Habsburg Expansion and Ottoman Threat

In 1526 King Louis II. of Hungary and Bohemia, of the Jagiellon Dynasty, fell in the BATTLE OF MOHACS, without a direct heir. According to marriage contracts, Emperor CHARLES V. inherited his titles. The HABSBURG DYNASTY, within the last generation of two, by marriage diplomacy, had acquired the Kingdom of Spain, the Burgundian territories, and now the Bohemian lands and what was left of Hungary (the larger part was under Ottoman rule), in addition to their Austrian complex of territories and the title of Emperor.
Charles V. policy had to focus on consolidating Habsburg rule over this diverse, far-stretched complex of territories. Centralization had been going on, but his realm was still multicentered, the major centers being MADRID (for Spain), BRUSSELS (for the Low Countries), VIENNA (for the Austrian Lands) and PRAGUE (for the Bohemian Lands). The Hungarian political centre of PEST, modern Budapest, was under Turkish control; the Empire did not have a capital. The various administrations competed, each wishing to become the dominant seat of the dynasty, each striving to have the heir raised and educated at their royal palace. Charles V. two sons were to the raised in Madrid (Philip II.) and in Vienna (Ferdinand) respectively, and among them the Habsburg domain would be divided (later, in 1556).
In this situation, French king FRANCIS I., after having callenged Charles in vain for the Imperial title, attempted to get a hold on MILAN, the wealthy metropolis of northern Italy. Charles had to fight him. In 1529, the Ottoman Turks laid SIEGE TO VIENNA; the fall of the city could narrowly be avoided, but the Ottoman threat was there to stay for the next two centuries.
The beginning reformation was a minor problem Charles V. was worried about. His policy aimed at a peaceful solution of the problem. Himself he was a staunch Catholic, arguing a

A single friar who goes counter to all Christianity for a thousand years must be wrong

Charles V., referring to Martin Luther, at the Diet of Worms in 1521.
quoted after
Who said What, London : Chancellor's Press 1988 p.63

In the territories under his direct rule, he ordered protestant agitators to be persecuted, caught and tried.

Biographies of Charles V. from Deutsche Kulturseite

This page is part of World History at KMLA
Last revised on February 20th 2002

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