Charles V was a secondary antagonist in the 2003 film Luther.

Recently elected as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles was a young man in 1519. The nephew of Frederick the Wise, Charles was almost immediately confronted with the issue of a young theologian named Martin Luther.

Wanting to do as the church asked, Charles asked his uncle to turn Luther over to the inquisition, a move that would most certainly end with Luther's violent death. Frederick refused, telling Charles that his grandfather Maximillian told them that no German citizen would be extradited without a hearing in his own state first.

The Emperor granted Luther a hearing in Worms. At that hearing church officials tried to get Luther to renounce his works one more time but Luther refused. The hearing erupted into a large argument, and Charles was frightened over the response it was provoking.

Over the next several years Charles engaged his neighbors in a series of military campaigns, even going as far as to sack Rome. By the end of the 1520s Charles was no longer the frightened youth that presided over the Diet in Worms. Only the Turks remained a serious threat to him, and the German princes feared that if he turned his attention inward that he would crush them.

At the Diet in Augusburg in 1530 the Emperor ordered the German princes to outlaw the new German language bibles that Luther had helped create, and to outlaw preaching from those bibles. However the princes of the Empire had stood up to him, and Luther's associate Philip Melanchthon presented a confession of faith to the Emperor, which he was forced to accept.


  • Emperor Charles V was played by the German actor Torben Liebrecht.
  • The real Charles V did not preside over the Diet at Augsburg, choosing to send his brother Ferdinand in his place.
  • Charles V would outlive Luther, who died of natural causes in 1546. In 1547 his troops entered Wittenburg but on his orders did not disturb Luther's grave.