When Charles I of Spain was elected Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, he made history in more ways than one. While he was groomed to take over the role, he fought tooth-and-nail (via some substantial bribes) to secure the position. On June 28th, 1519, Charles was elected Holy Roman Emperor, unknowing that he was about to witness decades of turmoil in the Holy Roman Empire.

Groomed for the role

Even before he was elected the Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, Charles I of Spain had big shoes to fill. He came from a line of powerful politic figures. He was the grandson of Ferdinand II, Isabella of Spain, and the emperor before him, Maximilian I. When Maximilian passed away, an election was held to fill the role, and Charles seemed to have it in the bag. Charles I was certain that he was a shoo-in for the position of the new Holy Roman Emperor. The role would give him dominion over a number of territories in central Europe, all of which he hoped to unify. However, he was competing for the honorable position against some fairly tough contenders.

The tough political competition

Competing against Charles I were opponents such as King Francis I, Frederick the Wise, and King Henry VIII of England. They all had numerous political traits working in their favor. King Francis I was from France. One former Holy Roman Emperor from France, Charlemagne, did phenomenally in the role, establishing a good reputation for King Francis before the election. Additionally, the powerful King Henry VIII thought that he had a true chance of winning the election. Plus, the date of the election fell on his birthday. What more could the cosmos want? However, while they all poured out bribes to voters, Charles was the ultimate victor of the election. Yet, while he seemed to fill the shoes of his grandpa with ease, he did have some assistance.

Winning the election…and accomplishing nothing

Charles ultimately dealt out many bribes to score him the position of Holy Roman Emperor. This included paying the princes of the Kingdom of Germany, the largest branch of the Holy Roman Empire, to vote for him. Sadly, even after being crowned Emperor Charles V, he didn’t see his many dreams for the Empire come to fruition. While he wanted to unify all of the kingdoms he ruled over, he was met with massive resistance from the Protestants in Germany, the Ottoman Turks in Europe, and King Francis in France. After completing four exhausting decades as emperor, Charles threw in the towel and passed off the tiresome role to his brother, Ferdinand.