The political map of Europe in the sixteenth century, highlights the processes of unification of powers and the reduction of territorial divisions associated with the birth of the great national states. They guide the process of formation of the modern state that enucleates at the end of the fifteenth century around the main European monarchies. Focal point for centralized powers that include the fragmentation of feudal monarchical states, they favor the establishment of boundaries within which were organized the linguistic, historical and institutional communities, that have characterized the European history far beyond the modern age, and that in many ways they resist today.
Each of the major European monarchies expresses its own path of reunification. Castilian-Aragonese Spain, Habsburg in 1516, should let exists different kingdoms and a system of regional indipendents states; the Valois of France attempts to collect its own patchwork of disjointed provinces, the English monarchy of the Tudors takes advantage of the old covenant between crown and nobility with which it was rooted the Parliament.
In the Baltic area, Sweden and Denmark are the two states in which reunification and institutional strengthening proceed with greater success, while the Prussian state was emerging from the dissolution of the Teutonic Order. Problematic is the situation of the Polish kingdom because the great aristocracy, once the crown became elective, gets a power of blackmail against the monarchy. At east, the Principality of Muscovy, once destroyed what still remained of the Mongols Golden Horde by Ivan III (1462-1505), begins an imperial domain expansion. On Hungary, recently catholicized, and joined to the Hapsburg domains, dishearten, from the Balkans, the impetuous advance of the Turkish armies.
In this Europe, that looked towards the future nations, survives the Holy Roman Empire, which continues to be a collection of political parties that do not make a single political entity because all the attempts for centralization operated by the Hapsburgs were vain. At this Empire, as a possible part of a universal monarchy design looked Charles V, King of Spain (and of the vast dominions of in Europe and the New World) from 1516 and emperor in 1520. This plan will be thwarted by many factors such as the continuing military collision with France for supremacy on the continent, unsurpassed German fragmentation accentuated further by the protestant Reformation, the threatening Turkish pressure in the Mediterranean.
At last, the delicate balance of the small states of the Italian peninsula was upset by the confrontation that took place in that area just between the two great European powers. The devastation, the looting, the plagues that accompanied foreign armies during those that Guicciardini called the "horrendous wars", culminated in the tragedy of the sack of Rome in 1527 by Germans mercenaries, ended the most fruitful season of the Renaissance and prepared the political and economic subordination of the Italian states.