Spain 1700-1714 Spain 1759-1788

Spain under the Bourbon Dynasty : 1714-1759

A.) The Bourbon Dynasty, Spanish Line

The Treaties of Utrecht (1713) and Rastatt (1714) concluded the War of Spanish Succession and recognized the succession of Philip V (Felipe V.) to the Spanish crown, the establishment of the Bourbon Dynasty in Spain.
Felipe V. abdicated in 1724 in favour of his son Luis who died shortly after, so that Felipe V. resumed rule. He suffered from depression and was dependent on his second wife, Elizabeth Farnese, who was behind Spain's policy of recovering territory in Spain to create monarchies for her sons (they were not likely to inherit Spain, as Philip V. had sons from his first marriage). In 1746 Felipe V. died and was succeeded by his son Fernando VI.

B.) Spanish Foreign Policy

In the War of Spanish Succession, Spain, while holding on to her colonial empire, lost her European possessions outside Spain - the Southern Netherlands, Milan, Naples, Sardinia to Austria, Sicily to Savoy-Piemont, Obergeldern to Prussia. Sardinia, Sicily and Naples had been under the rule of Aragon, and in her succession, under Spain, for centuries. In these countries, many still sympathized with the Spanish, while the new masters enjoyed little support.
King Philip V.'s minister Cardinal Alberoni promoted a scheme which involved not only the recovery of southern Italy, but even the Dynastic Union of France and Spain under Philip V.; a Spanish fleet retook Sardinia in 1717, landed a force on Sicily in 1718. Now, Britain, France, the Netherlands and Austria concluded the Quadruple Alliance in order to block Spanish ambitions. The brief War of the Quadruple Alliance ended with a Spanish defeat; Spain again had to concede the loss of her territories in Italy (Treaty of Den Haag, 1720).
On the outset of the War of Polish Succession, Spain and France signed the first Bourbon Family Compact, an alliance of the states ruled by the Bourbon Dynasty. The Spanish sideline Bourbon-Parma regained Naples and Sicily (1735), but had to cede Parma in return (1738). The War of Austrian Succession again saw France and Spain as allies; Parma was regained, for yet another sideline of the Spanish Bourbon Dynasty (1748). The Bourbon Family Compact had established a stable political alliance in an age when political alliances were notoriously instable. For Spain, it had been a very successful policy.
In 1753, Spain and the Holy See concluded a concordate, which granted the Spanish King the right to appoint bishops in Spain (thus extending to the King of Spain a right the King of France claimed since the Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges, 1438)..

C.) Domestic Development

The War of Spanish Succession had shown how fragile the Spanish state was; while Castile enthusiastically supported Philip of Anjou, Aragon, Catalonia and Valencia had supported Archduke Charles III. of Austria. In retribution, the autonomy of Catalonia, Valencia and Aragon was cancelled. Spain, with the exception of Navarra and the Basque country, was now centralized; the Castilian CORTES becoming the nation's parliament.
The state administration underwent a further reform; the power of the Regal Council was broken, in its stead a cabinet, in which Cardinal Alberoni (until his dismissal in 1719) and ministers Ensenada and Floridablanca were the dominant figures.
The Bourbon administration implemented economic reforms which resulted in a new prosperity. Since the end of the War of Spanish Succession, Spain's population grew remarkably, from ca. 8 to 12 million at the end of the century. The port cities of Cadiz and Barcelona prospered especially.

The Bourbon and the Enlightenment, from SiSpain
Bourbons on the Throne, from Camelot
Philip V. of Spain, from Mad Monarchs
Biography of Giulio Alberoni, from Catholic Encyclopedia, from EB 1911
Ferdinand VI. of Spain, from Mad Monarchs
Biography of Elizabeth Farnese, from EB 1911
Spain and the Heritage of Madrid, by David Ringrose, scroll down for II. The Eighteenth Century: Bourbon Revival
DOCUMENTS Correspondence Cardinal Alberoni-King Philip V., 1717, posted by Christian History Institute
Historical Shares : Real Compania de San Fernando de Sevilla 1749, Real Comp. de Comercio Establida en Barcelona, 1756, posted by Auktionshaus Reinhild Tschöpe, comment in German; scroll down
Data on Spanish State Revenue, 1520-1807, posted by ESFDB
REFERENCE Peter Pierson, The History of Spain, Greenwood, 1999, 248 pp.; KMLA Lib.Sign. 946 P624t
Charles C. Noel, 'Barbara succeeds Elizabeth ..' : the Feminisation and Domestication of Politics in the Spanish Mnarchy, 1701-1759, pp.155-185 in : Clarissa Campbell Orr, Queenship in Europe, 1660-1815. The Role of Consort, Cambridge : UP 2004, KMLA Lib.Sign. 940.09 076q

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted in 2000, last revised on February 22nd 2006

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