Charles III of Spain

From Roses, Tulips, & Liberty
Charles III
King of Spain
Reign1 November 1700 – 22 February 1749
Coronation13 December 1700
PredecessorCharles II
SuccessorCharles IV
BornCharles Francis Joseph
21 March 1680
Vienna, Austria
Died22 February 1749
Madrid, Spain
Burial27 February 1749
El Escorial
SpouseBeatriz, Duchess of Camiña
Charles IV
Infanta Anna
FatherLeopold I, Holy Roman Emperor
MotherEleonore Magdalene of Neuburg
ReligionRoman Catholicism

Charles III (Spanish: Carlos, German: Karl; 21 March 1680 – 22 February 1749) was King of Spain for nearly half a century from 1700 for 1749. Originally born a Habsburg archduke of Austria, he ascended to the Spanish throne at twenty years of age.

Early life

Charles Francis Joseph Wenceslaus Balthasar John Anthony Ignatius was born the second son of Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor and Princess Eleonore Magdalene of Neuburg on 21 March 1687. The death of Maria Antonia of Austria in 1685 transferred her claim on the Spanish throne onto the five-year-old Charles. Soon, he had his rights to the Spanish throne secured by legal contract. Throughout his childhood, he was vigorously educated by Anton Florian, Prince of Liechtenstein. The young Charles studied German, Latin, Italian, and Spanish while taking a deep interest in music and architecture.

In anticipation of his accession to the Spanish throne, his family arranged for him to take on a Spanish wife. While in Madrid in early 1700, he met Beatriz, Duchess of Camiña, of the noble Portocarrero family. A few months after, the couple had wed in Andalusia.


Upon the proclamation of Charles III as King of Spain, he swore on a pacta familiae with his brother Archduke Joseph Jacob and their father Leopold I, Holy Roman Emperor. The pact effectively distinguished the Austrian and Spanish branches of the Habsburg dynasty from each other, with Leopold and Joseph renouncing their rights to the Spanish throne and Charles his to the throne of Austria. If one branch went extinct in the male line, the two realms would fuse into one. Lastly, Charles pledged to 'conserve the rights and privileges of all kingdoms and provinces, communes and regions, within the Spanish dominions'.

His ascension on 1 November 1700 was sanctioned by Britain, France, the Netherlands, Austria, and eventually the Kingdom of Spain, as was agreed upon in the Treaty of Nîmes. The Treaty also required the Spanish possessions of Milan, Naples, Sicily, and Sardinia to be transferred to Bourbon France, ending the Spanish Crown's dominance in Italy. The loss of the Kingdom of Naples in particular, one of the most profitable Spanish domains, had a significantly negative economic impact on the Crown.

Throughout his life and particularly in his early reign, the King maintained same-sex relationships with several male courtiers and servants. In particular, he cherished his romantic bond with his Grand Equerry, the Marquis of Laconi. His wife, Queen Beatriz, reportedly felt incredibly lonely and neglected, leading to her conducting her own affairs with palace staff. Despite their estrangement, they produced a child on 5 February 1714 who would become Charles IV of Spain. In 1717, the Queen gave birth to a girl known as Infanta Anna. However, she died a few months old, a tragic event that greatly traumatized members of the royal family and caused the rift between the King and Queen to widen beyond repair.

A proponent of Spanish imperialism, the King extensively encouraged migration to the sparsely populated colony of Florida. Along with Spanish migrants, a number of German-speaking colonists from Austria arrived in Florida during the early 18th century. Additionally, by the recommendation of Catalan lawyer Narcís Feliu de la Penya, Charles III fostered strong commercial ties between the Crown of Aragon and Florida. These ties remained intact for centuries as is evident in the thousands of Floridians of Catalan descent and Catalan influence on modern Floridian culture and cuisine. In commemoration of his affection for the peninsula, the city of San Carlos de Austria in western Florida was named for Charles III in 1719.

Charles' primary power base lay in not Castille but in the Principality of Catalonia. Catalan elites and merchants had for long established a mutual agreement with the King; the region would retain its autonomy and would be allowed to expand its commercial economy beyond the borders of Spain in return for political support. In order to appease his allies as well as his adversaries, the King sought to remodel and redefine Spain in the image of Habsburg Austria — a multiethnic empire consisting of various naciones (Castille, Aragon, Navarre, and Galicia) united under one monarch and one faith.

Death and legacy

After his death, the King would be mockingly described with the phrase «Vino con cesiones, se fue con cesiones» ('Came with concessions, left with concessions'), referring to the transfer of Spain's Italian possessions to France in 1700 and the sale of Carolina to Britain in 1755. Despite being loathed by several sectors of Spanish society, he was beloved by many, particularly the subjects of the Crown of Aragon. A popular Catalan rhyme spread among the peasantry upon his ascension to the throne that is still remembered today.

Dictar vull una canço

dell fill del Emperador

Carlos, arxiduch d’Austria

Per cert que es bell senyor

bonich, virtuos y molt bo

vingut d’Alemanya?


See also