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ROMAN EMPEROR]
901
CHARLES V.

infanta, and Philip’s first wife was another. It is thus small wonder that, within a quarter of a century of Charles’s death, Philip became king of Portugal.

In the wars with Francis I. Italy was the stake. In spite of his success Charles for long made no direct conquests. He would convert the peninsula into a federation mainly matrimonial. Savoy, the important buffer state, was detached from France by the marriage of the somewhat feeble duke to Charles’s capable and devoted sister-in-law, Beatrice of Portugal. Milan, conquered from France, was granted to Francesco Sforza, heir of the old dynasty, and even after his treason was restored to him. In the vain hope of offspring Charles sacrificed his niece, Christina of Denmark, to the valetudinarian duke. In the long negotiations for a Habsburg-Valois dynasty which followed Francesco’s death, Charles was probably sincere. He insisted that his daughter or niece should marry the third rather than the second son of Francis I., in order, apart from other reasons, to run less risk of the duchy falling under French dominion. The final investiture of Philip was forced upon him, and does not represent his saner policy. The Medici of Florence, the Gonzaga of Mantua, the papal house of Farnese, were all attached by Habsburg marriages. The republics of Genoa and Siena were drawn into the circle through the agency of their chief noble families, the Doria and Piccolomini; while Charles behaved with scrupulous moderation towards Venice in spite of her active hostility before and after the League of Cognac. Occasional acts of violence there were, such as the participation in the murder of Pierluigi Farnese, and the measures which provoked the rebellion of Siena. These were due to the difficulty of controlling the imperial agents from a distance, and in part to the faults of the victim prince and republic. On the whole, the loose federation of viceroyalties and principalities harmonized with Italian interests and traditions. The alternative was not Italian independence, but French domination. At any rate, Charles’s structure was so durable that the French met with no real success in Italy until the 18th century.

Germany offered a fine field for a creative intellect, since the evils of her disintegration stood confessed. On the other hand, princes and towns were so jealous of an increase of central authority that Charles, at least until his victory over the League of Schmalkalden, had little effective power. Owing to his wars with French and Turks he was rarely in Germany, and his visits were very short. His problem was infinitely complicated by the union of Lutheranism and princely independence. He fell back on the old policy of Maximilian, and strove to create a party by personal alliances and intermarriage. In this he met with some success. The friendship of the electors of Brandenburg, whether Catholic or Protestant, was unbroken. In the war of Schmalkalden half the Protestant princes were on Charles’s side or friendly neutrals. At the critical moment which preceded this, the lately rebellious duke of Cleves and the heir of Bavaria were secured through the agency of two of Ferdinand’s invaluable daughters. The relations, indeed, between the two old enemies, Austria and Bavaria, were permanently improved. The elector palatine, whose love affairs with his sister Eleanor Charles as a boy had roughly broken, received in compensation a Danish niece. Her sister, widow of Francesco Sforza, was utilized to gain a hold upon the French dynasty which ruled Lorraine. More than once there were proposals for winning the hostile house of Saxony by matrimonial means. After his victory over the League of Schmalkalden, Charles perhaps had really a chance of making the imperial power a reality. But he lacked either courage or imagination, contenting himself with proposals for voluntary association on the lines of the defunct Swabian League, and dropping even these when public opinion was against them. Now, too, he made his great mistake in attempting to foist Philip upon the Empire as Ferdinand’s successor. Gossip reported that Ferdinand himself was to be set aside, and careless historians have given currency to this. Such an idea was impossible. Charles wished Philip to succeed Ferdinand, while he ultimately conceded that Ferdinand’s son Maximilian should follow Philip, and even in his lifetime exercise the practical power in Germany. This scheme irritated Ferdinand and his popular and ambitious son at the critical moment when it was essential that the Habsburgs should hold together against princely malcontents. Philip was imprudently introduced to Germany, which had also just received a foretaste of the unpleasant characteristics of Spanish troops. Yet the person rather than the policy was, perhaps, at fault. It was natural that the quasi-hereditary succession should revert to the elder line. France proved her recuperative power by the occupation of Savoy and of Metz, Toul and Verdun, the military keys of Lorraine. The separation of the Empire and Spain left two weakened powers not always at accord, and neither of them permanently able to cope on equal terms with France. Nevertheless, this scheme did contribute in no small measure to the failure of Charles in Germany. The main cause was, of course, the religious schism, but his treatment of this requires separate consideration.

The characteristics of Charles’s government, its mingled conservatism and adaptability, are best seen in Spain and the Netherlands, with which he was in closer personal contact than with Italy and Germany. In Spain, when once he knew the country, he never repeated the mistakes which on his first visit caused the rising of the communes. The cortes of Castile were regularly summoned, and though he would allow no encroachment on the crown’s prerogatives, he was equally scrupulous in respecting their constitutional rights. They became, perhaps, during the reign slightly more dependent on the crown. This has been ascribed to the system of gratuities which in later reigns became a scandal, but was not introduced by Charles, and as yet amounted to little more than the payment of members’ expenses. Indirectly, crown influence increased owing to the greater control which had gradually been exercised over the composition of the municipal councils, which often returned the deputies for the cortes. Charles was throughout nervous as to the power and wealth of the greater nobles. They rather than the crown had conquered the communes, and in the past they rather than the towns had been the enemies of monarchy. He earnestly warned his son against giving them administrative power, especially the duke of Alva, who in spite of his sanctimonious and humble bearing cherished the highest ambitions: in foreign affairs and war he might be freely used, for he was Spain’s best soldier. In the cortes of 1538 Charles came into collision with the nobles as a class. They usually attended only on ceremonial occasions, since they were exempted from direct taxation, which was the main function of the cortes. Now, however, they were summoned, because Charles was bent upon a scheme of indirect taxation which would have affected all classes. They offered an uncompromising opposition, and Charles somewhat angrily dismissed them, nor did he ever summon them again. The peculiar Spanish system of departmental councils was further developed, so that it may be said that the bureaucratic element was slightly increasing just as the parliamentary element was on the wane. The evils of this tendency were as yet scarcely apparent owing to Charles’s personal intervention in all departments. The councils presented their reports through the minister chiefly concerned; Charles heard their advice, and formed his own conclusions. He impressed upon Philip that he should never become the servant of his ministers: let him hear them all but decide himself. Naturally enough, he was well served by his ministers, whom he very rarely changed. After the death of the Piedmontese Gattinara he relied mainly on Nicolas Perrenot de Granvella for Netherland and German affairs, and on Francisco de los Cobos for Spanish, while the younger Granvella was being trained. From 1520 to 1555 these were the only ministers of high importance. Above all, Charles never had a court favourite, and the only women who exercised any influence were his natural advisers, his wife, his aunt Margaret and his sister Mary. In all these ladies he was peculiarly fortunate. Charles was never quite popular in Spain, but the empress whom he married at his people’s request was much beloved. Complaints were made of his absenteeism, but until 1543 he spent the greater portion of his reign in Spain, or on expeditions