Few men in European history have ever been as powerful as Charles V. Ruling a vast empire for 40 years, Charles found himself at the center of several major events during the 16th century. So who was Charles V, what did he do with the nearly limitless power he possessed? Continue reading to find out more!

Everything the Light Touches

It’s safe to say that most people have heard of the expression “The sun never sets on the British Empire.” However, the first time that phrase was ever used, it wasn’t about the British Empire. It was about Charles V’s territories, which spanned four million square kilometers around the world! His was called “el imperio donde nunca se pone el sol,” or “The empire on which the sun never sets.”

Start of the Century

Charles was born on February 24, 1500. His birthplace was the city of Ghent, in modern-day Belgium, but back then it was part of what was known as the Habsburg Netherlands.

Birth Lottery

Charles led a charmed existence from the moment of his birth, as he was simultaneously the heir to three of Europe’s most powerful royal houses! These were the Austrian House of Hapsburg, the Burgundian branch of the House of Valois, and the Spanish House of Trastamara.

Viva Espania

Speaking of his inherited titles, Charles was the first monarch to rule a united Spain! This was because he was heir to not just the throne of Castile (comprising of western and central Spain) but also the throne of Aragon (the eastern portion of Spain). This has often led historians to call Charles the first man to be King of Spain. He certainly wasn’t the last, either.

That’s What I Call VIP

Established in 1430, the Order of the Golden Fleece is arguably the most exclusive and prestigious Roman Catholic chivalric order in existence. In nearly 600 years, the Order of the Golden Fleece has only had 1,200 recipients! Charles actually became a member of the order when he was an infant (proving once again that some people are just born lucky). He would also serve as a grand master of the order before his death.

Hardy Har Har!

Being a ruler of several nations, Charles spoke several languages. These included French, Dutch, and Castilian Spanish. Charles was famously known for his witty quip, “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.” Maybe he missed his calling as a comedian?

Titles Beget Titles

With the death of his grandfather Maximilian in 1519, Charles was crowned the Holy Roman Emperor. He had already become the King of Spain in 1516 and the Lord of the Netherlands in 1506.

Hooray for the English…

When Charles was 7 years old, he was betrothed to Princess Mary of England. She was the daughter of King Henry VII and the sister of the man who would reign as Henry VIII. However, the engagement was called off in 1513, as the English thought it more advantageous to marry their princess into the French monarchy. To add insult to injury, the French were Charles’s staunchest rivals in Europe. That said, it wasn’t all bad news, as Catherine of Aragon, Charles’s aunt, was married to Henry VIII (more on that disaster later).

Read more: https://www.factinate.com/people/facts-charles-v/


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