From his accession to the Spanish throne in 1516 until his abdication in 1556, the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V dominated Europe in a way that no ruler had since Charlemagne. In Emperor: A New Life of Charles V
(Yale University Press, 2019), Geoffrey Parker
draws upon an enormous array of documentation to provide readers with a better understanding of Charles and the many challenges he faced over the course of his decades-long reign. A member of the Habsburg dynasty, Charles stared assuming his inheritance at an early age due to the premature death of his father Philip the Fair. With his election as Holy Roman Emperor in 1520, Charles was sovereign over a realm stretching across central and northwestern Europe to Spain and her rapidly expanding empire in the Americas. The nature of his domains and the challenges he faced, from the persistent military clashes with his French counterpart Francis I to the rise of Lutheranism in Germany, forced Charles to adopt a peripatetic existence, spending much of his reign on horseback crisscrossing Europe to manage his scattered territories. As Parker shows, most of these problems defied his best efforts to resolve them, which fueled his decision to retire to a monastery in Spain two years before his death in 1558.