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Carlos/Charles V: Politics

Spain and the Politics of Charles V/Carlos V  * Charles I/V (ruled 1516-56)

When Isabella and Ferndinand, heirs respectively to the crowns of Castile and Aragon (which included Catalonia, the kingdom of Naples, Sicily, Sardinia), married in 1469, they laid the foundations of Spain’s Golden Age.  They left a country politically united, imposed religious uniformity and, thanks to the discovery of America (Las Indias) by Christopher Columbus, launched Spain on its imperial journey.

They were succeeded by their grandson, Charles/Carlos, son of Ferdinand and Isabella’s daughter, Juana, and of Archduke Philip/Felipe of the powerful Hapsburg dynasty. Philip died young and Juana, being mentally unstable, was quickly removed from public activity.

Charles ruled for 40 years (1516-56) and was the first king of both Castile and Aragon (hence Charles I of Spain). However, he was not born in Spain but in Flanders (in1500), and was already a teenager when he first arrived in Spain in 1517. As a stranger, he inevitably faced problems of adjustment during the early years, but he was astute and learned quickly. We’ll look at the politics of his reign in five general areas, each of which overlapped to some degree: 1. The early years; 2. Territorial expansion; 3. Charles’s election as Holy Roman Emperor; 4. The Mediterranean; 5. Political enemies.

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