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- The Golden Age: The Spanish Empire of Charles V.
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Trained in Byzantium, Venice, and Rome, he was well versed in the works of Titian and Tintoretto and especially influenced by Michelangelo. He lived in the Spanish city from to his death in , and today it still preserves a large part of his revolutionary work, with representative paintings including El expolio The Disrobing of Christ and El Entierro del Conde Orgaz The Burial of the Count of Orgaz.
Velazquez gained the attention of monarchs and statesmen across Europe for painting portraits with a realist approach and an added element of emotion. Today it is one of the most admired pieces at the Prado Museum in Madrid. During the 16th century, most if not all music was written for the church in the form of hymns, gospels, and other secular pieces. Their work captured emotions like ecstasy, longing, joy, and despair.
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By breaking free of the traditional pieces written for the Catholic Church, these men contributed a great deal to the transition into the Spanish Baroque. John of the Cross , two of the most influential figures in Spanish poetry, left a deep mark on 16th-century literature. And how were these bankers persuaded to hand over their money? It was on the promise of future bullion from The Indies. Holy Roman Emperor In Charles was elected Holy Roman Emperor, a title which cost him—or Castile—a vast sum of money.
The election had profound consequences for Spain. Charles now carried two titles on his shoulders: Charles V of the Holy Roman Empire and Charles I of Spain, but his selection of the former title as the pre-eminent one clearly signals the order of priorities for him. Spaniards may have initially kicked at his preoccupation with Europe, but Charles won them over by identifying them increasingly with the mission of defending Catholicism. The result was that Spain became increasingly embroiled in events in Northern Europe.
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And it was in this arena that Charles spent most of his time; in fact of the 40 years he ruled, he spent only 16 in Spain, and in the last 13 years of his reign he did not set foot in the country at all! The Mediterranean. Charles was also busy in the Mediterranean. Here a resurgent Islam, led by the Suleiman the Magnificent bd , was a constant reminder of the need for vigilant defence of the faith everywhere.
The Golden Empire — By Hugh Thomas — Book Review - The New York Times
Suleiman was a youthful, larger-than-life Turk whose rule — to , roughly the same period as Charles — marks a high point in the long history of the Ottoman Empire. Under Suleiman, Muslim forces overran the Balkans and by were laying siege to Vienna, the very seat of the Hapsburg dynasty.
Only a spirited defence, in which Spanish soldiers played a prominent part, prevented the city falling into Muslim hands. Under the famous privateer Barbarossa, the Ottomans made life difficult for Spain.
Garrisons fell, were retaken only to fall again. For example, Barbarossa seized Tunis in Charles retook it in Melilla and Ceuta remain Spanish enclaves today. Oran and Mers-el-Kebir were lost in The Mediterranean; 5. Political enemies. The Early Years: When the teen-aged Charles I arrived in Spain in , there were immediate and grave problems. First, he was not a Spaniard by birth, could not speak Spanish he grew up in Flanders speaking Flemish and French , and was largely ignorant of Spanish affairs. Second, he surrounded himself with Flemish advisers who did little to endear themselves to the Spanish people both by their self-interest and by the positions of wealth and power they acquired in the Spanish court.
Charles could not ignore what had happened and was politically astute enough to recognise that some changes were necessary. He started off on a good footing by granting a general amnesty to most of those who had participated in the revolt, allowed the rebellious towns to retain their privileges, reduced his dependence on foreign advisers in favour of Castilians and learned Spanish. And he spent the next seven years in Spain, the longest uninterrupted period he was to spend in the country.
Territorial Expansion. Between and five Spanish ships, under the Portuguese captain Fernando Magellan, became the first to circumnavigate the globe. Magellan was killed in the Philippines, and of the five ships only one —appropriately called the Victoria— made it back to Spain. The costs of controlling that scattered conglomeration were enormous, especially with the constant wars that Charles found himself embroiled at different times: in France, Germany, Italy, the Mediterranean and North Africa.
It might be easy to conclude that it was the fabled gold and silver of The Indies that paid the enormous bills. Indeed, all the sources Charles had available e. This left Charles with only one other recourse: that was to borrow money. Here we come to a conundrum. Thanks to the expulsion of the Jews in , there were very few financiers wealthy enough in Spain to advance money to Charles, so that he was forced to call upon German and Genoese bankers.
And how were these bankers persuaded to hand over their money? It was on the promise of future bullion from The Indies. Holy Roman Emperor
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