History - The Bourbon Kings of Spain


The Bourbon French kings ruled Spain from 1700 until the early 1900s.

Andalucia suffered the ravages of the War of Succession 1701-1713, when the Bourbons were fighting against Archduke Charles of Austria (allied with the British) over the Spanish throne. In the course of this war, under the Treaty of Utrecht between Britain and France, Gibraltar was lost to the British.

In the early 18th century, the commercial landscape of Andalucia was reshaped, as trade moved from inland Seville to coastal Cadiz when the Guadalquivir river silted up.

Later in the 18th century, Pablo Olavide, Carlos III's chief advisor, established new settlements to repopulate the Sierra Morena in Jaen. This plan, which donated land and livestock to foreign colonists from Northern Europe to start new lives, was not entirely successful.

At The Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, the British fleet, under Admiral Lord Nelson, defeated the Spanish allied with the French led by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte. This battle touched off the War of Independence, or Peninsular War (1808-1813), and Spain's defeat resulted in the Spanish king being forced to abdicate; Napoleon immediately seized power, placing his brother Joseph on the throne.


Philip V 1700 - 1724 and 1724 - 1746 

Philip V (Felipe V 1683-1746) was King of Spain first from 1700 to January 1724, when he abdicated in favour of his son Louis; and then from September 1724, when he reassumed the throne upon his son's death, to his own death in 1746.

Before his reign, Philip occupied an exalted place in the royal family of France, as a grandson of King Louis XIV. His father, Louis, the Grand Dauphin, had the strongest genealogical claim to the throne of Spain when it became vacant in 1700. However, since neither the Grand Dauphin nor Philip's older brother, Louis, Duke of Burgundy, could be displaced from their place in the succession to the French throne, King Charles II of Spain named Philip as his heir in his will.

It was well known that the union of France and Spain under one monarch would upset the balance of power in Europe, to the extent that that other European powers would take steps to prevent it. Indeed, Philip's accession in Spain provoked the 14-year War of the Spanish Succession, which continued until the Treaty of Utrecht forbade any future possibility of unifying the French and Spanish thrones. Philip was the first member of the French House of Bourbon to rule as king of Spain. The sum of his two reigns, 45 years and 21 days, is the longest in modern Spanish history. |  Wikipedia CC-BY-SA

Louis I  1724 

Louis I (Luis Felipe 1707-1724) was King of Spain from 15 January 1724 until his death in August the same year. His reign is one of the shortest in history, lasting for just over seven months.   | Wikipedia CC-BY-SA

Ferdinand VI  1746 - 1759

Ferdinand VI (Fernando VI 1713-1759), called the Learned, was King of Spain from 1746 until his death in 1759. The third ruler of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty, he was the fourth son of the previous monarch, Philip V, and his first wife Maria Luisa of Savoy. | Wikipedia CC-BY-SA

Charles III  1759 - 1788

Charles III (Carlos 1716-1788) was King of Spain and the Spanish Indies (1759–1788). After ruling Naples as Charles VII and Sicily as Charles V (1734–1759), he abdicated in favour of his son Ferdinand.

He was the fifth son of Philip V of Spain, and the eldest son of Philip's second wife, Elisabeth Farnese. A proponent of enlightened absolutism, Charles succeeded to the Spanish throne in August 1759, upon the death of his half-brother King Ferdinand VI of Spain, who left no heirs.

In 1738 he had married Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony, daughter of Polish king Augustus III. An educated, cultured woman, she gave birth to 13 children, eight of whom reached adulthood; the royal couple resided in Naples for 19 years. As King of Spain, Charles III made far-reaching reforms such as promoting science and university research, facilitating trade and commerce, and modernising agriculture. He also tried to reduce the influence of the Church and avoided costly wars. However Charles did not achieve complete control over the State's finances, and was sometimes obliged to borrow to meet expenses.  | Wikipedia CC-BY-SA

Charles IV  1788 - 1808

Charles IV (Carlos 1748- 1819) was King of Spain from 1788, until his abdication in 1808.

Charles IV intended to maintain the policies of his father, Charles III, and retained his prime minister, the Count of Floridablanca, in office. Charles never took more than a passive part in his own government, preferring to spend his time hunting. The affairs of government were left to his wife, Maria Luisa, and his prime minister.

In 1792, political and personal enemies ousted Floridablanca from office, replacing him with Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Count of Aranda, who was himself replaced by Manuel de Godoy, a favourite of the Queen and widely believed to be her lover. Godoy enjoyed the lasting favor of the King, and continued Abarca de Bolea's policy of neutrality towards France. But after Spain protested the execution of Louis XVI of France, in 1793, France declared war on Spain.

In 1796 France forced Godoy to enter into an alliance, and declare war on the Kingdom of Great Britain. Spain was one of the maritime empires allied with Republican France in the French Revolutionary War, supporting the Continental Blockade until the British naval victory at Trafalgar, when Spain became allied with Britain.

However, after Napoleon's victory over Prussia in 1807, Godoy again steered Spain back onto the French side. A combination of economic troubles and the king's ineptitude caused the monarchy to decline in prestige among the population. Crown Prince Ferdinand attempted to overthrow the King in an aborted coup in 1807. Riots, and a popular revolt in 1808 eventually forced the king to abdicate in favor of his son.

Ferdinand took the throne as Ferdinand VII, but was mistrusted by Napoleon, who had 100,000 soldiers stationed in Spain by that time. The ousted King, having appealed to Napoleon for help in regaining his throne, was summoned before Napoleon in Bayonne, along with his son, in April 1808. Napoleon forced both Charles and his son to abdicate, declared the Bourbon dynasty of Spain deposed, and installed his brother, Joseph Bonaparte, as King Joseph I of Spain. | Wikipedia CC-BY-SA