Charles IV of Spain

John Florens | Apr 13, 2023

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Charles IV (Portici, November 11, 1748 - Rome, January 20, 1819) was the King of Spain from 1788 until his abdication in 1808. He was the son of King Charles III and Maria Amalia of Saxony.

He came to the throne with great experience in affairs of state, but was overcome by the repercussions of the events in France in 1789 and his lack of personal energy, which caused the government to fall into the hands of his wife, Princess Maria Louise of Parma, and the valedictorian, Manuel de Godoy, who was said to be the queen's lover, although these claims have now been refuted by various historians. These events ended the expectations with which she began her reign. When King Charles III died, the collapse of the economy and the disorganization of the administration revealed the limits of reformism, to the point of putting the French Revolution as an alternative to the Old Regime.

He was born on November 11, 1748 in Portici, during his father's reign in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies. He was baptized with the names Charles Anthony Paschal Francis Xavier John Nepomucene Joseph Januario Serafim Diogo.

In 1759, when his uncle, King Ferdinand VI of Spain, died leaving no descendants, his father assumed the throne of Spain. Thus, Carlos became heir to the Hispanic monarchy, taking his oath as Prince of Asturias on July 19, 1760.

He succeeded his father Charles III when the latter died on December 14, 1788.


Charles IV married his cousin-sister Maria Luisa of Parma, daughter of Philip, Duke of Parma, in 1765. Together they had fourteen children out of the twenty-four times that Louise was pregnant, but only seven reached adulthood.

The reign of Charles IV of Spain was marked by the impact that the French Revolution of July 1789 had on Spain, as well as its further development, especially after 1799, when Napoleon Bonaparte took power.

The initial response of the court of Madrid was the so-called "panic of Floridablanca" and the confrontation with the new revolutionary power after the deposition, arrest and execution of King Louis XVI, head of the House of Bourbon, who also reigned in Spain, which led to the Convention War (1793-1795) which was disastrous for the Spanish forces. In 1796, Charles IV and his powerful "Prime Minister" Manuel de Godoy completely changed his policy towards the French Republic and allied with it, which led to the first war with Great Britain (1796-1802), which would eventually lead to the War of the Second Coalition and which marked another difficult turn in Charles IV's Monarchy, as well as causing a severe crisis in the Royal Treasury that was attempted to be resolved with the so-called "Godoy disamortization" - the "favorite" was removed from power for two years (1798-1800). After the short-lived Peace of Amiens in 1802, the second war with Great Britain broke out, following the War of the Third Coalition, in which the Franco-Spanish fleet was defeated by the British fleet commanded by Admiral Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar (1805). This event was the fatal crisis for Charles IV's reign that culminated in the El Escorial conspiracy of November 1807 and the Aranjuez mutiny of March 1808, in which the king lost power and was forced to abdicate the throne in favor of his son Ferdinand. However, two months later, father and son would be signing the Bayona abdications, in which they handed over their rights of succession to Napoleon Bonaparte, who in turn handed them over to his brother José Bonaparte.

Many "patriotic" Spaniards did not recognize the abdications and continued to regard Ferdinand VII as king, starting the Spanish War of Independence on his behalf. However, other Spaniards, disdainfully called "Afrancesados," supported a Napoleonic Spain and the new king, Joseph I Bonaparte, so this is considered to have been the first civil war in contemporary Spanish history.

French Revolution

Since he feared the contagion of the French Revolution in Spain, José Moñino, Count of Floridablanca, as first secretary of state, took measures to prevent it, since at that time the monarchy lacked a security and public order device that could stand up to possible revolutionary coups. Thus, Floridablanca immediately took a 'series of measures to avoid "contagion," preventing word of what was happening in France and stopping the spread of the "dangerous ideas" of the French revolutionaries. Thus, for example, he ordered, in his own words, that "a cordon of troops be formed across the frontier, from sea to sea, as is done with the plague so that we are not communicated the contagion." He therefore hastily closed the Madrid Cortes of 1789, which had been meeting since September 19 to swear in the heir to the throne, because of the latest events in France, since on October 6 the assault on the Palace of Versailles had occurred which had forced the "patriots" of Paris and King Louis XVI to move to Paris to the National Constituent Assembly, which since July 14, after the storming of the Bastille, had become the new sovereign power of France.

Floridablanca also decided to suspend all newspapers except the official ones (Gazeta de Madrid, Mercurio, Diario de Madrid), in which it had been forbidden to mention French events. The ideological control of the Inquisition was strengthened, which returned to its original function of being a repressive organ at the service of the monarchy, in 1791 the so-called Reserved Commission was created to persecute those who advocated "revolutionary ideas." The members of the Commission had the task of introducing themselves into the gatherings of influential individuals and informing their superiors of the topics of conversation and the people participating in them. Censorship of foreigners was created to control their movements, especially the French, and only people who swore allegiance to the Catholic religion and the king were allowed to enter Spain, and all corregedores were forced to withdraw any campaign considered subversive, among other measures.

The events in France also had their impact on the Empire of the Indies, since Spain could no longer count on the aid of the French monarchy, tied to the Spanish by the family pacts, so called because the House of Bourbon was the reigning one in both countries, as had happened during the dispute with Great Britain over the territory of Nutka. The conflict occurred in 1789, when some Spanish explorers and military personnel heading north from California, which at the time was part of the Viceroyalty of New Spain, reached Nutka Island, which belonged to the British colony of Canada and met there with British military personnel and explorers coming from the east. In the end, the Spanish monarchy had to give up those territories in the Nutka Conventions, signed in the following years. They also affected Mediterranean policy, since when the North African squares of Oran and Mazalquivir were attacked by Berber pirates, the government in Madrid chose to abandon them, despite the efforts of those who had resisted the attacks, because it wished to concentrate entirely on what was happening in France.

Events in France finally forced the Spanish monarchy to leave the "family pacts" in abeyance with the French monarchy. The arrest of Louis XVI in Varennes after his attempted escape from Paris in June 1791 prompted Floridablanca to intervene in defense of the French king and send a diplomatic note to the French National Assembly in which he asked the French to respect "the eminent dignity of his sacred person , his liberty, his immunity and that of his royal family." The note was considered an impermissible interference in France's internal affairs and worsened relations between the two countries. A member of the Assembly said that "the European powers must know that we will die if necessary, but we will not allow them to intervene in our affairs." Shortly thereafter, Floridablanca refused to accept the French Constitution of 1791, "because it is contrary to Sovereignty," nor to recognize the oath that Louis XVI took to it on September 14, 1791.

In a report entitled "Exposition which Mr. Floridablanca has made and read to S.M. and at the Council, giving a succinct idea of the state of France, Europe and Spain," dated February 19, 1792, the first secretary summarized in this way what had happened in France after the triumph of the Revolution: "The state of France is that of having reduced the king to that of a simple citizen" converted into "the first servant in the service of the Nation"; having destroyed the "ecclesiastical hierarchy" and "the nobility, the braziers and arms, the titles and all the distinctions of honor"; having proclaimed that "all men are equal and that thus even the most unfortunate of artisans will have absolute freedom to speak, write and work as he thinks best." His report concluded with the phrase: "In France it is all over.

On February 28, 1792, a few days after submitting his report, Charles IV dismissed the Count of Floridablanca and appointed the Count of Aranda, a supporter of a less inflexible policy than the new French "Constitutional Monarchy," to take his place. It is believed that one of the people who convinced the king to oust Floridablanca was the new French ambassador, the Chevalier de Bourgoing, who, during a meeting with Charles IV the day before the count's resignation, reportedly threatened to sever diplomatic relations with Spain if the country maintained the intransigent policy of the count who continued to refuse to recognize Louis XVI's oath of the 1791 Constitution. Another major culprit in the downfall of Floridablanca, an intellectual of humble origins, was the "aristocratic party," led by the Count of Aranda himself, which, according to Floridablanca, was moving "either out of resentment at not having all their pretensions met, or by wishing to capture the popular aura of those who resist authority, of those who do very grave damage to royal authority and to public calm and happiness." One of the arguments used by the Arandists in their confrontation was Floridablanca's decision to abandon the squares of Oran and Mazalquivir which passed to the sovereignty of the Algiers Regency in exchange for the granting of certain commercial privileges.

In France, Aranda's appointment was received with enthusiasm and Condorcet even sent him a congratulatory letter in which he called him the "defender of liberty against superstition and despotism. Aranda immediately demobilized the administrative apparatus created by Floridablanca and abolished the Supreme Council of State, which was replaced by the Council of State, re-established with Aranda as rector, a position he accumulated with that of Secretary of State, something that made him a sort of "prime minister," since the other secretaries automatically became part of the newly restored Council of State. To facilitate his assistance to the king, his seat was fixed at the Royal Palace. On the other hand, the Count of Aranda turned against the one who "had been his political opponent for the last fifteen years" and, after sending Floridablanca to Murcia, had him arrested on July 11, while he was in his home village of Hellín. The former secretary of state was imprisoned in the citadel of Pamplona for two years, accused of abuse of power and corruption, until he was released in 1794 by order of Manuel de Godoy, and rehabilitated the following year.

The Count of Aranda set in motion his program of rapprochement with France in order to positively influence the king's situation and to count on French support against Great Britain. Thus, for example, the control of the press was softened and the borders were no longer so tightly controlled. However, Aranda was eventually overtaken by the radicalization of the French revolution. In August 1792, King Louis XVI was deposed and imprisoned along with his family, accused of treason. The following month the Republic was proclaimed. The Count of Aranda withdrew the Spanish ambassador in Paris, the Count de Fernán Núñez, and convened the council of state, which agreed to begin preparations for an armed intervention against the "French nation and to call it to reason again." However, when the two armies that were destined for the two ends of the French Pyrenees set out, the logistical problems that the operation posed became evident, as well as the great deficiencies that existed in the military units that were going to participate in the conflict. Aranda believed that the armies of Prussia and Austria would invade France from the north and conquer Paris easily, and the intervention of the Spanish armies would not be necessary. However, these would eventually be defeated at the Battle of Valmy on September 21 and the French revolutionary armies went on the offensive, which completely ruined his strategy. Aranda then chose to defend neutrality, given the lack of preparation of the Spanish army. For this reason, he was eventually ousted by Charles IV, who advocated military intervention together with the French emigrants living in Madrid and the Pope's nuncio, openly anti-Aristian "for the good of religion and the State". The Count of Aranda, who had only been in power for eight months, was replaced by Manuel de Godoy, a young officer of the Guardia de Corps, from a noble family in Extremadura who had gained the kings trust because of his loyalty.

Godoy and the Convention War

The reasons why Manuel de Godoy, a member of the minor nobility of the Spanish Extremadura without any experience in governance, was appointed to the position of first secretary of state are debated to this day. In his biography about Godoy, historian Emilio La Parra lays out the case as follows:

This point of view is also mostly shared by the historian Enrique Giménez who highlights the fact that the young age and fast progression at court was not an isolated case in Europe at the time - William Pitt (the new one) was appointed prime minister at the age of twenty-four and Godoy at twenty-five. If Charles IV was looking for an independent person, Godoy fulfilled this requirement, since "he did not belong to any group - neither the 'manteists', nor the 'gorillas', nor the aristocrats, nor the Aragonese party - that had gained power during the reign of Charles III.

The main objective placed on Godoy by the kings was to save the life of the head of the House of Bourbon, and he used every means at his disposal to achieve this - including bribing important members of the Convention, the institution that was judging King Louis XVI - but without success, as the king was found guilty and executed on the guillotine on January 21, 1793. As a consequence of this event, the major European powers, including the monarchy of Spain and that of Great Britain, which had signed the Treaty of Aranjuez, went to war against the French Republic. The Count of Aranda, who still belonged to the Council of State and the Council of Castile, advised the king against declaring war in a confidential report, claiming that the Spanish army was in no condition to fight and that, moreover, poor communications between northern Spain and the Pyrenees would hinder the movement of troops as well as the shipment of supplies. For this reason, there was a violent confrontation between Godoy and Aranda at the meeting of the Council of State held on March 14, 1793, which caused Aranda to be banished to Jaén and finally to the Alhambra in Granada where he was imprisoned.

In order that the war might have popular support, Godoy initiated an unprecedented "patriotic" campaign in which members of the anti-Enlightenment clergy participated enthusiastically. According to them, the war was a "crusade" in defense of religion and the monarchy and against "wicked French" and "wicked France," the embodiment of Absolute Evil and identifying the Enlightenment against the Revolution. Friar Jeronimo Fernando de Cevallos wrote to Godoy in 1794 that "the French, with two hundred thousand Sans-culottes, can cause horrible devastation, but will we better see the birth of four or five million Sans-culottes in Spain among farmers, artisans, beggars, thieves and scoundrels, if they gain a taste for the seductive principles of the philosophers? An example of this anti-Enlightenment and counter-revolutionary propaganda can be seen in the following text:

Those who initiated the campaign were based on the "reactionary myth" that describes the Revolution as the result of a universal "conspiracy" of "three sects" attacking "the purity of Catholicism and good government" (the philosophical, the Jansenist and the Masonic). A "conspiracy theory" elaborated by the French abbot Augustin Barruel and that, in Spain, was spread by the friar Diego José de Cádiz, author of works such as "The Catholic Soldier at War" among others.

However, there were some members of the ecclesiastical hierarchy who did not support this campaign, such as the archbishop of Valencia, Francisco Fabián y Fuero, who refused to consider the conflict in France as a "religious war," which brought him into confrontation with the captain-general, the duke de la Roca, who ordered his arrest on January 23, 1794 under the pretext of ensuring his safety. However, the archbishop managed to escape and took refuge in Olba. The intervention of the Council of Castile put an end to the conflict. The council recognized that the captain-general had "notoriously exceeded his capabilities" and, in exchange, Fabián y Fuero agreed to resign as archbishop on November 23, 1794, and was replaced by a fervent supporter of the "crusade.

For its part, the Convention tried to stop the anti-French and counter-revolutionary campaign with several manifestos like the Warning to the Spanish People or the so-called "Als Catalans", in which it highlighted the fact that a "monstrous coalition" had been created with all the tyrants of Europe, but which had no effect in the face of the reports in the newspapers about the way the French acted - regarding the capture of Besalú, the newspapers reported that "in the temples they tore down the images, destroyed them with arquebuses, and then defiled themselves with everything; in some villages they raped some women and killed others"- and about the ideals they promoted, such as the "destructive and absurd" ideal of equality that "put an end to the natural distinction between masters and slaves, illustrious men and the lowest commoners.

As a consequence of the "patriotic" campaign in favor of the war against the Convention, there were in many places attacks against French residents who had no responsibility for what was happening in their country, with the "argument" that "all" French people were "infidels, Jews, heretics and Protestants," as stated by a lantern manufacturer from Requena who proposed their extermination through powders created by him to eliminate "plague, bad crops, carbuncles and pestilents." One of the most serious episodes of this era was the anti-French riot that broke out in Valencia in March 1793, during which many merchants' houses living in the city were raided and burned down, and also the refractory priests who were refugees there for refusing to take the oath established in the Civil Constitution of the Clergy were subjected to mob violence. Sometimes riots broke out because of the spread of rumors, such as one that spread through Madrid that claimed the city's waters had been poisoned by the French. They also occurred as a result of the competition that French merchants gave to local merchants, as happened in Malaga, where the French were called "damned Jacobins, capable of contaminating even those with the best complexion."

Also joining this campaign were some Enlightenmentists whose absolutist feelings and even religious fervor had been intensified by the French Revolution. One of the best known cases was that of Pablo de Olavide who went from being persecuted by the Inquisition to author of a work entitled "The Gospel in Triumph," in which he advocated complete submission to the throne and the church.

The war against the French Republic - called the Convention War or Pyrenees War and, in Catalonia, the "Gran Guerra" or "Great War" - was disastrous for Spain, since the army was not prepared and the state of communications made it difficult to move and supply the troops, which ultimately proved the Count of Aranda right. The Spanish army, consisting of some 55,000 soldiers occupied the center and to the extremities of the Pyrenees. The initiative came from the army stationed in Catalonia, commanded by General Antonio Ricardos, who quickly occupied the Rossilhão region, but never conquered its main city, Perpignan. The troops then moved on to more symbolic acts such as replacing the tricolor flag of the Republic with the white Bourbon flag or destroying the ideals of liberty.

The French Republican counter-offensive occurred in late 1793 and his troops managed to occupy the Aran Valley and Puigcerdà, where they printed the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen in Catalan, and the following year they conquered the towns of Seo de Urgel, Camprodon, Saint John of the Abbesses and Ripoll. In March 1794, General Ricardos died, and was replaced by the Count of Union who headed to Ampurdán. In late 1794, the strategic fort of San Fernando de Figueras fell, which was believed to be impossible to defeat, but was eventually surrendered by the officers in a manner considered "shameful", which demoralized the troops fighting in Catalonia. At the western end of the Pyrenees, the French advance met almost no resistance and the cities of Fuenterrabía fell, where, according to some rumors, French republican soldiers desecrated religious buildings, for example by dressing a saint as a "national guard", San Sebastián, Tolosa, Bilbao and Vitoria, thus clearing the way to Madrid. Meanwhile, in Catalonia, Roses fell in February 1795, which cleared the way to Barcelona.

The Spanish Armada also participated in the war. A squadron commanded by Juan de Lángara, along with a British squadron commanded by Admiral Hood attempted to raise the siege of Tolón, to help the French Royalists who were being attacked by the revolutionaries who were bombarding the city and port. Among them was a young artillery officer named Napoleon Bonaparte. The operation failed and the Spanish and British fleet had to abandon Tolón in December 1793.

During the occupation of the Basque Country and northern Catalonia, the French revolutionaries instigated Particularism in both territories. In Catalonia, they promised liberation from the "Castilian yoke" by forming an independent Catalan republic in order to join it to the French Republic by breaking the "commercial ties of that country multiplying them with us through facilitated ways" and introducing the "French language." On the other side, the Castilian military commanding Charles IV's troops tried to win the confidence of the inhabitants of the former principality, who had resisted conscription and there had been attempts at indiscipline and desertion, by writing proclamations and manifestos in Catalan, which had not happened since the Decree of the New Plan of Catalonia in 1716. They also re-established the Somatén (a Catalan para-police institution), which had been abolished in the Bourbon "New Plan", and were allowed to create Boards of Defense and Arms that were to culminate in the formation of a hypothetical Principality Board that never happened. Only local Boards functioned which had the sole purpose of "stopping the enemy" and were under the strict control of the Captain-General.

In the Basque Country, it was the General Council of Guipúzcoa that took the initiative and, at a meeting held in Guetaria in June 1794, put the question of the possible independence of the "province" to the French authorities, although the only proposal they received in return was the offer to integrate into the French Republic, an alternative considered "impossible, since the revolutionary values and concepts were absolutely contrary to the traditional and corporative world of Basque society," says Enrique Giménez, although after the end of the war, some "collaborationists" from Guipúscoa who were tried, showed their adherence to republican values: "they looked at France and exclaimed: 'Long live the Republic! '. On the other side, as in Catalonia, the Spanish military authorities promoted Basque and Navarre "foralismo" so that their inhabitants would commit themselves to fight against the invader, although it was precisely the foros that had problems recruiting soldiers.

There were many Enlightenmentists who did not support the reactionary campaign initiated due to the Convention War, and there was even a sector that, because of the events following the French Revolution, decided to go beyond the moderate postulates of the Enlightenment, which gave rise to an openly liberal movement. In a letter to a friend in Seville, Juan Pablo Forner commented on the atmosphere in Madrid:

"In the café all we hear about is battles, revolution, the Convention, national representation, freedom, equality. Even the whores ask us about Robespierre and Barrére, and you have to catch a good dose of editorial mumbo jumbo to satisfy the wooing girl (...)".

Thus, in the 1990s of the eighteenth century, there was an important "liberal" agitation-the proliferation of thirsty pasquins, the flaunting of revolutionary symbols, the circulation of subversive pamphlets-driven in Bayona by a number of exiled Spanish Enlightenmentists who adopted the principles and ideas of the French Revolution. The most prominent member and main encourager of this group was José Marchena, editor of the Gaceta de la Libertad y de la Igualdad, which was written in Spanish and French and whose stated aim was to "prepare the Spanish spirits for liberty." In addition, he was also the editor of the proclaimed "A la Nación española", published in Bayona in 1792 with a circulation of 5,000 copies and which, among other things, called for the suppression of the Inquisition, the re-establishment of the Cortes or the limitation of the privileges of the clergy, in a program that was quite moderate, given Marchena's closeness to the Girondins. Alongside Marchena were Miguel Rubín de Celis, José Manuel Hevia and Vicente María Santibáñez, the latter perhaps the most radical, close to the Jacobins, who advocated the formation of Cortes that represented the "nation.

In the interior of Spain there was also liberating agitation, whose main achievement was the "conspiracy of St. Brás," so called because it was discovered on February 3, 1795, the day of St. Brás. It was led by the illuminist Juan Picornell of Majorca-whose concerns, until then, had been reduced to pedagogical renewal and the promotion of public education-and the conjurors who wanted to carry out a coup d'état supported by the Madrid popular classes to "save the homeland from the eternal ruin that threatens it." After the coup triumphed, a Supreme Junta was created that served as a provisional government representing the people. After a constitution was drafted, elections were held, without it being clear whether the conspirators were disillusioned with the constitutional Monarchy or the Republic, although they knew that the motto of the new regime would be liberty, equality and plenty. Picornell and three other detainees were sentenced to death by hanging, but the sentence was eventually reduced to life imprisonment to be served in La Guaira prison in Venezuela. However, the four prisoners managed to escape on June 3, 1797, and from then on collaborated with the Creoles who defended the independence of the Spanish colonies in the Americas. In the following years there were no more attempts to overthrow the Old Regime, although the fear of revolutionary contagion remained.

Liberalism had the precedent of some Austrianist and Enlightenment thinkers who, in the years and decades before the French Revolution, had defended the British parliamentary regime in apposition to the absolutist monarchies on the continent that had even adopted some of the ideals of the American Revolution, in which the United States of America had emerged. Juan Amor de Soria, who belonged to the group of "persistent Austracists", José Agustín de la Rentería, Valentín de Foronda and León de Arroyal are considered the founders of the Spanish liberal tradition. León de Arroyal stated in a letter that:

The emergence of "Catalanist" and "Basque" feelings in the "provinces" where fighting was taking place, combined with the military disasters and the serious financial situation in which the royal treasury had been placed - the expenses caused by the war had led to "suffocating debt" - forced Godoy to begin peace negotiations. On the French side, war-weariness was also evident, and the fall of Robespierre in July 1794, together with the coming to power of moderate republicans initiated a new phase in the Republic. After initial contacts that came to no conclusion, negotiations were held in Basel, where F. Barthélemy, the French Republic's representative to the Helvetic Confederation, lived. Domingo Iriarte, ambassador of Charles IV's monarchy at the Warsaw court, was chosen to go to that city, since he knew Barthélemy from his stay at the Paris embassy in 1791, a friendship that would help reach an agreement that was also facilitated by the death in prison of the dauphin Louis XVII on June 8, 1795, since Charles IV demanded his release as a fundamental condition for achieving peace. Thus, the two powers signed an agreement on July 22, 1795, known as the Treaty of Basel with which the Convention War ended.

In the Treaty of Basel, the Spanish monarchy managed to have all the territories occupied by the French south of the Pyrenees returned to it, but in return it was forced to cede to France its part of the Island of Santo Domingo in the Caribbean Sea, although it managed to keep Louisiana which had been claimed by the French. Another controversial issue was resolved in a secret clause: the release of the sister of the deceased dauphin and daughter of King Louis XVI, whose custody was given to the Emperor of Austria, her uncle. Besides all this, the treaty opened the door to improved diplomatic relations between the Spanish monarchy and the French republic, since in article 1 there was not only talk of peace, but also of "friendship and good will between the king of Spain and the French republic," and in another article there was even talk of signing a "new commercial treaty," although this never happened. According to historian Enrique Giménez, "the modesty of the French claims" was due to the fact that "the republic desired a reconciliation with Spain and to again promote the alliance that had united the two neighboring countries during the 18th century against their common enemy: Great Britain."

As a reward for the success of the treaty, Godoy received the title of "Prince of Peace" from the kings, something that went against the tradition of the Hispanic monarchy that only granted the title of prince to the heir to the throne, in this case Ferdinand, Prince of Asturias.

In October, the Treaty of St. Lawrence was signed, in which the borders between the United States and the Spanish colony of Florida were fixed.

The alliance with France and war against Great Britain

A year after the "Peace of Basel," the monarchy of Charles IV allied itself with the French republic through the signing of the Treaty of San Ildefonso that took place on August 19, 1796 and whose main purpose was to confront the common enemy of both countries: Great Britain. As Rosa Maria Capel and José Cepeda point out, it was a "family pact without a family.

For this change of policy of the court of Madrid towards the French Revolution to occur, the need to defend the empire of the Americas against British ambitions weighed above all, although the Bourbon dynastic interests in Italy were also important, since Charles IV wanted to ensure that the House of Bourbon continued to reign in the duchy of Parma and the kingdom of Naples, both of which were threatened by the French invasions initiated by General Napoleon Bonaparte in March 1796. On their advance to Milan from Piedmont, the French armies had passed through Parma, forcing Duke Ferdinand, brother of the Queen of Spain, to pay a heavy indemnity in supplies and works of art.

For the French republic, the main interest of the alliance with the monarchy of Charles IV was the use of the Spanish maritime fleet - the third most powerful at the time, although in order to put it into action, the Spanish treasury would have to bear extraordinary expenses - and the strategic port of Cadiz, in addition to being able to expel the English from Portugal.

Only two months after the signing of the Treaty of San Ildefonso, the British monarchy, feeling threatened, declared war on the Spanish monarchy. In February 1797, the Battle of Cape St. Vincent took place, in which the Spanish fleet, although superior in number - 24 ships against 15 - was defeated by the British fleet, commanded by Admiral John Jervis. The commander of the Spanish fleet, José de Córdoba, was condemned to banishment outside Madrid and any maritime province of the peninsula in a council of war. Just two days later, the British seized the island of Trinidad in the West Indies, in a less than glorious performance by the Spanish fleet and army defending it. The same did not happen in the attacks on Puerto Rico (April 1797), Cadiz (July), and Santa Cruz de Tenerife (July), in which the defenders managed to prevent the British landing. The last two invasions were commanded by Admiral Horatio Nelson, who was wounded in the attack on Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where he lost his right arm and was arrested. "In a gentlemanly manner, the military governor, General Antonio Gutérrez, allowed him to return to England after making him promise not to attack the Canary Islands again."

The economic consequences of the war were much more serious than those of the Convention War, since the advance of British ships in the Mediterranean from Menorca - which was once again occupied by Britain - and across the Atlantic, in addition to the blockade of Cadiz after the naval defeat at Cape St. Vincent in February 1797 interrupted Spanish trade with the Indies, which caused the American colonies to stop receiving supplies and to be prevented from sending their colonial production to Spain. Regarding the peninsular economy, the English naval blockade led to the closure of many commercial and insurance houses in Cadiz and the drastic reduction of manufacturing production in Catalonia, for which colonial markets were essential. It should be added that the economic situation worsened due to the poor harvests of 1798. All these factors also had serious consequences on the public treasury whose deficit became unsustainable as silver remittances from America were reduced, as were customs revenues.

The interruption of trade with America led to such a dramatic situation that a Decree published on November 18, 1797 suspended the trade monopoly of the metropolis, and allowed all colonies to trade with neutral countries - mainly with the United States. This measure had a great impact on the future of the Spanish colonial empire, as the Creoles were able to obtain various quality manufactured goods at advantageous prices and protested when the decree was suspended in April 1799.

To address this critical situation, Godoy allowed illuminists into his government: Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos in the Secretariat of State and Justice and Francisco de Saavedra to the Treasury. He also appointed the Enlightenment bishop Ramón de Arce as inquisitor general, and sent Francisco Cabarrús as ambassador to Paria in November 1797 to improve relations with the Directory. Relations had deteriorated because the Directory had initiated peace talks with Great Britain, without the participation of the Spanish Monarchy, which had also not consulted when it demanded large economic compensations from Naples in exchange for them respecting its neutrality in the war. For their part, the French were beginning to distrust Godoy for never committing himself to an attack on Portugal, something the French considered due to the fact that the regent was married to King Carlota Joaquina, the eldest daughter of King Charles IV, and also because the prime minister was on friendly terms with French monarchists in exile in Madrid.

Despite these changes, the country's very grave military and economic situation, coupled with the French Republican government's distrust of Godoy - Cabarrús' management in Paris further worsened relations with the Directory - forced Charles IV to dismiss Godoy on March 28, 1798, although the decree determining this decision assured that he would retain "all his honors, salaries, emoluments, and entrances which he enjoys today." The king stated that he was "in short satisfied with the zeal, love and devotion with which you have performed all the affairs left to your command and I shall always be grateful to your person for the rest of my life."

Godoy was replaced by Francisco de Saavedra, but due to the latter's health problems, the real leader of the government was the young Mariano Luis de Urquijo, first secretary of state.

The first problem the new government faced was the almost imminent bankruptcy of the royal treasury, whose deficit it had tried to disguise until then with continuous issues of royal bonds whose value had deteriorated, since the state had many problems paying the interest and maturities on them. Urquijo resorted to an extraordinary measure: the appropriation by the state of certain "amortized" assets, then selling them and using the proceeds of this action to pay off the debt through an Amortization Fund. The paradox was that this first Spanish disamortization became known, without much foundation, as the "Godoy Disamortization.

Thus, the patrimony of the Major Colleges was put up for sale, compensating this "dead hand" with 3% of its value, which financed the Amortization Fund; the goods of the Jesuits, expelled in 1767, which had not yet been alienated and the root goods that belonged to charitable institutions that depended on the Church, such as hospitals, houses of mercy, orphanages, charitable works, brotherhoods, etc. In exchange, these "dead hands" would receive an annual rent of 3% of the value of the goods sold. With this misnamed "Godoy disamortization", in the space of ten years, it was possible to liquidate a sixth of the rural and urban property administered by the Church. Furthermore, the social consequences of this cannot be ignored, since the church's charitable network was practically dismantled.

Urquijo tried to carry out a regalist policy of creating a Spanish Church independent of Rome, taking advantage of the difficulties that the papacy was going through, since the Papal States had been occupied by Napoleon Bonaparte's French troops and the pope had been forced to leave Rome after the proclamation of the republic. The project of building a "national" church had been initiated in the last year of Godoy's government and also had great economic repercussions, since it would put an end to the fees that Rome charged the church in Spain for marriage favors and dispensations, for example, and which in 1797 had reached 380,000 Roman escudos. Thus, the decree of September 5, 1799, promulgated one month after the death of Pius VI in France and which would later become known as the "Schism of Urquijo", established that until the election of a new pope "the Spanish archbishops and bishops should make full use of all their faculties, in accordance with the ancient discipline of the church, to carry out matrimonial and other expenses which are theirs" and that the king took over the canonical confirmation of the bishops, a task that previously corresponded to the pope. However, the decree was not in force for long, since the new pope, Pius VII, was elected in March 1800 at a cardinal conclave held in Venice and refused to accept it.

The attempt by Jovellanos, secretary of Justice, to diminish the powers that the Inquisition assigned to the bishops, following Episcopalian thinking, was also unsuccessful, since it was not supported by Charles IV. The secretary was removed from office and prevented from leaving his native Asturias. The same fate befell other prominent illuminists such as Juan Meléndez Valdés, who was banished first to Medina del Campo and then to Zamora, or José Antonio Mon y Velarde, count of Pinar and friend of Jovellanos, who was sent into retirement with half his salary.

The most serious problem Urquijo had to face and which led to his downfall were relations with the French republic, especially after the creation of the Second anti-French Coalition, again led by the kingdom of Britain and into which Naples had entered. The coalition pressured Urquijo to end Spain's pact with France and join it, notably through the British occupation of Minorca in September 1798. Another important episode was the Coup of November 18, 1799, after which Napoleon Bonaparte assumed power in France and, as the Directory had already done, pressured Urquijo to let the French army supported by the Spanish army pass through his territories to invade Portugal, the base of the British fleet operating in the Mediterranean, and which was also blockading the strategic port of Cadiz. Urquijo, who was against the invasion of Portugal, tried to pursue the diplomatic route to get Portugal and France to sign a peace treaty, but failed. He also ordered the Spanish fleet that was anchored in the French port of Brest to return and opposed the appointment of Luciano Bonaparte as plenipotentiary in Spain, which led to the fact that finally, on December 3, 1800, Napoleon forced Charles IV to dismiss Urquijo and replace him with Manuel de Godoy. His downfall was also related to the fact that the king wished to improve Spain's relations with the Catholic Church after the "Urquijo schism" - a name given by the more conservative sectors of the Spanish episcopate to the decree of September 5, 1799 and which also accused the secretary of being a Jansenist. Finally, Godoy himself also conspired against Urquijo, warning the kings regarding the supposed danger he posed to the monarchy - "I see the kingdom moved" - and the lack of response from those "who govern it."

In December 1800, Godoy returned to power, not as secretary of state, but with strengthened authority, having received the title of Generalissimo de Armas y Mar the following year, which placed him above all other ministers. One of his first measures was to persecute the illuminists and reformists who had supported Urquijo's government, having allied himself with the anti-illuminist clergy that made up the majority of the Spanish church at that time and appointed the reactionary José Antonio Caballero secretary of justice to achieve this. In this campaign, he had the support of the queen who was advised by her confessor, Múzquiz. In a private letter, he stated:

To justify the persecution, the reactionary myth of the Jansenist and philosophical conspiracy was used again, which was promoted mainly by the former Jesuit Lorenzo Hervás y Panduro, thanks to his work "Causes of the French Revolution". The main victim of the anti-Enlightenment offensive was Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos, sentenced to prison without any judicial process in Majorca in April 1801. He was to remain in prison until April 1808, a month after the Aranjuez mutiny that dictated Godoy's final fall. Many other "henchmen", as Godoy called Jovellanos and Urquijo, accused of Janenism and harmful opinions, were banished - as in the case of Jovellanos, he remained ostracized for the next seven years.

To fulfill Napoleon's wishes defined in the Treaty of Madrid -followed by the Aranjuez Agreement and the later Treaty of Aranjuez-, Godoy started a war against Portugal, which Urquijo had opposed. The declaration of war was made official on February 27, 1801, preceded by an ultimatum urging the regent of Portugal to close ports to British ships; however, fighting only began on May 19. Thus began the so-called "War of the Oranges", named after the fact that Godoy sent the queen a bunch of Portuguese oranges as an obeisance. However, the war lasted only three weeks, since, after the Spanish troops conquered Olivenza and Jurumenha and after the sieges of Elvas and Campo Maior, peace negotiations began that were quickly concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Badajoz on June 8. In this treaty, the kingdom of Portugal committed itself to close its ports to English ships and ceded the Olivenza square to the Spanish monarchy. However, Napoleon was not pleased with the treaty, since he wanted a continuous war until the complete conquest of Portugal. It was at this time that Napoleon began to distrust Manuel de Godoy. In America, during the "War of the Oranges", the Portuguese conquest of the Eastern Missions took place.

Between the declaration of war on Portugal and its effective beginning, Godoy and the French ambassador, Luciano Bonaparte, signed on March 21, 1801, the Treaty of Aranjuez, which extended the Treaty of San Ildefonso, signed by Urquijo in October of the previous year, in which it was accepted that the duchy of Parma would pass into Napoleon's domain, compensating Duke Ferdinand I of Parma with the Duchy of Tuscany, whose sovereign, Ferdinand III, Grand Duke of Tuscany, had been forced to abandon under the Treaty of Lunéville signed on February 9, 1801 between France and the Holy Roman-German Empire, which became the new Kingdom of Etruria. Napoleon also obtained the Louisiana territory from Spain, which was sold by the French to the United States, which also strengthened its military collaboration with France.

In March 1802, the war of the Second Coalition ended and with it the Anglo-Spanish war with the signing of the Treaty of Amiens between the French Republic and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Under the terms of the treaty, Minorca came back under Spanish sovereignty, but Britain kept the island of Trinidad in the Caribbean.

Second war against Great Britain

The Peace of Amiens was short-lived, as in May 1803 a new war broke out between France and Britain. This time, Godoy tried to keep the Spanish monarchy neutral by seeking the support of the Russian Empire, the Austrian Empire and the Kingdom of Naples, despite the bad relations that King Charles IV had with his brother Ferdinand IV of Naples. When this initiative failed, Godoy "bought" the neutrality of the Spanish monarchy by signing a treaty of subsidy by which the Spanish government pledged to pay six million pounds a month to collaborate with the French war effort and to allow the ships of the French armada to be delivered to Spanish ports. However, Napoleon needed the Spanish armada to carry out his project of invading Britain - "dominating the 24 hours of the Channel" - until he reached the English coast. So when payments began to fall behind schedule, Godoy had no choice but to revive the alliance with France in December 1804. According to Enrique Giménez, Gogoy's change of attitude was also influenced by the promise made by Napoleon, who had proclaimed himself emperor shortly before, that he would offer him a kingdom in the Portuguese provinces. Another event that may have influenced this decision, according to Rosa Mª Capel and José Cepeda, was the impromptu attack, known as the Battle of Cape Santa Maria, in October 1804, in which a fleet of four frigates from the Rio de la Plata commanded by José de Bustamante y Guerra and Diego de Alvear y Ponce de León was attacked by British ships, without any of the parties having sent a declaration of war.

In July 1805, the first battle between the Franco-Spanish and British fleets took place, known as the Battle of Cape Finisterre, which ended with an uncertain outcome. However, it was on October 20, 1805 that the decisive confrontation took place: the Battle of Trafalgar. The British fleet, commanded by Admiral Nelson, met the French-Spanish fleet, commanded by Admiral Villenueve, near Cape Trafalgar, opposite Cadiz, and defeated it completely, despite the slight naval superiority of the enemy. According to Enrique Giménez, the defeat at the Battle of Trafalgar can be explained due to the "insufficient preparation of the French-Spanish crews and the mediocrity of French Admiral Villenueve, who ignored the indications of the Spanish sailors, along with the naval tactics of English Admiral Horatio Nelson, a man who revolutionized maritime warfare." "The British battle fleet attacked the Franco-Spanish fleet in the center and in the rear, dividing the line of Villeneuve in two and successively beating the enemy naval blocks, first in the rear and soon after in the vanguard. Thus Nelson's slight numerical inferiority was reversed (...) Only 9 of the 33 Allied ships returned, in poor condition, to Cadiz and 4,500 French and Spanish sailors died." In the battle Admiral Nelson himself also died, along with Spanish captains Cosme Damián Churruca, Federico Gravina and Dionisio Alcalá Galiano.

By losing part of its fleet at Trafalgar, the Spanish monarchy was unable to defend its empire in the Americas, although both the British invasions of the Rio de la Plata of 1806 and 1807 failed to consolidate and British troops were forced to leave Buenos Aires, occupied between June and August 1806, and Montevideo, occupied between February and July 1807.

British domination of the Atlantic caused Spanish commercial trade to be completely broken. For example, the 969,000 arrobas of sugar that were unloaded in Cadiz in 1804 were reduced to only 1,216 in 1807. For this reason, the country was plunged into an even more serious economic crisis than the one experienced during the period 1796-1802: commercial and insurance companies in Cadiz closed again, as well as manufacturing companies in Catalonia. Even more serious was the crisis of the Royal Treasury, since shipments of precious materials ended - in 1807 not a single ship with gold or silver arrived - and customs bonds were displaced, making it impossible to pay the interest on royal bonds and the salaries of officials. To lessen the impact of an imminent bankruptcy of the royal treasury, King Charles IV requested the pope's permission to sell the seventh part of the ecclesiastical goods, which was granted on December 12, 1806.

French Occupation

After the Trafalgar disaster, the criticism against Godoy became more widespread, while his unpopularity increased to the point of making him the most hated personality in the monarchy. The rejection of Godoy was reinforced by a "satirical, crude, denigrating, and deeply reactionary" campaign - in the words of historian Emilio La Parra - against him and the queen, orchestrated by the Prince of Asturias, Ferdinand, in collaboration with much of the nobility and clergy, who had their own motives for ending Godoy - "the nobility, the nobility wanted to put an end to an outsider who had usurped the place reserved for them, and the clergy, who had their own reasons to put an end to Godoy - "the nobility wished to put an end to an outsider who had usurped their place, and the clergy to put an end to the doubt regarding ecclesiastical immunity, that is, those who dared to demand certain contributions from the church and even dared to use their property to meet the needs of the state. - The prince had a 30-page color brochure printed with profane and denigrating depictions of Godoy and the queen -and also of the king, implicitly- which he gave to a large group of aristocrats in December 1806 as a gift on Christmas Eve. The engravings were accompanied by quatrains or verses that criticized Godoy in a fierce and gaudy way, calling him a "chouriceiro", "prince of raisins", "duke of the cockerel", "knight of vulgarity", "holder of everything" (...) and it was claimed that his position was due to his love affair with the queen "Luísa Trovejante". Two examples of these "ingenious" quatrains are as follows:

The intentions of the crown-prince - supported by his preceptor and canon Juan Escóiquiz, a great partisan of an alliance with Napoleon - and of the "Fernandino party" that supported him - the outstanding members being the duke of Infantado, the duke of San Carlos, the marquis of Ayerbe, the count of Orgaz, the count of Teba, the count of Montarco, and the count of Bornos - became known when in October 1807 the so-called "Conspiracy of El Escorial" was discovered, whose aim was to destroy Godoy and make King Carlos IV abdicate in favor of Ferdinand. According to Enrique Giménez, the event that had provoked this conspiracy had been the granting of the title "Serene Highness" to Godoy by Charles IV, a title that was only reserved for members of the royal family. "For Ferdinand and his party, the decision was seen as the beginning of a conjuncture aimed at removing Ferdinand from the line of succession to the throne and appointing Godoy as regent upon the death of Charles IV, a very likely outcome, since the king was very ill during the autumn of 1806, and it was feared for his life."

When the conspiracy with the "most infamous and unusual plan" of all time was discovered, in Charles IV's words, he ordered all the names involved to be banished, some of whom already knew what offices they would be given once Ferdinand was proclaimed king. The Prince of Asturias was sentenced to house arrest and masses of thanksgiving were ordered. However, on the advice of his confessor, Felix Amat, the king pardoned his son Ferdinand, which reinforced the idea spread by the conjurers that the "conspiracy of El Escorial" had been a farce promoted by Godoy to discredit the Prince of Asturias and have him take Ferdinand's place on the throne. This "theory" was reinforced when the judges appointed by the Council of Castile acquitted the nobles implicated in the conspiracy.

Thus, in a paradoxical way, Prince Ferdinand came out of the conspiracy strengthened, being seen as a victim of his mother's ambition and her perverse favorite, and those who ended up being most affected were Godoy, the queen and the "weak" Carlos IV. The Prince of Asturias did not let the second chance he had to take the throne slip away in March of the following year.

On the same day that the "conspiracy of El Escorial" was discovered (October 27, 1807), Napoleon and the Spanish court signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau, which agreed on the occupation of Portugal by French and Spanish troops and the dismemberment of the Portuguese kingdom into three states, one of which, the southern one, called "Principality of the Algarves", would be governed by Manuel de Godoy, and all three would recognize the king of Spain as "protector". Napoleon's interest in Portugal was related to his desire to complete the continental blockade that had been decreed in November 1806 and was intended to destroy the British economy, preventing it from trading with the rest of Europe. According to some historians, this plan was not as unreasonable as it seemed, since when the anti-French insurrection broke out in Spain in the spring and summer of 1808, the City's bankers and merchants were on the edge of a slump. On October 18, 1807, before the treaty was even signed, French troops began crossing the border into Portugal. A month later, General Junot entered Lisbon and French and Spanish troops occupied the entire territory of Portugal within days - a few days earlier, the Portuguese royal family left Lisbon for Rio de Janeiro, their colony in Brazil, where they established their court-.

After conquering Portugal, the time had come to make the Treaty of Fontainebleau public since, until then, it had remained secret, and to proceed with the division of the kingdom, as had been agreed upon. However, Napoleon began to avoid the subject, despite repeated requests from Charles IV. The reason for the silence was that Napoleon had decided to intervene in Spain and incorporate the Spanish provinces in the north into France, placing the new border between Spain and France at the Ebro. To this end, on December 6, 1807, he gave orders for an army to cross the Pyrenees to unite his force with that of the armies already on the peninsula. Then, on January 28, 1808, he gave unequivocal orders for French troops to proceed to the military occupation of Spain. By February, there was an army of 100,000 French soldiers in Spain, supposedly from "allies." Godoy and King Charles IV were well aware of Napoleon's intentions when, on February 16, French troops treacherously occupied the citadel of Pamplona and then did the same in Barcelona on March 5.

Godoy immediately began preparations for the departure of the kings to southern Spain and, if necessary, put them aboard a ship that would take them to the American colonies, as the Portuguese royal family had done. However, the Prince of Asturias and his supporters intervened to stop these plans and prevent the kings from leaving the court, since they were convinced that Napoleon's intervention in Spain was aimed at ousting Godoy and facilitating the passing of the crown from Charles IV to his son, Ferdinand, without further consequences. Thus, the "Mutiny of Aranjuez" of March 17-19, 1808, was set in motion.

The "popular" mutiny of Aranjuez was prepared consciously by the "Fernandino party". The garrison was changed on March 16 so that it was commanded by officers loyal to the new conjuncture and "an indeterminate number of rioters were transferred from Madrid to the Sítio Real who were duly rewarded by the organizers, among whom was again the Count of Teba, who used the false name of Uncle Pedro for this occasion."

On Wednesday, March 16, 1808, in the streets of Aranjuez, where the court was gathered, some newspapers appeared with phrases such as "Long live the king and may Godoy's head fall to the ground" or "Long live the king, long live the prince of Asturias, may Godoy's dog die". The next day, in the evening, the "popular" riot broke out and the royal palace was surrounded by a crowd and soldiers to prevent the supposed trip of the royal family. At the same time, Godoy's palace was attacked and looted-Godoy was arrested and sent to prison in Villaviciosa castle. Under pressure from the riots, on March 18, Charles IV signed Godoy's letter of dismissal and then, on the 19th, abdicated in favor of his son Ferdinand (VII). "It was an unusual event to see a monarch forced to abdicate by an important part of the aristocracy and the crown prince," says Enrique Giménez.

The fall of Godoy and the accession to the throne of Ferdinand VII was greeted with great celebrations. While puppets of Godoy were burned and satirical writings spread, King Ferdinand was extolled as a kind of liberator or Messiah: "Spain has already risen

One of the first measures taken by Ferdinand VII was to promise Napoleon a closer collaboration and to ask the inhabitants of Madrid to welcome Marshal Murat's troops that were in the vicinity of the city as friendly forces. The army made its entry into the "villa y corte" on March 23. Following the instructions he had received from Napoleon, Murat forced the new king to place his parents under his protection, "which supposed that, in case it was convenient for Napoleon's interests, Charles IV could be restored to the throne, which forced Ferdinand to strive to gain the support of the emperor who had obtained his throne by such inadequate means."

After the Mutiny of Aranjuez, Napoleon changed his plans to break up the Spanish monarchy by annexing it to his empire, exchanging the Bourbon dynasty for a member of his family "since he found it impossible to put Charles IV back on the throne, an idea that went against the opinion of the majority of the population, and he did not wish to recognize Ferdinand VII who had revolted against his father."

To carry out his plan, he summoned the entire Spanish royal family to meet with him at Bayona, including Godoy who was released by the French on April 27, the same date on which, in Madrid, news broke of King Ferdinand VII's trip to the border to speak with Napoleon. At Bayona, both Ferdinand VII and Charles IV showed little resistance to Napoleon's plans to give the throne of Spain to a member of his family and, in less than eight days, abdicated the Spanish crown in his favor. All these agreements became official with the signing of the Treaty of Bayona on May 5 between Charles IV and Napoleon Bonaparte. In this treaty, the former king ceded to Napoleon his rights to the Spanish crown on two conditions: that the territory of the country be kept intact and that the Catholic religion be recognized as the only religion. Days later they signed their renunciation of the rights of succession that concerned not only King Ferdinand but also his brother, Infante Carlos Maria Isidro and their uncle, Infante Don Antonio. The historian La Parra explains the ease with which the Bayona abdications occurred as follows:

Napoleon justified the change of dynasty as follows in a decree published in the Gaceta de Madrid on June 5, in which he also communicated the convocation of the Assembly of Bayona:

On June 5, 1808, Napoleon ceded his rights to the throne of Spain to his brother Joseph, with the sanction of the King of Naples. A few days earlier, on May 24, the official newspaper, La Gaceta de Madrid, had published a call for an assembly of the three estamentos of the kingdom (with 50 deputies representing each of them) to be held in Bayona on June 15 to approve a constitution for the monarchy. However, when the date arrived, only 65 representatives turned up, as a widespread anti-French insurrection had broken out in Spain that did not recognize the "Bayona abdications." The so-called "Constitution of Bayona" was eventually approved and was the superior legal norm that governed the monarchy of Joseph I during his four-year reign. It recognized certain liberal principles such as the suppression of privileges, economic freedom, individual liberties, and a certain freedom of the press.

During the years that followed, the Spanish royal family lived under the protection of the French emperor. Charles IV, Queen Maria Louise, and Infant Francis of Paula, always accompanied by Godoy, took up residence in Rome, after passing through Alix-en-Provence and Marseille. Ferdinand, Charles Marie Isidore, and Don Antonia were imprisoned in the palace of Valençay, where, according to the historian Josep Fontana, "they gave, through writings of the former, the most repulsive proofs of their moral vileness."

From the moment the French troops entered Madrid in late March 1808, incidents occurred between civilians and soldiers and anti-French sentiment grew, especially when the rumor began to spread that French troops were hindering supplies in the capital and when word got out about the king's trip to Bayona and that Godoy had been freed. At the same time, pamphlets were circulated that showed the unease that the presence of the troops was causing, and from their pulpit some clergymen fed this sentiment. This climate of increasing tension resulted in the popular riot of May 2, 1808, when word spread that the rest of the royal family was also moving to Bayona. However, today the possibility that the revolt was organized in advance by some artillery officers, particularly Velarde, and not something spontaneous, is discussed. What is actually known to have happened was that people from villages near Madrid participated in the anti-French mutiny. The revolt ended with the deaths of 409 people.

Although it is customary to say that the Spanish War of Independence began on May 2, "the decisive revolt occurred when the Gaceta de Madrid, corresponding to May 13 and 20, broke the news of the abdications. From then on, anti-French sentiment spread throughout Spain, and in practically every locality the traditional authorities were replaced by Juntas, made up of prominent personalities in political, social, and economic life. At the same time, military resistance to the French occupation began to be organized. Thus, the French army, which intended to occupy Andalusia, was defeated in the Battle of Bailén (Jaén) on July 22, by an army quickly organized by the Junta de Sevilla and commanded by General Castaños.

The victory of Bailén forced the new king, Joseph I Bonaparte, who had just made his entry into the capital on July 20, to leave Madrid in a hurry on August 1, along with the French armies that had redeployed on the opposite side of the Ebro River. Thus, in the summer of 1808, almost all of Spain was under the authority of the new powers of the Juntas, which, meeting in Aranjuez on September 25, decided not to recognize the change of dynasty and to assume power, appealing to the sovereignty of the people under the name of the Supreme Central and Governing Junta of the Kingdom. This was the beginning of the Spanish Revolution. As the poet Manuel José Quintana said in his work "Last Letter to Lord Holland", "these revolts, this agitation, are but the agonies and convulsions of a State that is fainting".

Napoleon offered Charles IV the palace of Compiègne, 80 km north of Paris, but shortly afterwards the king asked to take up residence in Nice, since the climate of Picardy was increasing the pain caused by gout disease, which had afflicted him for several years. The emperor accepted the move, stressing that it should be at the king's expense, thus failing to keep his promise to compensate the monarch financially. The Spanish kings could not find lodging in Nice and, sunk in debt, settled in Marseille. However, it did not take long before Napoleon sent Charles, his wife and his court to the Borghese palace in Rome, in which they settled in the summer of 1812.

When Napoleon fell in 1814, Charles and Louise moved to the Palazzo Barberini, also in Rome, where they stayed for almost four years, living off the pension that their son Ferdinand, who had meanwhile regained the throne of Spain, sent them. Nevertheless, he did not give his parents permission to return to his country. Charles traveled to Naples to visit his brother, King Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies, and to try to alleviate the gout that tormented him, leaving his wife in bed in Rome with broken legs and an extremely deteriorated state of health. After receiving extreme unction on January 1, 1819, Louise died the next day.

After learning of his wife's death, Charles began preparing to return to Rome. However, on January 13, he suffered an attack of gout with fever from which he never recovered, dying on January 19, 1819.

Charles IV married Princess Maria Louise of Parma, by whom he had the following children:


  1. Charles IV of Spain
  2. Carlos IV de Espanha
  3. La Parra López, E. (2002): Manuel Godoy: la aventura del poder; Rúspoli, E. (2004): Godoy: La lealtad de un gobernante ilustrado.
  4. Giménez López, Enrique (1996). pp. 18–26
  5. Giménez López, Enrique (1996). pp. 16–18
  6. Giménez López, Enrique (1996). pp. 18–26.
  7. Zavala, José María. «Bastardos y Borbones». Archivado desde el original el 19 de enero de 2015. Consultado el 17 de enero de 2015.
  8. La Parra López, E. (2002): Manuel Godoy: la aventura del poder; Rúspoli, E. (2004): Godoy: La lealtad de un gobernante ilustrado.
  9. R. Capel Martínez et J. Cepeda Gómez (2006), p. 294-297.
  10. La Parra López, E. (2002): Manuel Godoy: la aventura del poder; Rúspoli, E. (2004): Godoy: La lealtad de un gobernante ilustrado.
  11. ^ Lynch, John. Bourbon Spain, 1700–1808. Basil Blackwell 1989, p. 375
  12. ^ Lynch, "Charles IV and the Crisis of Bourbon Spain", Chapter 10, Bourbon Spain.
  13. ^ "Charles IV of Spain and His Family hides a rulers caricature". Hypercritic. Retrieved 19 March 2023.
  14. ^ Almanach royal, p 34
  15. ^ a b Stanley G. Payne, History of Spain of Portugal, Vol 2, University of Wisconsin Press., 1973, ISBN 978-0-299-06284-2, page 415

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