Ferdinand VII of Spain

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Ferdinand VII (14 October 1784 – 29 September 1833) was twice King of Spain: in 1808 and from 1813 to 1833 — the latter period in dispute with Joseph Bonaparte. He was known as "Ferdinand the Desired".


Early life

The eldest surviving son of Charles IV, King of Spain, and of his wife Maria Luisa of Parma, Ferdinand was born in the vast palace of El Escorial near Madrid.

In his youth he occupied the painful position of an heir apparent who was jealously excluded from all share in government by his parents and the royal favorite Manuel de Godoy. National discontent with a feeble government produced a revolution in 1805. In October 1807, Ferdinand was arrested for his complicity in the Conspiracy of the Escorial in which liberal reformers aimed at securing the help of the emperor Napoleon. When the conspiracy was discovered, Ferdinand betrayed his associates and grovelled to his parents.

Abdication and restoration

When his father's abdication was extorted by a popular riot at Aranjuez in March 1808, he ascended the throne[1] but turned again to Napoleon, in the hope that the emperor would support him. He was in his turn forced to make an abdication on 6 May 1808[2] but his father had relinquished his rights to the Spanish throne on 5 May 1808 (the previous day) in favour of Emperor Napoleon,[3] so Ferdinand effectively had given the throne to Napoleon. Napoleon kept Ferdinand under guard in France for six years at the Chateau of Valençay.

While the upper echelons of the Spanish government accepted his abdication and Napoleon's choice of new monarch, his brother Joseph Bonaparte, the Spanish people did not. Uprisings broke out throughout the country, marking the beginning of the Peninsular War. Provincial juntas were established, since the central government had acknowledged Joseph. After the Battle of Bailén proved that the Spanish could resist the French, the Council of Castile reversed itself and declared null and void the abdications of Bayonne on 11 August 1808.[4] Several days later, on 24 August, Ferdinand VII was proclaimed king of Spain again,[5] and negotiations between the Council and the provincial juntas for the establishment of a Supreme Central Junta were completed. Subsequently, on 14 January, British government acknowledged Ferdinand VII as king of Spain.[6]

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