Charles V was the Holy Roman Emperor, King of the Romans, and King of Italy at the same time. He controlled the Spanish Empire from 1516 to 1519, as well as the Holy Roman Empire and the Habsburg Netherlands from 1506. He consolidated huge regions in western, central, and southern Europe during his reign and brought them under his control. He also united the Spanish territories in the Americas and Asia under his rule. His kingdom was so large and powerful that it was one of the first to be dubbed “the empire that never sleeps.” Despite being a powerful and well-liked emperor, he struggled to effectively manage his huge empire and protect his domains against increasing Ottoman and French pressure, even suffering antagonism from the Pope. During his reign, many major battles occurred, including the Habsburg-Valois Wars with France and clashes with German princes as a result of the Protestant Reformation. Charles V progressively abdicated all of his positions in favor of his son Philip II and brother Ferdinand I, who were already suffering from serious health problems. He subsequently went to live in a monastery for the remainder of his life.
Childhood and Adolescence
Charles V, the eldest son of Philip the Handsome and Joanna of Castile, was born on February 24, 1500, in Ghent, Flanders, Habsburg Netherlands. His paternal grandparents were Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian I and Mary, Duchess of Burgundy, while his maternal grandparents were Ferdinand II and Isabella I, the Roman Catholic king and queen of Spain.
He was the heir of three powerful European dynasties: the Houses of Valois-Burgundy (Netherlands), Habsburg (Holy Roman Empire), and Trastámara (Holy Roman Empire) (Spain).
He was raised with the highest care as the crown prince and schooled by the brilliant academics William de Cro and Adrian of Utrecht. He became fluent in a number of languages, including French and Dutch. He could also communicate in Castilian Spanish and German.
Reign & Accession
When his father died, Charles V was just six years old. In 1506 he inherited his father’s Burgundian holdings. The Low Countries and Franche-Comté were among these areas, and the majority of the possessions were fiefs of the German Kingdom (part of the Holy Roman Empire).
Because he was a minor at the time, Emperor Maximilian nominated his father’s sister, Margaret of Austria, as regent until 1515. The domains he inherited caused various problems, which his aunt handled effectively.
Pier Gerlofs Donia and Wijard Jelckama led the Frisian peasant revolt against Charles V in 1515. Despite their initial success, the rebels were finally overwhelmed and crushed. In 1523, the rebellion’s last remaining leaders were put to death.
Meanwhile, Ferdinand II, his maternal grandpa, died in February 1516. Charles and his mother were to rule in Aragon and Castile, according to his will. The administration in Castile was to be directed by Francisco, Cardinal Jiménez de Cisneros, the archbishop of Toledo, Ferdinand’s most trusted advisor.
Because Charles’ mother was unable to rule the lands due to a bad illness, the young Charles was declared king on March 14, 1516 in Brussels as Charles I of Aragon and Castile.
Charles, now a young man, began to expand his territory. Tournai, Artois, Utrecht, Groningen, and Guelders were effectively annexed and brought under his dominion.
The Low Countries, which he had inherited, were extremely valuable to him. They were not only personal to him, but they were also the center of trade and business, making them very significant to the young ruler because the territories were an essential source of revenue for the imperial treasury.
The Crown of Aragon, which included the Kingdom of Naples, the Kingdom of Sicily, and the Kingdom of Sardinia, was one of Charles V’s many inheritances. The Duchy of Milan had formerly been part of the Crown of Aragon, but it had been seized by the French long before Charles took power. Charles was successful in recapturing Milan in 1522.
Charles, who had ruled the Habsburg Monarchy since 1519, was one of the contenders for the title of Holy Roman Emperor. Charles V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Clement VII in Bologna in 1530 after defeating the candidacies of Frederick III, Elector of Saxony, Francis I of France, and Henry VIII of England.
Warfare & Battles of Major Importance
Charles V had fought France in a number of wars, the most notable of which was the Italian War (1521–26). Because both Francis I of France and Charles V ran for Holy Roman Emperor, they had a personal rivalry. When Charles V was made Holy Roman Emperor, their rivalry grew even stronger.
In 1521, Charles V took Milan from the French and returned it the following year to Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan. Francis led his army into Lombardy in 1525, only to suffer a humiliating loss and be imprisoned as a result. In order to be released, Francis had to sign the Treaty of Madrid in January 1526, relinquishing his claims to Italy, Flanders, and Burgundy.
By the time Charles V became Holy Roman Emperor, the Ottoman–Habsburg conflicts had already begun to simmer. The Ottomans had become a serious danger to Charles’ power by the 16th century. Charles V launched a huge Holy League against the Ottoman city of Tunis, fearful of the Ottomans’ expanding authority.
Many troops in the 60,000-strong Holy League army died as a result of wounds and disease during the wars, which lasted a few years. At the Battle of Preveza in 1538, the Ottomans finally crushed the Holy League.
Charles V, a devoted Roman Catholic, was a staunch opponent to Protestantism’s expansion. Instead, he advocated for reform within the Roman Catholic Church while also attempting to reach an agreement with Protestants. This put him at odds with the Protestant Princes, who fought alongside Henry II of France against Charles. He was eventually obliged to accept the Peace of Augsburg, which was signed in 1555.
Abdications of Charles V
Several conflicts and battles marred Charles V’s reign, taking a toll on the emperor’s physical and mental health. The emperor, who had ascended to the throne at an early age, was feeling tired by the time he was in his fifties. He was also afflicted by a number of health issues. He opted to willingly renounce all of his responsibilities due to these concerns, as well as mounting Ottoman and French pressures.
In the 1550s, he began the process of abdication. In 1554, he gave his son Philip the thrones of Sicily and Naples, the Duchy of Milan, and both papal fiefs. In 1556, he abdicated the kingdom of Sicily, having already abdicated as monarch of the Spanish Empire in favor of Philip.
He finally abdicated as Holy Roman Emperor in September 1556 in favor of his brother Ferdinand I. However, the Electors of the Empire did not legally acknowledge the abdication until 1558.
Charles V retired to the Monastery of Yuste in Extremadura after abdicating all of his positions.
Personal History and Legacy
On March 10, 1526, Charles V married Isabella of Portugal, the sister of John III of Portugal, his first cousin. The marriage was essentially a political one, with Isabella providing a sizable dowry to Charles. The couple went on a long honeymoon and instantly fell head over heels in love.
Isabella proved to be a kind wife and mother, as well as a savvy politician. Their union was a joyous one. Only three of the couple’s six children lived to adulthood: Philip II of Spain, Maria, and Joanna. Isabella died in delivery in 1539, due to complications after having given birth to a stillborn child.
Following the death of his beloved wife, the emperor was devastated and mourned her loss for the rest of his life. He never married again.
Apart from the children he had with his wife, Charles V had a few illegitimate children.
He had a number of diseases, including an enlarged lower jaw, which is a hereditary disorder in the Habsburg family that is thought to be caused by the family’s long history of inbreeding. He was also afflicted with gout and seizures.
In his final years, his health deteriorated, and he was in such much discomfort that he couldn’t walk. In August 1558, he became gravely ill with malaria. He died a month later, on September 21, 1558, at the age of 58. He was holding the cross that his wife Isabella had been holding when she died at the moment of his death when he died.
He was initially buried in the chapel of the Monastery of Yuste and his remains were later moved to the newly constructed Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial in 1574.
Estimated Net Worth
Charles is one of the wealthiest kings and the most loved. Charles V’s net worth is estimated to be $1.5 million, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, and Business Insider.