Friday, April 1, 2016

Charles V The Holy Roman Emperor Who Sacked Rome

Charles V – Nephew of Catherine of Aragon, Incredibly Busy Emperor

In the long-standing tradition of bureaucrats everywhere, Cardinal Wolsey once sat on an inconvenient memo from his boss, Henry VIII.
For the longest time, hoping the matter behind the memo would just please go away, the Cardinal did nothing about it.
"I have a bad feeling about this memo. . . "
Unfortunately for Wolsey, the memo was the one where Henry VIII asked him to look into a no-fault divorce so the king could ditch Catherine of Aragon (with her fertility and her figure past its ‘sell-by’ date) for Anne Boleyn (younger, sassier, sexier.)
"Hmmm. . . . Anne or Catherine? Catherine or Anne?"

Henry VIII, with his trophy-wife-in-waiting who got exponentially more strident about that ring NOT on her finger with every day that passed, asked Wolsey about progress on asking Rome to allow his divorce.

“It’s coming. It’s coming along,” answered Wolsey, for the second, third, eighteenth time.

Henry VIII and Wolsey had a come-to-Jesus meeting about the non-action on Henry VIII’s divorce - which was not at all forthcoming.
"You see, Wolsey, logrolling only works when we BOTH do our job. Buh-bye now."
By then, it was too late.

Once the cat was out of the bag and everybody knew Henry VIII was insanely stalking in love with Anne Boleyn, there was no hope of Wolsey slipping a quiet little ‘sign here, please, Holy Father’ to slip an okay on the divorce through the onerous process of a Roman Catholic divorce.
 For it was not just the Pope who was dismayed at Henry VIII’s cavalier attitude towards jettisoning his current queen, but also the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (and, oh, SNAP! He was the nephew of Catherine of Aragon.)
His position on Henry VIII’s divorce was ABSOLUTELY NOT.

Why, one might ask, would the Holy Roman Emperor wield such power?
Have a look at this:
The areas colored in were under the rule of Charles V.
Charles V - waaaayyyyy too much going on in his royal life.
Son of Catherine of Aragon’s sister, Juana, Charles V was a Royal Overachiever.
He managed to keep so many plates spinning in the air concurrently

 that from sheer exhaustion, he abdicated the throne at age 56 to spend the rest of his days in serious peace and quiet – in a monastery.

His name crops up often enough in Tudor history; most often during the time of Henry VIII’s “Great Matter.”
Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, determined to break new ground by showing the world the meaning of the words ‘trophy wife,’ did a dance-around-Charles V, the-royal-heavyweight, reel from 1528 through 1533.
Their courtship, and Anne’s period as the affianced of Henry VIII, moved at a glacial pace

 due, in part, to placate the sensibilities and (rightly placed) suspicions of Catherine of Aragon and her nephew, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor/King of the Known World.

The then-pope, Clement VII, had his own treacherous balancing act on his ecclesiastic hands.
Hmmm. . . Charles or Henry? Henry or Charles? I do wish this would all go away. . . .

On the one hand, there was Charles V – Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire – and nephew to his Auntie Catherine of Aragon, married to Henry VIII.
On the other hand, there was Henry VIII, behaving very badly indeed towards both his wife and the Roman Catholic Church.

While Henry VIII made a decent case for an annulment of his marriage by citing an Old Testament verse that, taken at face value, invalidated his union with his wife, Charles V (nephew of that same wife) had the heavy hammer of an enormous empire and enormous military resources.
Charles V, dealing with the rise of Protestantism across the European continent, a war with France, and skirmishes with the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, was a man described as “not greedy for territory, but most greedy for peace and quiet.”
"Yes, please."
To have his auntie cast off by the horny and heir-hungry Henry VIII was perhaps not something he was willing to make a fighting stand over, but he wasn’t not NOT willing, either – or at least, the threat was there.

In other words, he wasn’t above using the unrest among Catholics in the German and Italian territories to send a very special message to the Pope about his (Charles V’s) feelings on the subject.
"Where's my #2 pencil? I need to fill in that #1 circle."

In 1527, his forces sacked Rome
Okay, White BunnyEar Feathers, you grab the gold; I'm going after His Holiness.

and the pope felt the righteous fear of having an enemy army roiling around the outside walls of one’s palace.
Distracted, Clement VII didn’t focus on granting Henry VIII’s annulment – too busy scarpering hither and yon, evading enemy troops - and time ticked on.

Henry VIII, not getting any less horny with time, was impatient with a capital ‘I.’
Anne Boleyn developed a bad case of the Entitlements; she spoke ill of Catherine of Aragon and generally behaved like a new-to-money, crass and mouthy sidekick to the king.
Her waspish comments should have been a warning to Henry VIII of what was yet to come, once they’d married and she had that crown on her head.
"Where the f*ck is my crown, Henry?"

Henry VIII must not have been paying attention.

Perhaps without a Charles V, and with a quick annulment, the marriage between Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII wouldn’t have imploded.
Instead, Catherine of Aragon, shuttled off to drafty, damp castles and no spring chicken any longer, died of poor treatment and also some kind of cancer, on January 7, 1536.

But then, the surprise ending to Anne Boleyn's amazing story began to unfold. 
After her death, there was no ‘villain’ for Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to side up against, and the lack of a common enemy was a final nail in the coffin of their marriage.
We all know how that story ended, so back to poor exhausted Charles V - 
with his Auntie no longer the earthly prisoner of her impulsive, self-satisfying, politically lightweight husband, Charles V focused again on wars against France, who kept making the most annoying and repetitive land grabs in Italy.
Oh, Christ - not the French in Italy, again.

By 1556, he was exhausted.

He had gout.
He wanted a little peace and quiet.
He abdicated, gave the Spanish throne to his son, Philip II, who eventually married his cousin, Mary Tudor, daughter of Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII and checked himself into a monastery.

Two years later, he passed the title of Holy Roman Empire to his brother, Ferdinand.
Shortly afterwards, he died of malaria.

He never lost his sense of humour, though: “I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.”  

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