Charles V (1500 – 1558) was the ruler of both the Spanish Empire as Charles I from 1516 and the Holy Roman Empire as Charles V from 1519, as well as of the lands of the former Duchy of Burgundy from 1506. He voluntarily stepped down from these and other positions by a series of abdications between 1554 and 1556. Through inheritance, he brought together under his rule extensive territories in western, central, and southern Europe, and the Spanish viceroyalties in the Americas and Asia. As a result, his domains spanned nearly 4 million square kilometers (1.5 million square miles) and were the first to be described as “the empire on which the sun never sets”.
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