Ferdinand VII in Court Dress by Goya, 1815
| King of Spain |
|1st reign||19 March 1808 – 6 May 1808|
|2nd reign||11 December 1813 – 29 September 1833|
|Born||14 October 1784|
El Escorial, Spain
|Died||29 September 1833 48) (aged|
| Isabella II of Spain |
Infanta Luisa Fernanda, Duchess of Montpensier
|Father||Charles IV of Spain|
|Mother||Maria Luisa of Parma|
Ferdinand VII (Spanish : Fernando; 14 October 1784 – 29 September 1833) was twice King of Spain: in 1808 and again from 1813 to his death. He was known to his supporters as the Desired (el Deseado) and to his detractors as the Felon King (el Rey Felón). After being overthrown by Napoleon in 1808 he linked his monarchy to counter-revolution and reactionary policies that produced a deep rift in Spain between his forces on the right and liberals on the left. Back in power in 1814, he reestablished the absolutist monarchy and rejected the liberal constitution of 1812. A revolt in 1820 led by Rafael de Riego forced him to restore the constitution thus beginning the Liberal Triennium: a three year period of liberal rule. In 1823 the Congress of Verona authorized a successful French intervention restoring him to absolute power for the second time. He suppressed the liberal press from 1814 to 1833 and jailed many of its editors and writers. Under his rule, Spain lost nearly all of its American possessions, and the country entered into civil war on his death.
His reputation among historians is very low. Historian Stanley Payne writes:
He proved in many ways the basest king in Spanish history. Cowardly, selfish, grasping, suspicious, and vengeful, [he] seemed almost incapable of any perception of the commonwealth. He thought only in terms of his power and security and was unmoved by the enormous sacrifices of Spanish people to retain their independence and preserve his throne.
Ferdinand was the eldest surviving son of Charles IV of Spain and Maria Luisa of Parma. Ferdinand was born in the palace of El Escorial near Madrid. In his youth Ferdinand occupied the position of an heir apparent who was excluded from all share in government by his parents and their favouriteadvisor and Prime Minister, Manuel Godoy. National discontent with the government produced a rebellion in 1805. In October 1807, Ferdinand was arrested for his complicity in the El Escorial Conspiracy in which the rebels aimed at securing foreign support from the French Emperor Napoleon. When the conspiracy was discovered, Ferdinand submitted to his parents.
Following a popular riot at Aranjuez Charles IV abdicated in March 1808.Ferdinand ascended the throne and turned to Napoleon for support. He abdicated on 6 May 1808 and thereafter Napoleon kept Ferdinand under guard in France for six years at the Château de Valençay. Historian Charles Oman records that the choice of Valençay was a practical joke by Napoleon on his former foreign minister Talleyrand, the owner of the château, for his lack of interest in Spanish affairs.
While the upper echelons of the Spanish government accepted his abdication and Napoleon's choice of his brother Joseph Bonaparte as king of Spain, the Spanish people did not. Uprisings broke out throughout the country, marking the beginning of the Peninsular War. Provincial juntas were established to control regions in opposition to the new French king. After the Battle of Bailén proved that the Spanish could resist the French, the Council of Castile reversed itself and declared null and void the abdications of Bayonne on 11 August 1808. On 24 August, Ferdinand VII was proclaimed king of Spain again, and negotiations between the Council and the provincial juntas for the establishment of a Supreme Central Junta were completed. Subsequently, on 14 January 1809, the British government acknowledged Ferdinand VII as king of Spain.
Five years later after experiencing serious setbacks on many fronts, Napoleon agreed to acknowledge Ferdinand VII as king of Spain on 11 December 1813 and signed the Treaty of Valençay, so that the king could return to Spain. The Spanish people, blaming the policies of the Francophiles (afrancesados) for causing the Napoleonic occupation and the Peninsular War by allying Spain too closely to France, at first welcomed Fernando. Ferdinand soon found that in the intervening years a new world had been born of foreign invasion and domestic revolution.In his name Spain fought for its independence and in his name as well juntas had governed Spanish America. Spain was no longer the absolute monarchy he had relinquished six years earlier. Instead he was now asked to rule under the liberal Constitution of 1812. Before being allowed to enter Spanish soil, Ferdinand had to guarantee the liberals that he would govern on the basis of the Constitution, but, only gave lukewarm indications he would do so.
On 24 March the French handed him over to the Spanish Army in Girona, and thus began his procession towards Madrid.During this process and in the following months, he was encouraged by conservatives and the Church hierarchy to reject the Constitution. On 4 May he ordered its abolition and on 10 May had the liberal leaders responsible for the Constitution arrested. Ferdinand justified his actions by claiming that the Constitution had been made by a Cortes illegally assembled in his absence, without his consent and without the traditional form. (It had met as a unicameral body, instead of in three chambers representing the three estates: the clergy, the nobility and the cities.) Ferdinand initially promised to convene a traditional Cortes, but never did so, thereby reasserting the Bourbon doctrine that sovereign authority resided in his person only.
Meanwhile, the wars of independence had broken out in the Americas, and although many of the republican rebels were divided and royalist sentiment was strong in many areas, the Manila galleons and the Spanish treasure fleets — tax revenues from the Spanish Empire — were interrupted. Spain was all but bankrupt.
Ferdinand's restored autocracy was guided by a small camarilla of his favorites, although his government seemed unstable. Whimsical and ferocious by turns, he changed his ministers every few months. "The king," wrote Friedrich von Gentz in 1814, "himself enters the houses of his prime ministers, arrests them, and hands them over to their cruel enemies;" and again, on 14 January 1815, "the king has so debased himself that he has become no more than the leading police agent and prison warden of his country."
The king did recognize the efforts of foreign powers on his behalf. As the head of the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece, Ferdinand made the Duke of Wellington, head of the British forces on the peninsula, the first Protestant member of the order.
During the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, the general of the Army of the Three Guarantees, Agustin de Iturbide, and Jefe Superior Juan O'Donojú, signed the Treaty of Cordoba, in which concluded the war of the independence and established the Mexican Empire, and intended to offer the Mexican Imperial Crown to Ferdinand VII, in which he'd rule as a personal union, but unfortunately, he decreed that it was "void" and stated that no European can accede the Mexican throne.
In 1820 a revolt broke out in favor of the Constitution of 1812, beginning with a mutiny of the troops under Col. Rafael del Riego. The king was quickly taken prisoner. Ferdinand had restored the Jesuits upon his return, but now they had become identified with repression and absolutism among the liberals, who attacked them: twenty-five Jesuits were slain in Madrid in 1822. For the rest of the 19th century, expulsions and reinstatements of the Jesuits would continue to be the hallmarks of liberal and authoritarian political regimes, respectively.
At the beginning of 1823, as a result of the Congress of Verona, the French invaded Spain, "invoking the God of St. Louis, for the sake of preserving the throne of Spain to a descendant of Henry IV, and of reconciling that fine kingdom with Europe." When in May the revolutionary party carried Ferdinand to Cádiz, he continued to make promises of amendment until he was free.
When Ferdinand was freed after the Battle of Trocadero and the fall of Cádiz, reprisals followed. The Duke of Artois made known his protest against Ferdinand's actions by refusing the Spanish decorations Ferdinand offered him for his military services.
During his last years Ferdinand's political appointments became more stable.The last ten years of reign (sometimes referred to as the Ominous Decade) saw the restoration of absolutism, the re-establishment of traditional university programs and the suppression of any opposition, both of the Liberal Party and of the reactionary revolt (known as "War of the Agraviados") which broke out in 1827 in Catalonia and other regions.
As Ferdinand lay dying, his new wife Maria Christina of Bourbon-Two Sicilies had him set aside the Salic Law which would have made his brother Don Carlos heir to the throne instead of any female. Ferdinand was thus succeeded by his infant daughter Isabella II. Carlos revolted and said he was the legitimate king. Needing support, Maria Christina (as Regent for her daughter Isabella) turned to the liberals. She issued a decree of amnesty on 23 October 1833. Liberals who had been in exile returned and dominated Spanish politics for decades, and the Carlist Wars resulted.
Ferdinand VII was married four times. In 1802 he married his first cousin Princess Maria Antonietta of the Two Sicilies (1784–1806), daughter of Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies and Marie Caroline of Austria. There were no children, because her two pregnancies (in 1804 and 1805) both ended in miscarriages.
In 1816, Ferdinand married his niece Maria Isabel of Portugal (1797–1818), daughter of his older sister Carlota Joaquina and John VI of Portugal. She bore him two daughters, the first of whom lived only five months and the second of whom was stillborn.
In 1819, Ferdinand married Princess Maria Josepha Amalia of Saxony (1803–1829), daughter of Maximilian, Prince of Saxony and Caroline of Bourbon-Parma. No children were born from this marriage.
Lastly, in 1829, Ferdinand married another niece, Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies (1806–1878), daughter of his younger sister Maria Isabella of Spain and Francis I of the Two Sicilies. She bore him two surviving daughters, the older of whom succeeded Ferdinand upon his death.
|By Maria Isabel of Portugal (1797–1818)|
|Infanta María Luisa Isabel||21 August 1817|
|9 January 1818|
|Infanta María Luisa Isabel|
|El Escorial||Stillborn; Maria Isabel died as a result of her birth.|
|By Maria Christina of the Two Sicilies (1806–1878)|
|Infanta María Isabel Luisa||10 October 1830|
|10 April 1904|
|El Escorial||Princess of Asturias 1830–1833, Queen of Spain 1833–1868. Married Francis, Duke of Cádiz, had issue.|
|Infanta María Luisa Fernanda||30 January 1832|
|2 February 1897|
|El Escorial||Married Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, had issue.|
|Ancestors of Ferdinand VII of Spain|
Charles IV was King of Spain from 14 December 1788, until his abdication on 19 March 1808.
Ferdinand I, was the King of the Two Sicilies from 1816, after his restoration following victory in the Napoleonic Wars. Before that he had been, since 1759, Ferdinand IV of the Kingdom of Naples and Ferdinand III of the Kingdom of Sicily. He was also King of Gozo. He was deposed twice from the throne of Naples: once by the revolutionary Parthenopean Republic for six months in 1799 and again by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1805.
The Carlist Wars were a series of civil wars that took place in Spain during the 19th century. The contenders fought to establish their claim to the throne, although some political differences also existed. Indeed, several times during the period from 1833 to 1876 the Carlists — followers of Infante Carlos and his descendants — rallied to the cry of "God, Country, and King" and fought for the cause of Spanish tradition against liberalism, and later the republicanism, of the Spanish governments of the day. The Carlist Wars had a strong regional component, given that the new order called into question region–specific law arrangements and customs kept for centuries.
Francis I of the Two Sicilies was King of the Two Sicilies from 1825 to 1830 and a member of the Spanish royal family.
The Trienio Liberal is a period of three years in the modern history of Spain between 1820 and 1823, when a liberal government ruled Spain after a military uprising in January 1820 by the lieutenant-colonel Rafael de Riego against the absolutist rule of Ferdinand VII.
The Political Constitution of the Spanish Monarchy, also known as the Constitution of Cádiz and as La Pepa, was the first Constitution of Spain and one of the earliest constitutions in world history. It was established on 19 March 1812 by the Cortes of Cádiz, the first Spanish legislature. With the notable exception of proclaiming Roman Catholicism as the official and sole legal religion in Spain, the constitution was one of the most liberal of its time: it affirmed national sovereignty, separation of powers, freedom of the press, free enterprise, abolished feudalism, and established a constitutional monarchy with a parliamentary system. It was one of the first constitutions that allowed universal male suffrage, through a complex indirect electoral system. It was repealed by King Ferdinand VII in 1814 in Valencia, who re-established absolute monarchy.
The ideas of the Age of Enlightenment came to Spain in the 18th century with the new Bourbon dynasty, following the death of the last Habsburg monarch, Charles II, in 1700. This period in Spanish history is often referred to as Bourbon Spain. "Like the Spanish Enlightenment, the Spanish Bourbon monarchs were imbued with Spain's Catholic identity." The period of reform and 'enlightened despotism' under the Bourbons focused on centralizing and modernizing the Spanish government, and improvement of infrastructure, beginning with the rule of King Charles III and the work of his minister, José Moñino, count of Floridablanca. In the political and economic sphere, the crown implemented a series of changes, collectively known as the Bourbon reforms, which were aimed at making the overseas empire more prosperous to the benefit of Spain.
Carlos de Borbón was an Infante of Spain and the second surviving son of King Charles IV of Spain and of his wife, Maria Luisa of Parma. As Charles V, he was the first of the Carlist claimants to the throne of Spain. He is often referred to simply as 'Don Carlos'. He was a reactionary who stridently opposed liberalism in Spain and the assaults on the Catholic Church. He claimed the throne of Spain after the death of his older brother King Ferdinand VII in 1833. His claim was contested by liberal forces loyal to the dead king's infant daughter. The result was the bloody First Carlist War (1833–1840). Don Carlos had support from Basque provinces and much of Catalonia, but lost the war and never became king. His heirs continued the arch-conservative cause, fought two more Carlist wars and were active into the mid-20th century, but never obtained the throne.
Spain in the 19th century was a country in turmoil. Occupied by Napoleon from 1808 to 1814, a massively destructive "war of independence" ensued, driven by an emergent Spanish nationalism. An era of reaction against the liberal ideas associated with revolutionary France followed the war, personified by the rule of Ferdinand VII and – to a lesser extent – his daughter Isabella II. Ferdinand's rule included the loss of the Spanish colonies in the New World, except for Cuba and Puerto Rico, in the 1810s and 1820s. A series of civil wars then broke out in Spain, pitting Spanish liberals and then republicans against conservatives, culminating in the Carlist Wars between the moderate Queen Isabella and her uncle, the reactionary Infante Carlos. Disaffection with Isabella's government from many quarters led to repeated military intervention in political affairs and to several revolutionary attempts against the government. Two of these revolutions were successful, the moderate Vicalvarada or "Vicálvaro Revolution" of 1854 and the more radical la Gloriosa in 1868. The latter marks the end of Isabella's monarchy. The brief rule of the liberal king Amadeo I of Spain ended in the establishment of the First Spanish Republic, only to be replaced in 1874 by the popular, moderate rule of Alfonso XII of Spain, which finally brought Spain into a period of stability and reform.
The history of the kingdom of Portugal and the Algarves, from the First Treaty of San Ildefonso and the beginning of the reign of Queen Maria I in 1777, to the end of the Liberal Wars in 1834, spans a complex historical period in which several important political and military events led to the end of the absolutist regime and to the installation of a constitutional monarchy in the country.
The Cádiz Cortes was the first national assembly to claim sovereignty in Spain. It represented the abolition of the old kingdoms. The opening session was held on 24 September 1810, in the building now known as the Real Teatro de las Cortes. It met as one body and its members represented the entire Spanish empire. The sessions of the national legislative body met in the safe haven of Cádiz during the French occupation of Spain during the Napoleonic Wars. The Cádiz Cortes were seen then, and by historians today, as a major step towards liberalism and democracy in the history of Spain. The liberal Cortes passed the Spanish Constitution of 1812, which established a constitutional monarchy and eliminated many basic institutions that privileged some groups over others.
The royalists were the Latin American and European supporters of the various governing bodies of the Spanish Monarchy, during the Spanish American wars of independence, which lasted from 1808 until the king's death in 1833. In the early years of the conflict, when King Ferdinand VII was captive in France, royalists supported the authority in the Americas of the Supreme Central Junta of Spain and the Indies and the Cádiz Cortes that ruled in the King's name during the Peninsular War. After the restoration of Ferdinand VII in 1814, royalists supported his claim to rule Spanish America, but were split between those that supported his insistence to rule under traditional law and liberals, who sought to reinstate the reforms enacted by the Cádiz Cortes.
The Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom formally was the Spanish organ that accumulated the executive and legislative powers during the Napoleonic occupation of Spain. It was established on 25 September 1808 following the Spanish victory at the Battle of Bailén and after the Council of Castile declared null and void the abdications of Charles IV and Ferdinand VII done at Bayonne earlier in May. It was active until 30 January 1810. It was initially formed by the representatives of the provincial juntas and first met in Aranjuez chaired by the Count of Floridablanca, with 35 members in total.
The Abdications of Bayonne is the name given to a series of forced abdications of the Kings of Spain that led to what the Spanish-speaking world calls the Guerra de la Independencia Española (1808–1814), which overlaps with the Peninsular War. The failed El Escorial Conspiracy preceded the Mutiny of Aranjuez, which forced King Charles IV to abdicate the throne to his son Ferdinand VII in 1808 by order of the Spanish Royal Council. Ferdinand VII also abdicated later that year.
Asensio Nebot, known as "The Friar" and born in Nules, Spain in 1779, was a guerrilla in the Kingdom of Valencia during the Peninsular War. His exploits during the Peninsular War are well documented but, as he worked as a secret agent after the end of the war, there are gaps in what is known about his life from 1815 onwards.
Napoleonic Spain was the part of Spain loyal to Joseph I during the Peninsular War (1808–1813) after the country was partially occupied by French forces. During this period, the country was considered a client state of the First French Empire.
The Ominous Decade is a traditional term for the last ten years of the reign of King Ferdinand VII of Spain, dating from the abolition of the Spanish Constitution of 1812, on 1 October 1823, to his death on 29 September 1833.
Junta during Spanish American independence was the type of government formed as a patriotic alternative to the Spanish colonial government during the first phase of Spanish American wars of independence (1808–1810). The formation of juntas was usually an urban movement. Most juntas were created out of the already-existing ayuntamientos with the addition of other prominent members of society.
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Ferdinand VII of Spain
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynastyBorn: 14 October 1784 Died: 29 September 1833
| King of Spain |
| King of Spain |
| Prince of Asturias |
Title next held byIsabella (II)