.. fided to a bureau of commerce (casa de contratacion) in Seville; but at the same time he established in Spain a special political Council of the Indies. In the colonies two viceroyalties and twenty-nine governments, four archbishoprics, and twenty-four bishoprics were gradually organized. Already of all those great problems had arisen which still vex colonial politics – the question, how far the mother country should monopolize the products of the colonies; the question colonization; the question of the treatment of the natives, doubly difficult because on the one hand their labour was indispensable and on the other it was most unwilling; the question, how Christianity and civilization might best be established; finally the question, how science might be systematically promoted by the government that opened up these new countries. On account of the great distance separating Spain and her colonies, the unsatisfactory means of communication, and his lack of funds, Charles was unable to carry out the principles laid down by his government.
But be made the first, perhaps the only, attempt on a large scale to deal with colonial politics, in practical effect, from the double standpoint of political and economical interests and with the realization of a duty to promote Christian civilization. When Charles received news of the Peace of Cambrai, he determined to go to Italy and settle Italian affairs by a personal interview with the pope. This difficult question, which had occupied him for almost a decade, was, as he thought, settled definitively. At Bologna he discussed with the pope principally two questions affecting all Christendom: the Turkish and the Lutheran. In 1521 the Turks had taken possession of Belgrade, the key to Hungary; in 1522, of Rhodes, the bulwark which had hitherto barred their way westward of the AEgean Sea. In the following year the daring pirate, Chaireddin Barbarossa, an ally of the sultan, placing himself at the head of the North African corsairs who were continually harassing the Italian and Spanish coasts, had built up a formidable power in the small Mohammedan States of the North African coast.
On land the Turks had defeated the Hungarians at Mohcs, and taken possession of almost the entire kingdom. Their way was thus opened to Vienna, which they entered in 1529. Equally great was the danger threatening Christianity from within. Lutheranism had boldly advanced when the edict against Luther remained unenforced, and it had been greatly stimulated by the social-revolutionary movements in Germany from 1522 to 1525. Since 1526 an independent State Church had been organized by the Protestants in several provinces with the aid of their sovereigns, and in 1529 these sovereigns declared at the Diet of Spires that they would allow no attacks on these organizations, nor tolerate any Catholic worship in their states.
As early as 1526 Charles was aware of these two growing dangers. He had thought that by the Peace of Madrid he would obtain freedom to carry on a war against the Turks, as well as to assume the regulation of religious affairs in Germany. But the new outbreak of war in Italy prevented him from giving attention to this work till 1529. On 24 February, 1530, he received the imperial crown from Clement VII at Bologna. On 1 February he had concluded a general peace with the pope and most of the Christian states.
The retreat of the Turks from Vienna enabled Charles, before beginning war against them, to make an effort towards religious unity in Germany. In the summer he appeared at the Diet of Augsburg, accompanied by a papal legate, to hear the Protestants. The adherents of the new creed were disposed to approach him in a submissive temper, though on German soil Charles did not possess all the power they ascribed to him. He had disbanded his troops, and the purely political resources at his command were not great. Holding the Duchy of Wurtemburg, he could thence exert pressure on several neighbouring princes, but his title to that duchy was not clear. Having convinced himself that Catholics as well as Lutherans were irritated against Rome, Charles informed the pope that only the immediate summoning of a general council could bring about peace.
He had always desired this; henceforth it became one of his principal aims, of which he never lost sight. At Home he urged it with all his energy, using every effort to remove political obstacles. At the same time he was preparing to meet the next attack of the Turks. This came in 1532, on land. Charles was successful in forcing them back, and in recovering a large part of Hungary, but without inflicting any decisive defeat on the Turks.
He transferred the war to the Mediterranean Sea. In 1530, by the advice of the pope, he had given to the Knights Hospitallers, the defenders of Rhodes, the island of Malta, which barred the approach of the Turkish fleet to the Tuscan Sea. In 1531 and 1532 Andrea Doria had sought the Turks in their own waters, but the Turkish fleet avoided a battle. The sultan now sought to prevent the return of Doria by giving the chief command of his navy to Chairaddin, thus making the cause of the pirates his own. Charles thereupon decided to clear the Mediterranean Sea of piracy.
In 1555 he personally took part in the campaign against Tunis under the leadership of Doria. He had the largest share in the victory, and urged an immediate advance on Algiers to complete his success. His commanders, however, opposed this plan, as the season was far advanced. This campaign established Charles’ reputation throughout Europe. While Charles delivered the first serious blow against Islam on the Mediterranean, Paul III, the successor of Clement VII, had summoned a general council. But new difficulties prevented both the assembling of the council and the continuation of the war against the Turks.
When Charles returned home from Africa it was evident that he must again go to war with France. Francis I opposed the meeting of the council and, moreover, entered into relations both with the Turks and with the Smalkaldie League of German Protestant princes formed against Charles soon after the Diet of Augsburg, while, upon the death of the last Sforza Duke of Milan, he renewed his claim to that fief. Charles, eager to push the war against the Turks, as well as to restore the unity of Christendom, was ready to partly forego his strict rights both in the Milanese and Burgundy, and to consider the question of the balance of power between his house and that of Valois. Family alliances were proposed with this end in view. A war which France nevertheless began proved abortive, and in 1539 the rivals met at Nice, and peace seemed likely.
Visiting the Netherlands and Germany, Charles soon found that new troubles awaited him, once more fomented by France. In 1538 the line of the Counts of Guelders had become extinct; but the last of that line had provided that, after his death, the countship should pass to the Dukes of Cleves-Julich, the strongest temporal principality on the Lower Rhine. Guelders, accordingly, resisted annexation by Burgundy, and Charles would not consent to its annexation to the Duchy of Cleves-Julich, which was favoured by Francis I and the Smalkaldic League. Moreover, Henry VIII of England, having married Anne, daughter of the Duke of Cleves, threatened to join this coalition. In Hungary, meanwhile, the Turks were again active, and preparations were being made to unite the French and Turkish fleets in the Mediterranean.
Francis sought the aid of the Danes and Scandinavians. Charles thought it best to avoid hostilities until he could break up the too formidable coalition of his enemies. He succeeded in detaching Henry of England from the alliance, and during the Diet and religious conference at Ratisbon, in 1541, where he was present in person, he brought Philip of Hesse, the leading spirit of the Smalkaldic League, under his control. He turned then upon the Turks. He intended that the imperial army should operate in Hungary while he attacked Algiers; but both plans failed. The year 1542 was an unfortunate one for him; the French entered the Netherlands, and the Smalkaldic League, with Hesse, attacked Henry of Brunswick, Charles’ only ally in North Germany, and occupied his territories.
The patriotism of the Netherlands held the French in check. Charles returned from Spain and, in 1543, attacked Cleves. A few days sufficed to make Guelders a part of Burgundy, which was thus protected on the side of Germany, though still exposed on its French frontier. It was to remedy this weakness that Charles established a line of fortresses which for centuries barred the way against French invasion. In 1544 he invaded France. The strength of Francis was exhausted, and, as Charles, too, was weary of war, a peace was concluded at Crespy (17 September, 1544).
Charles had now to consider whether he would allow liberty of action to the Protestant princes of Germany, to whom, under pressure of war, he had made concessions, especially at the Diet of Spires in 1544. Up to this time he had let affairs take their own course in Germany, and his brother Ferdinand bad been unable to exert effectual pressure. The power of the feudatory princes, steadily increasing since 1521, was now established on a solid basis. In the emperor’s absence they had, on their own initiative, found means to suppress several disturbances which might otherwise have plunged Germany into the horrors of civil war – first the League of the Knights, then the Peasants’ War, then the disorders of the turbulent clergy who had embraced Lutheranism and led the masses astray, and lastly the rebellion of the Anabaptists (q. v.). By supporting Luther against Charles, the princes secured the means of maintaining the power which they had acquired by their resistance to the emperor.
Charles perceived the gravity of the situation at least sufficiently to lead him to resolve upon open war against the princes. To deprive them of their religious leverage, he awaited the opening of the Council of Trent (1545). In the summer of 1546 he opened hostilities. He began by conquering South Germany, then pushed forward into Saxony, and defeated and captured the Elector at Muhlberg, 24 April, 1547. Soon after this he imprisoned Philip of Hesse. (The charges of treachery brought against Charles on this account, are not well sustained.) Charles now believed the princes to be sufficiently humbled to permit him to reorganize the empire with their help at a Diet at Augsburg, as he had previously reorganized Spain and the Netherlands. The settlement of religious difficulties was to be the basis of this reconstruction. He insisted that the council was to have the final decision in matters of doctrine; but until this decision was pronounced he wished for peace and was willing to make certain concessions to the Protestants (the ).
His sense of justice, however, reserved from these concessions both the retention of the ecclesiastical property seized by the Reformers and the temporary abrogation of episcopal authority in the reformed districts. In consequence of this resolution the Interim lost all its attraction for the Evangelical princes. In dealing with the political reconstruction of the empire, Charles was ready to recognize the condition of Germany so far as it was the result of historical development. He required the feudatories to promise obedience to the imperial power only in specific cases affecting the general welfare, to bind themselves by certain recognized formulae, and not to seek individual profit under pretext of the welfare of the empire. He therefore made here concessions like those already made to his Spanish subjects – namely, a certain degree of autonomy to the several States, in return for their aid in the unquestioned necessities of the empire.
No open opposition was made at the Diet, but nothing was done. The Catholics demanded that the Interim should apply to them also; that instrument now no longer made for harmony, and the Protestants resisted it more strenuously than before. On the other band, the German princes were as selfish and provincial as the hidalgos of Castile, and less patriotic. They procrastinated until affairs took an unfavourable turn for the emperor. But Charles was now ready to dispose of his earthly possessions.
His recent campaigns had so undermined his strength as to render it advisable for him to make his will. Warned by the grasping policy of Francis I, he determined to keep the possessions of his family together. He would not, however, leave them all to one heir, knowing how impossible it bad been for even him to govern all to his own satisfaction. What his plans were is unknown, but while he was considering them the Turks and the French king (now Henry II) once more began hostilities against him (1551). In the following year some of the German Protestant princes, led by Maurice of Saxony, unexpectedly attacked the imperial forces, while Charles lay sick at Innsbruck, and Henry II occupied the Bisboprics of Metz, Tool, and Verdun.
Charles escaped, but abandoned his plan for the reorganization of the imperial government. He empowered Ferdinand to conclude the Treaty of Passau with the insurgents in April, 1552, which finally gave the ascendency in the German Empire to the princes. His attempt to retake Metz, in the autumn of 1552, failed, and the war was transferred to the Netherlands, where it was waged without decisive result. In North Africa, also, and in Italy, where the Turks, the French, and some Italian States were attacking the emperor, matters became critical. Still the emperor hoped to win a final victory.
For in 1553 the accession of Mary Tudor to the throne of England suddenly excited his hope that he might extend his influence in that kingdom. Mary Tudor was ready to marry his son Philip, and in 1554 this alliance became a fact. When their marriage proved childless, the emperor gave up the fight and decided to turn over the conclusion of peace to Philip and Ferdinand. Ferdinand insisted that the authority of princes in the empire, as settled be the agreement of Passan, should be legally recognized by a decree of the Diet, and the equality of the Catholic and Lutheran religions accepted. This was done at Augsburg in 1555. Charles then requested the electors to accept his abdication and to elect Ferdinand his successor. This was done on 28 February, 1558.
Shortly after the final decree of the Diet of Augsburg, in 1555, Charles convened the Estates of the Netherlands, and in their presence transferred the government to Philip. Three months later (16 January, 1556) he transferred the Spanish Crown to his son. In spite of this he could not free himself from political cares. It was September, 1556, before he could leave for his long-chosen place of retirement in Spain, accompanied by his two sisters, the widow of the French king, and Maria of Hungary. But he did not live a monastic life even at Yuste.
Messengers with political despatches came to him every day. However, he took no active part in affairs. He lived his few remaining months on earth amid works of art, of which he had a keen appreciation (Titian was his favourite painter), amid the books which, as a cultured man, he studied and took pleasure in, and enjoying the music which he loved, while he prepared himself for the life to come. History Essays.