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King Charles V
King Charles V
Charles V

(Charles) decided that extinguishing Luther would leave the Pope without a rival.

At the age of just 19, Charles V was the richest and most powerful person of his time, but all the power in the world did not stop Martin Luther from ripping the heart out of his Catholic empire.

Born in 1500, Charles inherited a vast empire from his parents.

When his father Philip I died in 1516 Charles inherited control over The Netherlands, Luxembourg, Artois and Franche-Comté (or Free County of Burgundy).

In 1516 his maternal grandfather Ferdinand II died and he inherited AragÓn, Navarre, Granada, Naples, Sicily, Sardinia, Spanish America, and joint kingship with his mother (who was insane) over Castile.

Then in 1519 when his grandfather Maximilian I died, Charles inherited the Hapsburg lands in Austria and was elected Holy Roman emperor.

Charles V settled in Germany and sought to become the leader of a universal empire. Through his reign he would face ongoing battles with France, resist the advance of the Ottoman Turks and for the sake of political expediency and inattention failed to check the Reformation.

Like many others, Charles underestimated the dissatisfaction of his Catholic subjects and the influence a humble German monk would wield through his defiant pen.

Despite being a devout Catholic Charles V was acutely conscious of Papal power and it was in his interest for the Vatican to be destabilised.

At the Diet of Worms Charles absolutely opposed Luther but did not rescind an undertaking that he could leave safely thus saving Luther from execution as a heretic.

Charles was soon preoccupied by battles with France and the Ottoman Turks and did not check the spread of Protestantism sweeping his Empire.

He spent the rest of his life waging war in France, Germany and Spain, indeed it was only after his death in 1558 that a peace treaty was signed with France.

Charles V, the most powerful man of his time, failed to achieve his dream of a universal empire, thwarted by the political realities of Western Europe. He also failed to stop the Reformation and although he bitterly opposed the views of Martin Luther he never acted against him.

But for all his failings, Charles V is still remembered for his integrity, strength of will, and sense of duty.

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