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Charles V: Historical Impact Essay

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Updated: Sep 14th, 2021

The achievements of Charles V cannot be underestimated. Charles V was a Holy Roman Emperor and a King of Aragon and Castile. He was the heir of four leading royal houses in Europe and managed to unite Spain, Sicily, the Holy Roman Empire, Naples, Burgundian Netherlands, and Spanish colonies in Northern America. At the time of his reign, he was the richest person in the world. Even though historians still argue whether his reign was beneficial for the territories he controlled, it is undoubted that under his reign the Holy Roman Empire, as well as Spain, were prosperous, economically developed, and politically stable. He was accepted as a foreigner; nevertheless, he contributed to the development of territories united by him.

Charles V combined the heritage of German Habsburgs and the heritage of Spain. He transcended national as well as ethical boundaries. In early childhood, he was influenced by the courtly life and culture of Burgundian Low Counties. He spoke five different languages fluently and learned Spanish as it was a required condition for becoming king of Castile. Charles V inherited close relationships with the kings of France. Paris was the greatest city in Europe at that time and Charles V was working to enrich the city even more.

Interestingly, Spain was the foundation of his kingdom, however, Charles V was perceived as a foreign prince. Charles V was tutored by Pope Adrian VI and was educated in religion and history. Nevertheless, Charles V made it dangerous for Christian ships to travel in the Mediterranean Sea. He captured Christian ships and turned people into slaves who ewer sold to the Middle East. His actions towards Christians distorted the economic well-being of Europe.

However, Charles V was the first to unite Seventeen Provinces under his rule in 1549. The territory of Low Countries was very important for Empire because of the developed trade and industry. The economically advanced territory made a vital contribution to the treasury of the Empire. Charles united Castile and Aragon as well. Even though negotiations were difficult, Charles agreed to fulfill all conditions. In particular, he had to learn the Castilian language, could not appoint foreigners, and could not take precious metals from the region. Before Charles V, Spanish monarchs were bound by law, while Charles became an absolute monarch.

Charles was criticized for the poor management of the Castilian territory. In particular, resistance against him rose because he imposed heavy taxes and selected Flemings for his offices. Thus, Castilians were held responsible for recovering funds spent on wars abroad by Emperor and they had no access to high offices. The Castilian War of Communities was suppressed and Castile was integrated into the empire. All of the previously required conditions were eliminated and the region became the provider of financial and military resources.

Notably, despite the repressions against Christians, Charles V believed in a mission of becoming a leader of the Christian world. He viewed the Islamic world as a threat to his reign. His empire was very rich and strong. In 1550, he organized a conference at Valladolid with the purpose to consider the morality of using force against the local population in Spanish America. Charles V cared about the rights of the people he conquered and tried to maintain stability in the regions of his empire.

When Charles V was crowned Holy Roman Emperor, he became the last emperor to receive a papal coronation. Notably, he did not inherit the title of Emperor but was elected to receive it. His power was limited by the German princes, however. Charles V was the one to establish inquisition and the death penalty for all heresy. Charles V understood the power of religion and tried to suppress people who did not share values with him. Moreover, Charles V has formed a strong army and was empowered to suppress all revolts and resistance.

In addition, Charles V was a successful diplomat and maintained close relations with European princes. Much of his reign was marked by conflicts with France. Charles V managed to defeat France because he allied with England and Pope in his fight against France. Nevertheless, when the French prince was released, Henry VIII of England, League of Cognac, and Francis of France joined to resist Charles V’s domination in Italy. As the result, all of these three powerful people were imprisoned. Charles was a successful military leader and none of his military campaigns has failed.

As a Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V became famous for his conduct with Martin Luther. Charles V did not support Luther’s idea of reformation and outlawed Luther and his followers. Charles V was involved in domestic as well as foreign affairs. He maintained the stability of his territories and suppressed all revolts; at the same time, he kept an eye on events in other parts of the world. Even though the reign of Charles V was marked with continuous war for power and domination in Europe, his ruling was beneficial for the economic and social life of his kingdom.

In conclusion, Charles V was interested in the prosperity of his empire and he was working hard to maintain political and social stability. He quickly identified the threats to his power (religion, for example) and reacted immediately. He ensured the prosperity of people who supported him and oppressed those who disagreed with him. Charles V worked 14 hours a day, never left his capital, and always replied to papers he received. He cared about the stability and growth of his empire. With his help, the Holy Roman Empire became the most powerful unity in Europe at that time.

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