Spanish version

04. - Carlos III (1716-1788)

Carlos III by MengsCarlos III was the son of Felipe V and his second wife, Isabel de Farnesio.

When his stepbrother, Fernando VI, died, Carlos was King of Naples. He returned to Spain and reigned with the name of Carlos III.

While Carlos had been in Naples he had become very popular there, as had his wife, Maria Amalia de Sajonia. When they had to leave to come to Spain, he abdicated in favour of his third son, Fernando.
During his reign in Naples he promoted the fine arts and science, he was an example of what was called 'Enlightened Absolutism'.

When he came to Spain one of his first problems was the Seven Year´s War, where he fought the British expansion in America.

He also fought with the French against the British during the American War of Independence.

Nevertheless, his foreign policy was not very successful. Where he gained much popularity was in Spain.Carlos III by Goya

Carlos III, still being a king of absolutism, was influenced by enlightment, i.e. a new way of thinking that made kings improve the live of their subjects in order to strengthen their own power.

There was more religious tolerance, and the monarchs promoted the fine arts, science and education.

The Marques de Esquilache was the Chancellor of the Treasury. Due to wars the crown needed more money, which was made by increasing tax and also through the new National Lotery.

In March 1766 the famous Mutiny of Esquilache took place. The king had ordered people to use short capes and the new French hat for security reasons. Due to the liberalization of commerce, the price of food had increased and this last order of the king was a good excuse for a riot. Eventually the rebels got what they wanted: cheaper food, only Spanish ministers and a general amnesty. These Spanish ministers convinced the king that the riot had been organized by the Jesuits. They were expelled from Spain and their properties confiscated. As the Jesuits had had very many schools, this was an opportunity to change the education system that now had to be based on science and investigation.

Maria Amalia de Sajonia by MengsAmong the most important innovations fostered by Carlos III was the building of public works and a network of roads going from Madrid to Valencia, Andalucia, Cataluña and Galicia.
He built many public hospitals, ordered the installaction of street lights and the garbage collection. He was also responsible for monuments like the Cibeles, Neptune, the Puerta de Alcala, the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Prado Museum.
Maybe he was not the best king for Spain, but he was the best mayor for Madrid. He wanted the city to become a real capital and changed its character and its streets.

When he had married Maria Amalia de Sajonia, she had only been thirteen. They had 13 children during their marriage that lasted 23 year, until her death which happened months after becoming queen of Spain. The custom of setting up a Nativity scene on Christmas was introduced in Spain by her.

They say that when she died the king said: "This is the first time Maria Amalia has upset me." Carlos III outlived her 30 years and he never got married again.

@Copyright 2008, 2009 Mª Dolores Diehl Busch. All rights reserved.
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