This thesis examines Charles V's inability to take decisive military action against the Protestant threat in Germany before 1546. It treats modern historiography on Charles V in Germany. The thesis offers a new theory concerning religious motivation for the delay. Charles was a man of deep and devoted faith in the Catholic Church and consequently, was unable to accept the possibility that any individual would doubt or abandon that persuasion without calculated intention or gross error. Charles was influenced by the Humanistic cries for reform in his age. As a result, Charles, a strong advocate for reform, declined military action before a meaningful outlet to address reforms and air grievances could be convened. But Charles was influenced by tradition, particularly the universality of faith and political unity of Christendom that could save the Church from the heretic and the Turk. Charles also felt himself personally responsible to avoid all conflicts that might endanger unity by creating a schism within Christendom. The evidence will be drawn both from the emperor's own words and deeds derived from primary source material and personal correspondence of Charles V between himself and those persons most likely have intimate knowledge of Charles's own thoughts. These include his personal advisors, Gattinara and Granvelle, and family members: Philip, his son, Mary, his sister, and Ferdinand, his brother. The unpublicized and private correspondence is less likely to be tainted by rhetoric and propaganda than are public declarations and correspondence. Instances not covered by these will be based on an interpretation of Charles's deeds. This thesis will therefore establish Charles's decisions regarding the Protestants in the context of his own convictions.



College and Department

Family, Home, and Social Sciences; History



Date Submitted


Document Type





Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, Reformation, Schmalkaldic League, Germany, religion, diet, prince, papal council, Protestant, faith, Worms, Augsburg, war, John Frederick of Saxony, Philip of Hessen, Maurice of Saxony, Albrect Alciabiades, cuius regio eius religio



Included in

History Commons