Open main menu
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
ROMAN EMPERORS]
905
CHARLES VI.—CHARLES VII.

jesters amused him, and he was not above a joke himself. Maps and mechanical inventions greatly interested him, and in later life he became fond of reading. He takes his place indeed among authors, for he dictated the commentaries on his own career. Of music he possessed a really fine knowledge, and his high appreciation of Titian proves the purity of his feeling for art. The little collection of books and pictures which he carried to Yuste is an index of his tastes. Charles was undeniably plain. He confessed that he was by nature ugly, but that as artists usually painted him uglier than he was, strangers on seeing him were agreeably disappointed. The protruding lower jaw and the thin pale face were redeemed by the fine open brow and the bright speaking eyes. He was, moreover, well made, and in youth had an incomparable leg. Above all no man could doubt his dignity; Charles was every inch an emperor.

Bibliography.—Commentaries de Charles-quint, ed. by Baron Kervyn de Lettenhove (Brussels, 1862); Memoirs written by Charles in 1550, and treating somewhat fully of the years 1543–1548; W. Robertson, History of the Emperor Charles V. (latest ed., London, 1887), an English classic, which needs supplementing by later authorities; F. A. Mignet, Rivalité de François I et de Charles-quint (2 vols., Paris, 1875); E. Armstrong, The Emperor Charles V. (2 vols., London, 1902), to which reference may be made for monographs and collections of documents bearing on the reign; H. Baumgarten, Geschichte Karls V. (3 vols., Stuttgart, 1885–1893), very full but extending only to 1539; G. de Leva, Storia documentata di Carlo V. in correlazione all’ Italia (5 vols., Venice, 1862–1894), a general history of the reign, though with special reference to its Italian aspects, and extending to 1552; article by L. P. Gachard in Biographie nationale, vol. iii., 1872, an excellent compressed account. The life of Charles V. at Yuste may be studied in L. P. Gachard’s Retraite et mort de Charles-quint au monastère de Yuste (Brussels, 1854–1855), and in Sir W. Stirling-Maxwell’s The Cloister Life of the Emperor Charles V. (London, 4 editions from 1852); also in W. H. Prescott’s edition of Robertson’s History (1857).  (E. Ar.) 

CHARLES VI. (1685–1740), Roman emperor, was born on the 1st of October 1685 at Vienna. He was the second son of the emperor Leopold I. by his third marriage with Eleanore, daughter of Philip William of Neuburg, elector palatine of the Rhine. When the Spanish branch of the house of Habsburg became extinct in 1700, he was put forward as the lawful heir in opposition to Philip V., the Bourbon to whom the Spanish dominions had been left by the will of Charles II. of Spain. He was proclaimed at Vienna on the 19th of September 1703, and made his way to Spain by the Low Countries, England and Lisbon, remaining in Spain till 1711, mostly in Catalonia, where the Habsburg party was strong. Although he had a certain tenacity of purpose, which he showed in later life, he displayed none of the qualities required in a prince who had to gain his throne by the sword (see Spanish Succession, War of). He was so afraid of appearing to be ruled by a favourite that he would not take good advice, but was easily earwigged by flatterers who played on his weakness for appearing independent. In 1708 he was married at Barcelona to Elizabeth Christina of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1691–1750), a Lutheran princess who was persuaded to accept Roman Catholicism by the assurances of Protestant divines and of the philosopher Leibnitz, that she could always give an Evangelical meaning to Catholic ceremonies. On the death of his elder brother Joseph I. on the 17th of April 1711, Charles inherited the hereditary possessions of the house of Habsburg, and their claims on the Empire. The death of Joseph without male issue had been foreseen, and Charles had at one time been prepared to give up Spain and the Indies on condition that he was allowed to retain Naples, Sicily and the Milanese. But when the case arose, his natural obstinacy led him to declare that he would not think of surrendering any of the rights of his family. It was with great difficulty that he was persuaded to leave Spain, months after the death of his brother (on the 27th of September 1711). Only the emphatic refusal of the European powers to tolerate the reconstruction of the empire of Charles V. forced him to give a sullen submission to necessity. He abandoned Spain and was crowned emperor in December 1711, but for a long time he would not recognize Philip V. It is to his honour that he was very reluctant to desert the Catalans who had fought for his cause. Some of their chiefs followed him to Vienna, and their advice had an unfortunate influence on his mind. They almost succeeded in arousing his suspicions of the loyalty of Prince Eugene at the very moment when the prince’s splendid victories over the Turks had led to the peace of Passarowitz on the 28th of July 1718, and a great extension of the Austrian dominions eastward. Charles showed an enlightened, though not always successful, interest in the commercial prosperity of his subjects, but from the date of his return to Germany till his death his ruling passion was to secure his inheritance against dismemberment. As early as 1713 he had begun to prepare the “Pragmatic Sanction” which was to regulate the succession. An only son, born on the 13th of April 1716, died in infancy, and it became the object of his policy to obtain the recognition of his daughter Maria Theresa as his heiress. He made great concessions to obtain his aim, and embarked on complicated diplomatic negotiations. His last days were embittered by a disastrous war with Turkey, in which he lost almost all he had gained by the peace of Passarowitz. He died at Vienna on the 20th of October 1740, and with him expired the male line of his house. Charles VI. was an admirable representative of the tenacious ambition of the Habsburgs, and of their belief in their own “august greatness” and boundless rights.

For the personal character of Charles VI. see A. von Arneth, Geschichte Maria Theresias (Vienna, 1863–1879). Dr Franz Krones, R. v. Marchland, Grundriss der dsterreichischen Geschichte (Vienna, 1882), gives a very copious bibliography.


CHARLES VII. (1697–1745), Roman emperor, known also as Charles Albert, elector of Bavaria, was the son of the elector Maximilian Emanuel and his second wife, Theresa Cunigunda, daughter of John Sobieski, king of Poland. He was born on the 6th of August 1697. His father having taken the side of Louis XIV. of France in the War of the Spanish Succession (q.v.), Bavaria was occupied by the allies. Charles and his brother Clement, afterwards archbishop of Cologne, were carried prisoners to Vienna, and were educated by the Jesuits under the name of the counts of Wittelsbach. When his father was restored to his electorate, Charles was released, and in 1717 he led the Bavarian contingent of the imperial army which served under Prince Eugene against the Turks, and is said to have distinguished himself at Belgrade. On the 25th of September 1722 he was betrothed to Maria Amelia, the younger of the two orphan daughters of the emperor Joseph I. Her uncle Charles VI. insisted that the Bavarian house should recognize the Pragmatic Sanction which established his daughter Maria Theresa as heiress of the Habsburg dominions. They did so, but with secret protests and mental reservations of their rights, which were designed to render the recognition valueless. The electors of Bavaria had claims on the possessions of the Habsburgs under the will of the emperor Ferdinand I., who died in 1564.

Charles succeeded his father on the 26th of February 1726. As a ruler of Bavaria, he showed a vague disposition to improve the condition of his subjects, but his profuse habits and his efforts to rival the splendour of the French court crippled his finances. His policy was one of much duplicity, for he was constantly endeavouring to keep on good terms with the emperor while slipping out of his obligation to accept the Pragmatic Sanction and intriguing to secure French support for his claims whenever Charles VI. should die. On hearing of the emperor’s last illness, he ordered his agent at Vienna to renew his claim to the Austrian inheritance. The claim was advanced immediately after the death of Charles VI. on the 20th of October 1740. Charles Albert now entered into the league against Maria Theresa, to the great misfortune of himself and his subjects. By the help of her enemies he was elected emperor in opposition to her husband Francis, grand duke of Tuscany, on the 24th of January 1742, under the title of Charles VII., and was crowned at Frankfort-on-Main on the 12th of February. But as his army had been neglected, he was utterly unable to resist the Austrian troops. While he was being crowned his hereditary dominions in Bavaria were being overrun. He described himself as attacked by stone and gout, ill, without money or land, and in distress comparable to the