Charles IV., emperor of Germany, a member of the family of Luxemburg, and son of King John of Bohemia, burn in Prague, May 13, 1310, died there, Nov. 29, 1378. When seven years old he was taken to Paris to be educated at the French court; but on the death of the French king Charles IV. in 1328, his father removed him to the court of Luxemburg, and after a four years' residence there summoned him to Italy, where King John had been appointed the viceroy of the emperor Louis the Bavarian, with whom he was at that time in close friendship. The viceroyalty was now for a time transferred to Charles, who soon exchanged the onerous office for the mar-graviate of Moravia. The relations of King John with the emperor had in the mean time changed, and they soon became openly hostile. In the war excited by Louis's summary disposition of Carinthia, John joined the opponents of the emperor; and Charles, acting as his father's ally, conquered and laid waste (1337) the lands of the count von Gorz, one of the most important of his enemies. In the few years following the Carinthian war the enmity which had long existed betweeen Louis and the popes grew more and more bitter.

Clement VI., who succeeded to the papal chair in 1342, in the next year renewed the excommunication already pronounced against the emperor, pushed his hostility so far as to excite for a time the resistance of the German diet, and spared no pains to raise up enemies to Louis throughout the empire. Among these enemies Charles already occupied a leading place when, in 134(5, his father's death at the battle of Crecy left him king of Bohemia. The time now seemed to have arrived for a successful and final opposition to Louis's rule; and at the instigation of the pope five electors and a great number of the papal party met at Rhens on the Rhine and chose Charles emperor, in July, 1346, but not until he had submitted to such humiliating conditions as they wished to impose upon him. In spite of this election he was still too weak to actually assume the imperial dignity in anything but name, and Louis maintained his position successfully until his death in 1347, an event which seemed at last to leave Charles's way entirely clear. But no sooner was his chief rival dead than new opponents met him.

The electors of the Palatinate and Brandenburg, with other powerful rulers, declared his election void, and offered the imperial crown first to Edward of England, who refused it; then to the margrave of Meissen, who also declined it; and finally to Count Gunther of Schwarzburg, who accepted it. Charles made no preparations for an open conflict with this formidable antagonist, but devoted himself to aiding various schemes against Giinther's supporters - upholding the pretensions of Waldemar, a pretender to the electorate of Brandenburg, and endeavoring by this and similar means to compel his enemies to withdraw their aid from his rival. The contest was soon terminated, however, by the withdrawal of Gunther himself, and his death soon afterward, brought about, it was said, by poison; a report which Charles's enemies everywhere used against him. Charles now sought a reconciliation with his opponents; he took for his second wife the daughter of the elector palatine, and gave his own daughter in marriage to Duke Rudolph of Austria; and finally so won over those who had opposed his election that they gave in their adhesion, and he found himself at last in undisputed possession of the imperial throne.

The next few years he employed in plans for increasing the power and wealth of his immediate family, He secured through his father-in-law the right of inheritance to the Palatinate; and on the death of his second wife he married the daughter of Duke Henry of Jauer, gaining with her the prospective possession of the principality. In 1354 he visited Italy, and was crowned king of that country, his coronation being celebrated with great pomp at Milan. In the spring of 1355 he was crowned emperor at Rome by Cardinal Bertrandi, but, according to a vow imposed upon him, he spent but one day within the city walls. His conduct with regard to the great political disputes then agitating Italy was indecisive and spiritless; he made enemies both of the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, and seemed to care for little but the acquisition of large sums of money, which he took with great avidity in return for the various honors and privileges he bestowed. Hated by all parties, he hastened back to Germany soon after his coronation.

In 1350 he issued the famous "golden bull," prescribing the rights and duties of the electors and various princes of the empire, and the manner of the election of emperors; regulating taxes, the disposition of revenues, and the coinage; limiting the rights and privileges of cities; and containing other regulations for the administration of the affairs of the imperial government. This decree, which a German writer calls the only thing of importance that Charles did for the empire, remained for centuries one of the principal parts of its law; but the pope, enraged at finding himself left by its provisions almost powerless to influence elections, extorted as compensations from the emperor, who showed a life-long subservience to papal authority, numerous concessions of privileges to the clergy. Charles's weak rule permitted feuds and dissensions in every quarter of the countries ho governed. Zurich and the duke of Austria carried on a war which Charles was compelled to end by forcible interference in 1350; later he himself became involved in difficulties with Swabia, and then with Count Eberhard of Wurtem-berg; while brotherhoods of knights little better than robbers, and princes in the prosecution of personal feuds, devastated and plundered at will throughout Germany. Troubles arose in Italy. The Visconti, whom Charles had con tinned in all their usurped power, exercised the greatest tyranny throughout the country, especially against the church; and in 1368 the emperor, summoned to the pope's aid, marched into Italy with a considerable army, only to allow himself to be bribed by the usurpers, and to retire with immense sum's of money.

During the remaining ten years of his life he occupied himself chiefly, as he had done throughout his reign, with care for the interests of his family and of Bohemia. By treaties, purchases, and all the means in his power, he added lands to the possession of his house; he had secured the right of inheritance to Brandenburg in 1303; in 13(38 he had paid an immense sum for the possession of Silesia and Lower Lusatia; and in 1373 he annexed the margraviate of Brandenburg to Bohemia. By lavish gifts to the electors he secured the recognition of his son Wenceslas as his successor, and before his death devised to him also the crowns of Bohemia and Silesia. Such talents as Charles possessed were generally employed for purposes of deceit; he was neither a warrior nor a statesman, but devoted himself to schemes for money-getting with something of the petty spirit of a miserly trader - bargaining, overreaching, and employing the lowest means for gaining comparatively trilling sums. Such benefits as he conferred upon the empire were generally the indirect consequences rather than the direct objects of his plans; and although he paid some attention to education, art, the embellishment of the great cities, and the advancement of trade, yet he neglected the interests of the empire as a whole, and left it a prey to feuds and lawlessness.