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A New Life of Charles V

Geoffrey Parker



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Yale University
30 November 2020
"Drawing on vital new evidence, a top historian dramatically reinterprets the life and reign of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, ruler of the world’s first transatlantic empire""Masterly.""—William Anthony Hay, Wall Street Journal

""Seldom does one find a work of such profound scholarship delivered in such elegant and engaging prose. Drawing deftly on an astonishing volume of documentary evidence, Parker has produced a masterpiece: an epic, detailed and vivid life of this complex man and his impossibly large empire.”—Susannah Lipscomb, Financial Times

Selected as a book of the year (2020) by Simon Sebag Montefiore in Aspects of History magazine

The life of Emperor Charles V (1500–1558), ruler of Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, and much of Italy and Central and South America, has long intrigued biographers. But the elusive nature of the man (despite an abundance of documentation), his relentless travel and the control of his own image, together with the complexity of governing the world’s first transatlantic empire, complicate the task.


Geoffrey Parker, one of the world’s leading historians of early modern Europe, has examined the surviving written sources in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish, as well as visual and material evidence. He explores the crucial decisions that created and preserved this vast empire, analyzes Charles’s achievements within the context of both personal and structural factors, and scrutinizes the intimate details of the ruler's life for clues to his character and inclinations. The result is a unique biography that interrogates every dimension of Charles’s reign and views the world through the emperor’s own eyes."

Imprint:   Yale University
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 197mm,  Width: 127mm, 
ISBN:   9780300254860
ISBN 10:   0300254865
Pages:   760
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Geoffrey Parker teaches history at The Ohio State University. He has published forty books, including Global Crisis and Imprudent King for Yale University Press.

Reviews for Emperor: A New Life of Charles V

"“Masterly.”—William Anthony Hay, Wall Street Journal “‘An extraordinary man who achieves extraordinary things’ requires an extraordinary biographer. In Parker, [Charles V] has one. Seldom does one find a work of such profound scholarship delivered in such elegant and engaging prose. Drawing deftly on an astonishing volume of documentary evidence, Parker has produced a masterpiece: an epic, detailed and vivid life of this complex man and his impossibly large empire.”—Susannah Lipscomb, Financial Times “This biography is as majestic as its subject.”—Daniel Johnson, Sunday Times “This is a beautifully written and accessible work, presumably pitched for general as well as academic readers.”—Susan Broomhall, Parergon ""No other scholar now has such a deep impact on the writing of the history of 16th-century European history.""—Wim Blockmans, Rector Emeritus of the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study   ""[Parker] brings the enigmatic, fascinating titan of 16th-century Europe blazingly to life in this superb portrait that is excellent, accessible and magisterial in both politics and humanity.""—Simon Sebag Montefiore, Aspects of History Magazine 'Books of the Year 2020' “This monograph is a magnum opus of what Marc Bloch called ‘the historian’s craft’, both in terms of archival research...and in its narrative power. Parker narrates with refreshing ease and in gripping detail a vast array of events, details and stages of the life of Charles V.”—Stefan Hanß, History: The Journal of the Historical Association   “Emperor is a highly readable and up-to-date study that deserves a place on the bookshelf of all students of sixteenth-century Europe. All future works on Charles V will need to take Geoffrey Parker’s erudite book into account.”—Sean T. Perrone, Bulletin of Spanish Studies “Luckily for us non-specialists, Parker has distilled what he knows about the Holy Roman Emperor into the very accessible Emperor: A New Life of Charles V… Fascinating and awe-inspiring.” —Jo Henry, BookBrunch   CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title, 2020 “A remarkable book, a panorama full of astounding and memorable details, and a gripping read. No other living scholar could have organised and analysed the vast and dizzying array of source materials. Parker is both psychologically astute and sets Charles in the huge canvas against which he operated, always presenting the diplomatic, religious, structural and systemic contexts of the decisions he had to make. A monumental achievement.”—Lyndal Roper, author of Martin Luther “A splendid book. It’s well-written, engaging the reader, even while marshalling to good use a truly impressive erudition. . . . [T]his is the only book I know that stands comparison with Brandi in that respect, and Parker covers a lot more ground.”—James D. Tracy, author of Emperor Charles V “Emperor leaves me in awe. It is an unprecedentedly thorough imperial, and indeed, global, biography. The book marshals a breath-taking quantity of evidence, while paying meticulous attention to its quality. Brilliant.”—Bethany Aram, author of Juana the Mad, professor of modern history at Pablo de Olavide University, Spain, and principal investigator of the interdisciplinary project An Artery of Empire: Conquest, Commerce, Crisis, Culture and the Panamanian Junction (1513–1671) “No one has understood the Habsburg emperor better than the master historian Geoffrey Parker. In this meticulously-researched and brilliantly-narrated account, Parker strikes a perfect balance, highlighting Charles’s strengths as a warrior-king together with his personal weaknesses as a family man. A tour-de-force.”—Richard L. Kagan, author of Clio and the Crown “Geoffrey Parker’s biography of Charles V immediately takes its place as the premier study of the emperor available in English. Its significance, however, like the research that supports it, is global. I cannot remember reading anything that offered so much depth of perspective on both the emperor as a ruler and the age as a whole, the work of Karl Brandi included. It is a masterpiece of historical reconstruction.”—C. Scott Dixon, author of The Church in the Early Modern Age"

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