Once Charles V had been made Holy Roman Emperor in 1522, he returned to Spain. This was just after the end of the Comuneros revolt, which had been crushed by the Spanish magnates. The revolt had been mainly based in cities, and was to do with taxes - especially the nobilty's immunity to them. The demands of the rebels were well-publicised, and Charles even went on to implement some of them. The main things that happened as a result of the revolt were -
  1. The removal of corrupt and unpopular officials.
  2. A remodelling of the concilliar system and the bureaucracy established by Ferdinand and Isabella.

Charles' Imperial Chancellor, Count Gattinara, wanted to create a large central bureaucracy with him at the head, which would supervise all of Charles' Empire (well, he would, wouldn't he!) Charles wasn't enthusiastic about this due to his policy of letting countries retain their administrative institutions and traditions. When Gattinara died, Charles did not replace him, and with his death died the idea of a large central bureaucracy.

Another reason Charles was not keen to try and implement large reform of his entire Empire is because he was often an absentee ruler - and as any reform would have to be driven by him, he would need to spend his time in all the countries helping to implement it.

Council of Castile

Castile was the most important of Charles' states because it was where the bulk of his taxes came, and so he ran his government from there. This gave the Castillians a sense of pride.

The Council of Castile had no permanent home, and all the members had to ride to wherever Charles happened to be when he called the council. Charles halved the number of people on the council to increase efficiency, and removed a number of nobles from the council. This was a preventative measure against corrupt nobles gaining too much power. Their places were taken by Letrados - specially trained middle-class lawyers that owed everything to Charles and therefore would be much less liable to corruption or following political agendas.

The main functions of the Council of Castile were to act as a court of law and administer the internal affairs of Castile.

Council of Aragon

This council had the same role as the Council of Castile, but for Aragon. It was also responsible for Italian affairs until a Council of Italy was set up in 1555.

Charles carried out the same reforms on the Council of Aragon as he did the Council of Castile.

The Councils of Aragon and Castile were incredibly useful to Charles, because native people sat on them. He got to know what was going on in the minds of natives, and what the issues were. His reforms made the councils much more efficient and removed people with private political agendas - now the people sitting on the councils were professional administrators.

Council of State

The Council of State advised Charles on both foreign and domestic policy, and oversaw the work of all the other councils. Like the other councils, it gave written advice ("consultas") to Charles which he was not bound to follow - and usually didn't.

The main point of this council was as a form of patronage - places on it were mainly awarded to nobles. It would give these nobles a sense of pride, a vent for their opinion rather than letting them vent on the battlefield, and it meant Charles knew exactly were his nobles where and what they were talking about!


These councils meant a new political entity was created, and one with great power - the secretaries. These people decided on the agenda for meetings, took minutes, wrote letters, and decided what Charles needed to know and what he didn't. A secretary could become very rich by taking bribes for the above activities, or he could become very powerful - Francisco de los Cobos eventually became secretary to most of the councils of Spain, and effectively ruled alongside the regents!

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.