24 February 1500 – Birth of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

Feb 24, 2016 #Charles V

Charles_V._-_after_Bernaerd_van_Orley_-_depot_Louvre-Musée_de_Brou,_Bourg-en-BresseOn this day in history, 24th February 1500, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, was born in Ghent.

Charles was the eldest son of Philip I of Castile (Philip the Handsome) and Juana of Castile, who has gone down in history as “Juana la Loca” (Joanna the Mad). Charles’s maternal grandparents were the famous “Reyes Católicos” (the Catholic Monarchs), Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, and his maternal aunt was Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII. Charles’s paternal grandparents were Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Mary of Burgundy.

Charles became King of Spain, as Charles I, in 1516 and Holy Roman Emperor in 1519. The dispatches of his ambassador, Eustace Chapuys, keeping Charles up to date on things at the English court have proved very useful to historians, researchers and authors.

Click here to read more facts about Charles.

Image: A young Charles V after drawings by Bernard van Orley.

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14 thoughts on “24 February 1500 – Birth of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor”
  1. A very complex man, and one of the greatest kings my country (Spain) ever had! His love story with his Empress Isabel is so moving! The new Spanish TV show “Carlos Rey Emperador” is really good, very informative, entertaining and with wonderful costumes (it even has a brief Anne Boleyn cameo)
    Something I have always wondered is if Charles knew Anne Boleyn (my favorite historical character for every!) before Henry VIII did, as Anne was some sort of protegée/lady in waiting to Charles’ aunt, the formidable Margaret of Habsburg…

  2. I can see the family resemblance between him and his aunt Catherine of Aragon and King Phillip of Spain, they all possessed the same rather long jaw.

    1. The light auburn hair and blue eyes could be a Trastámara heritage, no doubt (though Juana’s eyes and hair were darker, her sisters had blue eyes and light auburn/blond hair) … But the jaw has nothing to do with KoA, it is a “Habsburg jaw”, which was too prominent and have Charles a lot of problems to eat and talk. Because of this he preferred eating alone.

  3. Isn’t it pronounced Hapsburg? There is a painting of Katherine where she does resemble her nephew quite a bit, yes Charles suffered from some disorder which left it very difficult for him to eat and drink properly, poor man. His parents were very attractive people but because of his jaw he looks rather belligerent, he probably wasn’t though.

  4. Charles V was a remarkable man and a great Emperor, but he was born in a turbulent century, one divided by religious and political realities which are poles apart, of a new thirst for nationhood and independence, with Lombardy (Italy) revelling against Imperial rule (again) and the French expanding into the traditional territories of the Holy Roman Empire, into a time of expansion and technical explosion, new ideas, conquest of the new lands and the emergence of new countries such as a united Spain and the Netherlands. The conflicts associated with these changes preoccupied Charles in multiple wars on several fronts. His reign also saw the controversial expansion in the Americas, brought new lands and wealth, but also the horrors of the exploitation of the people there, the division of Germanic Princes, the advancement of science and the Renaissance, education, architecture, cities and the Empire began to expand to its furthest expanse.

    Charles inherited Spain in addition to the HRE and through marriage Portugal. He was the nethew of Katherine of Aragon, with the alliance with Henry he developed his own sea power, he remained a constant threat to France and the independent Princes, but he also attempted to balance their constant demands with the need to keep order in a country where city after city turnrd to the reformed faith. He had to oversee Councils and Diets to attempt to reconcile the constantly conflicting factions, he was tragically and reluctantly forced to declare war on his own people, enticed and entreated into declaring war on the Protestant German peasants, who were in revolt, resulting in the death of an estimated 25,000, but he still looked to a solution afterwards. But for these internal struggles, Charles V would be regarded as the most successful Emperor for centuries. As it was, he certainly should be seen as the greatest, for his political saviness and military success.

    The only thing that put the fly in the ointment of the Spanish Hapsberg dynasty was the inherited insanity from the intermarriage of close cousins, something that Charles V did not have from his mother, Joanna the Mad, but which his grandson, Juan Carlos certainly did inherit. Other members of the family also showed these mental health problems, some deformities also appeared, as did sterility in later male members of the Hapsbergs. Philip ii was so desperate and embarrassed by the behaviour of his son Juan Carlos, his clear mental health problems, that when he was placed in care and custody of doctors, he had to defend his incarceration to foreign commentators, to the Pope and to fellow monarchs who did not know that truth. Mental illness is a difficult subject now, back then it was hidden, people did not know what to do, some people thought it was caused by witches, others observed and recognized what we call depression and other strange behaviour was recognized as madness, but treatments were primitive and people were afraid or ashamed and too distressed to admit that a relative suffered so. Philip visited his son every day, but other than care and support, there was little else to do. Philip was wrongly condemned and the myth grew that Juan Carlos had been killed in prison or while escaping, but he actually just died, although the possibility of his taking his own life cannot be ruled out.

  5. Yes Bandit Queen your right those who also suffered from epilepsy were thought to be possessed by the devil, Juana could have been a manic depressive a lot of mental problems they suffered from would have been stabilised today by modern medicines, did Charles mother become ill after she lost her husband I wonder or was it always there, quite possibly she could have been bi polar and the grief at losing her husband brought it to the fore, Mary Queen Of Scots was said to suffer from a blood disorder which she passed onto her descendants, King George was one and the symptoms was irrational behaviour which they called madness then, which of course led to his son being made the Prince Regent, for the safety of the crown they had to do that, poor Juana used to take her husbands body everywhere with her, as well as being labelled mad she was known for being quite beautiful to.

    1. Hi Christine, yes Juanna is probably treated a little unfairly, as she was devastated by the grief of losing her husband, Philip and could not accept his death. He was a spectactular and impressive figure, being a great sportsman and jouster. When he came to England, Prince Henry, the future Henry Viii was quite taken with him and adored him because of his prowess at sports. He admired him so much that he took after him in the joust and sporting arenas. The older man and the young Prince became friends and penfriends and Henry wrote that he was very saddened by his loss and sudden death. Juanna may well have had bio polar or other problems before hand which were triggered by extreme loss, we don’t know, but she was most certainly lost without him and could not function without him. So distraught was she that she refused to bury Philip for many years and her son had to remove his father’s body by force to lay him to rest. Very, very, sad, for she must have been beautiful and intelligent, but then grief can do terrible things to people.

      1. Juana’s mental problems were exaggerated, first of all by her husband, who treated her badly from the beggining of their marriage. Philip was the first to spread the rumours of her madness, something he would come to regret because Ferdinand of Aragon tried to use these rumours to get the Regency of Castile after Isabella’s death. Juana had some emotional problems and was a jealous wife, but probably she wasn’t mad. She could be childish but she knew her duties as Queen of Castile. Even when she was betrayed by her father, her husband and her son she always trusted them (specially her father and her son, for she knew it was good for her kingdom).
        Her extreme mourning of Philip was interpreted as madness but some historians think it was a way to legitimize her children’s birthright. They were in Flanders, far away from Castile, but she insisted Philip had to be buried in Granada, as her mother Isabella the Catholic. If her husband was buried as a great king (something he wasn’t, at all!) Juana’s children’s birthright wouldn’t be dismissed.
        Even in extreme moments she could be rational and behave as a Queen. When Philip died, Juana decided that all the nobility titles and privileges given by her husband (this was a way of making allies against Ferdinand) would return to the crown. And when the “Comuneros” (Castilian minor nobility from the cities) rebelled against her son Emperor Charles and proposed her to be their Queen, she listened to their complaints (which were quite fair!) but she refused to be their Queen, for she didn’t want to act against her son.
        Mad? Victim of a conspiration? We’ll never know, but when we approach the Juana of the documents and historical evidences we see a woman who is unstable, yes, but not mad, she is too stubborn but she knows to behave as a Queen, for that was what Juana was: a Queen three-times betrayed by the men supposed to love her and guide her.

        PD: Sorry if my English is not very good!

    2. Christine, I just “overlooked” – by accident – this post.
      You are right in citing bi-polarity : many historians trace it from the house of Aviz (Portugal).
      Isabel of Castile’s mother, a young princess of Portugal, was shut up for the rest of her life (40 years, from her own 25th).
      Juana of Aragon brought “melancholia” to the Habsburgs.
      She took much (physically) after her father – unless her two surviving sisters, Katherine(or Catalina) and Maria married to a cousin, Manoel king of Portugal who were both of fair complexion, like their mother (Plantagente blood?).
      Charles V (retiring in a convent) and later his own son Philip were depressive men.
      Melancholia is the subject itself of a famous painting (dating of 1514) by Dürer.
      It has been seen like an image of sort of a princely isolation among symbols both of knowledge and of power.

  6. Wikipedia says that Juana was possibly just clinically depressed understandably because of the way she was treated, her husband was cruel to her yet she was said to be besotted with him, he was very handsome and a dreadful womaniser, and as Lord Bullen says, all the plots against her to, I should think from what she suffered from would be enough to push her over the edge, in comparison her sister Queen Katherine Of England was very calm and in fact showed more self control but yes they were both treated badly by their husbands.

    1. Philip called “the handsome” was not in fact .
      Heavy eyelids, heavy chin (he looked very like his sister Margaret).
      But he was a kind of stupid sportman and – you are right – a womaniser in his own right.
      But his wife, even if attractive and exotic with her dark complexion, had little in common with him .
      She would not stand his pranks and was well known for carrying on something dreadful (“schreklich”) and, being unable to manage with that he happened to be brutal to her .
      These scenes were a very public fact.
      I think that she was “besotted” as you say, being already not “well-balanced”

  7. Hi, my name is Teresa and I’m spaniard. I believe Juana had a strong character that she could not control, was very passionate, explosive and very sensitive. Her mother, sisters (Isabella and Katherine), daughter (Mary, Queen of Hungary) suffered depression in hard times of their lives, but they were not crazy. I love Juana, Katherine of Aragon, Mary of Hungary and Margaret of Austria. Thanks to TV Series “Carlos, Rey Emperador” many people know these women were amazing. Charles V was a great figure in Spanish history but he accumulated too much power, too many territories to govern and many conflicts. His wife, Empress Isabella, was lovely.

  8. Hi
    At times I wish I could contact these kings and
    Queens one to apologise to the Queens and their
    Associates for the evil they had been put
    Through and the kings to ask why they were
    Like that to their wife’s and assistances it’s very sad
    To read and know about the wrongs these queens
    Subjected to
    Peter oliver

  9. Hi
    Thank you for the interesting articles on here
    It for me makes great reading,I still cannot
    Understand why these times were so cruel to
    Their subjects and their own families and friends

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