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A History of Spain by Charles E. Chapman

Spain and the Americas had to meet the bills


a document affirming their

privileges, in which appeared many paragraphs similar to those of the Castilian petitions to the king, together with one requiring Charles to maintain the empire independently of the Spanish crown. The acceptance of these principles by the emperor is an evidence of the weakness of his authority in the subject states of Germany, for not only was he a believer in the divine origin of the imperial dignity, a doctrine which would have impelled him to establish his personal and absolute rule in all of his realms if possible, but he seems also to have intended to make Spain the political centre of his dominions, because she was, after all, his strongest element of support. At the same time, a fresh difficulty appeared in Germany with the Lutheran outbreak of 1521. Charles himself favored reform in the church, but was opposed to any change in dogma. Before he could confront either the political or the religious problem in Germany, he found himself attacked on another quarter. Francis I of France had seized upon Charles' difficulties as affording him a rich opportunity to strike to advantage; so in 1521 he twice sent French armies into Spain through the western Pyrenees on the pretext of restoring the crown of Navarre to the Labrit family. With all these questions pressing for solution Charles was in an exceedingly unsatisfactory position. Thus early in the period lack of funds to prosecute European policies was chronic. Spain herself, even if there had been no civil wars, was not united
internally like the compact French nation, and the other Hapsburg dominions could give but little help. Finally, Charles could not depend on the alliance of any other power, for his own realms were neighbors of all the others, and his designs were therefore generally suspected. Nevertheless, Charles brought to his many tasks an indomitable will, marked energy, a steadfast purpose, and an all-round ability which were to do much toward overcoming the obstacles that hindered him.

[Sidenote: Wars with France, the pope, the Italian states, and German princes.]

[Sidenote: The outcome.]

It is profitless, here, to relate the course of the wars with France and other European states. In the years 1521 to 1529, 1536 to 1538, and 1542 to 1544, France and Spain were at war, and at other times, down to the death of Francis I in 1547, the two countries enjoyed what was virtually no more than a truce. Meanwhile, Charles was usually in conflict with the popes, whose temporal dominions in central Italy were threatened by the growing power of Spain and the empire in the Italian peninsula. Other states in Italy fought now on Charles' side, now against him, while the princes of Germany were an equally variable quantity. England favored each side in turn, but offered little effective aid to either. As affecting the history of religion these wars gave Protestantism a chance to develop. Neither Charles nor Francis disdained the aid of Protestant princes, and the former had little opportunity to proceed against them on religious grounds. Francis even allied himself with the Moslem power of Turkey. On the whole, Charles was the victor in the wars, and could point to the occupation of Milan as a tangible evidence of his success,--about the only territorial change of consequence as a result of the many campaigns. Perhaps the most noteworthy fact as affecting the history of Spain and Spanish America was the financial drain occasioned by the fighting. Time and again lack of funds was mainly responsible for defeats or failures to follow up a victory. Spain and the Americas had to meet the bills, but, liberal as were their contributions, more were always needed.


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