Charles v. Hapsburg Monarchy and Murad III Ottoman Empire Term Paper

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Charles V and Murad III

Charles V of the Hapsburg dynasty and Murad III, sixteenth century rulers of the Roman and Ottoman empires, respectively, were in some ways polar opposites of each other. Part German, French and Spanish, Charles V ruled over a large territory with a heavy Catholic influence, but was a man who spent his life caught between nationalities and a bitter religious struggle. Murad III, by comparison, was a classic Turkish ruler who came complete with a large harem of women and a taste for life's luxuries and sensual pleasures. But despite their differences, there are many similarities in the reins of Charles V and Murad III, as both men were mediocre leaders who achieved limited success in their roles. While both men certainly faced difficult circumstances during their rules, they also helped orchestrate their own failings through personal weaknesses and poor decisions. The greatest similarities between Charles V and Murad III are that they:

Engaged their nations in fruitless military conflicts;

Made unwise policy decisions;

Failed to appreciate internal threats to their rule; and Ultimately left their empires in worse shape.

In the end, Charles V and Murad III were two men from very different backgrounds whose failed reins of the world's dominant empires followed surprisingly similar patterns.

Military miscues

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Charles V was Holy Roman Emperor from 1519-1556, and he spent much of his rein engaged in costly and deadly military conflicts that ultimately accomplished very little and often failed to stem the threats against him. He was not completely without victories - he famously put down a rebellion in Ghent and defeated the Protestants at Muhlberg in 1547 (Spawn, No date). But most of his military campaigns could be judged as fruitless.

Term Paper on Charles v. Hapsburg Monarchy and Murad III Ottoman Empire Assignment

A good example of Charles V's under-achieving military policy is his series of conflicts with France during his rule. Charles V and the French were constantly in competition for dominance in various parts of Europe, particularly parts of present-day Italy, such as Milan. When Charles defeated and captured French king Francois I at Pavia in 1525, he made the ill-fated decision to free Francois once Francois agreed to a series of terms that he quickly rejected once released (Charles V, 2005). This decision by Charles V led to him facing Francois on the battlefield on several subsequent occasions. The outcomes of those conflicts were not much more successful. Charles V and Francois seemed to make peace over the disputed territories of Burgundy, Milan and Naples in 1530, but they were back at war a few years later and in 1536 Charles V actually challenged Francois to personal combat in front of the Sacred College of Cardinals (Charles V, No date).

Peace between the sides was eventually achieved through papal influence, after Charles V led an unsuccessful invasion of Provence. But the two sides were again back at war from 1543-1544, which resulted in a stalemate, largely because Charles V lacked the money to fight (Spawn, No date).

Charles' history of unproductive warfare extended beyond his dealings with the French. For example, while Charles V scored a victory over Protestant forces in the battle of Muhlberg, his victory did very little to stop the rapid spread of Protestantism. In fact, by the end of his rein, Charles V had extended recognition of the religion, which continued under his successors.

Charles V was notoriously slow to react to the threat posed by Murad III's grandfather Suleyman, who expanded the Ottoman Empire significantly during his rule. By the time Charles V did react, however, his military victory was arguably hollow. Charles V's capture of Halq al-Wadi and Tunis in 1535, historians have argued, did virtually nothing to reduce the strength and influence of Suleyman (Charles V, No date). When Charles V eventually abdicated in 1556, some historians believe it was, in part, an acknowledgment of his own ineffectiveness. We do know that as early as 1532, his secretary suggested to him that, as a Christian, if he was a personal obstacle to peace, perhaps he had on obligation to step aside (Charles V, No date).

Similar to Charles V, Murad III had a history of ineffective military conflict that ultimately accomplished very little during his rein from 1546-1595. While Murad III did score military victories in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan, his failures cost his empire plenty (History of, 2004). He staged a 12-year war against Persian forces that yielded very little in the way of land, but nearly bankrupt his government. To pay for the war, Murad made the unwise decision to simply print more money, which made the currency worthless and led his own soldiers to revolt (Murad III, No date). Murad spent much of his time between 1589 and 1593 putting down revolts within his own military, and was forced to make power concessions to achieve peace.

Following his unsuccessful campaign against Persia - and his campaign against his own men - Murad closed out his rein with a poorly executed invasion of Austria in 1593. Austria had broken a treaty with the Ottomans, and Murad was unable to follow through on his obligation to bring them back into line (Murad III, 1999). While the war was still ongoing when Murad died in 1595, it was already clear that the campaign was bogged down and ineffective, and ultimately the war was fought to an inconclusive standstill. Through his military futility, Murad III showed a weakness within the Ottoman empire that arguably helped contribute to its downfall. The empire was not feared as it once had been.

Unwise policy decisions

There are plenty of examples during the reins of Charles V and Murad III of the men making decisions that were too heavily influenced by ego and poor logic. One of the earliest examples of this poor logic was when Charles V first inherited the rule of Spain in 1517, and was distrusted by the Spanish people as an outsider. Rather than seeking to build trust and kinship with his subjects, Charles V reinforced their negative feelings about him by firing the popular regent Cardinal Jimenez de Cisneros, installing non-Spanish outsiders in key posts, and raising taxes (Charles V, 2005). Throughout his rein, this shoddy treatment of the Spanish continued, and they frequently bore the financial and physical brunt of Charles V's military campaigns (Charles V, 2005). Therefore, it was no surprise that the Spanish led a violent, albeit unsuccessful, revolt against Charles V from 1520-1521.

Another shortcoming of Charles V was his poor budget management. During much of his rule, the finances of his empire were in utter disarray (Charles V, 2005). His empire, particularly on the Spanish side, was dramatically expanding its claims in the New World, which offered abundant and previously untouched natural resources. But Charles V spent the money as fast as it came in on his dream of continued and expanded European dominance. One of the end results, as was previously mentioned, was that Charles V had to seek an early peace in a war with France because his empire lacked the money it needed for extended warfare (Charles V, No date). He, in essence, launched a war he could not afford.

Murad III certainly had some policy successes during his rein, particularly the establishment of better economic and military ties with Great Britain (Murad III, 1999). However, Murad III made similarly poor policy choices that helped to sabotage his rein. Just as Charles V made the decision to fire Cardinal Jimenez de Cisneros at the start of his rule, Murad III issued an edict shortly after assuming power in 1574 that limited the powers of Sokollu Mehmed Pasha (Murad III, No date).

Sokollu essentially ran the Ottoman empire during Murad III's father's rein and was widely considered a genius in domestic and international policy. The decision to limit Sokollu could have been less destructive if Murad III ultimately decided to be a more hands-on ruler, but the choice he made was quite the opposite. He enjoyed the trappings of power, but not the work, and spent much time with his harem, even allowing the women to exert tremendous influence over his decision making. When Sokollu was assassinated by a rival in 1595, there was a genuine power vacuum that Murad III did not seem terribly interested in filling (Murad III, No date).

Similar to Charles V, Murad III also had money troubles that caused disquiet and even revolt. As was discussed, Murad III's response when his nation lacked money for military conflict was to simply print more and devalue the currency, which led to an uprising among his soldiers. This type of simplistic solution to a dire cash problem is very indicative of the type of ruler Murad III was - distracted and not particularly interested in dealing with state affairs. In fact, some historians claim that Murad III never left Istanbul during his entire 21-year rein (the sultans, 2002).

Underappreciated threats

Both Charles V and Murad III had their reins undermined by their failures to appreciate and deal… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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