Lived: 24 February 1500 – 21 September 1558
Reigned: 23 January 1516 – 16 January 1556 (co-ruled with Joanna of Castile before abdicating)
Married to Isabel of Portugal.
Grandson of both Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, and Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella I, King and Queen of Spain, and son of Philip I and Joanna of Castile, Charles I became King of Spain upon the death of Ferdinand II, founding the Spanish branch of the Austrian Habsburg dynasty. He also became ruler of all the territories belonging to Spain, including the Spanish Americas, Sicily and Naples and in 1519 was elected Holy Roman Emperor, giving him dominion over Germany, Austria, The Netherlands and Flanders. Charles I ruled Spain for forty years during which time he was responsible for major architectural commissions throughout the Empire and the creation of significant collections, including paintings, tapestries, globes, maps, books, medals and coins, arms and armour, jewellery and scientific equipment and drawings. After several visits to Italy (1529–36), Charles I began to move away from Late Gothic architectural forms as he came under the influence of the classicising Renaissance style. He instigated a massive redevelopment project aimed at restoring the castles of Seville, Toledo and Madrid and had erected many fortifications throughout The Netherlands, Flanders, Spain, Italy and North Africa.
Works by important Italian masters began to enter the Imperial collection after 1529, the year Charles I met Titian. Titians famous full-length portrait of Charles from 1533 marked the beginning of a relationship that profoundly influenced the future Spanish monarchy’s taste in art and consequently the collections of the Museo del Prado. However, Charles was not a noted lover of painting and it was another thirteen years before he commissioned another work from Titian. Being a very practical man and fairly conventional in his tastes, he was only interested in portraits or religious paintings. The acquisition of other more allegorical works was left up to others in the Imperial court. An ambitious suite of large tapestries was commissioned, showing battle and topographical scenes and in the late 1530s and early 1540s the major court commission was for a set of monumental stained glass windows for Brussels Cathedral. In 1555–56 Charles I abdicated, relinquishing all his territories and giving his brother Ferdinand I his imperial crown before retiring to the monastery of Yuste in Extremadura, Spain. His son Philip was crowned King of Spain.