Charles V

Charles V

In this section Charles’ life is explored.

Born in 1500 as the eldest son of the Duke of Burgundy (Philip) and a princess of Spain (Juana) it was expected that Charles would eventually inherit many lands. But his parents were only in their twenties and he had an older cousin (whose mother, Juana’s older sister, had died in childbirth) who would inherit in Spain. Within a year of Charles’ birth his cousin Miguel had died and by the time he was six his father was dead and his distraught mother regarded as incapable of rule. Therefore all the lands ruled by his grandfathers, Ferdinand of Aragon and the Habsburg Emperor Maximilian, would go to Charles on their deaths.

Here you can look at Charles’ family in the form of family trees and in short biographies, as well as how Charles was able to use members of his family to help him rule his diverse territories. This section also covers the problems that he faced in his different lands – as Duke of Burgundy, King of Spain and Holy Roman Emperor - and how he dealt with them. There are also details about his upbringing in the Low Countries, his coronation as emperor by the pope in Bologna, and his abdication from power in the 1550’s. For an analysis of the successes and failures of his reign see Chapter 29 in 'Charles V: Duty and Dynasty - The Emperor and his Changing World'.