Did Charles V Really Say That?
Did Burgundian-Flemish-Austrian King of Spain plus Emperor of the Holy Empire really say:
"I speak Spanish to God, French to men, Italian to women, and German to my horse"?
I heve never found any reliable source for that famous quote.
I'm not sure about this. But what he said for sure was:
Señor obispo, entiéndame si quiere,
y no espere de mí otras palabras
que de mi lengua española,
la cual es tan noble que merece
ser sabida y entendida de toda
la gente cristiana.
Carlos I de España y V de Alemania.
I presume that he spoke Spanish to children
and the court jesters of Charles spoke Spanish
I've heard that quote, except it was "German with my enemies". While Charles V could speak all these languages, he was known to be uncomfortable with Spanish, Italian, and German. His native tounge(s) were French and Dutch having grown up betweem Ghent and Paris.
His queen was Portugese, so if he spoke Italian to women he was philandering. The rest of it makes sense, he spoke Spanish to God- as king of deeply religious Spain he had to follow religious protocal. French to men- it was his most comfortable tounge, and that of his core consul. German to his enemies- the politics of the Holy Roman Empire was an on going political conflict between the different feudal states of Germany.
He came to Spain at the age of 17, young enough to achieve mastery of Spanish. Probably his French became atrophied due to little or no use.