Carlos I / Karl V

Ruler of the Spanish Empire and Holy Roman Empire/ King of the Romans / King of Italy


Carlos el Primero

Known names:

(Spanish: Carlos I, Dutch: Karel V, German: Karl V., Italian: Carlo V, French: Charles Quint, Turkish: Şarlken;


Born in 24 February 1500, he is the current ruler of the Holy Roman Empire starting in 1519 and, as Carlos I, of the Spanish Empire starting from 1516.

As the heir of three of Europe’s leading dynasties—the House of Habsburg of the Habsburg Monarchy; the House of Valois-Burgundy of the Burgundian Netherlands; and the House of Trastámara of the Crowns of Castile and Aragon—he ruled over extensive domains in Central, Western, and Southern Europe; and the Spanish colonies in the New World and Asia.


Carlos is the eldest son of Philip the Handsome and Juana la Loca. When Philip died in 1506, Carlos became ruler of the Burgundian Wasteland, and his mother’s co-ruler in Estalia upon the death of his maternal grandfather, Ferdinand the Catholic, in 1516. As Carlos was the first person to rule Castile-León and Aragon simultaneously in his own right, he became the first King of Estalia(Carlos co-reigned with his mother Juana, which was however a technicality given her mental instability). In 1519, Carlos succeeded his paternal grandfather Maximilian as Holy Roman Emperor and Archduke of Austria. From that point forward, Carlos’s realm, which has been described as “the empire on which the sun never sets”, spanning nearly four million square kilometers across the Europe, the Far East, and the New World.

Issues with Italy

Much of Carlos’ reign is devoted to the Italian Wars against the French king, Francis I, and his heir, king Henry II, which although enormously expensive, were militarily successful due to the undefeated Spanish tercio and the efforts of his prime ministers Mercurino Gattinara and Francisco de los Cobos y Molina. Carlos’ forces re-captured both Milan and Franche-Comté from France after the decisive Habsburg victory at the Battle of Pavia, which pushed Francis to form the Franco-Ottoman alliance.

The Enemy


Carlos’ chief world rival Suleiman the Magnificent conquered the central part of Hungarian Kingdom after defeating the Christians at the Battle of Mohács. However, the Ottoman advance was halted after they failed to capture Vienna.

The Protestants

Carlos is best known for opposing the Protestant Reformation.
In addition to the German Peasants’ War against the Empire, several German princes abandoned the Catholic Church and formed the Schmalkaldic League in order to challenge Carlos’ authority with military force. Unwilling to allow the same religious wars to come to his other domains, Carlos pushed for the convocation of the Council of Trent, which began the Counter-Reformation. The Society of Jesus was established by Ignacio de Loyola during Carlos’ reign in order to peacefully and intellectually combat Protestantism, and the Iberian peninsula was spared from religious conflict largely by Carlos’ nonviolent measures. In Germany, although Protestantism was personally defeated by Carlos at the Battle of Mühlberg, he legalized Lutheranism within the Holy Roman Empire with the Peace of Augsburg.

Carlos also maintained his alliance with Henry VIII of England, despite the latter splitting the Church of England from Rema and violently persecuting Catholics.

The New World

In the New World, Carlos oversees the Spanish colonization, including the ongoing conquests of both the Aztec and Inca Empires. Uncomfortable with how his viceroys are governing Nuevo Espana vis-à-vis the Natives, Carlos has Francisco de Vitoria and Bartolomé de las Casas on the morality of colonization which las Casas vehemently opposes with his Brevísima relación de la destrucción de las Indias A Short Account of the Destruction of the Indies.

Carlos I also has currently provided five ships to Ferdinand Magellan and his navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano. The commercial importance of Magellan’s voyage is expected to be the possible first circumnavigation of the World and enrich Carlos by the sale of spices and lay the foundation for the Pacific oceanic empire of Spain, and along with Ruy López de Villalobos, begin Spanish colonization of the Spice Islands.

Though always at war, Carlos is essentially a lover of peace, and all his wars are virtually defensive. “Not greedy of territory”, wrote Marcantonio Contarini, “but most greedy of peace and quiet.”

Carlos I / Karl V

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