Charles IV of Spain

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Charles IV
Carlos IV de rojo.jpg
Portrait by Goya, 1789
King of Spain
Reign14 December 1788 –
19 March 1808
Predecessor Charles III
Successor Ferdinand VII
Born11 November 1748
Palace of Portici, Portici, Naples
Died20 January 1819(1819-01-20) (aged 70)
Palazzo Barberini, Rome, Papal States
Spouse Maria Luisa of Parma
Issue Carlota Joaquina, Queen of Portugal
María Amalia, Infanta Antonio Pascual of Spain
María Luisa, Queen of Etruria
Ferdinand VII of Spain
Infante Carlos, Count of Molina
María Isabel, Queen of the Two Sicilies
Infante Francisco de Paula
Full name
Spanish: Carlos Antonio Pascual Francisco Javier Juan Nepomuceno José Januario Serafín Diego de Borbón y Sajonia
House Bourbon
Father Charles III of Spain
Mother Maria Amalia of Saxony
Religion Roman Catholic
Signature Charles IV of Spain signature.svg

Charles IV (Carlos Antonio Pascual Francisco Javier Juan Nepomuceno José Januario Serafín Diego; 11 November 1748 – 20 January 1819) was King of Spain from 14 December 1788, until his abdication on 19 March 1808.


Early life

Charles was the second son of Charles III and his wife, Maria Amalia of Saxony. He was born in Naples (11 November 1748), while his father was King of Naples and Sicily. His elder brother, Don Felipe, was passed over for both thrones, due to his learning disabilities and epilepsy. In Naples and Sicily, Charles was referred to as the Prince of Taranto . [1] He was called El Cazador (meaning "the Hunter"), due to his preference for sport and hunting, rather than dealing with affairs of the state. Charles was considered by many to have been amiable, but simple-minded. [2]


Charles IV of Spain 2 escudos en or a l'effigie de Charles IV, 1798.jpg
Charles IV of Spain

In 1788, Charles III died and Charles IV succeeded to the throne. He intended to maintain the policies of his father, and retained his prime minister, the Count of Floridablanca, in office. [2] Even though he had a profound belief in the sanctity of his office, and kept up the appearance of an absolute, powerful monarch, Charles never took more than a passive part in his own government. The affairs of government were left to his wife, Maria Luisa, and his prime minister, while he occupied himself with hunting.

In 1792, political and personal enemies ousted Floridablanca from office, replacing him with Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea, Count of Aranda. However, in the wake of the war against Republican France, the liberal-leaning Count of Aranda was himself replaced by Manuel de Godoy, a favourite of the Queen and widely believed to be her lover, who enjoyed the lasting favor of the King.

In 1799, he authorized Prussian aristocrat and scientist Alexander von Humboldt to travel freely in Spanish America, with royal officials encouraged to aid him in his investigation of key areas of Spain's empire. Humboldt's Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain was a key publication from his five-year travels.

Godoy continued Abarca de Bolea's policy of neutrality towards France, but after Spain protested the execution of Louis XVI of France, the deposed king, in 1793, France declared war on Spain. After the declaration, Portugal and Spain signed a treaty of mutual protection against France. [3] In 1796 France forced Godoy to enter into an alliance, and declare war on the Kingdom of Great Britain. As a consequence, Spain became one of the maritime empires to have been allied with Republican France in the French Revolutionary War, and for a considerable duration. [4]

Spain remained an ally of France and supported 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. This switching of alliances devalued Charles' position as a trustworthy ally, increasing Godoy's unpopularity, and strengthening the fernandistas (supporters of Crown Prince Ferdinand), who favoured an alliance with the United Kingdom.

Economic troubles, rumours about a sexual relationship between the Queen and Godoy, and the King's ineptitude, caused the monarchy to decline in prestige among the population. Anxious to take over from his father, and jealous of the prime minister, Crown Prince Ferdinand attempted to overthrow the King in an aborted coup in 1807. [5]

Abdications of Bayonne

Riots, and a popular revolt at the winter palace Aranjuez, in 1808 forced the king to abdicate on 19 March, in favor of his son. [5] Ferdinand took the throne as Ferdinand VII, but was mistrusted by Napoleon, who had 100,000 soldiers stationed in Spain by that time due to the ongoing War of the Third Coalition.

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, which began the Peninsular War. [6]

Later life and death

Manuel Tolsa's large equestrian statue of Charles IV of Spain, Mexico City. Charles IV of Spain, Manuel Tolsa.jpg
Manuel Tolsá's large equestrian statue of Charles IV of Spain, Mexico City.

Following Napoleon's deposing of the Bourbon dynasty, the ex-King, his wife, and former Prime Minister Godoy were held captive in France first at the château de Compiègne [7] and three years in Marseille (where a neighborhood was named after him). [8] After the collapse of the regime installed by Napoleon, Ferdinand VII was restored to the throne. The former Charles IV drifted about Europe [9] until 1812, when he finally settled in Rome, in the Palazzo Barberini. [10] [11] [12] [13] His wife died on 2 January 1819, followed shortly by Charles, who died on 20 January of the same year. Sir Francis Ronalds included a detailed description of the funeral in his travel journal. [14] [15]


Well-meaning and pious, Charles IV floundered in a series of international crises beyond his capacity to handle. [9] He was painted by Francisco Goya in a number of official court portraits, which numerous art critics have seen as satires on the King's stout vacuity. [16]

Marriage and children

Charles IV married his first cousin Maria Louisa, the daughter of Philip, Duke of Parma, in 1765. The couple had fourteen children, six of whom survived into adulthood:

Children of King Charles IV
Carlos Clemente
Infante of Spain
Mengs - Infante Carlos Clemente.jpg 19 September 1771

7 March 1774
Born and died at El Escorial; baptized on the same day he was born, with Charles III representing "the Holy Father" at the christening. Pope Clement XIV celebrated Carlos' birth and sent the infant consecrated swaddling clothes. [17]
Carlota Joaquina
Queen of Portugal and the Algarves
Carlota Joaquina.jpg 25 April 1775

7 January 1830
Born at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, she married John VI of Portugal in 1785 and became Queen consort of Portugal in 1816. Had issue, including the future Pedro I of Brazil. She died at Queluz National Palace.
Maria Luisa
Infanta of Spain
Royal Greater Coat of Arms of Spain (1761-1868 and 1874-1931) Version with Golden Fleece and Order of Charles III Collars.svg 11 September 1777

2 July 1782
Born and died at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso. [18]
María Amalia
Infanta of Spain
Infanta Maria Amalia of Spain (1779-1798).jpg 9 January 1779

22 July 1798
Born at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, she married her uncle Infante Antonio Pascual of Spain in 1795. She gave birth to a stillborn son in 1798 and died shortly thereafter.
Carlos Domingo
Infante of Spain
Carnicero - Infante Carlos Domingo.jpg 5 March 1780

11 June 1783
Born at the Royal Palace of El Pardo and died at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. [18] After his birth, his father pardoned all of the convicts from Puerto San Julián as a sign of celebration. [19]
Maria Luisa
Queen of Etruria
Duchess of Lucca
Maria Luisa of Spain, queen of Etruria and duchess of Lucca.jpg 6 July 1782

13 March 1824
Born at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso, she married Louis, King of Etruria in 1795 and had issue, including Charles II, Duke of Parma. Became Duchess of Lucca in her own right in 1817 and died in Rome in 1824 of cancer.
Carlos Francisco de Paula
Infante of Spain
Infantes Felipe and Carlos.jpg 5 September 1783

11 November 1784
Twins, born and died at the Royal Palace of La Granja de San Ildefonso. [20] Their birth was an important event for the people of Spain and provided security for the succession, a security which was truncated with the early deaths of Carlos and Felipe. [21]
Felipe Francisco de Paula
Infante of Spain
5 September 1783

18 October 1784
Fernando (VII)
King of Spain
Fernando VII, by Lopez.jpg 14 October 1784

29 September 1833
Born and died at El Escorial, he succeeded his father as King in 1808, but was deposed by Joseph Bonaparte one month later. Married Princess Maria Antonia of Naples and Sicily in 1802, no issue. Re-instated as King in 1813. Married Maria Isabel of Portugal in 1816, had issue. Married Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony in 1819, no issue. Married Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies in 1829 and had issue, including the future Isabella II of Spain. Died in 1833.
Carlos María Isidro Benito
Count of Molina
Retrato del infante Carlos Maria Isidro de Borbon (Vicente Lopez).JPG 29 March 1788

10 March 1855
Born at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez. Married Infanta Maria Francisca of Portugal in 1816 and had issue. Married Maria Teresa, Princess of Beira in 1838, no issue. First Carlist pretender to the throne of Spain as "Carlos V". Use the title "Count of Molina" between 1845 and his death in 1855.
María Isabel
Queen of the Two Sicilies
1819 portrait of the Duchess of Calabria (Maria Isabel of Spain, future Queen of the Two Sicilies) by Giuseppe Cammarano (Palace of Caserta).jpg 6 July 1789

13 September 1848
Born at the Royal Palace of Madrid, she married Francis I of the Two Sicilies in 1802 and had issue, including the future Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies. Queen consort between 1825 and 1830, her husband's death. Died at the Palace of Portici in 1848.
Maria Teresa
Infanta of Spain
Carnicero - Infanta Maria Theresa.jpg 16 February 1791

2 November 1794
Born at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez and died at El Escorial [22] of smallpox. [23]
Felipe Maria
Infante of Spain
Carnicero - Infante Felipe Maria.jpg 28 March 1792

1 March 1794
Born at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez and died at the Royal Palace of Madrid. [22]
Francisco de Paula Infante Francisco de Paula of Spain.jpg 10 March 1794

13 August 1865
Born at the Royal Palace of Aranjuez, he married Princess Luisa Carlotta of Naples and Sicily in 1819 and had issue. Died in Madrid in 1865.


Titles and styles


  1. Almanach royal, p 34
  2. 1 2 Stanley G. Payne, History of Spain of Portugal, Vol 2,University of Wisconsin Press., 1973, ISBN   978-0-299-06284-2, page 415
  3. Portugal; de), José Ferreira Borges de Castro (Visconde; Biker, Julio Firmino Judice; Estrangeiros, Portugal Ministério dos Negócios (19 June 2018). "Supplemeto á Collecção dos tratados, convenções, contratos e actos publicos celebrados entre a corôa de Portugal e as mais potencias desde 1640". Imprensa nacional via Google Books.
  4. Ollie Bye (3 February 2016). "The French Revolutionary Wars: Every Other Day" via YouTube.
  5. 1 2 Payne, page 420
  6. Griffin, Julia Ortiz; Griffin, William D. (2007). Spain and Portugal:A Reference Guide from the Renaissance to the Present . Facts on File. p.  151. ISBN   978-0-8160-4592-1.
  7. Alain Raisonnier, Claudie Ressort (2009) Le séjour de Charles IV et de la Cour d'Espagne au Palais de Compiègne en 1808-1809, Annales Historiques compiégnoises, n° 113-114, pp. 14-24
  8. Paul Gaffarel (1919) Le séjour de Charles IV d'Espagne à Marseille, Revue des Etudes Napoléoniennes, t. XVI, pp. 40-57
  9. 1 2 Griffin, page 152
  10. fr:Charles IV d'Espagne
  11. Manuel de Godoy#Exile
  12. Archived May 11, 2004, at
  13. "The Royal Favorite: Manuel Francisco Domingo de Godoy, Prince of the Peace".
  14. Ronalds, B.F. (2016). Sir Francis Ronalds: Father of the Electric Telegraph. London: Imperial College Press. p. 188. ISBN   978-1-78326-917-4.
  15. "Sir Francis Ronalds' Travel Journal: Naples and Pompeii". Sir Francis Ronalds and his Family. Retrieved 23 February 2018.
  16. Edward J. Olszewski (1999). "Exorcising Goya's "The Family of Charles IV"". Artibus et Historiae. 20 (40): 169–185. JSTOR   1483673.
  17. von Pastor, Ludwig Freiherr (1952). The History of the Popes, from the Close of the Middle Ages. Michigan: Kegan Paul. p. 201.
  18. 1 2 Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía (2007). Anales de la Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía. Vol. X. (in Spanish). Madrid: RAMHG. p. 330.
  19. Senatore, Mar'a Ximena (2007). Arqueolog'a e historia en la colonia espa–ola de Floridablanca, Patagonia, siglo XVIII (in Spanish). Madrid: Teseo. p. 149. ISBN   978-987-1354-08-5.
  20. Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía (2007). Anales de la Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía. Vol. X. (in Spanish). Madrid: RAMHG. p. 332.
  21. Palazón, Juan Manuel Abascal (2010). José Vargas Ponce (1760–1821) en la Real Academia de la Historia (in Spanish). Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia. p. 54. ISBN   978-84-15069-00-3.
  22. 1 2 Hilt, Douglas (1987). The Troubled Trinity: Godoy and the Spanish Monarchs. Alabama: University of Alabama Press. p. 292. ISBN   978-0-8173-0320-4.
  23. Zavala, José María (2013). La maldición de los Borbones (in Spanish). Mexico: Random House Mondadori. p. 16. ISBN   978-84-01-34667-5.
  24. Genealogie ascendante jusqu'au quatrieme degre inclusivement de tous les Rois et Princes de maisons souveraines de l'Europe actuellement vivans [Genealogy up to the fourth degree inclusive of all the Kings and Princes of sovereign houses of Europe currently living] (in French). Bourdeaux: Frederic Guillaume Birnstiel. 1768. p. 9.
  25. "1 Real - Carlos IIII, Chile". Numista.

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Charles IV of Spain
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 11 November 1748 Died: 20 January 1819
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles III
King of Spain
Succeeded by
Ferdinand VII
Spanish royalty
Title last held by
Ferdinand (VI)
Prince of Asturias
Succeeded by
Ferdinand (VII)