CHARLES V AND HIS SON PHILIP
(From 1516 A.D. to 1558 A.D.)
Reign of Charles V.—Election as Emperor.—His melancholy
Temperament.—Death of his Mother.—His Abdication.—The Monastery of St.
Just.—Cloister Life.—The mock Burial.—Death.—Wretchedness of the
Nations.—Early Life of Philip.—His Marriage with Mary of Portugal.—Death
of Mary.—Marriage with Mary of England.—Joylessness of the bridal
Couple.—Nuptial Rtes.—Philip summoned to the Abdication.
 CHARLES V was sixteen years of age when the united sceptre of Castile and Aragon, with the kingdom
of Naples and immense dependencies in the New World, passed into his hands. Though
nominally he shared the throne with his mother, yet, in consequence of her incapacity, he
was the real sovereign. He had previously, through his father, inherited that portion of
the dukedom of Burgundy which comprehended Franche Comte and the Netherlands. Three years
after, when but nineteen years of age, upon the death of Maximilian, he was elected
Emperor of Germany. Then, for the first time, appeared upon the globe an empire of which
it could be said that the sun never set within the borders of its dominions.
Under the long reign of Charles V. but little transpired in Spain worthy of special
notice. Charles V. spent but little time in the peninsula. He was born in the Netherlands;
his early attachments were there: he was more familiar with the German than with the
Spanish language; and throughout all his reign, as in subsequent times, he
 has been renowned rather as Emperor of Germany than as King of Spain. Indeed he regarded
the crown which he inherited from his mother as chiefly valuable for the resources it
afforded him in the prosecution of his ambitious plans. Consequently the wonderful career
of Charles V. does not justly pertain to Spanish history. The closing events of his life,
however, must be recorded.
Charles V. undoubtedly inherited from his mother a disordered intellect. Joanna terminated
her sad life of delirium and of gloom on the 4th of April, 1555. About six months
afterwards, in the month of October, Charles resolved to abdicate the throne. He had not
unfrequently, during his long reign of thirty-nine years, developed traits of character
indicative of insanity. When but thirty years of age he was attacked by the gout, and
rendered so helpless that he nearly lost the use of his limbs. The deepest melancholy
oppressed his mind. He secluded himself from all society, spent his whole time in reading
books of devotion, and for several months refused to pay any attention to public affairs.
The death of his mother affected him deeply. He imagined that he continually heard her
voice calling upon him to follow her. His religious interests absorbed his thoughts. His
shattered health led him to feel that death could not be far distant. Though but
fifty-five years of age, he was prematurely old, worn down with care, toil, and
disappointment. In one of his hours of weariness and dejection, when travelling in Spain,
he came upon the Convent of St. Justus, in Estramadura. It was beautifully situated in a
vale secluded from all the bustle of life. Forest-covered hills encircled it, and a
rivulet murmured by its massive walls. Silence and solitude reigned there
 unbroken. As the world-weary monarch gazed upon the enchanting scene he exclaimed, "Behold a
lovely retreat for another Diocletian!"
For years he had contemplated resigning the crown and seeking these cloistered solitudes
in which to prepare for his latter end. After the death of his mother, and when his son
Philip had attained sufficient age to assume the cares of empire, Charles decided upon the
act of abdication. The imposing ceremony took place at Brussels, on the 25th of October,
1555, in the great hall of the royal palace. Careful arrangements were made to invest the
scene with dramatic effect. The large apartment was gorgeously furnished for the
occasion, and was crowded with the dignitaries of the realm. A platform about five feet
high was erected at one end of the room, upon which there was placed a throne for the
emperor, and other seats for the great lords.
After attending mass, Charles, accompanied by his son Philip and a numerous retinue,
entered the hall. Charles was so infirm that he needed the double support of a staff and
the arm of the Prince of Orange. He was dressed in deep mourning for his mother. In a
somewhat boastful speech he recapitulated the acts of his administration, his wars, his
weary journeys, his innumerable cares. In conclusion, he said:
"While my health enabled me to perform my duty, I cheerfully bore the burden. But as my
constitution is now broken by an incurable distemper, and my infirmities admonish me to
retire, the happiness of my people influences me more than the ambition of reigning.
Instead of a decrepit old man, tottering on the brink of the grave, I transfer your
allegiance to a sovereign in the prime of life,
 vigilant, sagacious, active, and enterprising. With respect to myself; if I have committed
any error in the course of a long administration, forgive me, and impute it to my
weakness, not to my intention. I shall ever retain a grateful sense of your fidelity and
attachment, and your welfare shall be the great object of my prayers to Almighty God, to
whom I now consecrate the remainder of my days."
As the emperor, deadly pale, and exhausted by his efforts, sank back upon his seat,
exclaiming, in broken accents, while he gazed upon his people, "God bless you! God bless
you!" "nothing was to be heard throughout the hall," says an eye-witness, "but sobs and
ill suppressed moans." Charles V., having thus descended to the rank of a private
gentleman, embarked with a numerous retinue, in a fleet of fifty sail, for Spain. The
passage was stormy. On the 28th of January, 1556, he landed at Loredo, in Biscay. As he
stepped upon the shore he prostrated himself upon the ground, exclaiming, "Naked I came
into the world, and naked I return to thee, thou common mother of mankind." Then, holding
a crucifix before him, with streaming eyes, and all unmindful of the group around, he
uttered an impassioned prayer for the divine guidance and blessing. By slow stages, and
with some delays, Charles reached the convent.
There is considerable diversity in the accounts transmitted to us of the cloister life of
Charles V. The narrative given by Robertson, carefully collated from original
manuscripts, is different, in some of the details, from those given by Prescott and
Motley, who were no less painstaking and careful in their investigations. We tell the
story here in accordance with the best evidence which can be found.
The emperor, in preparation for his retirement, had
 caused a small building, two stories high, with four low rooms of moderate size on each
floor, to be erected against the south wall of the monastery. The house faced the south,
with a hall passing through the centre. Piazzas ran along the east and west sides. A
window of the chamber which Charles occupied opened into the chapel of the monastery, so
that Charles could attend mass without leaving his chamber, or even his bed.
The rooms were comfortably furnished, and the emperor's wardrobe was ample. His
bed-chamber was tapestried, in mourning, with black cloth of the finest texture. Large
clocks were in the rooms, and the emperor was not only served from silver plate, but the
meanest utensils of his chamber and kitchen were also silver. A choice collection of
paintings adorned the walls. A pleasant garden, with a high inclosure, which sheltered the
recluse from all observation, invited the emperor, beneath those sunny skies, to shady
walks, over-arched with chestnut, walnut, and other trees of dense foliage, and to the
culture of fruits and flowers. Though fond of art, Charles was not of a literary turn of
mind, and his library was meagre, consisting mostly of books of devotion. The retinue
which accompanied him to this retreat consisted of about fifty persons.
As Charles entered the chapel of this his last earthly home, the whole brotherhood chanted
the Te Deem. The emperor then knelt in prayer before the altar, and all the monks gathered
reverentially around him. Charles, who could not lay aside his life-long airs of a
sovereign, received them graciously, and expressed himself as well-pleased with the
arrangements which had been made for his accommodation. Indeed Charles was still
 Though the throne of Spain had passed entirely from his hands, renunciation of the
imperial crown of Germany had not taken effect, as the Diet had not yet held its session.
The life of the emperor in the convent was methodical and monotonous. He attended mass
every morning in the chapel, and dined at an early hour at the refectory of the convent.
After dinner, which with its conversation generally occupied much time, the emperor
listened to the reading of some book of devotion. As the evening drew on, he listened in
the chapel to the preaching of a sermon from one of three or four clergymen who, in
consequence of their eloquence, had been brought to the convent for the benefit of the
emperor. He was attentive to all the fasts and festivals of the Church, and imposed upon
himself vigorous penances. He scourged himself with such severity of flagellation that the
cords of the whip were stained with his blood. No woman was allowed to approach within
two bow-shots of the gates of the convent under penalty of two hundred stripes.
Being naturally fond of mechanical pursuits, Charles beguiled many hours in carving
puppets and constructing children's playthings, and even some articles of household
utility. He was much interested in the mechanism of watches, and his rooms were filled
with time-pieces of every variety of construction. It is said that when he found how
impossible it was to make any two of them keep precisely the same time, he exclaimed upon
the folly of attempting to compel all men to think alike upon the subject of religion.
Occasionally some of the nobles residing in the vicinity were admitted to the presence of
the emperor, and he conversed with them with interest and animation.
 Charles had two sisters, dowager-queens of France and Hungary, both of whom visited him in
There was also a bright little boy, twelve years of age, in the imperial household, who
was an object of especial interest and attachment to Charles. This child, who afterwards
obtained renown as Don John of Austria, it was subsequently ascertained was a natural son
of the emperor, though at the time the fact was known only to one member of the imperial
family. It seems to be pretty well established, though such has not been the general
impression, that Charles took a lively interest in the progress of public affairs. His son
Philip constantly consulted him upon great questions of public policy. The emperor's
daughter Joanna was appointed regent of Castile. She resided at a distance of about fifty
leagues from the convent, and kept up a constant correspondence with her father,
soliciting his advice. The income which Charles settled upon himself was twenty thousand
ducats (about $40,000), payable quarterly in advance.
Charles, a very severe sufferer from general debility, was quite helplessly crippled, and
endured the severest pangs of the gout. Under the pressure of this bodily suffering and
perhaps of constitutional gloom, inherited from his insane mother, he sank gradually into
a state of the profoundest dejection. It was evident to all that his life could not be
much prolonged. Under these circumstances he adopted the extraordinary idea of rehearsing
his own funeral. Quite different accounts are given of the details of this act. Indeed
modern researches have thrown doubt upon the whole statement. But the act was in harmony
with the character of Charles; and it seems incredible that such a narrative as a mere
fabrication, could have obtained such
 credence. Some represent the emperor as placed in the coffin, and thus passing through the
whole ceremony until deposited in the tomb. Others represent him attending as a
spectator, muffled in a dark mantle. The mock burial, as usual in the monastery, took
place at night. The chapel was lighted with tapers, and hung in black. The monks were all
present in their monastic garb. A huge catafalque shrouded in black, in the centre of the
chapel, supported the coffin, which held, or was supposed to hold, the body of the
emperor. The death-knell was tolled by the convent bells, requiems were chanted by the
choir, and the burial service was performed.
After the service was closed, and the procession had retired from the chapel, the emperor,
either rising, in his shroud, from his coffin, or emerging from some place of concealment
knelt before the dimly-lighted altar in prayer, and then, exhausted by emotion and chilled
with sepulchral cold, returned from his burial to his chamber, to pass the remainder of
the night in prayer. The shock of this solemn scene was too much for the old monarch's
enfeebled frame and weakened mind. He was soon after seized by a fever, and it became
evident that his end was approaching.
When informed of this, he expressed much satisfaction, saying that it was what he had long
desired. The devout, prayerful, shall we say conscientious bigot, with dying breath urged
his son Philip to extirpate heresy from his realms by all the energies of the Inquisition,
without favor or mercy to any one. "So," says he, "you shall have my blessing, and the
Lord shall prosper all your undertakings." Philip fulfilled these injunctions with cruelty
which one would think must have flooded with tears the eyes of angels. The emperor found
consolation in having passages of
 Scripture read to him: the ceremony of extreme unction was performed, and he partook,
after it, of the communion, saying that it was a good provision for the long journey upon
which he was about to set out. He knelt at his bedside, uttering such expressions of
contrition, and pleading so earnestly for the forgiveness of his sins, as to bring tears
to the eyes of all who were present.
On the 21st of September, two hours after midnight, the emperor perceived that the
death-summons had come. "Now is the time," he exclaimed. A lighted taper was placed in his
right hand. With his left he feebly held a silver crucifix. The empress had held it in her
dying hour. Both earthly and heavenly love were blended in the gaze which he fixed upon
the sacred emblem. The archbishop was reading the solemn words of the Psalm, "Out of the
depths have I cried unto thee, O Lord," when the dying man, slightly raising his head,
pressed the crucifix to his lips, and saying, in feeble accents, "Yes, Jesus," sank back
dead. It is well that God, who is to pass judgment upon such a character, is infinite in
wisdom and in love. Human judgment is here quite bewildered. But one thing is certain. As
with Charles V., so with every other man, there can be no true repose in death, but in the
well-grounded assurance that one's peace is made with God.
Charles V. died the 21st of September, 1558, in the fifty-ninth year of his age. His
pathway through life, along the summits of power, was ever enveloped in clouds and storms.
He could seldom have experienced an emotion of joy. In resigning his crown, he said to his
son, "I leave you a heavy burden; for since my shoulders have borne it I have not passed
one day exempt from disquietude."
Indeed there could have been but little happiness for any
 one in those dark days of oppression and blood. Europe was as the crater of a volcano,
ever in violent eruption. The Turks were advancing upon Europe by the valley of the
Danube, sparing neither age nor sex, burning the cities and devastating the country. The
Christian nations were also engaged in incessant wars with one another, baron against
baron, duke against duke, king against king. From all lands an almost incessant wail of
misery ascended to the ear of God.
The son of Charles V., Philip II., who succeeded his father upon the throne of Spain, was
born at Valladolid, in 1527. His mother Isabella was the daughter of Emanuel, King of
Portugal. She died when thirty-six years of age. Charles V., who was but four years her
senior, was thrown into an agony of grief by her death, and testified to the devotion of
his attachment by never marrying again. All contemporaneous history describes Isabella as
worthy of this love. She seems to have been one of the noblest of women, Philip, at the
time of his mother's death, was but twelve years old. In December, 1543, Philip married
Mary, daughter of the King of Portugal. His destined bride, whom Philip had never yet
seen, left Portugal for Castile, accompanied by the Archbishop of Lisbon and a numerous
train of nobles. A splendid embassy was sent out to meet her, and to accompany her to
Salamanca. The palace at Badajoz was decorated for her reception with Oriental
As Mary, with an escort which numbered thousands, approached Salamanca, Philip, eager to
catch a sight of his bride, sallied out in disguise, with a few attendants, to meet her a
few miles from the city. He wore the dress of a huntsman, with a slouched hat and a gauze
 he could mingle with the crowd, draw near the princess, and examine her person and
features at his leisure.
Mary was beautiful, having a pleasing countenance and a very fine figure. She was dressed
in cloth of silver embroidered with golden flowers. Her mantle and hat were of
violet-colored velvet, figured with gold. She was mounted upon a mule with a silver saddle
and housings of rich brocade. A numerous procession from the city, composed of the
professors of the university, in their academic gowns, the judges and municipal officers,
in their gorgeous robes of office, the military, horse and foot, in very brilliant
uniform. Thus accompanied by the peal of martial bands and the shouts of the populace,
Mary entered the gates of the gorgeous and sumptuously-furnished palace of Badajoz.
The next evening they were married. The marriage festivities were prolonged for a week.
The proudest aristocracy of Europe vied with each other in the display, as feasts and
tournaments succeeded each other. Both bride and bridegroom were eighteen years of age.
The new-married pair soon repaired to Valladolid. A few months passed swiftly away, when
Mary gave birth to a son, Don Carlos, and sank herself into the grave. Thus rapidly did
the dirge succeed the merry ringing of the marriage bell. The body of Mary, beautiful even
in death, was conveyed to Granada, and was afterwards removed to a magnificent mausoleum
reared by her husband to her memory in the Escurial. The babe of this young mother lived
to endure a fate more sad than has often fallen to the lot of humanity.
It will be remembered that Catharine of Aragon, youngest daughter of Ferdinand and
 Arthur, Prince of Wales, son of Henry VII. of England. Five months after
their marriage Arthur died. She then married Arthur's brother Henry, who subsequently
became Henry VIII. After a union of twenty years Henry obtained a divorce, that he might
marry the beautiful Anne Boleyn, one of the queen's maids of honor. Mary, the daughter of
Catharine and Henry VIII., succeeded to the throne of England in 1553. She was an earnest
Roman Catholic, as was also her mother Catharine.
Charles V., an ambitious father, who was then upon the throne, influenced solely by
affairs of state, without consulting the inclinations of his son, chose this maiden queen
for the next bride of Philip. She was unattractive in person, gloomy in disposition,
eleven years older than Philip, and austerely a religionist. The cruelty with which she
pursued heresy has given her the unenviable title of "Bloody Mary." Philip, though
zealous for the Church, placed but little restraint upon his sensual indulgences. He loved
power, was accustomed to obey his father, and made no objections to the match.
The marriage contract was settled without either of the parties having seen each other. It
was fitting that the son of the emperor should go in great state to obtain his bride. A
fleet of a hundred sail was riding at anchor at Corunna, ready to receive him. Four
thousand of the best troops in Spain were embarked in splendid uniforms. In addition to
these, there was a numerous retinue of all the flower of the Spanish nobility, with their
wives, vassals, minstrels, and merry-makers. A prosperous sail brought this fleet within
sight of the shores of England, where it was met by the combined fleet of England and
Flanders. On the 19th of July, 1554, the squadron anchored in the port of Southampton. A
number of gorgeously-decorated barges immediately put out from the shore, conspicuous
 which was the royal barge, with a very rich silken canopy embroidered with gold. It was
manned by sailors in the royal livery of white and green. This, which was called the
queen's barge, conveyed Philip to the land, while the rest took the nobles and their
A large assemblage of English nobles met Philip on the shore. The prince was dressed in a
suit of black silk velvet, richly decorated with ornaments of gold. Carriage-roads were
then rare in England. A very handsome horse was provided for him, which he mounted and,
being a very fine rider, he attracted much admiration by the grace with which he managed
his spirited steed. In accordance with the religious customs of the times, the procession
at first moved to the church, where mass was performed, and thanks offered to God for the
Philip remained for several days in Southampton, gracefully receiving and requiting the
attentions which were lavished upon him, until the Earl of Pembroke arrived with a
brilliant company of two hundred mounted gentlemen to escort him to Winchester. The
splendor of the escort was also increased by a large body of English archers showily
dressed in uniform of yellow and red, the livery of the house of Aragon.
The appointed day for the journey was unpropitious. A fierce storm raged of wind and rain.
Regardless of the tempest, Philip wrapped his red coat around him, and, with a broad
slouched hat over his eyes, galloped on to Winchester, a distance of about twenty miles.
As he advanced, his retinue rapidly increased by accessions from the neighboring gentry
until it amounted to several thousands. Late in the afternoon they reached Winchester,
spattered with mud and drenched with rain. That evening
 Philip had his first private
interview with Mary, who had come there to meet him. The next day there was a public
reception in the great hall of the palace. The courtiers from England, Spain, and Flanders
thronged the hall, while Philip and Mary conversed side by side under a stately canopy. On
the next ensuing day the marriage took place. Mary had provided her youthful husband with
his bridal suit. It was composed of white satin, embroidered with gold, and richly
frosted with precious stones. Mary also was dressed in white satin, richly decorated with
golden embroidery, studded and fringed with the most costly jewels. With this dress,
bright red slippers and a mantle of richly-embroidered black velvet formed rather a
The marriage ceremony was performed in the cathedral, with pompous rites, which occupied
four hours. Philip and Mary were seated beneath a royal canopy upon a platform, with an
altar before them. The remainder of the vast edifice was thronged with the nobility of
England, Flanders, and Spain. After the utterance of the marriage vows mass was performed,
and then Philip led his faded bride from the church. "The effect of the spectacle," it is
said, "was heightened by the various costumes of the two nations; the richly-tinted and
picturesque dresses of the Spaniards, and the solid magnificence of the English and
Flemings mingled together in gay confusion. The glittering procession moved slowly on to
the blithe sounds of festal music, while the air was rent with the loud acclamations of
the populace, delighted, as usual, with the splendor of the pageant."
A sumptuous banquet was prepared in the great ball of the episcopal palace. Philip and
Queen Mary, with the
 officiating bishop, sat under a gorgeous canopy upon a dais. The royal table was spread
with dishes of gold. The nobles sat at tables below; which also glittered with gold and
silver plate. Exquisite music enlivened the repast. Feasting was succeeded by a ball. And
yet all the nuptial festivities were closed by nine o'clock in the evening. After a few
days of rejoicing at Winchester the bridal couple repaired to London. They made their
public entry on horseback, greeted by all the customary demonstrations of popular joy.
Weary of these pageants, the royal pair sought a brief period of retirement at Hampton
Court. Both Philip and Mary were earnest Christians, in accordance with the views of the
Catholic Church at that time. Heresy was deemed the greatest of crimes. "Better not reign
at all," said Philip, "than reign over heretics." Henry VII, the father of Mary, had
broken off from the Holy Father at Rome, and had virtually announced himself as Pope of
the English Church. Both Philip and Mary were very anxious to re-establish the relations
of the English Church with Rome. Successfully in pursuit of this end they made use of all
the influences of bribery and persuasion.
Parliament met at Whitehall. Mary, the queen, sat with Philip under a canopy. The Pope's
legate sat by the side of the queen. A petition was then presented by the chancellor of
the realm, praying, in behalf of the lords and commons of England, for reconciliation with
the Papal See. The whole assembly kneeled before the Papal legate, re-receiving absolution
and benediction. Thus was England purified from heresy and restored to the communion of
Rome. The event was hailed with rejoicing in all the great capitals of Christendom. There
were of course in
 the nation dissentients. The fires of persecution against such raged fiercely. Many
perished at the stake.
The health of the queen became feeble. It was supposed that she was about to give birth to
an heir to the throne. It proved but an attack of dropsy. Philip soon tired of his
unattractive spouse, whom he had married without love, influenced solely by ambition. His
position was uncongenial. He was not King of England, but merely husband of the queen. His
Spanish and Flemish followers quarrelled with the English. There was no happiness in the
palace. Such was the state of affairs when Philip, to his great relief, and to the joy of
his followers, was summoned by his father to Flanders to attend the ceremony of
abdication, which we have already described.
Mary loved her young and handsome husband, and bitterly mourned over his departure. With a
heavy heart she accompanied him down the Thames as far as Greenwich, where they parted.
Philip passed on to Dover, and crossed to Calais, which was then held by the English. A
military escort, sent forward by his father, met him on the road, and in the latter part
of September, 1555, he entered Brussels in truly imperial splendor.