1902 Encyclopedia > Charles IV of Spain

Charles IV
King of Spain

CHARLES IV. (1748-1819), king of Spain, was the son of Charles III., whom he succeeded in 1788. He was married while very young to his cousin, Maria Louisa of Parma, who soon acquired the greatest influence over him. His most remarkable minister was Manuel Godoy, a good looking guardsman, who gained the friendship of both the queen and her husband, rose from the ranks to the position of lieutenant-general, and was made duke of Alcudia, and minister of foreign affairs. In 1795 Godoy concluded a treaty of peace with the French Benublic at Basel, after an unsuccessful attempt by the king to aid his relative, Louis XVI. Soon after the peace an offensive and defen-sive alliance was entered into with France; and Spain was thus involved in a short war with Portugal and a longer struggle with England, during which Nelson shattered the Spanish fleet at the battle of Trafalgar (1805). In 1807 Charles made a secret treaty with Napoleon, according to which Portugal was to be seized by the French and Spaniards, and the greater part divided between Godoy and the queen of Etruria, and Charles was to assume the title of emperor of America. At the same time 16,000 Spanish troops were sent to assist the French in Denmark. Meanwhile Napoleon also carried on intrigues with Don Ferdinand, the heir to the throne, who was soon after discovered in a plot to assassinate his father. Though pardoned, Ferdinand continued to do all that he could to arouse ill feeling against the court ; and in 1808 Charles was so alarmed by disturbances in Madrid, that he abdicated in his favour. He declared almost immediately that the act was not voluntary; but the matter was decided by a meeting with Napoleon at Bayonne. Urged by Godoy, who was moved by his fear of Ferdinand, and also by the queen, Charles surrendered the crown to Napoleon, who gave him a pension of 6,000,000 francs with the castle and grounds of Chambord; and from that time he lived in retirement with his wife and the favourite, refusing to return to the throne, even when he might have done so with safety on account of the great unpopularity of his son. He died at Borne, soon after the decease of his wife, in 1819.

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