The Emperor Charles V: The Growth and Destiny of a Man and of a World-Empire

The Emperor Charles V: The Growth and Destiny of a Man and of a World-Empire

The Emperor Charles V: The Growth and Destiny of a Man and of a World-Empire

The Emperor Charles V: The Growth and Destiny of a Man and of a World-Empire

Excerpt

There are in history certain men whose productive energy is more than human. They create out of their own elemental strength and lay down the laws of thought and action for centuries to come. The Emperor Charles V was not one of these. Rather did he belong to that other group who must be called great because ancient historic forces were concentrated in their single being, because they moulded inherited ideas of power, belief and behaviour into new forms. Thereby they also resolved within themselves the eternal contradictions of humanity.

In this way he also was a builder.

Charles V carried the Hapsburg dynasty to the height of its greatness. He united and completed its possessions; mingling old Burgundian ideas of chivalry with the conscientious piety of the Netherlands, with Spanish self-restraint and the universal traditions of the Romano-German Empire, he created the attitude which was in future to be typical of his dynasty. At the same time, out of the mass of his inherited possessions he formed a new European and, in a sense, a new overseas imperialism -- a world Empire dependent for the first time in history not on conquest, still less on geographical interdependence, but on dynastic theory and unity of faith.

The Emperor gave his Empire not only new foundations but new ambitions, which found expression in the conflict in the Netherlands, and in the wars in Germany, Italy and Spain.

On the younger branch of the dynasty he bestowed the old rights over the Danube lands, with their important possibilities and no less important dangers, while he shifted the weight of his own power from Germany and Burgundy to the growing state of Spain. Thus he founded within his own family that predominance of the Spanish branch which lasted for a century and a half. Resting not on Germany, but on Spain, he was able to reassert his suzerainty over the old imperial lands of Milan, Tuscany, and even Naples; thereby he turned the axis of the Empire, which had run for so long from north to south, on to the line of Madrid . . .

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