The library of Charles V in the Monastery of Yuste

We tell you which books the emperor chose for his retreat

Emperor Charles V only took around thirty books with him to his retreat at the Monastery of Yuste. Books on a wide range of subjects, but most of them were devout books which encouraged Christian meditation.

The fact that Emperor Charles V chose the Monastery of Yuste to prepare his soul for death explains why a large part of the thirty or so books he took with him there were religious in theme. And most importantly: with a clear tendency towards books written in French and Spanish, his two main languages.

Thus, among the list of books there are few dedicated to history, war, astronomy or astrology. And, for entertainment, only one book of chivalry, «The determined knight», by Olivier de la Marche, which brings back the memory of his grandfather Charles the Bold.

«The determined knight»

As for history books, the Italian version of Julius Caesar’s «Commentaries» stands out; and the work that his companion and friend Luis de Ávila y Zúñiga dedicated to the emperor’s greatest deed: the «Commentary on Charles V’s German War», printed in Venice in 1548, which the emperor was able to reread in Yuste to remember that time.

The rest are religious or pious books, such as «The Meditation», by Fray Luis de Granada, «The Christian doctrine», by Constantine, three versions of «The consolation of philosophy», by Boethius.

Books which the emperor read during the barely eighteen months he stayed at the Monastery of Yuste. A library that speaks of a man in need of deep religious convictions, clinging to chivalric values that had already been forgotten, but which he did not want to let go of, even though the times around him conveyed a sense of constant threat to his territories.

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