Wednesday, December 13

The Thrust of Greatness Part 3

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The task of governing such an enormous, scattered and precarious domain was not made any easier by the rise of Protestantism during Charles`s reign, nor by the fact that his finances never recovered from the enormous expenditure expenditure which he incurred during the massive campaign of bribery which had secured his election as Emperor.

But Charles was equal to the challenge, for in an age famous for the splendor of its prices, despite the circumstances of his childhood, he turned out to be the most splendid of them all: not the most ostentatious, nor the most concerned with his own magnificence – ‘Monsieur Francois of France, Henry of England, several Popes and Suleiman of Turkey all outdid him in their ebullient exhibitionism and in their almost child-like vanity –but the most able, the most humane, and the most modest of the Renaissance princes and thus in some people`s judgment, the greatest of them all.

His remarkable inheritance was the result of his equally remarkable ancestry; the blood of Byzantine Emperors of the house of Paleologus mingled in his veins with that of almost every ruling family in Europe. Some of his forebears had been Castilian, some Portuguese, there French, two Plantagenet’s, an Italian, a pole, a Lithuanian, and a number of German Habsburgs.

If rum our is to be believed, there may have been a drop of two of Moorish blood in him and a trace of never-to-be-mentioned Jewish blood too, the legacy of a misalliance between one of his remote ancestors and the daughter of a rich Jewish tax collector, who0 had bettered herself by marrying into the Spanish aristocracy. But eminent as was his actual ancestry, notwithstanding its Moorish and Jewish, it was nothing to that which he was taught to believe in.


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