Ferdinand VII of Spain

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Ferdinand VII
Francisco Goya - Portrait of Ferdinand VII of Spain in his robes of state (1815) - Prado.jpg
Ferdinand VII in Court Dress by Goya, 1815
King of Spain
1st reign19 March 1808 – 6 May 1808
Predecessor Charles IV
Successor Joseph I
2nd reign11 December 1813 – 29 September 1833
PredecessorJoseph I
Successor Isabella II
Born14 October 1784
El Escorial, Spain
Died29 September 1833(1833-09-29) (aged 48)
Madrid, Spain
Burial
Spouses
Issue
see detail...
Isabella II of Spain
Luisa Fernanda, Duchess of Montpensier
Full name
Spanish: Fernando Francisco de Paula Domingo Vincente Ferrer Antonio José Joaquín Pascual Diego Juan Nepomuceno Januario Francisco Javier Rafael Miguel Gabriel Calisto Cayetano Fausto Luis Raimundo Gregorio Lorenzo Jerónimo de Borbón y Borbón-Parma
House Bourbon
Father Charles IV of Spain
Mother Maria Luisa of Parma
Religion Roman Catholicism
Signature Firma de Fernando VII.png

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.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in Spain and the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Napoleon 19th century French military leader and politician

Napoleon Bonaparte was a French statesman and military leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and led several successful campaigns during the French Revolutionary Wars. He was Emperor of the French as Napoleon I from 1804 until 1814 and again briefly in 1815 during the Hundred Days. Napoleon dominated European and global affairs for more than a decade while leading France against a series of coalitions in the Napoleonic Wars. He won most of these wars and the vast majority of his battles, building a large empire that ruled over much of continental Europe before its final collapse in 1815. He is considered one of the greatest commanders in history, and his wars and campaigns are studied at military schools worldwide. Napoleon's political and cultural legacy has endured as one of the most celebrated and controversial leaders in human history.

Spanish Constitution of 1812 the first Constitution of Spain

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.

Contents

His reputation among historians is very low. Historian Stanley Payne writes:

Stanley George Payne is an American historian of modern Spain and European Fascism at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He retired from full-time teaching in 2004 and is currently Professor Emeritus at its Department of History.

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. [1]

Early life

Young Ferdinand as Prince of Asturias, 1800 Fernando de Borbon, principe de Asturias.jpg
Young Ferdinand as Prince of Asturias, 1800

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 favourite [2] advisor 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.

Charles IV of Spain King of Spain

Charles IV was King of Spain from 14 December 1788, until his abdication on 19 March 1808.

Maria Luisa of Parma Queen consort of Spain

Maria Luisa of Parma was Queen consort of Spain from 1788 to 1808 by marriage to King Charles IV of Spain. She was the youngest daughter of Philip, Duke of Parma, the fourth son of Philip V of Spain and Louise Élisabeth of France, the eldest daughter of King Louis XV.

El Escorial monastery and historical residence of the King of Spain

The Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as Monasterio del Escorial, is a historical residence of the King of Spain, in the town of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometres northwest of the Spanish capital, Madrid. It is one of the Spanish royal sites and has functioned as a monastery, basilica, royal palace, pantheon, library, museum, university, school and hospital. It is situated 2.06 km (1.28 mi) up the valley from the town of El Escorial.

Abdication and restoration

Royal Monogram Royal Monogram of King Fernando VII of Spain.svg
Royal Monogram

Following a popular riot at Aranjuez Charles IV abdicated in March 1808. [2] 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. [3] 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. [4]

Mutiny of Aranjuez

The Mutiny of Aranjuez was an uprising led against King Charles IV that took place in the town of Aranjuez, Spain on 17–19 March 1808. The event, which is celebrated annually in the first week of September, commemorates the fall of the monarch and the subsequent accession of his son Ferdinand VII.

Château de Valençay château

Château de Valençay was a residence of the d'Estampes and Talleyrand-Périgord families in the commune of Valençay, in the Indre département of France. Although it is part of the province of Berry, its architecture invites comparison with the Renaissance châteaux of the Loire Valley, notably the Château de Chambord. The manor was praised as "one of the most beautiful on earth" by George Sand, who also noted that "no king has owned a more picturesque park". It is at an elevation of 135 m.

Charles Oman 19th/20th-century British military historian

Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman, was a British military historian. His reconstructions of medieval battles from the fragmentary and distorted accounts left by chroniclers were pioneering. Occasionally his interpretations have been challenged, especially his widely copied thesis that British troops defeated their Napoleonic opponents by firepower alone. Paddy Griffith, among modern historians, claims that the British infantry's discipline and willingness to attack were equally important.

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. [5]

Joseph Bonaparte elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte

Joseph-Napoléon Bonaparte, born Giuseppe di Buonaparte, was a French lawyer and diplomat, the older brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, who made him King of Naples and Sicily, and later King of Spain. After the fall of Napoleon, Joseph styled himself Comte de Survilliers.

Peninsular War War by Spain, Portugal and the United Kingdom against the French Empire (1807–1814)

The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was a military conflict between Napoleon's empire and Bourbon Spain, for control of the Iberian Peninsula during the Napoleonic Wars. The war began when the French and Spanish armies invaded and occupied Portugal in 1807, and escalated in 1808 when France turned on Spain, previously its ally. The war on the peninsula lasted until the Sixth Coalition defeated Napoleon in 1814, and is regarded as one of the first wars of national liberation, significant for the emergence of large-scale guerrilla warfare.

In the Napoleonic era, junta was the name chosen by several local administrations formed in Spain during the Peninsular War as a patriotic alternative to the official administration toppled by the French invaders. The juntas were usually formed by adding prominent members of society, such as prelates, to the already-existing ayuntamientos. The juntas of the capitals of the traditional peninsular kingdoms of Spain styled themselves "Supreme Juntas", to differentiate themselves from, and claim authority over, provincial juntas. Juntas were also formed in Spanish America during this period in reaction to the developments in 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. [2] 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. [6]

Triumphal welcome of Ferdinand at Valencia, 1815 Entrada triomfal de Ferran VII a Valencia, 1815, Miquel Parra.jpg
Triumphal welcome of Ferdinand at Valencia, 1815

On 24 March the French handed him over to the Spanish Army in Girona, and thus began his procession towards Madrid. [7] 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. [2]

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." [2]

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. [8]

Revolt

Equestrian portrait of Ferdinand by Jose de Madrazo y Agudo, 1821 Fernando VII a caballo.jpg
Equestrian portrait of Ferdinand by José de Madrazo y Agudo, 1821

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. [2]

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. [2]

During his last years Ferdinand's political appointments became more stable. [2] 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.

Death and succession crisis

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. [9] [10]

Marriages

Ferdinand VII and Maria Cristina by Luis de la Cruz y Rios (1832) Fernando VII y Maria Cristina de Borbon-Dos Sicilias.jpg
Ferdinand VII and María Cristina by Luis de la Cruz y Ríos (1832)

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.

Issue

NameBirthDeathBurialNotes
By Maria Isabel of Portugal (1797–1818)
Infanta María Luisa Isabel21 August 1817
Madrid
9 January 1818
Madrid
El Escorial
Infanta María Luisa Isabel
26 December 1818
Madrid
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
Madrid
10 April 1904
Paris
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
Madrid
2 February 1897
Seville
El Escorial Married Antoine, Duke of Montpensier, had issue.

Ancestry

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References

  1. Payne, p 2:428
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ferdinand VII. of Spain"  . Encyclopædia Britannica . 10 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 267–268.
  3. Carr, pp 79–85
  4. Oman, Charles (1902). A History of the Peninsular War. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press. p. 56.
  5. Carr, pp 85–90
  6. Carr, pp 105–119
  7. Artola, Miguel. La España de Fernando VII. Madrid, Espasa, 1999, 405. ISBN   84-239-9742-1
  8. "¿Por qué firmaron Iturbide y O'Donojú los Tratados de Córdoba?". www.milenio.com. Retrieved 4 February 2019.
  9. A. W. Ward; G.P. Gooch (1970). The Cambridge History of British Foreign Policy 1783-1919 (reprint ed.). CUP. pp. 186–87.
  10. John Van der Kiste (2011). Divided Kingdom: The Spanish Monarchy from Isabel to Juan Carlos. History Press Limited. pp. 6–9.
  11. 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. pp. 9, 96.

Works cited

Further reading

Ferdinand VII of Spain
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 14 October 1784 Died: 29 September 1833
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Charles IV
King of Spain
1808
Succeeded by
Joseph
Preceded by
Joseph
King of Spain
1813–1833
Succeeded by
Isabella II
Spanish nobility
Preceded by
Charles (IV)
Prince of Asturias
1788–1808
Vacant
Title next held by
Isabella (II)