Charles III, king of Spain, and of Naples and Sicily

Charles III, 1716–88, king of Spain (1759–88) and of Naples and Sicily (1735–59), son of Philip V and Elizabeth Farnese. Recognized as duke of Parma and Piacenza in 1731, he relinquished the duchies to Austria after Spain reconquered (1734) Naples and Sicily in the War of the Polish Succession. His reign in Naples was beneficent. In 1759 he succeeded his half-brother, Ferdinand VI, to the Spanish throne, Naples and Sicily passing to his third son, Ferdinand (later Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies). Charles at first was neutral in the Seven Years War, but after concluding the Family Compact of 1761 with France, he involved Spain in the war in time to share France's defeat. By the Treaty of Paris of 1763 he ceded Florida to England but received Louisiana from France. Territorial disputes with Portugal in the Río de la Plata region were settled by the Treaty of San Ildefonso (1777). In the American Revolution, Charles entered (1779) the war on the American side and by the Treaty of Paris of 1783 regained Florida and Minorca. Spain prospered under the rule of Charles, who is regarded as the greatest Bourbon king of Spain and one of the “enlightened despots.” His reign is noted for economic and administrative reforms and for the expulsion of the Jesuits (1767). Charles was ably assisted by Aranda, Floridablanca, Campomanes, and Jovellanos. He was succeeded by his son Charles IV.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Spanish and Portuguese History: Biographies