The Infante Carlos of Spain
- Not to be confused with Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor,
who is sometimes erroneously called Charles V of Spain
(29 March 1788 – 10 March 1855) was the second surviving son of
King Charles IV of Spain
his wife, Maria Luisa of Parma
Carlos V he was the first of the Carlist claimants to the throne of Spain.
is often referred to simply as 'Don Carlos', but should not be
confused with Carlos
of King Philip II of Spain
's opera is named.
born on 29 March 1788, at the Palacio Real de Aranjuez in Aranjuez Madrid.
in the Battle of Somosierra
and induced Carlos's father Charles IV and Carlos' older brother
their rights to the throne of Spain. But Carlos who was heir
presumptive to his brother refused to renounce his rights to the
throne, which he considered to have been given to him by God.
until 1814 he and his brothers were prisoners of Napoleon at
Valençay in France.
Carlos and the rest of the Spanish royal family returned to
In September 1816 he married his niece
Francisca of Portugal
(1800–1834), daughter of King John VI of Portugal
and Carlos' sister
Francisca was also sister of the second wife of Carlos' brother
Ferdinand VII. The couple had three sons:
Apart from several formal offices, Carlos took no significant part
in the government of Spain. Ferdinand VII had found it necessary to
cooperate with the moderate liberals and to sign a constitution.
Carlos, however, was known for his firm belief in the divine right of kings
absolutely, the rigid orthodoxy of his religious opinions, and the
piety of his life.
During the revolutionary troubles of 1820–1823 (the "liberal
triennium") Carlos was threatened by the extreme radicals, but no
attack was made on him. While there were certain conservatives in
Spain who wanted to put Carlos on the throne immediately, Carlos
himself was a firm believer in the legitimate succession and would
never have taken up arms against his brother.
Pragmatic Sanction of 1830
In May 1830 Ferdinand VII published the Pragmatic Sanction
daughters to succeed to the Spanish throne as well as sons. This
decree had originally been approved by the Cortes
in 1789, but it had never been
officially promulgated. On 10 October 1830, Ferdinand's wife gave
birth to a daughter Isabella
who thereupon displaced her uncle in the line of succession.
The clerical party (called in Spanish 'apostólicos') continued to
support the rights of Carlos to the throne. They considered the
Pragmatic Sanction not only impractical but also illegal. They
intrigued in favour of Carlos, but he himself would do no more than
assert his rights in words. His wife and her sister, Maria Teresa
princess of Beira
, on the other
hand, were actively engaged in intrigues with the
1833 Ferdinand 'authorised' Carlos to go to Portugal with his
wife and sister-in-law.
The 'authorisation' was in fact an
order to remove Carlos from Spain and his adherents.
In April 1833 Ferdinand called upon Carlos to take an oath of
allegiance to Isabella as Princess of
, the title traditionally used by the heir to the
throne. In respectful but firm terms, Carlos refused. He had no
personal desire for the throne, but he was adamant that he could
not renounce what he considered to be his God-given rights and
Ferdinand VII died 29 September 1833. In Madrid his wife Cristina
declared herself regent for her daughter Isabella. On 1 October,
Carlos issued a manifesto declaring his own accession to the throne
as 'Charles V'. He informed the members of Cristina's government
that they were confirmed in their posts, and proceeded to the
Portuguese-Spanish border. There he was met by forces loyal to
Cristina and Isabella who threatened to arrest him. Carlos remained
in Portugal which itself was in a state of civil war
between the adherents of Carlos'
nephew and brother-in-law Miguel
and his grand-niece, Miguel's niece Maria II
. In Spain there were various
risings which developed into the First
Miguelite party was finally beaten in Portugal in 1834, Carlos
escaped to England where the
government offered to grant him an annual pension of 30,000 pounds
if he would renounce his claims and never return to Spain or
Carlos refused absolutely. In July he passed over
to France, where he was actively aided by the legitimist
party. He soon joined his adherents at Elizondo
in the western Pyrenees of
In October 1834 his sister-in-law Cristina issued a
decree depriving him of his rights as an Infante
of Spain; this was confirmed by the Cortes
Carlos remained in Spain for five years. During these years he
accompanied his armies, without displaying any of the qualities of
a general or even much personal courage. But he endured a good deal
of hardship, and was often compelled to take to hiding in the
hills. On these occasions he was often carried over difficult
places on the back of a stout guide commonly known as the "royal
jackass" (burro real
The semblance of a court which Carlos maintained was torn by
incessant personal intrigues. While some of his adherents supported him
because they believed in his hereditary rights to the throne,
others were more concerned to promote the special privileges of the
There were ongoing conflicts
between Carlos' military staff and the clergy who exercised
significant influence over him.
In the first few years of the war, there were several moments when
victory was within Carlos' grasp. The last of these was the
so-called Royal Expedition of the summer of 1837 when Carlos
himself accompanied his army from Navarre to the outskirts of
Madrid. Carlos hoped to enter the city without any significant
bloodshed, but when it became clear that only a battle would win
the city, Carlos vacillated. After several days Carlos himself
decided to withdraw; his army melted away and was reduced to a
third of its former strength.
His first wife having died in England in 1834, Carlos married her
elder sister, his own niece Maria Teresa of Portugal
of Beira, in Biscay
in October 1837.
In June 1838 Carlos appointed Rafael
as his commander-in-chief. In February 1839 Maroto had
four Carlist generals shot and issued a proclamation criticizing
Carlos' court. When Carlos removed him from office, Maroto marched
to Tolosa where Carlos was living and made him a virtual prisoner.
Maroto was re-appointed commander-in-chief, and his opponents in
Carlos' court were dismissed. Maroto then began private
negotiations with Cristina's commander-in-chief, and in August 1839
abandoned Carlos completely.
In September 1839 Carlos left Spain for France where he was briefly
imprisoned. For almost another year, however, some of his
commanders continued to fight on his behalf especially in Catalonia.
But by July 1840 almost all resistance was
In May 1845 Carlos abdicated his rights to the throne of Spain in
favor of his eldest son Carlos Luis. Subsequently he used the title
'count of Molina'. On 10 March 1855, he died at Trieste where he is buried in the chapel of Saint Charles
Borromeo in the Basilica di San Giusto.
In midst of the first Carlist War, on 15 January 1837 the Cortes
passed a law, ratified by royal decree of Regent María Cristina,
which excluded Don Carlos and several his named allies from the
succession to the Spanish crown and declared them stripped from
their Spanish titles. These were: Carlos himself, and his descent,
and his ally and future wife Teresa of Portugal, Teresa's son
Sebastian (1811–1875), and Carlos's nephew Miguel I of Portugal
other absolutist rival monarch in another country. This was
grounded on them being "rebels".
- Holt, Edgar. The Carlist Wars in Spain. Chester
Springs, Pennsylvania: Dufour Editions, 1967.