Charles V (Charles of Hapsburg)


Gand, 24 February 1500


San Jerónimo de Yuste, 21 September 1558

Charles V (Charles of Hapsburg)

Charles of Habsburg was the son of Philip “the Handsome” (in turn son of the Emperor of the Holy Gemanic Empire, Maximilian I, and Mary of Burgundy, the last heir of that Duchy) and Joan “the Mad” (daughter of the “Catholic Kings” of Spain, Ferdinand d’Aragona and Isabella of Castille). After the turbulent succession to his maternal (1516) and paternal (1519) grandparents, Carlo (first on the Spanish throne and fitth on the Imperial throne) became the ruler of an Empire on which, truly, “the sun never set”. Adding to this the aspiration of bringing together the whole "Christian Society” under a single faith and a single Monarchy, it is easy to imagine that he would really feel the weight of the world on his shoulders. Charles V was then the protagonist of events that made history: the Protestant Rreformation, colonialism, the war for the domination of Europe and outside Europe against the Ottoman Empire. A great adversary of the Emperior, starting in 1519, was Francis I of France. Tired and embittered by the failure of his universalist dream, Charles V withdrew iin religious contemplation at the monastery of San Jerónimo de Yuste in Extremadura (1556), where he died two years later. It was in the context of the italian Wars that the Emperor's action also marked the destiny of Florence. After the Sack of Rome (1527), with the Peace of Barcelona (1529) he offered Pope Clement VII his help to reconquer Florence. After the success of the Habsburg-Papal troops in 1530, Charles V issued a diploma entrusting to Alessandro de’ Medici and his offspring the leadership of Florence (the nature of that investiture, feudal or otherwise, was questioned in 1737 after the end of the dynasty). From then on, Charles of Habsburg protected, although with some uncertainties, the new Medici regime, considering the Princedom much more reliable than a Republic, to the extent that in 1536 he respected the clauses signed in Barcelona, when he agreed to the marriage between his biological daughter Margaret of Austria and Alessandro.

Bibliography and sources:

Karl Brandi, Carlo V, Torino, Einaudi, 2001
Geoffrey Parker, L’imperatore. Vita di Carlo V, Milano, Hoepli, 2021

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