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Publisher's Summary

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' 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' reign and views the world through the emperor's own eyes.

©2019 Geoffrey Parker (P)2019 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"This is a splendid book. It's well-written, engaging the reader, even while marshalling to good use a truly impressive erudition...." (James D. Tracy, author of Emperor Charles V)

What listeners say about Emperor

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    4 out of 5 stars

Amazing.

The amount of study involved in the making of this book was significant. I can't believe how long this book is. Time just flew by the book is so interesting. Narration was also great.

17 people found this helpful

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Excellent Content and Narration

Narration: Nigel Patterson is great, does a great job on emphasis and story development

The content is great for the historical reader. Germany, Spain, Reformation, Netherlands, France, England, Papacy, and Ottoman politics in depth. You almost can't say you know the Renaissance period without knowing this story.

You also get great context on the importance and management of the New World for Charles V. It was actually quite the side show. You get awesome clarity on the age of exploration and how it unfolded within the framework of the dynastic struggle in Europe.

You will probably enter the book with England, France, Spain, and Austria as the major players in Europe.. But what you leave understanding is that (to the leaders) the most important thing was House of Tutor, House of Hapsburg, House of Trastamara, and House of Valois. The players were not religious or national zealots. They were political and dynastic tigers, some extremely slimy. France was selling out Christians to Ottoman allies. Even the interpretation of Luther was wrapped in Dynastic colors as much as religious.

Great book

7 people found this helpful

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best read on Charles V

best narrated book on Charles v. overall excellent historical background on family and the habsburgs.

4 people found this helpful

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Well Researched but…

Very well researched. The author knows their subject matter. Yet, the author is good at stringing source material together, which is great but I don’t think the author has any real conclusions of their own at the end. Just more of what other people thought. It wasn’t bad at all. I would read something from this author again but this one wasn’t very good compared to other historical works I have read. Very, very dry which, of course, can be expected from an academic piece like this one.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent biography

I really appreciate the style by Parker. He brings Charles to life with great skill. Narration is also flawless.

2 people found this helpful

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Interesting story about a historical person

I liked the book. It was very detailed. I did find it a little repetitious but still enjoyed it.

2 people found this helpful

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Cool

It's really good but it needs some pictures to make the story more interesting and fun...😉

6 people found this helpful

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Great Biography of Charles V

I’ll start this review by stating I’m a bit biased in that I was already interested in the time period and subject matter before beginning this book. With that said, I enjoyed it a lot. Charles lived an amazing life, and the author does an amazing job of bringing it to life by referencing not only the writings of Charles himself but of his contemporaries as well. I really gained an understanding of how Charles lived and how he was viewed in his own time. The narrator does a great job as well. I’d recommend this to anyone interested in early modern Europe, the history of Spain, or the Habsburgs.

1 person found this helpful

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Probably better "read" with the eyes

I love audiobooks and this one is well done. However, when the timeline jumps around topically, it can be confusing for a bit until you realize that the topic has caused a jump backwards in the timeline. Since I often multi-task when listening to audiobooks, I think that I personally would have done better to have read this one with my eyes rather than as an audiobook.

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  • Luke Ow
  • 08-12-22

An Imperial Endeavour

Geoffrey Parker delivers remarkable insights into a man who should receive greater recognition from history buffs for his mostly successful efforts at preserving & expanding his patrimony. In my opinion, the best history books present their audiences with facts & connect seemingly separate events/ideas together which Emperor does in chapter after chapter, bringing the late 15th & early-mid 16th centuries into sharp relief for audiences today. Listeners who are looking for a history of emotions, instead of just facts, will be glad to know that Parker devotes significant attention to personal correspondence from the historical personages analysed in his work - giving audiences more than a glimpse into the inner lives of these historical icons. The cast of 'supporting characters' whose actions are explored in detail - from foes such as François I of France & Martin Luther to loyal ministers such as Chancellor Gattinara & an unexpected frenemy in England's Henry VIII - should be of interest to other fans of European political history too. Nigel Patterson's narration was definitely engaging too - evocative but not theatrically so.

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  • JJ
  • 09-01-20

Needed some editing

Bit too long and could have done with tighter editing. But excellent in depth look at the life and times of a remarkable man

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  • Mr
  • 05-28-20

Outstanding

Well written and researched, academic and readable and never loses sight of the aim of biography. First class narration too, particularly the latin and spanish!

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  • Ewan
  • 02-15-21

I quite liked it

It's a bit slow to get going if you're here for the geopolitical and dynastic thrills and spills, but after a good few hours going through Charles' half-interesting and occasionally somewhat hard to follow childhood and early interactions with councillors, the man himself starts to emerge on a supremely demanding world stage and it's a fascinating page turner from then on. Deep dives into Charles' wars with France, the Pope, his own subjects and Lutheranism. Less detailed but robust looks at his relationships with his family,, domestic politics, England and interactions with the Ottoman Empire and his American colonies. Lots of astute commentary on Charles as a human being and the logistics of running a global empire in the 16th century. Narrator's does a great job with both narrative and reflective sequences and handles French + Spanish well, if perhaps a tad more hesitant with German and Dutch. Easy recommend if you've got a decent whack of time and want to better understand Renaissance Europe, or just a good historical story.

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  • lone
  • 03-04-20

Emperor

Very interesting!! Have read many books where Charles V is a part of the story but until listening to this have never known much about the man behind the title. Well written and well read!!!! And now I’m about to start listening to the book about his son Philip II by the same author.