miércoles, 12 de noviembre de 2014

Spanish Renaissance: The Journey of the Emperor Charles V through The Low countries in the Summer of 1545




El emperador Carlos V, por Juan Pantoja de la Cruz,inspirado por Tiziano
Vecellio  (english Wiki) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


      There is a sense among scholars that everything concerning the Emperor Charles V is well documented, known and published. Historians of the humanistic period like Prudencio Sandoval and other contemporary authors like Manuel Fernández Álvarez have written in detail the main facts related to the great emperor of the Christendom. However, despite this feeling of comprehensiveness, there are minor events told by royal chroniclers and zealously kept in family papers, that enrich the life of one of the most significant and transcendent personalities of the sixteenth century.

      On May 16, 1545, the Emperor Charles V, his brother Ferdinand “King of the Romans”, the count of Feria, and many other courtiers arrived at the city of Worms, in Germany. At the city gates were waiting to receive the emperor its burgomaster, Peter Birling. In an act of submission and full of symbolism, he handed over the city keys to the Cesar, in a scene comparable to the Rendition of Breda painted by Velázquez in the next century. This episode has been very well depicted in family records in Chile. Nevertheless, the authorities of Worms have stated that this event was described in the chronic, but regrettably without names.

                At that time the emperor had many worries. The most menacing were the everlasting problem of the German Protestantism. Many memories came to the mind of the emperor. Precisely in Worms, in 1521, he had heard to Luther.  All could have been then avoided if he had taken measures against him. But he didn´t. On May 1545, he had the determination to convene the Council of Trent, although several impediments prevented the meeting from taking place until December of that year. It was a time of political impasse, in which the emperor and his courtiers spent the spring and the summer in leisure activities, while the complex situation of the empire was improving.

                A witness of all these events was Pedro Lisperguer, who later on became one of the most prestigious conquerors of Chile. Pedro was born in Worms around 1530, son of Peter Birling and Catalina Lisperg. For unknown reasons, the future adventurous took the name of the mother. His father was a prominent figure in the city. He was not only appointed as burgomeister, but he was also a member of the Communitarian Council (Gemeinen Rat) and to the Council of the Thirteen (Dreizehener Rat), finally reaching the post of staattmeister. As such he was ten years later one of the signatories of the meaningful Peace of Augsburg, an important treaty that relaxed the theological tensions in Germany. Even though the emperor negotiated the agreement, he couldn’t attend the meeting, going his brother Ferdinand in his place. 

                It is commonly understood that Peter Birling helped the emperor during his stay in Worms, facilitating the development of his diplomatic activities. Thanks to this support the emperor took his son to the Spanish world, then a boy of just fifteen years old, when he departed from Worms. The vivacious boy soon took advantage of that opportunity, and a fruitful friendship was forged between the emperor and the son of the Burgomaster. 

                On August 7, 1545, the emperor, the count of Feria, Pedro Lisperguer and many other courtiers left the city. In the Rhine, they embarked towards the Low Countries. The journey lasted for six months, in which Lisperg met the most important personalities in the empire. They stood for a short period of time in cities like Cologne and Maastricht. Afterward, they arrived at Louvain, where the group met Queen Mary, regent of the Netherlands, and sister of the emperor. In Louvain, Peter Lisperg may have perceived the Erasmian influence of the city.  Soon after the cohort got to Brussels, where it was situated the palace of the emperor and his headquarters, and where the young Lisperg presumably had the opportunity to meet the duke of Alba, among many other lords;   relevant cities as Bruges, called by Erasmus “the little Athens”, in reference to the important humanistic exchanges that occurred in the town; Antwerp, an international trading center in that epoch; and other remarkable cities as Leiden and Utrecht.   

                Concerning this time, there is a debate whether Lisperg could have participated in the Battle of the Elbe (Alvis in Latin), which took place shortly after, as it is declared in many family papers. According to a new research undertaken by myself in Spain, we know today that this participation was completely impossible. It is well known that when the emperor arrived at Utrecht, he celebrated a chapter of the Toisón de Oro, granting the prestigious collar to the count of Feria.

                After this event, the IV Count of Feria, Don Pedro Fernández de Córdoba went to Andalusia, separating from the emperor, arriving in Montilla (Córdoba) on March 12, 1546, where he consummated his marriage. According to the licenses that Peter Lisperguer brought to the New World, he remained in Andalusia for a decade, as a protégé of the Count until his death on August 27, 1552.  He continue in the lands of the Count for almost two years more under the patronage of his brother, don Gómez Suárez de Figueroa and Cordoba, V Count of Feria, who succeeded his brother in the leadership of the county, to whom he went to England the on July 13, 1554 to attend the wedding of prince Philip with Mary Tudor on July 25, 1554.

                Gómez Suárez, V Count of Feria, Grandee of Spain, was the ambassador of Philip in England, a member of his Council of State, and one of the most trusted men of Philip´s entourage. With this prominent man lived Lisperguer in London for seven months, close to the prince, and many powerful knights of the empire. In October 1554, from Brussels, the emperor gave his license to Lisperguer allowing him to travel to the New World: “no embargante que es alemán y cualquier provision que haya en contrario” (Nevertheless he is German and any provision to the contrary), quoting the own Cesar´s words. Despite all regulations prohibiting foreign people to ship to the Indies, the emperor personally gave his permission to Lisperguer. According to reports of royal armory chroniclers in Spain, this German family was protected by the emperor, which gave his license to Lisperguer (whose father was the counselor of Worms) as a way to move him away from the doctrine of Luther.

                A few months later, Count Feria interceded in London on behalf of Lisperguer to Prince Philip, requesting his permission to allow him to embark to the New World. Thanks to the good reports that he had of the young German courtier, Philip, still a prince of the empire, but already king of Naples, finally gave his license on November 4, 1554, to him and other courtiers as the famous poet Alonso de Ercilla. After leaving London the group stood for almost a year in Spain making some further procedures in the Casa de Contratación and other places, previous to their voyage. Finally, the group joined the vice king don Andrés Hurtado de Mendoza, to whom they departed from San Lucar de Barrameda, Cádiz, on October 15, 1555, to the New World. Ahead of them were a promising future and in the case of Pedro Lisperguer he was the founder of one of the most powerful and prestigious families of Chile and Peru, which linked to many noble titles and from which derives many presidents of the nation. 


Please, don´t forget to comment or email me. 

Daniel Piedrabuena Ruiz-Tagle




P.D. Dear Readers:

The title of the book has changed. It has been divided into two volumes. The first one called "El conquistador alemán Pedro Lisperguer Wittemberg: De cortesano de Carlos V y Felipe II a célebre precursor de Chile"  is available on Amazon in its digital version. Thank you. DPR.





Very recently I have written an article about the origin of Pedro Lisperguer called Los Lisperguer Wittemberg: luces y sombras de una singular familia alemana presente en la historia de España y Chile.






Thank you

Daniel Piedrabuena Ruiz-Tagle 

Recientemente he publicado un nuevo libro, muy novedoso en el contenido de esta temática,  titulado Los Lísperguer Wittemberg: una familia alemana en el corazón de la cultura chilena: Identidad y esplendor de la primera familia colonial de Chile. 







You can have it at the following link: 



Los Lísperguer Wittemberg avalaible in Amazon

Para acceder a los Lísperguer Wittemberg pulsa aquí

Thank you

Daniel Piedrabuena Ruiz-Tagle 

Don´t forget to comment !!!


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