Charles was Holy Roman Emperor and the most powerful European ruler in Western Europe since the Fall of Rome in 476 AD - As defender of the Catholic Church, Emperor Charles repeatedly tried to stop the
Protestant Reformation begun by Martin Luther in 1517. But Charles frequently found that many of his princes sided with Luther against him. His aunt, Catherine of Aragon, was the first wife of King Henry VIII of England. Charles V put pressure on the pope not to approve Henry's request to divorce Catherine. However, Henry VIII divorced Catherine in 1532 without the pope's approval and split England from the Roman
Catholic Church, thus furthering the spread of Protestantism and forming the separate Church of England (Anglican Church). Emperor Charles abdicated the throne in 1556, shortly after signing the treaty of Augsburg in 1555. He splits his empire and gives Spain, the Netherlands and parts of Italy, The Philippines and the Spanish-American colonies to his son, King Philip II of Spain, but the electors award the eastern half of his empire to Charles' younger brother, Emperor Ferdinand I.