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Fernando VI (September 23, 1713 – August 10, 1759), was King of Spain from July 9, 1746 until his death. He was the third ruler of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. He was the son of the previous monarch, Felipe V, and his first wife Maria Luisa of Savoy, the third daughter and second surviving child of Victor Amadeus II, Duke of Savoy and Anne Marie of Orléans, the youngest daughter of Philippe I, Duke of Orléans and Princess Henrietta of England.

In her youth, Maria Luisa Gabriella was described as “intelligent, playful, and fun-loving” and had received an excellent education. She remained close to her older sister Maria Adelaide, who later married Louis, Duke of Burgundy, the eldest grandson of Louis XIV, and the mother of Louis XV.

Early life

Born at the Royal Alcázar of Madrid, Fernando endured a lonely childhood. His stepmother, the domineering Elisabeth Farnese, had no affection except for her own children, and looked upon Fernando as an obstacle to their fortunes. The hypochondria of his father left Elisabeth mistress of the palace.

Fernando VI, King of Spain

Fernando was by temperament melancholic, shy and distrustful of his own abilities. When complimented on his shooting, he replied, “It would be hard if there were not something I could do.” Shooting and music were his only pleasures, and he was the generous patron of the famous singer Farinelli, whose voice soothed his melancholy.


Fernando was married in 1729 to Infanta Barbara of Portugal, daughter of João V of Portugal and Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria, she was the eleventh child and seventh daughter of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor (1640–1705) by his third wife, Eleonor Magdalene of Neuburg (1655–1720). Two of her brothers, Joseph and Charles later became emperors. Through Charles, she was an aunt of Empress Maria Theresa, the only woman to ever rule the Habsburg dominions in her own right.


When Fernando came to the throne in 1746, Spain found itself in the War of the Austrian Succession, which ended with little benefit for Spain. He started his reign by eliminating the influence of his stepmother and her group of Italian courtiers. As king he followed a steady policy of neutrality in the conflict between France and Great Britain and refused to be tempted by the offers of either into declaring war on the other.

Infanta Barbara of Portugal

Prominent figures during his reign were Marquis of Ensenada, a Francophile; and José de Carvajal y Lancáster, a supporter of the alliance with Great Britain. The fight between both ended in 1754 with the death of Carvajal and the fall of Ensenada, after which Ricardo Wall became the most powerful advisor to the monarch.

Fernando VI’s reign proved peaceful, as he avoided involving of Spain in any European conflicts. Moderate changes to Spain were initiated under the king, including reforms of taxation, advance commerce, and the Spanish navy, as well as a ban on freemasonry.

However, the last years of Fernando VI’s reign were marked by mental instability, much like his direct predecessor Felipe V. Upon his death, Fernando VI was succeeded by his half-brother, who became King Carlos III.

Carlos III (January 20, 1716 – December 1788) was King of Spain (1759–1788). Prior to his accession as the King of Spain he also was Duke of Parma and Piacenza, as Carlo I (1731–1735); King of Naples, as Carlo VII, and King of Sicily, as Carlo V (1734–1759).

Carlos III was the fifth son of King Felipe V of Spain, and the eldest son of Felipe V’s second wife, Elisabeth Farnese. A proponent of enlightened absolutism and regalism.