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Not to be confused with Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor, who briefly ruled parts of Spain during the War of the Spanish Succession under the name: Charles III.

Charles III (20 January 1716 – 14 December 1788) was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to his death in 1788.

Eldest son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, Princess Elisabeth of Parma, he became the Duke of Parma and Piacenza under the name of Charles I (at the death of his great uncle Antonio Farnese); later on in 1734 while Duke of Parma he conquered the Kingdoms of Naples and Sicily and was thus created the King of Naples and Sicily due to a personal union; he ruled under the simple name of Charles with no specific numeration even though time has made him Charles VII of Naples and Charles V of Sicily. He was crowned King of Naples and Sicily at Palermomarker, Sicily on 3 July 1735.

In 1738 he married the cultured Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony with whom he had 13 children; 8 of these reached adulthood and a further 4 of them had issue. The couple lived in Naples for 19 years and had a very happy marriage. She died in Madrid in 1760 aged 35.

After becoming the King of Spain by default, he left the Neapolitan and Sicilian kingdoms to his third surviving son who was later Ferdinand IV of Naples; Ferdinand III of Sicily; Ferdinand would see the creation of the future Kingdom of the Two Sicilies which would be ruled by Charles' descendants till 1861.

He was a proponent of enlightened absolutism.

Spanish ambitions at the birth of Charles

The Treaty of Utrecht of 1713 which, in effect, ended the War of the Spanish Succession reduced the military and political power of Spain which had been under Bourbon control since 1700. The treaty left the once mighty Spanish Empire the large territories in Latin America; the treaty ceded the Southern Netherlands, the Kingdoms of Naples, Sardinia the Duchy of Milanmarker and the State of Presidi to Austriamarker. The House of Savoy gained the Sicily and Great Britainmarker was given the isle of Minorcamarker and the fortress of Gibraltarmarker.

Charles' father, the French born Philippe de France had become the King of Spain in 1700 and with it the prestige of the powerful lands it ruled. His parents would both work to try and regain its lost territories for the rest of Philip's reign (1700-1724;1724-146). In 1714 after the death of his first wife, Princess Maria Luisa Gabriella of Savoy, the Piacenzanmarker born Giulio Alberoni worked to try and get a prestigious marriage for Elisabeth of Parma who was the niece and daughter in law of Francesco Farnese.

Elisabeth and Philip wed on 24 December 1714 and quickly proved to be a very energetic, ambitious and authoritative woman who would dominate her husband for the rest of his life. It was through her influence that Alberoni was later created the Prime Minister of Spain in 1715.

In 1716, after just over one year of marriage, Elisabeth gave birth to the Infante Charles of Spain at the Real Alcázar de Madrid. At birth, Charles was fourth in line to the throne after his three older half brother's, Luis, Prince of Asturias (future Louis I of Spain), Infante Felipe (d.1719) and the youngest who was the future Ferdinand VI of Spain. Charles' mother had hoped to secure the Duchies of Parma and Piacenza for Charles because the then Duke, Francesco, had no children and his heir was childless also.

Elisabeth had also wanted the Grand Duchy of Tuscany for her son; the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Gian Gastone de' Medici was also childless and Homosexual and was a cousin of Elisabeth via her great grandmother Margherita de' Medici. As a result Elisabeth son's could claim by right of being descendants of Margherita.

File:Philip V 3.jpg|Philip V, his father who suffered from a bi-polar disorderFile:Isabel de Parma.jpg|Elisabeth of Parma, his mother by Jean RancFile:Charles de Bourbon, futur Carlos III.jpg|Charles aged 9, 1725, Jean RancFile:Charles III Ranc.jpg|Charles aged 11, 1727, Jean Ranc



Succession to the Italian Duchies

The birth of Charles had encouraged the Prime Minister Alberoni to start laying out grand plans for Europe who had in 1717 ordered the Spanish invasion of Sardinia. In 1718, Alberoni also ordered the invasion of Sicily owned by the House of Savoy; the same year saw the birth of Charles' first sister, Infanta Maria Ana Victoria of Spain on 31 March. In reaction to the Quadruple Alliance of 1718, the Duke of Savoy then joined the Alliance and went to war with Spain. This war led to the dismissal of Alberoni by Philip in 1719. The Treaty of The Hague of 1720 allowed Elisabeth and Philip to have Charles recognised as a possible heir to the Italian Duchies.

29 December 1719 saw the death of Charles' half brother, the Infante Felipe Pedro in Madrid (b. 7 June 1712). This death made him third in line to the Throne of Spain after Luis and Ferdinand; a position he would remain in till his succession to the Spanish throne.

15 March 1720 saw the birth of his second full brother, Infante Felipe of Spain.

From 1721, Philip at the Spanish court, and Philippe d'Orléans, régent de France at Versaillesmarker had been negotiating the project of a three Franco-Spanish marriages in order to cement tense relations. The young Louis XV of France would marry the three year old Infanta Maria Ana Victoria and thus she would become Queen of France; Charles' half brother Luis would marry the fourth surviving daughter of the régent, Louise Élisabeth d'Orléans. Charles himself would be engaged to the pretty Philippine Élisabeth d'Orléans who was the fifth surviving daughter of Philippe d'Orléans.

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