|Charles V confronts Martin Luther|
The problem with that was that the Catholic Church, which had been around for a while, had seen or thought they had seen people like Martin Luther before. They would rise up, preaching some novelty but eventually fade away and be forgotten. But Luther could point to very real problems and corruptions in the Church with simony, absentee bishops, the selling of indulgences and so on which were having a real impact. This was particularly true in Germany where nationalism was a useful tool as well. It was often easy to convince people to support a German church founded by a German man rather than to pay tithes to an Italian prince far away in Rome. To head-off this problem, Emperor Charles V wanted the Pope to call a council to sort these problems out. Today it seems obvious, especially in light of what happened later at the Council of Trent, and the Popes seem criminally uncaring or lazy not to heed the advice of the King of Spain and German Emperor. However, to be fair to the Pontiffs, history is always close at hand in Rome and throughout the history of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation, when an Emperor started calling for a council of bishops it was usually intended to end in the forced removal of the Pope in favor of a more pliable candidate. After this happened several times, the Popes became rather reluctant to call councils together, especially when a German Emperor was the one pushing for it. It was certainly a mistake for the Catholic Church overall that the Emperor was not listened to but one can see why the Popes would have been inclined to put him off and wait for Lutheranism to fade away.
|The Emperor and King Francis I|
In 1526 Charles married Isabella of Portugal, daughter of King Manuel I, whom he loved and adored and had many children with. He was not a flawless man when it came to women but the illegitimate children he had were born before his marriage or after the death of Isabella who passed away after giving birth to their sixth child. The birth of Don John of Austria notwithstanding, Charles V was greatly saddened by her death and wore black for the rest of his life thereafter. However, all of that would come later. In 1527, only a year after his marriage, Charles V launched the invasion that would result in what must be the one really shameful mark on his reign, a horror almost unsurpassed in history. Gathering a motley force of Spanish and German troops (many of whom were Lutheran Protestants), Charles V launched an invasion of Italy aimed at destroying the alliance arranged by Pope Clement VII and bringing papal Rome firmly under his control. The Pope had counted on the King of France to come to his rescue but that did not happen and soon his other allies abandoned him as well. On the other side, because of the seemingly endless wars and the many rebellions in Germany, the Emperor was cash-strapped and when his troops approached Rome they were tired, hungry, impoverished and angry.
|A beaten Pope crowns Charles Emperor of the Romans|
In the aftermath, things continued to go well for Charles V. He worked to make peace with the Protestants in Germany, ending finally in 1532 with the Peace of Nurnberg that granted freedom of religion to the Protestants. In 1535 the Emperor led an attack on the Muslim forces in North Africa, capturing Tunis and the following year defeating French forces in Italy and repelling a French attack on the Low Countries. And, in the meantime, the Emperor reformed the legal system, financed Ferdinand Magellan in his voyage to circumnavigate the globe and saw the Spanish empire in the Americas continue to expand. However, the religious divide in Germany continued to be a problem with war flaring up again in 1547. The Emperor was again victorious but allowed the Protestants to keep what lands they had gained and to continue their religious practices in the peace that followed. It was a short-lived peace though as rebellion broke out again under the leadership of Maurice of Saxony. After more fighting Charles V decided the best way to restore order would be to enact a new law called the Peace of Augsburg which stated that the land and people would adopt the religion of their local noble lord. If he were Catholic, his people would be Catholic and if Protestant the people would be Protestant.
|The abdication of Emperor Charles V|