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How successful was Charles I as king of Spain?

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Introduction

How successful was Charles I as king of Spain? It is difficult to judge the success of Charles on the overall governing of Spain, as many decisive factors including the amount of land gained and loss as well as the financial situation and the degree of opposition and how it was dealt with, are all important to consider in answering this statement and all do vary to certain extents throughout his reign. Religious unity in Spain as well as the marriage alliances formed in this period should be taken into account when forming a thorough conclusion and also the variation in activity over the years of his rule The absence of social political and religious conflict is striking in the context of European history of the time and at certain times in Charles' reign this does seem to have been the case. Historians often focus more on dramatic upheaval and disturbance in the past and less on stability and peace. However, a balanced assessment of Charles's reign as King of Spain must explore the origins of Spain's political stability and Charles's contribution to it. In Charles early years as king he faced many serious revolts and the period from 1516-1522 is commonly regarded by historians as a critical period in the reign of the Emperor Charles V as King Charles I of Spain. However he did manage to preserve his authority and much of his land suggesting that Charles government at least at this time and in this aspect was quite successful. ...read more.

Middle

Finally, the Crown tried to ensure the loyalty of the representatives of the towns at the Cortes by bestowing upon them favours and patronage. It can be argued, therefore, that an important factor in explaining Spain's political stability after 1522 was the triumph of royal authority over the Castilian towns and over the Castilian Cortes. This was, perhaps, the most important legacy of the Comuneros revolt. it has been argued that Charles's partnership with the Castilian nobility- was one of the major pillars of his success in ruling Spain. The Castilian nobility enjoyed substantial advantages under Charles. Their pride was flattered and their self-interest satisfied as Charles increasingly loosened his ties with his Burgundian lands and put Spain at the centre of his empire. Castilian nobles found lucrative employment in the running of Charles's empire. In addition, Charles exempted the nobilities- from the heaviest tax burdens. The absenteeism of the monarch also provided opportunities for the nobility to consolidate and advance their own interests. During the Comuneros revolt the nobility had proved their value to the Crown in the maintenance of effective royal government. In its aftermath, Charles was careful to avoid offending them. But the victory of the nobility over the Comuneros rebels brought them into a longer-term alliance with a monarchy much strengthened in its own right. Success and stability in Spain depended also on the absence of religious division. Under Charles, Spain presented a unified Church, committed to Catholic orthodoxy. ...read more.

Conclusion

Like the alcabala, this was to be a tax on consumers payable by all. A general Cortes was called at which the Castilian nobility as well as the towns were represented. The nobility refused to approve the new tax. Charles dropped the sisa, aware of the value of a loyal nobility to the successful governing of his kingdom. Charles was constantly spending more than he received on revenues and an increasing proportion of his revenues had to used to finance his debts and this was the state that his royal finances remained in until the end of his reign and by the year 1557, the year after his ascension, Philip II was forced to suspend all payments from the Castilian treasury and to convert the Crowns debts into juros. Spain, and in particular Castile, paid a heavy price for Charles's financial administration. This extensive borrowing caused enormous damage to the Spanish economy in the longer term and fed price inflation. It can perhaps be concluded that although many he faced many difficulties and there is a degree of failure in some aspects of his ruling, e.g. the financial depression he left Spain in, and the delegation of authority to his deputies, he maintained a considerable degree of personal control and that he did succeed in enlarging his power during his time as king of Spain. He experienced his greatest success when he was able to work with political elites, and, in particular with the Spanish nobility and overall his governing in most areas of his rule was largely successful. ...read more.

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