1902 Encyclopedia > Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Charles V
(1500-58)
Holy Roman Emperor




CHARLES V. (1500-1558), emperor, the ablest and most powerful monarch of the 16th century, was born at Ghent, February 24, 1500. He was the converging point and heir of four great royal lines, which had become united by a series of fortunate matrimonial alliances. His father was Philip of Austria, who being the son of the Emperor Maximilian and of Mary, only daughter and heiress of Charles the Bold, transmitted to him the posses-sion of the Netherlands, and of the hereditary dominions of Austria, as well as a solid claim to the imperial crown of Germany at the next election. His mother was Joanna, second daughter, and finally heiress, of Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile, joint rulers of Spain, who handed down to their grandson the united monarchy, increased by the conquest of Granada in 1492, by the addition of the two Sicilies in 1504, by the annexation of the southern part of Navarre in 1512, and by the discovery of the New World. Seldom, if ever, in the history of the world has any one been born to such vast possessions and to such weighty responsibilities. He fell heir to the Netherlands on the death of his father in 1506, to the crown of Spain and Naples on the death of his grandfather Ferdinand in 1516, and to the archdukedom of Austria on the death of his grandfather Maximilian in 1519. Before the future emperor was born, Columbus had been discover-ing for him territories of unlimited extent and fabulous wealth beyond the pillars of Hercules. When he was only fifteen years of age the first European saw the Pacific Ocean ; and while the crown of Charlemagne and Bar-barossa was being placed on his head at Aix-la-Chapelle, Magellan was prosecuting the great voyage which was to result in the circumnavigation of the globe, and Cortes was engaged in the arduous conquest of Mexico. Ere he had been twenty years on the throne of Spain, Pizarro had completed the conquest of Peru. This was not all. It must be remembered that two at least of the countries he was destined to rule were approaching the very highest point of their intellectual, moral, and material development. The ingenious and energetic population of the Netherlands were carrying industry to a pitch till that time unexampled in the history of the world, while the vast wealth they accumulated could in the hands of a politic ruler become an almost exhaustless source of revenue. It was the heroic period in the history of Spain, the period of final victory over the Moors, and of the romantic conquest of a new world, when religious and military enthusiasm elevated the national character in such an extraordinary manner ; in war, diplomacy, and government the pre-eminence of the Spaniards was acknowledged and dreaded. In fact, the material wealth of great countries and the genius necessary to form it and to guide it were available to an extent which has seldom been surpassed.

On to 1517, when he went to enter upon the government of Spain, Charles lived in the Netherlands. He was carefully educated, though his tastes attracted him more to the active exercises of the chase and of the tilting ground than to the dry and pedantic learning of the time. William of Croy, Lord of Chievres, was appointed to superintend his education, while under him Adrian of Utrecht, afterwards Pope by the name of Adrian VI., was the teacher of the young prince. The latter was not able to inspire him with any love for the scholastic learning in which he excelled, while the former did not attempt to lay any constraint upon his natural bent. He took care, how-ever, to instruct him in the knowledge more directly useful to a prince, in the study of history and the science of government, and especially sought to interest him in the practical direction of affairs. If we may judge from the result he was perfectly successful, as his pupil grew up to be a great adept in the arts of government, and to be the active and direct moving power in everything that tran-spired during his reign. Yet his character was late in developing. His excessive deference to his teachers and the undue place he gave them in the government rendered him very unpopular during his first visit to Spain (1517-19).

In 1519 the news arrived of the death of his grandfather Maximilian, and then of his own election to the imperial crown. The contest between him and Francis I. had excited universal attention in Europe. The crown had been first offered to Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony, but that prince recommended Charles on the plea that the critical state of the empire, especially on account of the alarming progress of the Turks, required for it a powerful protector. And, indeed, now that Charles had attained to the highest position in Christendom, he found that the vast extent of an empire, consisting of nations geographically disconnected and brought under the same head, not through any real affinity, but by the accident of matrimonial alliances, had only increased the number of his rivals and the many-sided complexity of his duties. Between Charles's dominions in Spain and the Netherlands, holding the duchy of Burgundy, which Charles claimed by hereditary right, and the duchy of Milan, over which he was bound to assert the old imperial claims, angry because of the Spanish conquest of Navarre, and chagrined by his defeat in the contest for the imperial crown, Francis ruled a com-pact and united kingdom, not capable certainly of matching the vast empire of Charles, yet not easily accessible to attack, and formidable on the battle-field. About the same time that Charles was crowned at Aix-la-Chapelle, the throne of Turkey was ascended by Soliman the Magnificent, who himself the heir of mighty conquests and of well-disciplined armies, carried the Ottoman empire to the very pinnacle of its power (1520-66); his progress through Hungary up to the walls of Vienna was marked by an ever-advancing line of fire and blood; his fleets commanded the Mediterranean, and threatened the coasts of Italy and Spain, while the corsairs of Tunis and Algiers, under the renowned Barbarossa, who was soon to acknowledge his allegiance, infested the seas, and, spreading terror all along the northern shores of the Mediterranean, carried thousands of- Christians into slavery. The Pope was a doubtful and suspicious ally or an open enemy, as the interests or passions of the Holy See seemed to dictate, and Henry of England, aspiring to be the arbiter of Europe, pursued an equally capricious course of vacillation. In Spain itself the discontent of the commons broke into open revolt, while the haughty nobles required to be skilfufly managed. Above all, on the very year of the coronation, Martin Luther had burned the papal bull which condemned him at the gate of Wittenberg. No one could yet foresee the extent of the chasm opened up in the Christian world by the heroic defiance thus hurled at its spiritual chief; but it soon became clear that the heart of Germany was with the Augustinian monk, and that many powerful influences, in the empire and out of it, religious, social, and national,— science, culture, patriotism, morality, and piety—were working towards the overthrow of priestly domination. On all sides, then. Charles had difficult work to do. In Italy and Navarre, and on the Flemish frontier, he had to make head against the armies of Francis ; in Hungary and in the Mediterranean he had to arrest the progress of the Turks ; he required to watch the wayward king of England and the crafty popes, to manage the haughty susceptibility of Spanish grandees and the boisterous independent spirit of the Flemish cities, to compose the religious troubles, and to stay the growing spirit of revolt against the old state of things.

From his coronation at Aix-la-Chapelle, Charles proceeded to the Diet of Worms, which opened on the 28th of January 1521. After a council of regency had been appointed, which under the presidency of his brother Ferdinand was to govern during the emperor's absence, and other business had been disposed of, the religious difficulty was taken up. Though political considerations always prevailed with Charles during his active career, he was a Catholic by conviction, and was by no means disposed to encourage the hopes entertained of him by the liberal party in Germany. Besides, the old traditions of the empire, in which he firmly believed, required that he should support the church. At the same time, the Reformation was too strongly supported to admit of the summary measures most congenial to his character and most suitable to his political position. Luther was therefore heard, and his safe-conduct respected ; but at the close of the diet Charles had the ban of the empire pronounced upon him and his adherents. This edict, however, which had been obtained by unfair means, remained inoperative. The war with Francis which now broke out, and occupied the emperor for eight years, prevented him from obstructing the Refor-mation. In the meantime, disturbances had been going on in another part of his dominions (1519-21). The discon-tent of the commons of Castile at the summary proceedings of Ximenes, at the excessive preference given to Flemish officials in the government of Spain, and at the other uncon-stitutional measures of the new Government, broke into open revolt. Toledo was the first to rise, and the insurgent cause soon became powerful in Castille. Even many of the nobles sympathized with the movement ; one of their number, Don John de Padilla, placed himself at the head of it; but divisions among the commons, and their aliena-tion from the nobility, weakened their strength. An army was brought up against them, which defeated Padilla, and took Toledo after a hard siege. Like disturbances took place in Valencia. On his return from Germany, Charles treated the insurgents with great clemency, and wisely attached the nobility to his person ; but the old liberties of Castile became little more than a dead letter.





After his return from the Diet of Worms, Charles remained in Spain till 1529, directing the war against Francis. The emperor was upon the whole decidedly victorious. The French were foiled in Navarre, and expelled from Milan and from the whole of Italy. The failure of the imperialists in an invasion of Provence aud the siege of Marseilles was compensated by the splendid victory of Pavia, in which the French sustained enormous losses, and Francis himself was made prisoner (1525). The triumph was, indeed, too decisive, as it made Charles oblivious of every chivalrous principle in his treatment of the captive king, and alarmed his allies, Henry of England and Clement VII., into espousing the French cause. Francis nominally accepted, but immediately after his liberation repudiated the humiliating peace of Madrid, and with his allies recommenced the war. Thus Charles lost the fruits of his victory; but he was again successful. The mercenary army of Bourbon plundered Rome, and kept the Pope a prisoner in the castle of St Angelo, while the efforts of Francis to maintain himself in Italy proved a failure. At length the rival monarchs composed their differences for a time at the peace of Cambray 1529, by which Francis renounced his pretensions to Milan, and retained the duchy of Burgundy. The superior generalship of the Spaniards, the deeper and more persevering policy of Charles, and the defection of Bourbon (who, grievously injured at the French court, carried over to the enemies of his country his military skill and a thirst for revenge) had given him the foremost place in Christendom, in reality as well as in name, while the peace left him free for other labours. Leaving Spain under the regency of his beloved queen, Isabella of Portugal, whom he had wedded in 1526, he proceeded to Italy. At Bologna, where he had an interview with the Pope, he was crowned emperor and king of Italy; and Florence, which had expelled the Medici, was taken after a long siege, deprived of its republican constitution, and placed under a member of that celebrated family. After having arranged the affairs of Italy, the emperor crossed the Tridentiue Alps into Germany to attend the diet which had been summoned to meet at Augsburg (1530). Notwithstanding the Peasants' War. the fanaticism of the Anabaptists, and the strenuous, often threatening, opposition of the powers temporal and spiritual, especially of Southern Germany, the Beformation had made marvellous progress during the nine years which had elapsed since the Edict of Worms, and was rapidly overspreading the whole empire. It was clear that if the influence of the church beyond the Alps was not altogether to be lost, the emperor must interpose with the whole weight of his authority. Accordingly, at Augsburg, Charles made every effort to bring about a peaceful arrangement of the religious differences ; but he soon found that he had quite mistaken the strength and firmness of the new movement. The Protestants held resolutely by the confession they had presented; and when Charles proceeded to issue a hostile edict against them, they formed themselves into a league for mutual defence under the leadership of Saxony and Hesse. This was the famous Smalkald League, which from the end of 1530 continued to be the political bulwark of German Protestantism. The league entered into communication with both Prance and England; but it was from a much stranger quarter deliverance was to come. As at the Diet of Worms it was Francis, so now it was Soliman that averted an armed collision between the young Protestantism and the imperial power. Foiled in his attack on Vienna in 1529, the sultan was again threatening the south-eastern frontiers of Germany with a terrible army. Charles felt it necessary to unite the empire against him, and so at Nuremberg effected a compromise with the Protestants, by which freedom of worship was secured till the calling of a general council. With all enthusiasm they then armed against the Turk. At the head of one of the most splendid armies ever equipped by Christendom, Charles for the first time took the field in person. Great deeds were expected at this hostile meeting of the Eastern and the Western worlds ; but the sultan, reckoning on the religious quarrels of Germany, did not anticipate that he would have to confront the united forces of the empire, and therefore soon with-drew within his own frontier (1532). Not being able to follow the enemy through the wasted kingdom of Hungary, the emperor returned through Italy to Spain. His next expedition was against Tunis, now the stronghold of the great pirate Parbarossa. The emperor defeated Barbarossa, took the city, and released thousands of Christian slaves, who, returning to Europe, spread abroad the fame of their generous deliverer (1535). The same year war was resumed with Francis, who formed an alliance with the Turks, and invaded the territory of the duke of Savoy. Charles failed completely in an invasion of Provence, and the war ended without any important result by the truce of Nice (1538). Next year the emperor lost his wife Isabella, to whom he was deeply attached. Towards the end of the year (1539), when a revolt of the city of Ghent required his presence in Flanders, Charles passed through Paris on the special invitation of the French king, giving to Europe, as was thought, a noble example of chivalrous confidence and forgetfulness of past enmities. The emperor was too much occupied with present emergencies to introduce a systematic despotism into the Netherlands ; but when the privileges of the cities came into conflict with his imperial plans they were little respected. The most cruel edicts had been issued against Lutheranism and a bloody persecution carried on. But to Charles the Netherlands were above all things an inexhaustible source of revenue, from which he drew the supplies for his many wars. They paid annually twice as much as Spain and the Indies put together, and were continually called upon for extraordinary contributions. The great city of Ghent, his own birthplace, had lately refused to contribute, and even entered into communication with Francis, who betrayed it to Charles. The emperor entered the city with a numerous army and an imposing retinue, caused the ringleaders to be executed, annulled the constitution of the city, and placed it entirely under the government of persons nominated by himself (1540). In the autumn of next year Charles made another expedition against the corsairs of North Africa, who had now made Algiers their great stronghold and the centre of their nefarious power. But he was unsuccessful ; a tremendous tempest so disabled the army and injured the fleet that he was obliged to return before he had in the least accomplished the object of the expedition. He had unwisely persisted in it during a highly unfavourable season ; but the bravery with which he exposed himself to danger and hardship of every kind to some extent atoned for his rashness. The reverses sustained by the emperor at Algiers encouraged the most persevering of his enemies, Francis, to renew the war in alliance with the Turks. Consequently, Charles was once more obliged on every side to make head against his old foes, against the French armies in Piedmont and on the Spanish and Flemish frontiers, against the Turkish armies in Hungary, and against a junction of the French and Turkish fleets in the Mediter-ranean. At length a fresh compromise with the Protestant princes enabled him to invade Champagne with a powerful German army, which so alarmed the French capital that Francis found it expedient to conclude the peace of Crespy (1544). This was the last war of Charles with his French rival. The emperor had all along maintained his superiority over the king, but except that the French had been expelled from Italy, they remained, territorially, as they had been at the beginning.

This peace with Francis, and a truce subsequently concluded with Soliman, now left Charles free to grapple with his last and most difficult labour, the suppression of the Beformation. The religious question always lay very near to the heart of the emperor. But during the first twenty-five years of his reign, it had only been at short and broken intervals, left him by his wars and other multi-form relations with Francis, Henry, the Pope, and the Turk, that he had been able to take it in hand. Scarcely had he been able to enter on some deliberate method of dealing with it when one or other of those rivals or suspicious friends crossed his path, and called his attention elsewhere. And now, when he could devote seven years of almost uninterrupted leisure to the work, and could concentrate the entire strength of his empire on the execution of it, he was destined to discover that the Befor-mation had grown too strong to be arrested even by his imperial will. Its progress, great as it had been from the Diet of Worms to that of Augsburg, had been far greater from the Diet of Augsburg to the period at which we have arrived. At Augsburg the elector of Saxony and Philip of Hesse were the only considerable princes that supported the Beformation. By this time Wiirtem-berg, Brandenburg, the dukedom of Saxony, and the Palatinate of the Rhine had declared for it. Northern Germany was almost entirely Protestant, whilst in Southern Germany the imperial cities, and even to some extent the nobility of the Austrian hereditary states, were in favour of it. Bohemia was strongly inclined in the same direction ; and towards the West the orthodoxy of the Netherlands was threatened by the duke of Cleves, who was going to enter the Smalkald League, when his plans were cut short by the emperor, and still more so by Hermann, archbishop of Cologne, who was engaged in inaugurating a moderate reformation of his province under the advice of Bucer and Melanchthon. Thus had the new movement profited by the distractions of an emperor who wished to arrest it. Now it was clearly time for the most strenuous and com-prehensive effort. It was to be expected of the politic nature of Charles that he would not have recourse to extreme measures till all means of accommodation had been exhausted. Accordingly, in 1541, at Batisbon, a great religious conference had been held by some of the most moderate theologians on either side. No little harmony of opinion had been arrived at, but they differed as to tran-substantiation and the powers of the church, the more decided heads of both parties were afraid that compromise was being carried too far, and the result was that they separated without any common platform being secured. Towards the end of 1545 another of the methods all along proposed for the arrangement of the religious difficulty, and constantly urged on the popes by the emperor, was at length to be tried. But the Protestants were resolved to have nothing to do with a so-called general council which was composed almost entirely of Italians and Spaniards, where the Pope and the old party were absolutely predominant, and where, consequently, the Church of Germany had no chance of a fair representation or even of a fair hearing. The calling of the Council of Trent, therefore, had the sole effect of widening the chasm between the old and the new; and the course its deliberations were to take had the same result in signalizing the contradiction between the Catholic and the Protestant point of view. Perceiving that milder methods were of no avail, Charles now made preparations to compel the submission of the Frotestant princes. The dissensions among them greatly facilitated his plans. Maurice, duke of Saxony, always at feud with his kinsman the elector, was ready, with reasonable prospect of self-aggrandizement, to take the imperial side, and the elector of Brandenburg took no active part in the struggle, so that Electoral Saxony, Hesse, Wurtemberg, and the imperial cities alone were to be reckoned with. The counsel of the great general Schiirtlin, who commanded the troops of the cities, to fall upon Charles at Eatisbon before his forces were assembled, and then to seize the passes of Tyrol, so as to break the communication between Italy and the imperial camp, was set aside by the hesitating and over-scrupulous leaders of the Protestant party. Accordingly, Charles was allowed to concentrate his troops and take the offensive. Maurice thereupon declared himself, and, in-vading the territories of Electoral Saxony, compelled the elector to withdraw from the Protestant camp, which con-sequently soon broke up, leaving the emperor to have his own way in South Germany, and to suppress the Reforma-tion in the province of Cologne. Thus, disastrously for the Protestants, ended the campaign of 1546, the result of their own indecision, as their forces were superior to those of the emperor.

In the meantime, the Saxon elector had been chastising Maurice for his treacherous invasion of the electorate. In the spring of 1547 the emperor, hastening to assist his ally, concentrated his forces at Eger on the Bohemian frontier, overtook the electoral forces at Miihlberg on the Elbe, defeated them easily, and took the elector prisoner. He was obliged to submit to a humiliating arrangement, by which he resigned his territory and the electoral hat to his enemy Maurice. Shortly after, Philip of Hesse was like-wise compelled to yield, and was detained a prisoner by the emperor, whose dishonourable conduct on this occasion excited the indignation of his Protestant allies, especially of Maurice, who was son-in-law to the landgrave. In a little time Protestantism seemed to be at the feet of the emperor. The city of Magdeburg was the only important seat of resistance remaining. But while the emperor had been beating down the enemies of the church on the field of battle, her representatives at Trent were proceeding in such a way as to render a permanent settle-ment of the question impossible. The politic Charles was anxious to concede certain points to the Protestants, so as to secure peace while still maintaining the rights of the church. The conclusions arrived at by the council did not admit of compromise; and to make matters worse, the Pope, alarmed at the victorious attitude of Charles, removed it from Trent to Bologna. Elated by his victories to an extent that was not to be expected of an old and experienced statesman, the emperor now adopted some very doubtful measures. Under his auspices, the Augsburg Interim was framed—an attempt to supply a common religious platform for all parties in the empire, and thus by his own imperial authority put an end to the schism. But it pleased neither party, for the Catholics rejected it, and the Protestants accorded it only a limited and enforced obedience. Another plan of the emperor, to induce the German electors to cancel the election of his brother Ferdinand as king of the Bomans and to choose his own son Philip instead, also failed. Thus the ambitious dream of Charles to transmit all his own power to his son, and if possible make it hereditary in his family, could not be realized. Meanwhile, ail unknown to himself, a plot was maturing by which he was to be hurled from a position of splendid triumph into the bitterest reverses of his life. The profound and skilful Maurice of Saxony, finding that he had got from the emperor all that was to be expected, and perceiving how deeply he had outraged the national and religious senti-ment of Germany, resolved to seize the advantage given him by the high-handed and oppressive measures of his ally in order to retrieve his own lost credit. Accordingly a combination of princes was formed with the greatest secrecy, and an alliance concluded with Henry II. of France. While the French king, marching eastward as the " Protector of the Liberties of Germany," seized Toul, Verdun, and Metz, and threatened Strasburg, and the Turks renewed the war on the Austrian frontiers, Maurice and his confederates advanced suddenly into South Germany, and surprised the emperor at Innsbruck, whence, saved from capture by a mutiny among the German lands-knechts, he fled, sick of gout, over the Tyrolese Alps into Carinthia. Weary of the religious divisions of Germany, Charles left to his brother Ferdinand the task of arranging a peace, first at Passau (1552), and finally at Augsburg (1555). But he was doomed ere long to sustain another severe reverse. While renouncing the task of arranging the internal affairs of Germany, he had chosen for himself the duty of chastising her foreign enemies, and winning back an important possession. At the head of a splendid army of 60,000 men, he besieged Metz from the end of October 1552 to the beginning of January; but all his efforts to retake the city availed nothing against the skill of Guise, and the bravery of the French nobles, who had thrown themselves into the city in great numbers. After suffering great losses he was obliged to retreat, and Metz was for three centuries lost to the Germau empire. Soon after, in a very different-quarter, the policy of Charles gained a great triumph, which likewise proved illusory. The frequent changes in the direction of English politics had always been a subject of deep interest to him, and had to some extent affected his own course, though only in a secondary way. Now, however, on the accession of Mary, there was real ground for the hope that England might be drawn into the closest connection with his policy, and most intimately interested in the great struggle against the new movement, which had gradually become the supreme ques-tion in European politics. Mary had already been betrothed to Charles, and expressed her willingness to become his second empress; but he transferred the state duty of marrying Mary to his son Philip, who accordingly did so in 1554. The presence of Philip in England con-tributed greatly to the restoration of Catholicism in the country, and Mary was very glad to fall in with the general policy of Charles. An heir only was wanting to the stability of the union, an heir, too, who was destined by the marriage treaty to rule over England and the posses-sions of the house of Burgundy, and his birth was expected with many prayers in the Catholic world, and with great anxiety on the part of Charles. Happily for England, the hopes of Mary were not realized. The English alliance continued, but its insecurity was only too apparent.





Long before the period at which we have arrived, Charles had entertained the idea of relinquishing the throne in order to devote the remainder of his life to quiet retirement and preparation for another world. With a feeling of this kind it had been purposed by him and his wife Isabella, who died in 1539, to withdraw, he into a monastery, she into some neighbouring nunnery, and there spend the evening of their days in religious exercises. On his return from the unhappy expedition against Algiers his suite remarked the impression made on him by the quiet simplicity of the monastic life. In 1542, the secret had been confided to Francisco Borja, afterwards famous in the Society of Jesus. Now when he had been thwarted in his dearest schemes, obliged to renounce all pretension to control the religious movement in Germany, and foiled in a great attempt to recover an imperial city treacherously seized by his bitterest foes, and when the last great effort of his statesmanship depended on the life of a sickly woman, it is no wonder that he proceeded to carry his plan into execu-tion. But beyond a doubt the great reason for finally adopting the resolution to abdicate was his feeble health. The vigour which in his younger days had fitted him so well for the chase, the tournament, and the battle-field, was already completely undermined by incessant labour and anxiety, by repeated attacks of gout, and, it must be added, by the most extraordinary excess at table. In 1554 he transferred the crown of Naples to his son Philip, in order that Philip might marry Mary of England on equal terms. Next year, on the 25th of October, the States of the Netherlands were assembled at Brussels to receive a formal abdication of those provinces. Supported by a crutch on the right hand, the left leaning on the shoulder of the young prince of Orange, afterwards renowned as the liberator of Holland, Charles recounted the many journeys he had made and the long and arduous labours he had undergone in the service of his people; he intimated that the state of his health now required that he should transfer the cares of government to his young son, whom he introduced to the assembly ; and, exhorting them to adhere stedfastly to the Catholic faith, requested their forgiveness of all the errors committed during his reign. The assembly, full of the ancient spirit of reverent loyalty, and struck by the marvellous spectacle of the highest earthly power voluntarily divesting itself of its majesty and descending into obscurity before the natural time, burst into tears and sobs. The emperor himself, as he sunk exhausted in his chair, wept like a child. The same year Charles intimated to his brother Ferdinand his determination to resign the imperial dignity; but owing to the tedious formalities of the empire, and the objections of Ferdinand, it was not till 1558 that the process of abdication was completed. In the beginning of 1556 he formally laid down the crown of Spain.

After he had thus relieved himself of the responsibilities of government, Charles sailed from Flushing on the 17 th September for a climate better suited to his broken health. He landed at Laredo in Spain on the 28th, and in the beginning of February of next year finally settled at Yuste, a Hieronymite monastery in the north of Estremadura. It stood in a pleasant and genial valley, protected from the north wind by a range of mountains. He had selected the spot some time before, and had caused a house to be built for his reception adjoining the monastery. Here he stayed till his death, a period of one year and eight months nearly. His life in retirement, so erroneously painted by Robertson, has been described with great minuteness by many recent historians of great ability. The romance in which it has been enveloped has been done away, and his character appears in unborrowed and somewhat prosaic reality. It is true that he devoted much of his time to religious exercises; for it was not to be expected that a prince, who had not allowed a single day to pass since the age of twenty-one without spending a portion of it in inward prayer, would intermit the practice in his declining years, and during a retreat chosen for the purpose. He spent much of his leisure in gratifying his mechanical tastes, but so far was he from learning the principle of toleration from the impossibility of making two watches go exactly alike, that he exhorted his children, in the most urgent manner, to destroy heresy with fire and sword. He still delighted in the converse of learned and experienced men, but instead of entertaining them familiarly at table he maintained the stately Castilian etiquette of dining alone, only once deigning to partake of the meal of the friars, whom he con-tinued to respect as much as ever. The simplicity of his table especially is a mere imagination. So long as he was tolerably well he kept his dependents in continual anxiety to have it well furnished with those pernicious dainties which had contributed to ruin his health, and this was only equalled by the anxiety of his medical and other advisers, when excess had brought about its natural consequences. His retirement certainly delivered him from the necessity of moving in a prescribed line of anxious duty and responsibility, but his own sympathy with public affairs, and the emergencies in which Philip found himself in consequence of a new combination of the French, the Turks, and the Pope, obliged him to come forward with his advice, which was always attended to with the utmost deference, and in financial matters, with his active help. The couriers despatched to Yuste found him keenly alive to all the vicissitudes of good and evil fortune which his empire was still destined to experience. The brilliant, but somewhat barren victories of St Quentin and Gravelines, the extraordinary peace concluded by Philip with the Pope, the loss of Calais and Thionville, the advance of the Turkish fleet to the coast of Spain, and the much-desired but never to-be-fulfilled hope of Mary of England, that God might give her a child for the good of the church—all these matters interested him as much as when he was the moving spirit of European politics. The soft air of Yuste and the easy way of life he led had for some time a most beneficial effect on his health. He became stronger than he had been. But his gout, and above all his injudicious diet, still rendered him an invalid. He could not ride, nor could he walk much, but was usually carried about in a chair, and delighted to enjoy the warm air under the shade of the trees of the monastery. At length, during the month of August 1558, serious symptoms began to show themselves, and it was remarked that his mind dwelt more than ever on the religious ceremonies prescribed by the church for the souls of the dead. The Hieronymite chroniclers relate that he even caused his own obsequies to be performed before his death. There are a good many difficulties in the way of accepting their narrative ; but Sir W. Stirling Maxwell and Prescott are both disposed to believe that his funeral service was in some form celebrated during his life. The same day, the 30th August, he felt considerably worse. In a little time his ailment took the form of fever, of which he expired at two o'clock in the morning of the 21st September (1558). He died the death of a good Catholic, earnestly commending his soul to God according to all the forms observed by the church. He was interred in the monastery; but after the completion of the Escorial by Philip, his remains were removed thither, where they were again laid to rest by the side of his dearly beloved and much regretted Isabella.

An important point in the codicil to his will, executed some days before his decease, must be mentioned for the light it throws on the character of Charles and on the subsequent history of Europe. In the very year of his death the most conclusive proof had been given of the influence of Luther's teaching even at the court and round the throne of Spain. At the time of this alarming dis-closure Charles had urged the severest measures for the extinction of heresy, and now in this codicil he enjoined his son in the solemnest manner to root it out. Thus the last energies of the emperor were spent in consecrating that

terrible system of religious policy which led the different branches of his house into the fatal crusade against the Reformation, set one-half of Christendom in arms against the other, and permanently arrested the development of Southern Europe. As to Luther and the Diet of Worms he regretted that respect for human engagements had led him to forget his duty to God in permitting the arch-heretic to escape, but congratulated himself that he had never exposed his soul to contamination by hearing the new doctrines defended in his presence, as if ignorance were the only sure safeguard of truth. At the same time, those who would see in this proof of a blood-thirsty disposition entirely mistake the character of Charles or the state of the Spanish conscience. Charles was neither cruel nor cold by nature; he was popular among all classes and nationalities of his subjects, clement to rebels, revered by his immediate attendants, loved by the members of his own family, and deeply attached to his wife. Conscious that he was by divine right the political head of Christendom, he did not evade or depreciate the duties such a position imposed, but exerted himself to the utmost and in a religious spirit to fulfil them, though by no means unwilling to employ all the arts permitted by the statesmanship of the time. In fact he fulfilled better than most men the mission which his experience and position imposed and his education enabled him to comprehend, and of this he considered the suppression of opinion destructive of the church the most indispensable part, quite as obligatory as the defence of Christendom against the Turks and the corsairs, more so than the assertion of his imperial dignity against the Pope, or of the rights of the house of Austria against the French. But his conscientious conviction of the necessity of suppressing heresy neutralized all the excellencies of his character. It was not so much in what he did, as in what he was not permitted to do, that his reign was helpful to the civilization of modern Europe.

The memoirs of Charles, dictated by him in leisure hours while sailing up the Rhine in 1550, were discovered in 1861 by Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove, while making some searches in the Imperial Library at Paris. The manuscript was in Portuguese, and professed to be a translation made from the original at Madrid in 1620. That such memoirs had existed was well known from the testimony of Van Male, literary secretary to Charles, and from other contemporary notices ; and their existence was affirmed in 1623 by Gonzalez d'Avila, historiographer of Philip III. They were written in French in a concise and dignified style, and give a brief summary of his life from 1515 to 1548, —very brief at first, somewhat in detail from 1545 to 1548. English translation by L. F. Simpson (Longmans, 1862).

Other authorities :—Robertson's Charles V.; Ranke's Deutsche Geschichte im Zeitalter der Reformation, which is almost coextensive with Charles's life. For life during his retirement consult Sir W. Stirling Maxwell's Cloister Life of Charles V.; Prescott's Appendix to Robertson; Pichot's Chronique de Charles-Quint; Gachard's Retraite et mart de Charles-Quint, and Mignet's Charles Quint, all which works are based on researches into the archives of Simaneas, especially on those of Gonzalez. (T. K.)




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