Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor

On this day in history, 24th February 1500, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor was born. Happy birthday, Charles! Here are some facts about Charles:-

  • Charles V was born on the 24th February 1500 in Ghent in the Low Countries
  • His parents were Joanna of Castile (Juana La Loca) and Philip I of Castile
  • Charles V’s maternal grandparents were the Catholic Reyes, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, and his paternal grandparents were Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Mary of Burgundy
  • Charles was the nephew of Henry VIII’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon
  • He was King of Spain (Charles I) from 1516-1556
  • He was Holy Roman Emperor from 1519-1556
  • Charles V was also Duke of Burgundy, Lord of the Netherlands and Count Palatine of Burgundy
  • He abdicated from ruling the Holy Roman Empire and Spain in 1556 – His brother, Ferdinand I, became Holy Roman Emperor, and his son, Philip II, became King of Spain
  • Charles was the heir of three powerful dynasties: The House of Habsburg, the House of Valois-Burgundy and the House of Trastámara,
  • As a boy he was educated by William de Croy and Adrian of Utrecht (Pope Adrian VI)
  • He spoke French, Spanish, Italian and German/Dutch
  • In 1521 Charles became betrothed to five year old Princess Mary, daughter of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon
  • Charles married Isabella of Portugal in 1525
  • Charles and Isabella had 7 children: Philip II of Spain, Maria of Spain, Isabella, Ferdinand, Joan of Spain, John and Ferdinand
  • Charles also had children with his mistresses: Margaret of Parma by Johanna Maria van der Gheynst, and John of Austria by Barbara Blomberg

  • Charles V suffered from an enlarged jaw and this pronounced jawline became known as the Habsburg Jaw
  • Charles V was epileptic and also suffered from gout
  • Charles was involved in 4 wars with France – With Francis I in 1521, in 1527 (this involved the Sack of Rome) and 1535, and then with Francis’ son Henry II in 1551
  • Charles V famously imprisoned Pope Clement VII in the Sack of Rome 1527
  • Charles V's famous Habsburg jaw

    Charles V was also involved in wars against the Ottoman Empire

  • It was Charles V who called the Lutheran Martin Luther to the Diet of Worms in 1521
  • In his later life, Charles V, like Henry VIII, was carried around on a special chair. This was due to his gout
  • Charles V’s vast empire is shown by his titulature: Charles, by the grace of God, Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, King of Italy, King of all Spains, of Castile, Aragon, León, Navarra, Grenada, Toledo, Valencia, Galicia, Majorca, Sevilla, Cordova, Murcia, Jaén, Algarves, Algeciras, Gibraltar, the Canary Islands, King of Two Sicilies, of Sardinia, Corsica, King of Jerusalem, King of the Western and Eastern Indies, Lord of the Islands and Main Ocean Sea, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Limburg, Luxembourg, Gelderland, Neopatria, Württemberg, Landgrave of Alsace, Prince of Swabia, Asturia and Catalonia, Count of Flanders, Habsburg, Tyrol, Gorizia, Barcelona, Artois, Burgundy Palatine, Hainaut, Holland, Seeland, Ferrette, Kyburg, Namur, Roussillon, Cerdagne, Zutphen, Margrave of the Holy Roman Empire, Burgau, Oristano and Gociano, Lord of Frisia, the Wendish March, Pordenone, Biscay, Molin, Salins, Tripoli and Mechelen.

Quotes attributed to Charles

“I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men and German to my horse.”

“Fortune has something of the nature of a woman. If she is too intensely wooed, she commonly goes the further away.”

“To endeavor to domineer over conscience, is to invade the citadel of heaven.”

“My cousin Francis and I are in perfect accord – he wants Milan, and so do I.”

“A single friar who goes counter to all Christianity for a thousand years must be wrong.”

“Iron hand in a velvet glove.”

“Name me an emperor who was ever struck by a cannonball.”

“How absurd to try to make two men think alike on matters of religion, when I cannot make two timepieces agree!”

Related Post

12 thoughts on “Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor”
  1. Wow Claire! It’s like you read my mind! First I was awake at night finding that I wanted to learn more about Katherine H because I hated how annoying( & naked) they made her look on the Tudors….the next day , you posted an article on her.Charles V was on my list of History to explore & study….and here you are again.
    New to the site, but hooked…I like how you lay out all the facts and not just yours & others opinions….although I almost always agree w/ yours…great job! Keep it up, reading your site has now become a part of my morning routine w/ coffee.

    1. Thank you, Courtney, I always try to give a balanced view of historical characters because most of the time we just don’t know the whole truth. I’m so glad that you’re enjoying the site, I love running it.

  2. Although Charles had affairs before he married and after he was widowed, he was devoted to his wife Isabella and was faithful to her. They were married for thirteen years.

    He was so devasted when she died following the birth of a stillborn child that he wore black for the rest of his life. He refused to consider re-marriage, although he only had one son and two daughters, and was still comparatively young (39). A very different character from his contemporary and rival Henry VIII…

  3. This makes me want to learn more about Charles–I didn’t know about his mistresses or his epilepsy–of course, the chin–yes. Thanks!

  4. Holy Roman Emperor Charles V is one of the most intriguing characters of the 16th Century. I believe Titian was his favorite artist. Every so often I think about him and don’t know why.

  5. So that is why he had a prominent chin in his paintings, he had an enlarged jaw, wow! His domains were vast, he was a fascinating ruler. The mental health of his mother was a great shame, brought on by the mourning and sudden death of her husband. The Hapsbergs appear to have carried a gene which made them pre disposed to madness, caused by the closeness of their marriages. Charles V grandson Juan Carlos was incarcerated in care due to his manic depression and episodes, although his father visited him every day, to his sadness it was not something that he could talk about. Mental illness is being given a proper voice now, back then it was something that you hid for fear of ridicule and shame. How sad when not even the leading family in Europe has to hide their grief from the world for fear of being ridiculed.

  6. Just want to say thank you for the interesting post about Charles V. I’ve been looking at your site for about a year now and your informative articles have reawakened my long lost interest in history of this time period. I also am learning from other people’s comments. I look forward to reading your posts and thank you for all your hard work.

    1. Do you have any more details on it, a photo? It won’t be Charles V as he lived a century before that. Charles I of England was on the throne in 1648.

  7. Hi, Claire! Do you know if Charles and Anne ever met at Margaret’s court in Mechelen during their childhood? Thanks a lot for your posts!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *