How did the political situation in Germany shape the course of the Reformation?
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Beginning in 1519 the Habsburg emperor Charles V ruled almost half of Europe along with Spain's overseas colonies. Within the empire his authority was limited, however, and local princes, nobles, and cities actually held most power. This decentralization allowed the Reformation to spread as local rulers assumed religious authority. Charles remained firmly Catholic, and in the late 1520's religious wars began in central Europe. The papacy and Catholic Kings of France initially supported Charles V's cause, but they withdrew support when he began gaining too much ground. The wars were brought to an end with the Peace of Augsburg in 1555 which officially recognized Lutheranism and allowed rulers in each territory to choose whether their territory would be Catholic or Lutheran.