Charles V (1500-1558)
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor (1519-58) and, as Charles I, King of Spain (1516-56), was the son of Philip I and Joanna of Castile, and grandson of Emperor Maximilian I and Mary of Burgundy. Charles was the greatest of all Habsburg emperors. He inherited a vast empire in Europe: the Spanish kingdoms, Naples, Sicily, the Low Countries, and the hereditary Habsburg lands. The chief problems he faced were the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Switzerland and England; the dynastic conflict with Francis I of France, particularly for supremacy in Italy; and the Ottoman Turks, then at the height of their power. He also had difficulties with his Spanish subjects, who at initially regarded him as a foreign interloper. He was at first successful against the Protestant princes in Germany, but eventually he was forced to compromise with them and to accept (1555) the Peace of Augsburg. He was more successful in promoting the Catholic Reformation. The imperialist struggle with France was a Pyrrhic victory for Spain. His efforts to halt the advance of the Ottomans under Sulayman I resulted in at best a standoff. As king of Spain, he was triumphant. The conquest of Mexico and Peru represented the high point of the Spanish empire. In 1556 Charles abdicated all his titles and possesions and retired to a monastery.