Anthony Pagden

Not Quite Master of All He Surveyed

Emperor: A New Life of Charles V


Yale University Press 700pp £25 order from our bookshop

From 1519 until his abdication in 1556, Charles V, ‘By the Grace of God Holy Roman Emperor, Forever August King of Germany, King of Italy, King of all Spains, of Castile, Aragon, León, Navarra, Grenada, King of Jerusalem, King of the Western and Eastern Indies, Lord of the Islands and Main Ocean Sea, Archduke of Austria, Duke of Burgundy, Brabant, Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, Limburg, Luxembourg, Gelderland…’, to list just a few of his titles, ruled over – or claimed to rule over – possibly the largest and (with the sole exception of the Ottoman Empire) most heterogeneous monarchy then in existence. Much of the territory over which he ruled had been acquired through what Geoffrey Parker in his exhaustive new biography nicely calls ‘matrimonial imperialism’. ‘Others make war’, it was said of Charles’s dynasty, ‘you, happy Habsburgs, marry.’

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