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[SPAIN
CHARLES III.—IV.

belief. The king was exorcised, and the exorcists of the kingdom were called upon to put stringent questions to the devils they cast out. The Inquisition interfered, and the dying king was driven mad among them. Very near his end he had the lugubrious curiosity to cause the coffins of his embalmed ancestors to be opened at the Escorial. The sight of the body of his first wife, at whom he also insisted on looking, provoked a passion of tears and despair. Under severe pressure from the cardinal archbishop of Toledo, Portocarrero, he finally made a will in favour of Philip, duke of Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV., and died on the 1st of November 1700, after a lifetime of senile decay.

The best picture of Charles II. is to be found in Les Mémoires de la tour d’Espagne of the Marquis de Villars (London, 1861), and the Letters of the Marquise de Villars (Paris, 1868).


CHARLES III. (1716–1788), king of Spain, born on the 20th January 1716, was the first son of the second marriage of Philip V. with Elizabeth Farnese of Parma. It was his good fortune to be sent to rule as duke of Parma by right of his mother at the age of sixteen, and thus came under more intelligent influence than he could have found in Spain. In 1734 he made himself master of Naples and Sicily by arms. Charles had, however, no military tastes, seldom wore uniform, and could with difficulty be persuaded to witness a review. The peremptory action of the British admiral commanding in the Mediterranean at the approach of the War of the Austrian Succession, who forced him to promise to observe neutrality under a threat to bombard Naples, made a deep impression on his mind. It gave him a feeling of hostility to England which in after-times influenced his policy.

As king of the Two Sicilies Charles began there the work of internal reform which he afterwards continued in Spain. Foreign ministers who dealt with him agreed that he had no great natural ability, but he was honestly desirous to do his duty as king, and he showed good judgment in his choice of ministers. The chief minister in Naples, Tanucci, had a considerable influence over him. On the death of his half-brother Ferdinand VI. he became king of Spain, and resigned the Two Sicilies to his third son Ferdinand. As king of Spain his foreign policy was disastrous. His strong family feeling and his detestation of England, which was unchecked after the death of his wife, Maria Amelia, daughter of Frederick Augustus II. of Saxony, led him into the Family Compact with France. Spain was entangled in the close of the Seven Years’ War, to her great loss. In 1770 he almost ran into another war over the barren Falkland Islands. In 1779 he was, somewhat reluctantly, led to join France and the American insurgents against England, though he well knew that the independence of the English colonies must have a ruinous influence on his own American dominions. For his army he did practically nothing, and for his fleet very little except build fine ships without taking measures to train officers and men.

But his internal government was on the whole beneficial to the country. He began by compelling the people of Madrid to give up emptying their slops out of the windows, and when they objected he said they were like children who cried when their faces were washed. In 1766 his attempt to force the Madrileños to adopt the French dress led to a riot during which he did not display much personal courage. For a long time after it he remained at Aranjuez, leaving the government in the hands of his minister Aranda. All his reforms were not of this formal kind. Charles was a thorough despot of the benevolent order, and had been deeply offended by the real or suspected share of the Jesuits in the riot of 1766. He therefore consented to the expulsion of the order, and was then the main advocate for its suppression. His quarrel with the Jesuits, and the recollection of some disputes with the pope he had had when king of Naples, turned him towards a general policy of restriction of the overgrown power of the church. The number of the idle clergy, and more particularly of the monastic orders, was reduced, and the Inquisition, though not abolished, was rendered torpid. In the meantime much antiquated legislation which tended to restrict trade and industry was abolished; roads, canals and drainage works were carried out. Many of his paternal ventures led to little more than waste of money, or the creation of hotbeds of jobbery. Yet on the whole the country prospered. The result was largely due to the king, who even when he was ill-advised did at least work steadily at his task of government. His example was not without effect on some at least of the nobles. In his domestic life King Charles was regular, and was a considerate master, though he had a somewhat caustic tongue and took a rather cynical view of mankind. He was passionately fond of hunting. During his later years he had some trouble with his eldest son and his daughter-in-law. If Charles had lived to see the beginning of the French Revolution he would probably have been frightened into reaction. As he died on the 14th of December 1788 he left the reputation of a philanthropic and “philosophic” king. In spite of his hostility to the Jesuits, his dislike of friars in general, and his jealousy of the Inquisition, he was a very sincere Roman Catholic, and showed much zeal in endeavouring to persuade the pope to proclaim the Immaculate Conception as a dogma necessary to salvation.

See the Reign of Charles III., by M. Danvila y Collado (6 vols.), in the Historia General de España de la Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, 1892, &c.); and F. Rousseau, Règne de Charles III d’Espagne (Paris, 1907).


CHARLES IV. (1748–1819), king of Spain, second son of Charles III. and his wife Maria Amelia of Saxony, was born at Portici on the 11th of November 1748, while his father was king of the Two Sicilies. The elder brother was set aside as imbecile and epileptic. Charles had inherited a great frame and immense physical strength from the Saxon line of his mother. When young he was fond of wrestling with the strongest countrymen he could find. In character he was not malignant, but he was intellectually torpid, and of a credulity which almost passes belief. His wife, Maria Luisa of Parma, his first cousin, a thoroughly coarse and vicious woman, ruled him completely, though he was capable of obstinacy at times. During his father’s lifetime he was led by her into court intrigues which aimed at driving the king’s favourite minister, Floridablanca, from office, and replacing him by Aranda, the chief of the “Aragonese” party. After he succeeded to the throne in 1788 his one serious occupation was hunting. Affairs were left to be directed by his wife and her lover Godoy (q.v.). For Godoy the king had an unaffected liking, and the lifelong favour he showed him is almost pathetic. When terrified by the French Revolution he turned to the Inquisition to help him against the party which would have carried the reforming policy of Charles III. much further. But he was too slothful to have more than a passive part in the direction of his own government. He simply obeyed the impulse given him by the queen and Godoy. If he ever knew his wife’s real character he thought it more consistent with his dignity to shut his eyes. For he had a profound belief in his divine right and the sanctity of his person. If he understood that his kingdom was treated as a mere dependence by France, he also thought it due to his “face” to make believe that he was a powerful monarch. Royalty never wore a more silly aspect than in the person of Charles IV., and it is highly credible that he never knew what his wife was, or what was the position of his kingdom. When he was told that his son Ferdinand was appealing to the emperor Napoleon against Godoy, he took the side of the favourite. When the populace rose at Aranjuez in 1808 he abdicated to save the minister. He took refuge in France, and when he and Ferdinand were both prisoners of Napoleon’s, he was with difficulty restrained from assaulting his son. Then he abdicated in favour of Napoleon, handing over his people like a herd of cattle. He accepted a pension from the French emperor and spent the rest of his life between his wife and Godoy. He died at Rome on the 20th of January 1819, probably without having once suspected that he had done anything unbecoming a king by divine right and a gentleman.

See Historia del Reinado de Carlos IV., by General Gomez de Arteche (3 vols.), in the Historia General de España de la Real Academia de la Historia (Madrid, 1892, &c.).