Sixteenth-century Europe was a terribly unstable place and time.
Christians fought the Turks.
Protestants battled Catholics.
Catholics fought each other.
Peasants fought their own lords.
Various popes sought to protect their own prerogatives by using mercenaries and forming alliances, many of which failed miserably.
On this day, 6 May 1527, Emperor Charles V of Spain sent troops and mercenaries into Rome.
Two thousand Swiss guards died protecting the pope. The invaders proceeded to loot, rape, torture, and kill.
Cardinals and nobles were imprisoned for high ransoms.
Two thirds of the city was burned.
Months later, the invaders left, mainly because of deadly epidemics.
The Pope was forced to crown Charles V as Holy Roman Emperor.
The Pope was also forced to deny Henry VIII’s of England's request for a divorce from Catharine of Aragon (Charles’s aunt), thus King Henry broke away from the Catholic Church.
And, that is just the tip of the iceberg!