Charles IV. King of Spain


King of Spain from 1788 to 1808, fifth monarch of the House of Bourbon. Son of Carlos III and María Amalia of Saxony, his reign marked the start of the crisis of the Ancien Régime in Spain. From the beginning of his reign, both the foreign and home policies of Carlos IV were marked by the shadow of the French Revolution as well as by the influence of the Prime Minister, Manuel Godoy, who dominated the Spanish political scene of those years. This was an unstable time when the need to develop reform policies in the country and its institutions were in conflict with the powers of the privileged classes and the Council of Castile. Fear of – and submission to – Napoleonic France and the conflict with Great Britain brought about not only military disasters such as the Battle of Cape Santa María (1804), which led to the sinking of the frigate Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes and Battle of Trafalgar (1805), but also the financial chaos of the Treasury. This increased the unpopularity of the King and his minister Godoy, culminating in the Revolt of Aranjuez (March 1808) that forced Charles IV to abdicate in favour of his son, Ferdinand VII.