was the official proclamation. As for the real heir to the throne of Castile, mother Joan, because of her recognized mental illness, had to give up her effective powers to her son Charles, even though from a dynastic point of view she was queen until her death in 1555. In 1516 Erasmus of Rotterdam accepted the position of counselor of Charles I of Spain; he, in a letter sent to Tommaso Moro, was rather perplexed about the real intellectual capacities of the prince who, although he became king of Spain, was of French mother tongue, and learned Spanish only later and in a superficial way. Once he inherited the throne of Spain, Charles needed to be recognized as king by his subjects, because, although having as ancestors the Castilian-Aragonese sovereigns, he was still a Habsburg. The request made in this sense on March 21, 1516 was refused.

At the time Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, archbishop of Toledo, was regent of Castile, the archbishop of Zaragoza regent of Aragon, and Adrian of Utrecht was regent sent by Charles. Charles hesitated while Jimenez had to deal with Sicilian unrest (culminating in the flight of viceroy Hugo de Moncada) and renegades Aruj Barbarossa and Khayr al-Dīn Barbarossa. It came to the Treaty of Noyon, which established the marriage between Charles and Madame Louise, the daughter of Francis I, but such agreements aroused Spanish indignation. Negotiations with England were left to the diplomacy of James of Luxemburg who managed to make a favorable agreement. In the meantime his sister Eleanor had reached the age of 18 and Charles was planning a diplomatic marriage, but the woman was in love and corresponded by Count Palatine Frederick. The correspondence between the two was discovered while the girl was destined to the king of Portugal.

The 8 September Charles left from Flessinga with forty ships towards the Spanish coasts: the journey lasted 10 days. After a long journey on the mainland they met his brother Ferdinand and arrived in the city of Valladolid. The news of Jiménez”s death arrived on November 8. Charles sent his brother to their aunt Margaret while he tried to ingratiate himself with the people with a tournament that was suspended by himself for the brutality with which they dueled. At that time he had on his shield the motto Nondum (not yet). Summoned the Cortes of Castile at the end of 1517, he was finally recognized as king in February 1518 while the Cortes advanced 88 requests among which that the sovereign spoke Spanish. On March 22 he left the city for Zaragoza, where he faced with difficulty the Cortes of Aragon, so that he remained in the city for several months.

Meanwhile, the Grand Chancellor Jean de Sauvage died on June 7, 1518; he was succeeded by Mercurino Arborio di Gattinara, while negotiations continued with the Cortes of Catalonia, convened in Barcelona, where Charles remained for most of 1519, until his sovereignty was recognized. One of the acts of the king before leaving Spain was to support the arming and formation of a league against Muslim pirates who infested the Spanish and European coasts and made navigation in the Mediterranean dangerous.

Later, he had to go to Austria to collect the Habsburg inheritance as well. On January 12, 1519, in fact, with the death of his paternal grandfather Maximilian I, Charles, who had already been king of Spain for three years, competed for the imperial succession. The other pretenders were Henry VIII of England and Francis I. The emperor was elected by seven electors: the archbishops of Mainz, Cologne and Trier, and the lay lords of Bohemia, the Palatinate, Saxony and Brandenburg.

On this occasion, in order to finance the offer and pay the electors, Charles was supported by the bankers Fugger of Augsburg, in the person of Jacob II, while Cardinal Thomas Wolsey committed himself to Henry VIII. The election was resolved when it became clear the position of Pope Leo X, who had in the person of Frederick the Wise of Saxony the successor; he declined the offer in favor of Charles. Charles was elected by the electors with a unanimous vote, and at the age of nineteen he ascended to the throne of Austria, taking possession of the Burgundian inheritance of his paternal grandmother. In the same year, precisely on June 28, 1519, in the city of Frankfurt, he was elected Emperor of the S.R.I. Charles was crowned King of the Romans by the Archbishop of Cologne on October 23, 1520 in Aachen Cathedral. Charles of Ghent, at the head of the S.R.I., would take the name Charles V and as such went down in history.

In detail, the possessions of Charles V were composed as follows:

1520-1530: from the coronation of Aachen to the coronation of Bologna

The premature disappearance of all the male descendants of the Castilian-Aragonese dynasty, together with the premature death of his father Philip “the beautiful” and the infirmity of his mother Joan of Castile, meant that Charles V, at the age of only 19 years, was the owner of an “empire” as vast as had never been seen before, not even at the time of Charlemagne. On October 20, 1517 the navigator Ferdinand Magellan arrived in Seville, managing to be heard by Charles V on March 22, 1518; the emperor signed the contract with which he financed the enterprise of the explorer. Charles removed every obstacle that the navigator met.

Magellan left and during the whole journey he was very grateful to the Emperor, his devotion can be observed even in his last days of life: in April 1521, in the island of Sebu or Cebu, he removed the pagan name of the king, Humabon, to call him Charles and to his wife he gave the name Joan. Magellan died in the voyage where he discovered the strait that will bear his name and in his place returned Juan Sebastian del Cano September 8, 1522 on the Victoria. The English wanted a visit from him, and on May 27, 1520 he arrived in Canterbury, which led to the alliance of May 29, and a promise of a new meeting for details on June 11. When this took place, there was talk of marriage between Charles and an Englishwoman. There was also talk of the purchase of the Duchy of Württemberg, which came about thanks in part to the support of Zevenbergen, who became its governor.

Warned by Juan Manuel some time earlier in 1520 he was faced with the problem of Martin Luther. The two met at the Diet of Worms in April 1521; the monk had been summoned a few months earlier. On April 17 Charles V sat on the throne attending the diet. On the agenda there was the problem related to the monk. Johannes Eck started the interrogation, the day after he was interrupted twice by Charles V because of his language. It was the emperor himself to write the declaration made the next day where he condemned Luther, but with the safe-conduct provided he granted him the return to Wittenberg. The diet ended on May 25, 1521.

Contrary to what commonly happened in those times, Charles contracted only one marriage, on March 11, 1526 with his cousin Isabella of Portugal (1503 – 1539) by whom he had six children. He also had seven natural children. Charles V also inherited from his paternal grandmother the title of Duke of Burgundy, which had been held, for a few years, by his father Philip. As duke of Burgundy he was vassal of the king of France, as Burgundy was a territory belonging, since a long time, to the French crown. Moreover, the dukes of Burgundy, his ancestors, belonged to a cadet branch of the Valois, a dynasty reigning in France at that time.

Burgundy was a vast territory located in northeastern France, to which, in the past and for common interests, had joined other territories such as Lorraine, Luxembourg, Franche-Comté and the Dutch and Flemish provinces, making these lands the richest and most prosperous in Europe. They were located, in fact, at the center of European trade lines and were the landing point of overseas trade to and from Europe. So much so that the city of Antwerp had become the largest commercial and financial center of Europe. His grandfather, Emperor Maximilian, at the death of his wife Maria in 1482, tried to regain possession of the Duchy to bring it under the direct rule of the Habsburgs, trying to remove it from the crown of France. To this end he started a conflict with the French which lasted for more than a decade, from which he was defeated.

He was therefore forced, in the year 1493, to sign with Charles VIII of Anjou, King of France, the Peace of Senlis, with which he renounced definitively any claim on the Duchy of Burgundy, while maintaining his sovereignty over the Netherlands, Artois, and Franche-Comté. This forced renunciation was never really accepted by Maximilian and the desire for revenge against France, was also transferred to his nephew Charles V, who, in the course of his life, never gave up the idea of regaining possession of Burgundy.

Charles, as King of Spain, was supported by a Council of State that exercised considerable influence over royal decisions. The Council of State was composed of eight members: one Italian, one Savoyard, two Spaniards and four Flemish. Since its inception, the Council was formed in two camps: one was headed by the viceroy of Naples Charles de Lannoy and the other by the Piedmontese Mercurino Arborio of Gattinara, who was also the Grand Chancellor of the king. Mercurino Arborio di Gattinara, in his capacity of Grand Chancellor (a position he held uninterruptedly from 1519 to 1530) and Charles” trusted man, had a lot of influence on Charles” decisions, even if within the Council of State there were still two quite discordant factions, especially concerning the conduct of foreign policy. In fact, the faction led by Lannoy was pro-French and anti-Italian; the one led by Mercurino Arborio di Gattinara was anti-French and pro-Italian.

During his rule, Charles V had many successes, but certainly the presence of other contemporary realities in conflict with the Empire, such as the Kingdom of France and the Ottoman Empire, together with the ambitions of the German princes, constituted the strongest impediment to the politics of the Emperor, which tended to the realization of a universal government under the leadership of the Habsburgs. He, in fact, intended to bind the Habsburgs permanently and hereditarily to the imperial title, even if in an elective form, in accordance with the provisions contained in the Golden Bull issued in 1356 by Emperor Charles IV of Luxembourg, King of Bohemia. The King of France, Francis I of Valois-Angoulême, in fact, through his strongly autonomistic position, together with his aims of expansion towards Flanders and the Netherlands, as well as towards Italy, always opposed the attempts of the Emperor to bring France under the control of the Empire.

He exercised this opposition through numerous and bloody conflicts. To remember, in this regard, is the battle of Pavia (1525). As well as the Ottoman Empire of Suleiman the Magnificent, who, with his expansionist aims towards Central Europe, was always a thorn in the side of the Empire. In fact, Charles V was forced to sustain several conflicts even against the Turks, often on two fronts at the same time: in the East against the Ottomans and in the West against the French. On both fronts Charles emerged victorious, though not so much through his own merit as through that of his lieutenants. Victorious, yes, but economically drained, especially because the enormous costs of military campaigns were added to the pharaonic costs for the maintenance of his court in which he had introduced the unbridled luxury of Burgundian customs.

Throughout his life, Charles V also had to deal with the problems raised first in Germany, and soon after in other parts of his empire and in Europe in general, by the newly emerging religious doctrine of the German monk Martin Luther, in opposition to the Catholic Church. These problems manifested themselves not only in doctrinal disputes, but also in open conflicts. Charles, who on a religious level proclaimed himself the most strenuous defender of the Catholic Church, was not able to defeat the new doctrine, nor, even less, to limit its spread. So much so that two diets, the one of Augsburg in 1530 and the one of Regensburg in 1541, ended in a deadlock, postponing any decision on doctrinal disputes to a future ecumenical council.

Charles was able to increase the Spanish crown”s overseas possessions through the conquests of two of the most skilled conquistadors of the time, Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro. The emperor esteemed the audacity of Cortés, who defeated the Aztecs and conquered Florida, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Yucatán. The conqueror knew that the emperor had long before liked the name to be given to those lands: the “New Spain of the Ocean Sea” and became governor in 1522. Charles V first made him marquis of the valley of Oaxaca and then, thanks to his interest, he married the daughter of the Duke of Bejar. Pizarro defeated the Inca Empire and conquered Peru and Chile, that is the whole Pacific coast of South America. Charles appointed Cortes governor of the subject territories in North America, which thus went to constitute the Viceroyalty of New Spain, while Pizarro was appointed governor of the Viceroyalty of Peru. Under the young Charles V was also accomplished the first circumnavigation of the planet, financing in 1519 the journey of Ferdinand Magellan in search of the passage to the west, sailing for the first time in the Pacific landing at the Spice Islands and beginning the Spanish colonization of the Philippines.

After his imperial coronation Charles V had to face, in the years 1520-1522, the revolts in Castile and Aragon, essentially due to the fact that Spain was not only in the hands of a sovereign of German origin, but also that the latter had been elected Emperor of the S.R.I., and, as such, tended to deal more with the problems related to Austro-Germanic Europe than with those of Spain. In Castile there was the revolt of the comuneros (or Castilian comunidades) which had as its objective the achievement of a greater political weight in the Empire by Castile itself. In Aragon there was the revolt of the Germanìes against the nobility. The “Germanìa” was a confraternity that gathered all the city guilds. Charles was able to quell these revolts without any damage to his throne.

Two years after his coronation at Aachen, Charles reached a secret agreement with his brother Ferdinand about the hereditary rights of each of them. According to this agreement it was established that Ferdinand and his descendants would get the Austrian territories and the imperial crown, while Charles” descendants would get Burgundy, Flanders, Spain and the overseas territories. From 1521 to 1529, Charles V fought two long and bloody wars against France for the possession of the Duchy of Milan, necessary for a passage from Spain to Austria without passing through French territory, and the Republic of Genoa. Decisive for the conclusion of the first one was the battle of Pavia in which, thanks to the Forlivian captain Cesare Hercolani, who was the first to wound the horse of Francis I, this was defeated and captured with a brilliant attack by the Neapolitan leader Fernando Francesco d”Avalos. In both conflicts, therefore, Charles emerged victorious: the first ended with the Peace of Madrid and the second with the Peace of Cambrai.

Charles did not free Francis until he had granted him the rights over Italy and Flanders, had given him the Duchy of Burgundy and his two sons, Henry and Francis, as hostages. As soon as Francis was freed, he allied himself with the King of England, the Republic of Venice, Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, the Signoria of Florence and Clement VII. The Duke of Savoy and the Marquis of Monferrato did not join the league. The league was signed in Cognac in 1526, being called Lega Santissima, and among the other pacts there was that of obliging the Emperor to set free the sons of the King of France, to put back Sforza in peaceful possession of the Duchy of Milan and to give the Kingdom of Naples to whoever the Pope wanted.

During the second war between the two sovereigns, Clement VII, fearing that Charles could have taken possession of the Papal States and of all Italy, called from France Louis, Count of Vaudémont and pretender to the throne of Naples by virtue of his ties with the Angevins, so that he could revive in the Kingdom of Naples the Angevin faction against Charles. Came the count with twenty-four galleys in the proximities of Naples together with the fleet of the Pontiff, devastated Mola di Gaeta, disembarked of the militias to Pozzuoli and took Castellammare di Stabia, Sorrento, Salerno and Torre del Greco. Renzo da Ceri took possession of Tagliacozzo and in Abruzzo the Pontifical army managed to rebel the city of Aquila. Afterwards, for lack of money and the tightness in which the Pope lived, the army abandoned the Kingdom of Naples.

In 1527 Charles sent the Lanzichenecchi under the command of General Georg von Frundsberg to invade the city of Rome. The Germanic soldiers devastated and sacked the city completely, destroying everything that could be destroyed and forcing the Pope to barricade himself in Castel Sant”Angelo. This event is sadly known as the “sack of Rome”. These facts aroused such fierce outrage throughout the civilized world, that Charles V distanced himself from his mercenaries and firmly condemned their actions, justifying himself with the fact that they had acted without the control of their commander who had to return to Germany for health reasons.

The Roman nobility resented a Medici Pope, so they asked the young emperor to send mercenary troops to induce him to give up. Some Roman families financed the expedition. In Mantua, the Lansquenets secretly bought the cannons from Alfonso I d”Este, Duke of Ferrara, which they were then forced to sell in Livorno because the agreed funding did not arrive. Upon arrival in Rome, the Lansquenets were exhausted, poorly armed and devastated by the plague, which then spread throughout Europe. After a siege made vain by the lack of firearms, for a fortuitous situation, they managed to penetrate from the north bank of the Tiber. The Pope, who had not surrendered to their arrival, managed to take refuge in Castel Sant”Angelo thanks to the sacrifice of the Swiss guard. The horde of Lanzichenecchi threw themselves on Trastevere sacking it. The Romans then tried to destroy the pons Sublicius to prevent them from invading the other side.

A fight broke out between the Romans and the people of Trastevere; the Lanzichenecchi took advantage of this and spread throughout the city. It is said that, before looting the palaces, they checked if the family had paid their hire. The plundering was ferocious and heinous, made more cruel by their belonging to the Lutheran religion, so that the emperor himself was saddened. The siege was enriched with anecdotes such as the famous arquebus shot by Cellini from the bastions of Castel Sant”Angelo. To partially compensate for the events in Rome, after the Treaty of Barcelona (1529) Charles V undertook to re-establish in Florence the rule of the Medici family, of which the Pope himself was a member, but what was supposed to be a quick operation of the imperial troops became a long siege that ended with a painful victory.

On April 30, 1527 the King of England and the King of France declared war on him. Francis I sent to Naples Odet de Foix, Monsignor of Lautrec, who, passing through Romagna and the Marca Anconitana, arrived on the Tronto and took possession of Abruzzo Ultra and some lands of Calabria. In April of 1528 Naples was besieged while the French army camped at Poggioreale. After many months of siege Andrea Doria, allied with the French, sent his nephew Philip with eight galleys to infest the gulf of the city. It opposed to the siege of the French the imperial army commanded by the prince of Oranges that to the place of the Borbone had been invested general captain by Charles. Many battles also took place in Puglia and the Lautrec, stormed Melfi, pushed the Spaniards to retreat to Atripalda. They surrendered to the French Ascoli Satriano, Barletta and Venosa, Trani and Monopoli to the Venetians, who had entered the war against Charles. The imperial army retreated to Naples and Gaeta and Lautrec walked towards the latter being welcomed by Capuani, nolani, acerresi and aversani. The Viceroy of Naples Hugo de Moncada, made arm six galleys and two fuste and put on his army together with Ascanio Colonna, Gran Contestabile, Cesare Ferramosca and many other knights, he embarked too. Filippo Doria, when he saw the imperial galleys leave the port, immediately went towards them defeating them in the battle of Capo d”Orso, where among the dead there was the viceroy himself and were made prisoners the Marquis of Vasto, Colonna and other lords. In place of Moncada, Filiberto of Chalons, Prince of Orange, succeeded as viceroy of Naples.

Lautrec began to besiege Naples from the nearby hills where Pietro Navarro was camped and diverted the water that entered the city through an aqueduct from Poggioreale, but the abundance of wells that were inside the city did not cause much damage and was very harmful not less to the French than to the Neapolitans since the water, flooding and stagnating in those surroundings and producing miasma, increased the plague and other diseases that plagued the camp. Naples was affected by a terrible plague, artillery and famine that meant that the besieged could not feed other than wheat cooked. In the meantime another army of French and Venetians sent by the king of France landed in Ponteliecardo, on the coast of the city, where a battle was fought with the imperials.

Andrea Doria, dissatisfied with King Francis, passed to the salaries of Charles and did not send the captured generals to France. Then Filippo Doria left Naples with his galleys and the Venetians, removed the siege from Naples, joined him. In the meantime the French armies took Cosenza, Senise, the fortress of Laino and other lands of Calabria. Later some Sicilian armies landed from Messina to Montedoro, near Catanzaro, where they clashed with the French and defeated them. In other Neapolitan lands remained victorious the imperials, who took away from the French Somma, Avellino and Sarno and Lautrec died on August 15, 1528. The marquis of Salluzzo remained alone at the supreme command. Doria arrived as captain of Charles, with many galleys in Gaeta, the French lifted the siege and retreated to Aversa, but on the way were defeated by the imperial and the Marquis of Saluzzo was seriously wounded by a stone. The French, lost hope and deprived of soul, asked to surrender and among the conditions that they agreed there was that the French and their allies returned all the places taken by them and that the Marquis of Saluzzo became a prisoner of war. This brought to Naples, died shortly thereafter. Thanks to the work of the Cardinal of Santa Croce and Giovanni Antonio Muscettola, at that time ambassador of Charles in Rome, Clement VII and Charles V made peace. The conditions of peace were signed in Barcelona on June 29, 1529 and intervened as ambassadors of Charles Mercurino Arborio of Gattinara and Ludovico of Flanders, and as ambassador of the pontiff the bishop Girolamo Soleto, his butler. The agreements established:

On August 5, 1529, in Cambrai, Francis I of France and Charles V established that: France, while renouncing its claims on Italy, could regain possession of Burgundy, that Charles V would free the two sons of Francis I, until then hostages of the Spanish, that France would cede to Charles the city and county of Asti (which Charles then gave to Beatrice d”Aviz), that the Venetians would return Cervia and Ravenna to the Pontiff, and to Charles Trani, Molfetta and all the other cities they had occupied in Apulia, and that at the Duchy of Milan Francesco II Sforza would be reinstated. The peace of Cambrai is also called peace of the two ladies, because it is not negotiated directly by the two sovereigns, but by Louise of Savoy, mother of Francis I, and Margaret of Habsburg, aunt of Charles V. With this pact Spain definitively reaffirms its dominion over Italy, of whose destiny Charles V becomes sole and undisputed arbiter.

1530-1541: from the coronation of Bologna to the expedition of Algiers

In compliance with the pacts signed in Cambrai, on February 22, 1530, Clement VII crowned Charles V as King of Italy, with the Iron Crown of the Lombard Kings. The coronation took place in Bologna, perhaps because of the Sack of Rome fearing the reaction of the Romans, in the Civic Palace of the city. Two days later, in the Church of San Petronio, Charles V was crowned Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, having received the crown of King of the Romans ten years earlier in Aachen. This time, however, the imperial consecration was imposed directly from the hands of the Pontiff. In the same year of the imperial coronation, the Grand Chancellor Mercurino Arborio Gattinara (1464-1530), the King”s most influential and listened to advisor, died. After the disappearance of Gattinara, Charles V did not let himself be influenced by any other advisor and the decisions he took from now on would be the almost exclusive fruit of his convictions. The maturation process of the sovereign was complete.

The year 1530 was a significant turning point for Charles V, both for his person and for his role as King and Emperor. In fact, as a person, he freed himself from the tutelage of any advisor and began to make all his decisions independently, based on the experience he had gained at Gattinara”s side. As sovereign, through the imposition of the imperial crown by the Pontiff, he felt invested with the primary task of having to dedicate himself completely to the solution of the problems that Lutheranism had created in Europe and in Germany in particular, with the precise purpose of saving the unity of the Western Christian Church. To this end, in the same year 1530, he convened the Diet of Augsburg, in which Lutherans and Catholics confronted each other through various documents.

Of particular note was the “Augustan Confession,” which was drafted to find an organic and coherent arrangement for the theological premises and composite doctrinal concepts that represented the foundations of the Lutheran faith, without any mention of the role of the papacy with respect to the Reformed churches. Charles V confirmed the 1521 Edict of Worms, i.e., excommunication for Lutherans, and threatened the reconstitution of church property. In response, the Lutherans, represented by the so-called “reformed orders”, reacted by creating the League of Smalcalda in 1531. This league, endowed with a federal army and a common fund, was also known as the “League of Protestants”, and was led by Duke Philip I of Hesse and Duke John Frederick, Elector of Saxony.

It should be clarified that the followers of Luther”s doctrine took on the name “Protestants” because they, united in “reformed orders”, during the second Diet of Speyer in 1529, protested against the Emperor”s decision to restore the Edict of Worms (i.e. excommunication and reconstitution of church property), an edict that had been suspended in the previous first Diet of Speyer in 1526. In that same year Charles solved a problem that had been causing him embarrassment for a long time.

In 1522 the Knights Hospitaller lost, by the hand of the Ottomans, the island of Rhodes, until then their home and for seven years they wandered the Mediterranean Sea in search of a new land. The situation was not easy because the Knights of St. John did not accept to be subjects of anyone and aspired to a place where they could be sovereign in a Mediterranean completely occupied by other powers.

In 1524 Charles offered the Knights the island of Malta, which was under his direct control, being part of the kingdom of Sicily: the proposal displeased the Hospitallers from the beginning because it implied a formal submission to the Empire, but in the end, after long negotiations, they accepted the island (which they said was not very hospitable and not easy to defend) under the condition of being sovereigns and not subjects of the emperor and asking that they were assured the supply of the necessary to live from Sicily.

The decision of Charles, more than reflecting a real desire to come to the aid of the Order of St. John, was of a strategic nature: Malta, a tiny island in the center of the Mediterranean, situated in a position of great strategic importance especially for the ships that passed through it and stopped in large numbers, was the object of attacks and looting by pirates, so Charles needed someone who would take care of its defense full time and the Knights were perfect for this.

The decade that began with the coronation of Charles V in Bologna in the Basilica of San Petronio on February 24, 1530 by Pope Clement VII, and ended in 1540, was full of events that created many problems for the Emperor.

The conflict with France was reopened, there was an upsurge of incursions of the Ottoman Empire into Europe and there was a considerable expansion of Lutheran doctrine. Charles V, as the extreme bulwark of the integrity of Europe and of the Catholic faith, had to juggle all three fronts simultaneously and with considerable difficulty. At the beginning of the thirties, both Charles V and Francis I began to implement the so-called “matrimonial policy” through which they intended to acquire territorial control over the states of Europe that they had not been able to acquire through the use of arms. Charles V, in fact, planned the marriage of his natural daughter Margaret with the Duke of Florence, as well as that of his niece Christine of Denmark with the Duke of Milan. Francis I, for his part, married his sister-in-law Renata of France to the Duke of Ferrara Ercole II d”Este. During his stay of almost a month in Mantua was a guest of Federico II Gonzaga to whom he delivered, March 25, 1530, the insignia of the first duke. On this occasion the emperor proposed him the wedding with his aunt Giulia of Aragon (1492-1542), daughter of Federico I of Naples. Federico Gonzaga never married Giulia, but in 1531 he married Margherita Paleologa.

But the masterpiece, in this field, was accomplished by Pope Clement VII, who arranged the marriage between his niece Catherine de” Medici and the second son of Francis I, Henry, who, due to the premature death of the heir to the throne Francis, would in turn become King of France with the name of Henry II. This marriage pushed Francis I to be more enterprising and aggressive towards Charles V. The King of France concluded an alliance with the Sultan of Constantinople Suleiman the Magnificent, who aspired to dominate the African coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, and pushed him to open a second front of conflict against the Emperor, in the Mediterranean, by the Turkish-Ottoman admiral Khayr al-Din, called Barbarossa, head of Muslim pirates, who infested and plundered the European coasts and merchant ships and in 1533 put him at the head of the fleet of the sultan, trying to regain Andalusia and Sicily to subjugate them again under Muslim rule.

This move provoked the decision of Charles V to undertake a military campaign against pirates and Muslims in North Africa – also to fulfill the promises made to the Parliament of Aragon – which led in June 1535, to the conquest of Tunis and the defeat of Barbarossa, but not his capture, having the latter found refuge in the city of Algiers.

Returning from the expedition of Tunis, Charles V decided to stop in his Italian possessions. He was welcomed triumphantly in the kingdom of Sicily as a liberator because he had defeated the Moors who plundered the coasts of the island. He crossed some cities of Sicily. Landed from North Africa in Trapani August 20: the city was the fourth island after Palermo, Messina and Catania and the emperor called the key to the kingdom and solemnly confirmed the privileges. He left Trapani at the end of August to Palermo, stopped a night in the Castle of Inici guest Giovanni Sanclemente, a nobleman of Catalan origin who had been his companion in arms in Tunis and September 1 reached Alcamo, feudal city of Cabrera, where he spent two nights, hosted in the fourteenth-century castle. From Alcamo the imperial procession reached Monreale, and from there Palermo: the entrance in the capital took place on the morning of September 13. The king and his entourage crossed the Porta Nuova and reached the Cathedral, where the clergy were waiting for him, the praetor Guglielmo Spatafora and many nobles, and where Charles solemnly swore to observe and preserve the civic privileges of the city. During his stay in Palermo lived in Palazzo Ajutamicristo. The 14 October the emperor departed for Messina, reached Termini the evening of the same day and the next day departed directed to Polizzi Generosa; the cortege reached then Nicosia, Troina and continued therefore for Randazzo. On October 22 Charles entered triumphantly in Messina where he stayed for 13 days. In the city of the Strait Charles confirmed the privileges of Messina, Randazzo and Troina, appointed the new viceroy of the island in the person of Ferrante I Gonzaga and authorized the citizens of Lentini to found a city, which was built in 1551 and that, in his honor, would be called Carlentini.

On the occasion of his arrival in Sicily, the Marquis of Vasto and the princes of Salerno and Bisignano asked Charles to come to Naples and stay there for a few months to see the beauty of the city and honor it with his presence. They wanted him to come to Naples so that they could induce him to remove Don Pedro de Toledo from the office of viceroy of Naples because of his strict government with which he kept the nobility down. The emperor accepted the invitation and from Messina crossed the strait reaching Reggio. Crossed then the Calabria and the Basilicata, stopped with all the retinue to Padula, lodging in the Chartreuse of Saint Lorenzo, where the Carthusian monks prepared for the emperor a legendary omelette of 1000 eggs.

On November 22 he arrived in Pietra Bianca, a place three miles away from Naples near today”s Portici, and on November 25, 1535 Charles V entered Naples through Porta Capuana (as depicted in bas-relief on one of the sides of the marble funeral monument that the viceroy Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Zúñiga had made by Giovanni da Nola, which is in the basilica of S. Giacomo degli Spagnoli and where he was not buried). Giacomo degli Spagnoli in Naples and in which he was not buried), being met by the elected, the clergy, numerous barons and the people. The elected of the seat of Capuana expressed with his words “the great love, and loyalty that holds the Nobility and People of Naples to his Crown”. Gregorio Rosso reports that the Emperor replied “with great humanity and loving kindness”, speaking in Spanish and saying “that he held the things of the City and Kingdom of Naples in his heart, as things of his sons rather than vassals”. After which Count Giovanni Antonio Carafa gave him the symbolic keys of the city, made of gold, among a thousand reverences and Charles gave them back immediately, replying, pleased, that they would be well kept in this “Fidelissima Ciudad”. After the great pomp for his entrance and the oath given by Charles in the Cathedral for the observance of the privileges and graces granted by his predecessors to the city and the Kingdom, staying in the Castel Nuovo, the place destined as his home, with great humanity Charles began to give audience to all, listening to the complaints, and complaints of each, especially those against the barons and the Sunday of November 28 he wanted to go in the chapel of the castle. During his stay in Naples he celebrated the marriage between his daughter Margaret of Austria and Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence and, at the same time, he participated in the marriages of other members of the nobility of the Kingdom of Naples, celebrated in the Castel Capuano, with envoys from other kingdoms.

From the Viceroy de Toledo was held in Naples with parties, games, tournaments, jousts and banquets, and with his presence numerous characters came to the city as: the Duke of Alba, the Count of Benavente and other lords and princes of the Kingdom of Naples, famous captains and lords from all over Italy such as the Duke of Urbino, the Duke of Florence, Pier Luigi Farnese, son of Pope Paul III, four ambassadors of the Republic of Venice, Ferrante Gonzaga, prince of Molfetta, Francesco d”Este, marquis of Padula, were sent by the Pope two legates, the cardinals of Siena and Cesarini, and also came the cardinals Caracciolo, Salviati, Ridolfi and there would have also come the cardinal Ippolito de ”Medici if he had not died in Itri on his way. Among the women there were Maria d”Aragona, marquise of Vasto, Giovanna d”Aragona, wife of Ascanio Colonna, Isabella Villamarina, princess of Salerno, Isabella di Capua, princess of Molfetta, the princess of Bisignano, Isabella Colonna, princess of Sulmona, Maria de Cardona, marquise of Padula, Clarice Orsini, princess of Stigliano, the princess of Squillace, Roberta Carafa, duchess of Maddaloni, Dorotea Gonzaga, marquise of Bitonto, Eleonora of Toledo, daughter of the Viceroy, Lucrezia Scaglione and many other ladies. While the Emperor in continuous banquets and games was amusing himself in Naples, he learned of the death of Francesco II Sforza, Duke of Milan, who had no children and therefore no heir to the throne, the duchy had fallen to him, who sent Antonio de Leyva to take possession of it, creating him governor of that State. This event led to the renewal of new wars and disputes with Francis I of France, who, after learning of this death commissioned his ambassador to Charles to ask for his share of the duchy of Milan to invest the Duke of Orleans. Charles, disturbed by this, did not give him a pleasant answer and understood that the King of France was planning to move war against him and was planning to invade Piedmont, so Charles decided to leave Naples for Lombardy.

At the end of 1535 the negotiations, which until now had been kept secret, of the Marquis of Vasto and the Prince of Salerno with other nobles against the Viceroy to have him removed from the government of Naples began to reveal themselves. This intention had been tainted since Charles was in Sicily and during the journey both the Marquis and the Prince did not fail to play their parts effectively by painting the government of the Viceroy as too harsh, rigorous and unsuitable for the Kingdom of Naples, insinuating that he should remove him. But this did not help, since Charles knew the cause of such hatred and Toledo had also been well informed; since when Charles arrived in Naples and having seen the Viceroy, it is said that he had said to him: “Be the welcome Marquis; and I will have you know that you are not as bad as I have been told”. The Viceroy, smiling, replied facetiously: “Sir, I know that your majesty has understood that I have become a monster, but I am not such a monster”.Carlo listened to the criticism of the Neapolitan nobility against the government of the Viceroy, the defense of the People”s Choice Andrea Stinca and opted for the reconfirmation.

On January 8, 1536 Charles held a parliament in the Basilica of San Lorenzo Maggiore, where in his presence, gathered the barons and the officials of the kingdom, he explained the needs of the crown and that for the safety of the kingdom and for the new wars that threatened the Ottoman Empire and the King of France it was necessary to support him. The following day, the barons gathered again, they concluded in his honor to make him a donation of one million and 500 thousand ducats. The donation was so surprising and exorbitant that Charles himself, seeing the impossibility of collecting it, refused the 500 thousand ducats and settled for a million.

At the Epiphany of 1536 was organized a bullfight in Piazza Carbonara (now Via San Giovanni a Carbonara), in which Charles V himself participated.

Charles also stayed at the carnival with feasts, games and masks; and one evening, accompanying the Marquis of Vasto while he was retiring to the Castle, the latter exaggerated the reasons why he should remove de Toledo from the government of the kingdom of Naples, but understanding from the replies of the Emperor that he had little desire to remove him, he decided not to go any more to the deputation of San Lorenzo, but to serve him only in the feasts and games that were made every day. The time of the departure of Charles came, this, before leaving, on February 3, 1536, granted to the city of Naples thirty-one graces and twenty-four for the benefit of some of its provinces. Charles left Naples on March 22, 1536, for Rome, to then go to Lombardy and from there to Spain; and having left Toledo in charge of the government of Naples with greater authority and greater security, he resumed the government, carrying out with greater fervor vast projects conceived to enlarge and beautify the city of Naples so that it could have the title of metropolis. Francisco Elías de Tejada summarizes this period by saying that with Charles V”s stay in the city, “Naples was the capital of Spain, or rather of the complex of kingdoms federated in the Spanish monarchy, and the first among the cities of the Italian peninsula, of which all the lords had become satellites, gravitating in the political orbit of the kings of Naples. The dream of the poets of the previous century, from Caritateo to Sanazzaro, had become a living reality: the supremacy of the King of Naples over all of Italy”.

In the Kingdom of Naples Charles V granted protection and benevolence to men of science and letters and to support the spread of culture wanted the men of letters to meet in the palace of Sant”Angelo a Nilo, but later had to prevent him because it spread the suspicion that some of them supported heresy.

Under his rule Naples became one of the maximum centers of the Universal Spanish Monarchy and became not only the largest and most populated city of the Italian peninsula, but also one of the metropolises and major capitals of Europe and non-European territories of the Spanish Empire.

Charles was responsible for the erection and enlargement of numerous urban and architectural works in the city and to beautify it. He ordered to restore the Castel dell”Ovo, to enlarge and reduce in a new oven the one of Sant”Elmo, entrusting the work to the architect Luigi Serina of Valenza. He also had a cistern carved out of the stone of the same mountain, so large that Giannone compared it to the Piscina mirabilis of Bacoli. Ingrandì more than double the arsenal, raised from the foundations of the hospital of Santa Maria di Loreto for orphans and the other of San Eligio for orphans, rebuilt and expanded the church of San Niccolò alla dogana, now demolished, founded the Monte di Pietà for pledges up to ten ducats without interest, discacciò Jews, devourers of private property. On proposal of the viceroy de Toledo made build the famous street that took the name of the viceroy and that at the time was not second to the most beautiful in Europe. Charles enlarged the fortress of Gaeta by surrounding the city with large walls. In the square called Pendino or Sellaria, he erected the fountain of Atlas, now disappeared, the work of Giovanni da Nola, paved the cave of Posillipo with Vesuvian stones and almost halfway up the path he built a chapel dedicated to the Virgin with the name of Santa Maria della grotta. In the triangular square of Pignasecca built a cloaca that crossed via Toledo and discharged into the sea near the Royal Villa in the largo della Vittoria. He entrusted to Giulio Cesare Fontana the construction of the building called the Fosse del grano and expanded the walls of the metropolis. In Pozzuoli Charles built a superb palace, a strong tower and public fountains, then restored the walls of the city and also the baths. He inhaled the stagnant waters of the Terra di Lavoro and the canals called Regi Lagni, purged the province and the capital from airborne infections, making many lands suitable for cultivation. To promptly resist the continuous invasions of the Turks he enlisted the militia of the same people, sponò the barons to the common defense and added the militia regulated. After having well provided the coastal cities, built the castle of Cotrone, Reggio, Castro, Otranto, Barletta, Lecce, Gallipoli, Trani, Brindisi, Monopoli and Manfredonia. Fortified Vieste, city situated in the last point of the Gargano mountain. He ordered that in all the rivers of the kingdom towers were raised, giving salaries to those who guarded them, so that the one, warning the other of some landing of the Turks, could warn the people to defend themselves. He rebuilt the castle of Baia and in Abruzzo he erected the castle of Aquila.

Wanting the authority of laws and magistrates to be held by everyone, Charles was the first to gather the courts of the capital in Castel Capuano and he also put the two archives there, that of the Camera and that of the Mint. In order to reduce such a large undertaking, he established that the loggias should be arranged in the form of spacious rooms and built many other large and numerous rooms for the needs of the same courts. In order that the judges of the Vicariate would perform their duties more quickly, he ordered that the regent, with all the judges and other officials, would join together at certain hours. By the prammatica “de off. Magistr. Justit.” he prescribed that the great Court of the Vicariate be composed of six judges and assigned four for criminal cases and two for civil ones. He ordered that votes should not be published before being heard by the Revenue, that the compositions should be done with moderation, that poor prisoners should be given bread every day and for the sick he had a hospital built near the prisons, where they would be treated at his expense. He increased the salary of the lawyer and the procurator of the poor, so that they would be better defended. In 1536, he forbade the magistrates to collect the trigesima and ordered with the prammatica settantanove de off S. R. C. that was, with the advice of the Sacred Royal Council, increased the salary from six hundred ducats per year to one thousand ducats. He imposed the one and a half percent on the sentences and on the definitive decrees that were interposed by the presate S. R. C. In 1533 he promulgated the prammatica quarantesima de off . S. R. C. and instituted the second wheel of the supreme senate, providing that the Council was held in the two halls and that the Councillors had to change room every two months. He left to the discretion of the President or the Viceroy the meeting of both wheels, when some state of the Baron, or a cause of grave importance, or for difficulties of jurisprudence the dispute arose. Not content with this, he instituted many other norms for the happiness of his subjects. In Innsbruck he promulgated the Pragmatic Act, published in Naples on January 2, 1531, and declared that his Royal Court would not allow the sellers to exercise the pact to buy back the time elapsed from March 1, 1528 to February 1530 for having been a time of turmoil, wars and other terrible calamities. With the prammatica made to Gand the 4 june 1531 and published the 27 june, authorized all to be able to arm ships against the Ottomans and to flow the seas for the defense of the marine of the kingdom. He gave Brussels, on March 15 of the same year, another Pragmatic Act, promulgated in Naples on the last day of September, with which he revoked all the concessions, graces, bonuses, provisions, immunities and other exemptions granted by the previous Viceroys, confirming only those made by the Prince of Orange and instructed the Treasurer, the Grand Camerario and his lieutenant to demand the revenues of his treasury, prescribing the laws and so that the treasury would be increased and well administered. In the fourth announcement given in Brussels on December 20, 1531 and published in Naples on February 17, 1532, he prescribed strict laws to the quaestors and to all the officers who collected and disturbed the royal treasury to keep exact account of their qualities, weight and value and to give an exact account to the ministers of the Royal Chamber. In the fifth, established in Cologne on the twenty-eighth of January 1532 and promulgated in Naples on the seventeenth of February, on the same day as the previous one, he declared that the Viceroys could not confer offices in the kingdom, that the income of the ducats passed beyond one hundred, these being due to the collation of the King.

Other dispositions issued directly by the Monarch or on proposal of his viceroys, was the publication of the announcement that forbade to take away weapons, except the sword and not to keep them even in the house, threatened a severe punishment to the receivers of criminals and miscreants. He created other captains of the guard and country bargels so that those would be pursued inside and outside the city. He ordered that at two o”clock in the morning, when the bell of San Lorenzo rang, no one should pass through the city until the next morning. He determined that the thefts committed at night were punished with capital punishment and because the thieves had less ease in being able to hide from justice, he had various arcades of the metropolis destroyed, which were those of San Martino a Porta Capuana and Sant”Agata. He ordered the removal of the benches and curtains of boards that held the craftsmen. He ordered the capital punishment to those who swore falsehoods, making testimony or false testimony would use in court. He wanted that those who came out of the prisons did not pay anything, that in the summer vacations the prisoners were thrown out of the prisons for civil debt with the security, or to agree with creditors or then return to prison. He established that a pandetta be formed for the rights of the serivans, mastrodatti and other officials. He forbade gatherings and entirely eradicated the group known as the Compagnoni.

He wanted the public women who were scattered in the city to be united in one point, the lupanaro, repressed the licenses that the grape pickers used, prohibited the custom of going to sing strambotti, called ciambellarie, at night under the windows of the widows stayed, from which it was often born wrath and blood. He issued very severe proclamations against duels, condemning to capital punishment the provocateur and absolving the provoked from the note of infamy. In 1542 he published another proclamation against those who tried to kidnap damsels, condemning the kidnapper to death. It provided to guard the monasteries prohibiting to carry stairs at night. He forbade some importunate, superstitious and lugubrious demonstrations of grief that were practiced in funerals, because the women not only in their own homes, but in public accompanying the coffin, with immoderate dragging of mournful clothes, with screaming, crying and scratching of the face devastated the city. He made sure that the artisans were promptly paid and that no violence was used against them. He repressed luxury in dress and instituted wise laws for the preservation of dowries.

At that time, finding a rock in the sea near the Castel dell”Ovo, called the Fiatamone, where there were many caves in which the dissolute youth consumed horrible dishonesty, he had it pulled down from the foundations. No less care was taken for the good administration of justice in the provinces of the kingdom. He ordered that the officers, the auditors and the principals in forty days had to inspect. He forbade with serious penalties to the officials of the province to take anything edible, when they went into the stores of their provinces. He ordered that in the provinces no order be executed before being notified to the governors, that the provisions of the courts should not require the deliberation of the royal hearings, ordered that those who had the privilege of Neapolitan citizenship, being in the lands of the provinces of the Kingdom, should carry the burden of those provinces and that the writings made outside the Kingdom without the consent of the Viceroy should not be executed.

He arrived in Rome in April 1536, also to meet and try to make an ally of the new Pontiff Paul III (Alessandro Farnese), who had succeeded Clement VII who had died in 1534.

The new pontiff declared himself neutral in the more than ten-year-long dispute between France and the Empire, therefore, Francis I, strong of this neutrality, resumed the hostilities, starting the third conflict with the emperor, which ended only two years later, in 1538, with the armistice of Bomy and the peace of Nice, which did not bring any result, leaving unchanged the results of the peace of Madrid and the peace of Cambrai, which had concluded the two previous conflicts. At the same time as these events, Charles V had to face, as already mentioned, the spread of the Lutheran doctrine, which had found its highest point in the formation of the League of Smalcalda in 1531, to which more and more Germanic princes were joining.

The Emperor engaged himself again against the Turks in a conflict that ended with much misfortune in a defeat, matured in the naval battle of Prevesa of 27 September 1537, where the Turkish line-up, guided by Barbarossa had the better on the fleet of the imperials, composed by Genoese and Venetian ships. This defeat induced Charles V to resume relations with the states of Germany, which he needed anyway, both from a financial and military point of view. His more conciliatory attitude towards the Lutheran representatives, held in the diets of Worms (1540) and Regensburg (1541), earned him the support of all the princes, as well as the alliance of Philip I of Hesse.

This led to the realization of another expedition in the Mediterranean against the Muslims, both to regain credibility and because the eternal rival Francis I King of France was allied with the Sultan. This time the goal was Algiers, logistics base of Barbarossa and starting point of all raids of pirate ships against the ports of Spain and its Italian domains. Charles V gathered in La Spezia a considerable invasion force, entrusted to the commands of brave and experienced leaders such as Andrea Doria, Ferrante I Gonzaga and Hernán Cortés. In spite of this, the expedition of October 1541 was a complete failure, as the adverse autumn sea conditions destroyed 150 ships loaded with weapons, soldiers and supplies. With what remained Charles V was not able to conclude victoriously the enterprise and had to return to Spain, in early December of that year, giving the final farewell to his policy of control of the Mediterranean Sea.

1541-1547: in the shadow of the Council of Trent

Following this defeat, Francis I, in the month of July 1542, started the fourth war against the Emperor that ended only in the month of September 1544 with the signing of the peace of Crépy, from which the King of France came out clearly defeated once again, even if he could keep some territories occupied during the conflict and belonging to the Duchy of Savoy. Francis, in fact, not only had to definitively renounce his dreams of conquering Italy, but also had to commit himself to support the opening of a Council on the Lutheran question. This happened punctually. In June 1543, Charles V, while on his way to Trent, met Pope Paul III in Busseto at Villa Pallavicino.

Continuing the trip, he met in the Castle of Canneto with Ferrante Gonzaga, with the cardinal Ercole Gonzaga and with Margherita Paleologa, to legitimize to his son Francesco the double investiture in the titles of Duke of Mantua and Marquis of Monferrato, as well as to agree on his future marriage with Caterina, niece of the emperor. On June 28 of the same year the emperor was guest for one day at the court of Marquis Aloisio Gonzaga who offered him the keys of the fortress. He also visited the Castle of Medole and the Convent of the Annunciata, donating to the Augustinian fathers a precious breviary bound in silver. Pope Paul III convened an Ecumenical Council in the city of Trento, whose works were officially opened on December 15, 1545.

It was a Council of which both the king and the emperor would never see the conclusion, nor would the pontiff who had convened it. Since the Protestants refused to recognize the Council of Trent, the Emperor went to war against them in June 1546, with an army composed of the Pope under the command of Ottavio Farnese, the Austrians of Ferdinand of Austria, the Emperor”s brother, and soldiers from the Netherlands under the command of the Count of Buren. The Emperor was flanked by Maurice of Saxony, who had been cleverly removed from the Smalcaldic League. Charles V achieved a crushing victory in the battle of Mühlberg in 1547, after which the German princes withdrew and submitted to the emperor. Famous is the portrait made by Titian in 1548 and preserved at the Prado Museum in Madrid to celebrate this victory. In it the emperor is depicted on horseback, with armor, crest and a pike in his hands, in the act of leading his troops into battle.

Indeed, the chronicles of the time reported that the emperor followed the battle from far away, lying on a litter, as unable to move because of one of his frequent attacks of gout. An illness that afflicted him for the rest of his life, caused by his immoderate passion for the pleasures of good food. For the first two years the Council debated questions of a procedural nature, lacking agreement between the pope and the emperor: in fact while the emperor tried to bring the debate on reformist issues, the pope tried to bring it, instead, more on theological issues. May 31, 1547 saw the death of King Francis I and, since the Dauphin Francis had died prematurely in 1536 at the age of 18, the second son of Francis I took the throne of France, with the name of Henry II. Not only that, but, in the same year, Paul III moved the seat of the Council from Trento to Bologna, with the precise purpose of removing it from the influence of the Emperor, even though the official reason for the move was the plague.

On September 1, 1547, Charles convened a diet in Augsburg (lasting from September 1547 to June 1548), which consecrated the emperor”s victory over the League of Smalcalda.

In the following months, the emperor regularly convened the Reichstag, confiscated the cathedral and, on May 15, 1548, proclaimed the Augsburg Interim, a form of faith and discipline of Catholic dogmas, which allowed communion under both species to lay people and marriage to priests. This text became provisional pending the conclusions of the Council of Trent.

This text, which was supposed to be consensual, satisfied no one: the Church was embittered and the Lutherans “in love” with freedom. However, on June 30, Charles V promulgated the interim in the Empire, with some compensations in some regions, such as Strasbourg or Constance. Saxony remained rebellious, while Brandenburg and the Palatinate submitted.

On June 26, the emperor took advantage of the diet to place the Netherlands (present-day Belgium and Holland) under the protection of the Germanic Empire, within the tenth circle of the Empire, by brokering an exemption from the normal taxes of the imperial chamber”s jurisdiction.

With the Diet of Augsburg Charles ordered the viceroy of Naples, Pedro de Toledo, to introduce in the Kingdom of Naples the Inquisition tribunal. The people, believing that their privileges had been offended, shouted and went before de Toledo with a threatening air, then resorting to Cesare Mormile and Tommaso Ajello, who offered their lives to free the Kingdom from the Inquisition. Mormile, who became the leader of the revolt, joined the other nobles and took up arms with the Spaniards, who, after leaving Castel Nuovo, made a massacre, looting even the houses. While the civil war was raging and the leaders of the movement did not have enough strength to keep the immense rioting people, the city sent to the Emperor Placido di Sangro and Ferrante Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno, with the task of begging Charles to recall the viceroy. Charles came to the head of everything, receiving them, he replied: “The City obeys. In the meantime the Spanish reinforcements sent to Naples entered the city killing some Neapolitans and occupying the church of Santa Maria la Nova. The people, left at the mercy of themselves and without a leader, resorted to Francesco Caracciolo, prior of Bari, who advised to lay down their arms and to promise obedience to the Viceroy. The advice was carried out and de Toledo, welcoming the deputies with a happy face, promised the rebels forgiveness and kept faith. On August 12 he, having called the deputies in the Castel Nuovo and let them enter, read the commission of the Emperor Charles V, who was satisfied that in the Kingdom of Naples was not placed the inquisition, but that the supporters of heresy were examined by ecclesiastical judges, pordonava all those who had participated in the revolt, except twenty people, He also ordered that Naples, for the sins committed and for the damages caused, had to pay one hundred thousand gold ducats and contribute to the expenses of the German war and commanded that the magistracy of the deputies of the union be dissolved and that all the acts done with their orders be placed in the hands of the Viceroy. Having published the commission, the Spanish army distributed itself at the gates of the castle and the regent of justice and his ministers began to search for the twenty persons who had not been pardoned by the emperor, among whom were Mormile, the prior of Bari, Giovanni da Sessa, Tommaso Anello and Placido di Sangro, who during the revolt had been welcomed benignly by Charles at Nuremberg. All, except Placido di Sangro, who was put in prison, were not found because Cesare Mormile, the prior of Bari, and the other authors of the tumult, fearing the wrath of the emperor and the Viceroy, took refuge in Benevento, others in Rome and many others in Venice. Mormile, whose property was confiscated, went to France where Henry II used courtesies and welcomed him with honors of all kinds. It was not long before all the authors of the revolt were pardoned by Charles, except those who had gone to France. The same Placido di Sangro, having been seven months in prison, by order of the emperor was generously released and the prince of Salerno could return to Naples.

1547-1552: from the death of Francis I to the siege of Metz

Charles V had now reached the height of his power. His great antagonist, Francis I, had disappeared. The League of Smalcalda had been won. The Duchy of Milan, in the hands of Ferdinand Gonzaga, was under the orders of the Emperor, as well as Genoa, Savoy and the Duchies of Ferrara, Tuscany and Mantua, in addition to the Republics of Siena and Lucca. Southern Italy had long been a Spanish viceroyalty. Pope Paul III, in order to oppose such an excessive power, could do nothing else but make an agreement with the new king of France.

The peak of his power, however, also coincided with the beginning of his decline. In fact, in the two-year period 1546-1547, Charles V had to face some anti-Habsburg conspiracies in Italy. In Lucca, in 1546, Francesco Burlamacchi attempted to establish a republican state throughout Tuscany. In Genoa, Gianluigi Fieschi organized, without success, a revolt in favor of France. In Parma, finally, in 1547 Ferdinand Gonzaga conquered Parma and Piacenza at the expense of Duke Pier Luigi Farnese (son of the pope), but the conquest failed at the hands of Duke Ottavio Farnese who reconquered the Duchy, which was later reconquered once again by Gonzaga.

Pope Paul III died on November 10, 1549. He was succeeded by Cardinal Giovanni Maria Ciocchi del Monte who took the name of Julius III. The new pope, whose election had been favored by the Farnese cardinals present in the Conclave, as a thank you to the Farnese family, ordered the restitution to Ottavio Farnese of the Duchy of Parma that had been reconquered in 1551 by Ferdinando Gonzaga. Ottavio, believing Gonzaga about the will of his father-in-law to take the dukedom away from him, approached France, then the pontiff declared him deprived of the title, so that he definitely made an alliance with Henry II. Julius III saw in all this an involvement of the Holy See that would lead it to side with the king.

This contrasted with the principle of neutrality that the pope had imposed upon himself at the time of his election, to safeguard his temporal power. This alliance, in fact, provoked a new conflict between the Kingdom and the Empire, in which the pope found himself bound, inevitably, to Charles V. A few years later, however, the pope made an agreement with Henry II, passing, in fact, in the other camp, alleging, in support of his choice, the fact that Lutheranism was expanding in France and that the coffers of the Papal States were now exhausted. This agreement, however, by pact between the two, would have to be ratified by the Emperor.

Charles V, finding himself in difficulty for internal reasons in his territories in Germany, ratified the agreement and considered that the conflict with France was over. Instead, Henry II started a new adventure: the conquest of Naples; he was urged to do so by Ferrante Sanseverino, Prince of Salerno, who succeeded in convincing the King of France to intervene militarily in Southern Italy in order to free it from Spanish oppression. As his predecessor Antonello Sanseverino had done when he pushed Charles VIII to the conquest of Naples. King Henry, knowing that alone he would never have succeeded in wresting southern Italy from Charles V, allied himself with the Turks, and planned the invasion through a joint operation of the Turkish and French fleets. In the summer of 1552, the Turkish fleet, under the command of Sinan Pasha, surprised the imperial fleet, under the command of Andrea Doria and Don Giovanni de Mendoza, off Ponza. The imperial fleet was resoundingly defeated. But since the French fleet did not succeed to rejoin with the Turkish one, the objective of the invasion of the Neapolitan failed.

In Germany, meanwhile, the emperor, after the victory of Mühlberg, had adopted an extremely authoritarian policy, which resulted in the formation of an alliance between the reformed princes of North Germany, the Duke of Hesse and Duke Maurice of Saxony, in anti-imperial function. This League, in January 1552, at Chambord, signed an agreement with the King of France. This agreement provided for the financing of the troops of the League by France, in exchange for the reconquest of the cities of Cambrai, Toul, Metz and Verdun. The permission granted to the king of France by the League of Protestant Princes, for the occupation of the cities of Cambrai, Toul, Metz and Verdun, was a real betrayal towards the emperor. The war with France broke out, therefore, inevitably in 1552, with the invasion of Northern Italy by French troops. But the real goal of King Henry was the occupation of Flanders, a dream never satisfied even by his father Francis I. In fact, Henry personally led his troops and began military operations in Flanders and Lorraine.

The initiative of Henry II caught the emperor by surprise, who, not being able to reach the Netherlands because of the interposition of the French army, had to fall back on the North Tyrol, with a hasty and, indeed, rather unseemly escape to Innsbruck. Re-entered in Austria Charles V began the reinforcement of his military contingent making to flow reinforcements and money both from Spain and Naples; what induced Maurizio of Sassonia, leader of the French troops, to open negotiations with the emperor, in the fear of a defeat. In the talks, which took place in Passau, between the Protestant princes led by Maurice of Saxony and the emperor, an agreement was reached that provided greater religious freedom for the Reformed in exchange for the dissolution of the alliance with Henry II. This happened in August 1552.

With the Treaty of Passau the emperor succeeded in annulling the agreements of Chambord between the protestant princes and the king of France, but he saw vanished all the conquests obtained with the victory of Mühlberg. Once obtained the isolation of France, Charles V, in the autumn of the same year, began a military campaign against the French for the reconquest of Lorraine, putting under siege the city of Metz, defended by a contingent commanded by Francis I of Guise. The siege, lasted practically until the end of the year, ended with a failure and the subsequent withdrawal of the imperial troops. This episode is historically considered the beginning of the decline of Charles V. It was as a result of this circumstance, in fact, that the emperor began to think about his succession.

1552-1555: from the siege of Metz to the peace of Augsburg

In the aftermath of the failure of the siege of Metz and the failed reconquest of Lorraine, Charles V entered a phase of reflection: on himself, on his life and his events as well as on the state of Europe. The earthly life of Charles V was coming to an end. The great protagonists who had graced the European scene with him in the first half of the sixteenth century had all disappeared: Henry VIII of England and Francis I of France in 1547, Martin Luther in 1546, Erasmus of Rotterdam ten years earlier and Pope Paul III in 1549. The balance of his life and what he had accomplished could not be said to be entirely positive, especially in relation to the goals he had set for himself.

His dream of a universal empire under Habsburg leadership had failed, as had his goal of reconquering Burgundy. Even though he professed to be the first and most fervent defender of the Church of Rome, he had been unable to prevent the emergence of the Lutheran doctrine. His possessions on the other side of the Atlantic had grown enormously, but his governors had not been able to give them valid administrative structures. However, he had laid the foundations for the Habsburg-Spanish dominion over Italy, which would be made official after his death with the peace of Cateau-Cambrésis in 1559, and which would last for one hundred and fifty years. Just as he had succeeded, with the help of his brother Archduke Ferdinand, in stopping the advance of the Ottoman Empire towards Vienna and the heart of Europe.

Charles V began to realize that Europe was about to be ruled by new Princes who, in the name of maintaining their own States, did not intend to alter the political and religious balance within each of them. His conception of the Empire was waning and began to assert the power of Spain. In 1554 the wedding was celebrated between Maria Tudor (wedding strongly desired by Charles V who saw in the union between the Queen of England and her son, the future King of Spain, a fundamental alliance in anti-French function and in defense of the territories of Flanders and the Netherlands.

In order to increase the prestige of his own son and heir, the Emperor sent Figurino, regent of the Kingdom of Naples, to England to assign to Philip, definitively, the Duchy of Milan, the Kingdom of Naples and the Kingdom of Sicily, which were added to the regency of the Kingdom of Spain of which Philip had already been in possession for some years. This growth of power in the hands of Philip did nothing but increase the interference of the latter in the conduct of affairs of state which caused an increase in conflict with his parent. This conflict had as a consequence a bad management of military operations against France that were resumed in 1554.

The theater of the conflict was the Flemish territories. The French army and the imperial one fought in fierce battles until late autumn, when the negotiations for a truce began, which everyone needed, especially because of the financial bleeding of both sides. The truce was concluded, after exhausting negotiations, in Vauchelles in the month of February 1556 and, once again, as it had often happened in the past, the hostilities ended with nothing, in the sense that the positions acquired remained frozen. This meant that France maintained the occupation of Piedmont and the cities of Metz, Toul and Verdun. Charles V, at this point of the events, was forced to make important decisions for the future of his person, his family and the states of Europe on which he ruled.

He was now 56 years old and his health was rather weak. The previous year, on September 25, he had signed with the Protestant Princes, through his brother Ferdinand, the Peace of Augsburg, as a result of which there was religious pacification in Germany, with the entry into force of the principle cuius regio, eius religio, which sanctioned that the subjects of a region had to profess the religion chosen by their regent. It was the official recognition of the new Lutheran doctrine. These events led the new Pope, Paul IV, born Gian Pietro Carafa, a Neapolitan, elected the previous year, to form a solid alliance with the King of France in anti-imperial function. Paul IV, in fact, believed that the Emperor was no longer the bulwark of the Church of Rome against the attacks coming from the new Lutheran doctrine, especially after the Treaty of Passau and the Peace of Augsburg.

That”s why he thought it appropriate to form an alliance with France. Prince Philip now ruled over Spain and Flanders as well as the Kingdom of Naples and the Duchy of Milan. Philip”s marriage to the Queen of England ensured a strong anti-French alliance. His brother Ferdinand had acquired power in all Hapsburg possessions and exercised it with competence and wisdom as well as with considerable autonomy from the Emperor. The ties with the Pope had been loosened, both because of the results of the Peace of Augsburg and because of the change undergone by the Catholic Church with the advent of Carafa to the papal throne.

Abdication and the last years (1556-1558)

All these considerations led him to decide for his own abdication, dividing his kingdom between two successors, and that took place with a series of successive steps. As Duke of Burgundy he had already abdicated in favor of his son Philip II, in the city of Brussels on October 25th 1555.

On 16 January 1556 Charles V ceded the crowns of Spain, Castile, Sicily and the New Indies to his son Philip, to whom he also ceded the Netherlands and Franche-Comté in June of the same year and the Aragonese crown in July.

On September 12 of the same year he gave the imperial crown to his brother Ferdinand. Immediately afterwards, accompanied by his sisters Eleanor and Maria, he left for Spain bound for the monastery of San Jerónimo di Yuste in Extremadura.

Charles set sail from the Flemish port of Flessinga on September 15, 1556 with a fleet of over sixty ships and a retinue of 2,500 people, destined to diminish gradually during the voyage. Thirteen days later, the former sovereign landed in the Spanish port of Laredo. On October 6, he began his journey through Castile, which led him first to Burgos, where he arrived on October 13, and then to Valladolid, where he arrived on October 21. After two weeks of rest, accompanied by some knights and fifty halberdiers, he resumed his journey towards Extremadura, which would lead him to a place called Vera de Plasencia, near which stood the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste, where he arrived on February 3, 1557. Here the monks welcomed him in procession, intoning the Te Deum.

Charles never resided inside the monastery, but in a modest building he had built years earlier, adjacent to the boundary wall, but outside, facing south and well-sunlit. In spite of the fact that the place was quite far from the centers of power, he continued to maintain relations with the political world, without failing in his desire to satisfy the ascetic aspect of his nature. He continued to be generous with his advice both to his daughter Joan, regent of Spain, and to his son Philip, who governed the Netherlands. Especially on the occasion of the conflict that broke out with Henry II of France, in which Charles, from his hermitage of Yuste and with the help of Spain, managed to reorganize Philip”s army which obtained a crushing victory over the French in the battle of San Quentin on August 10, 1557. It should be remembered that the commander in chief of Philip II”s army was Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoy, called “Iron Head”.

On February 28, 1558, the German princes, gathered in the Diet of Frankfurt, took note of the resignation from the title of Emperor that Charles V had presented two years earlier and recognized Ferdinand as the new Emperor. Charles left the political scene definitively. On February 18, 1558 his sister Eleanor died. Charles, aware that his earthly life was coming to an end, accentuated even more his ascetic character, absorbed more and more in penance and mortification. Nevertheless, he did not disdain the pleasures of good food, to which he let himself go, despite being afflicted by gout and diabetes, and deaf to the advice of doctors who urged him to a less rich diet.

Over the course of the summer his health showed signs of worsening which manifested itself in increasingly frequent fevers that often forced him to bed, from which he could attend religious rites through a window that he had opened in a wall of his bedroom and that looked directly into the church. On September 19 he asked for Extreme Unction, after which he felt revived and his health showed some signs of recovery. The following day, strangely enough, as if he had had a presentiment, he asked for and obtained Extreme Unction for the second time.

He died on September 21, 1558, probably of malaria, after three weeks of agony. The chronicles report that, as the moment of his death approached, Charles, clutching a crucifix to his chest and speaking in Spanish, exclaimed: “Ya, voy, Señor” (I am coming, Lord). After a short pause, shouting, he would exclaim again: “¡Ay Jesus!” and shortly afterwards he would breathe his last. It was two o”clock in the morning. His body was immediately embalmed and buried under the altar of the small Church of Yuste. Sixteen years later, his son Philip moved his body to the Monastery of the Escorial, named after San Lorenzo, which Philip himself had built in the hills north of Madrid, making it the burial place of all the Habsburg sovereigns of Spain.

Charles V was a man of average height and healthy physical constitution, although in his later years he was very afflicted by gout. He had blond hair, blue eyes, aquiline nose, lip somewhat protruding and a cheerful face. He used to wear little beard and imitated the Roman emperors who cut their hair to half an ear. He was simple in his dress, modest in his meals and extremely sober in his drinking. He spoke little, laughed seldom and never showed himself won by anger and wrath. He knew French, Spanish, German, his mother tongue, and Latin sufficiently. Resolute in the enterprises of war, he was generous with his commanders, in the midst of his armies he used to behave as a soldier and not as a sovereign and often visited them because experience had taught him that military successes depended on the vigilance of the generals. He was shrewd in riding and took great delight in painting. He held in high esteem Tiziano Vecelio, who taught knight and enriched him with gifts and salaries and it is said that having portrayed him, Charles, in seeing his image said: “You have immortalized me three times. He hated to be praised and in fact it is said that an orator, having praised him immensely, he replied: “You have rather represented me as I should be, not as I am”. Unshakable by the path of honor, he always disdained the vile advice of his courtiers and it is said that some of them, seeing him almost attracted by the wife of a brave captain of his army, advised him to indulge his desire for love, but he replied with a frown: “Do not want God to offend the honor of a man who defends mine with the sword in hand. Charles was not less generous than liberal towards any man of value and talent. In fact, in the d”Avalos palace, today in the National Museum of Capodimonte, one can observe the gift made by Charles to Fernando Francesco d”Avalos to testify his valor in the battle of Pavia, in which d”Avalos defeated and took prisoner Francis I of France. The gift consists of seven tapestries by Bernard van Orley and Jan and William Dermoyen depicting the battle of Pavia.

Charles granted protection and benevolence to men of science and letters and it is said that his courtiers, complaining to him because he spent his vigils and nights reading Guicciardini and refused to ricerverli, replied: “I can make in a moment a hundred gentlemen like you, but there is not that God alone can create a Guicciardini. He held in high regard the works of Macchiavelli, the histories of Thucydides and the memoirs of Comino and said that the Greek historian and the Florentine taught him politics and the French offered him, in the fallacious and artificial character of Louis XI, a rule for his conduct. He called his historians Giovio and the Sleidan liars because the first said much good about him and the other too much evil.

Charles V, among his titles also used that of Duke of Calabria in his edicts and constitutions when he became King of Naples.

Charles had a great love for justice, which he combined with clemency and temperance, and he wanted the authority of laws and magistrates to be applied by all. He was also a strenuous defender of Catholicism and fought hard against the Lutherans, although for political purposes he sometimes supported them.

From his marriage in 1526 to Isabella of Aviz, Charles had six children:

Charles also had five illegitimate children:

Genealogical table of Habsburgs

Charles, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever Augustus, King of Germany, King of Italy, King of all Spain, Castile, Aragon, Leon, Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, Navarre, Grenada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Seville, Córdoba, Murcia, Jaen, Algarves, Algeciras, Gibraltar, Canary Islands, King of Sicily Citeriore and Ulterior, Sardinia and Corsica, King of Jerusalem, King of the West and East Indies, the islands and the mainland of the Ocean Sea, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Limburg, Luxembourg, Gelderland, Neopatria, Württemberg, Landgrave of Alsace, Prince of Swabia, Asturias and Catalonia, Count of Flanders, Habsburg, Tyrol, Gorica, Barcelona, Artois, Palatine of Burgundy, Hainaut, Holland, Seeland, Ferrette, Kyburg, Namur, Roussillon, Cerdagne, Drenthe, Zutphen, margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgau, Oristano and Gociano, Lord of Friesland, Marca vindica, Pordenone, Biscay, Molin, Salins, Tripoli and Machelen.

The official portrait painter of Charles V was Titian. The master from Cadore portrayed him several times: in 1533 (Portrait of Charles V with the dog) and in 1548 (Portrait of Charles V on horseback, Portrait of Charles V seated), but other similar works are lost.

Between the two established a strong intellectual bond, such as to justify even legends according to which the emperor stooped to pick up the brush that had escaped from the artist”s hand. The artist described the whole physical and human parabola of the sovereign, who loved to be portrayed because, according to him, his ugly, small and sickly appearance would have appeared less unpleasant if people were already accustomed to see him painted. From time to time, Titian”s portraits capture “the reflection of aspirations, tensions, labors, pomp, faith, regret, loneliness, ardors”.

Federico Zuccari reported an anecdote whereby Philip II of Spain, son of Charles, once mistook a portrait of his father for his living figure.

The character of Charles V is also present in two of Giuseppe Verdi”s operas: in Ernani and, as a ghost, in Don Carlo, under the character “Un Frate”.



  1. Carlo V d”Asburgo
  2. Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor
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