Ferdinand VI of Spain

Ferdinand VI of Spain

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Ferdinand VI of Spain'
Start a new discussion about 'Ferdinand VI of Spain'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia
Ferdinand VI called the Learnt, was King of Spain from 9 July 1746 until his death. He was the fourth son of the previous monarch Philip V
Philip V of Spain
Philip V was King of Spain from 15 November 1700 to 15 January 1724, when he abdicated in favor of his son Louis, and from 6 September 1724, when he assumed the throne again upon his son's death, to his death.Before his reign, Philip occupied an exalted place in the royal family of France as a...

 and his first wife Maria Luisa of Savoy
Maria Luisa of Savoy
Maria Luisa of Savoy was a Savoyard princess and the first wife of Philip V of Spain. She acted as Regent of Spain and had great influence over her husband...

. Ferdinand, the third member of the Spanish Bourbon
House of Bourbon
The House of Bourbon is a European royal house, a branch of the Capetian dynasty . Bourbon kings first ruled Navarre and France in the 16th century. By the 18th century, members of the Bourbon dynasty also held thrones in Spain, Naples, Sicily, and Parma...

 dynasty, was born in Madrid
Madrid
Madrid is the capital and largest city of Spain. The population of the city is roughly 3.3 million and the entire population of the Madrid metropolitan area is calculated to be 6.271 million. It is the third largest city in the European Union, after London and Berlin, and its metropolitan...

 on 23 September 1713.

Early life


Born at the Royal Alcazar of Madrid
Royal Alcazar of Madrid
The Royal Alcázar of Madrid was a Muslim fortress built in the second half of the 9th century, at the site of today's Royal Palace of Madrid, Madrid, Spain. The structure was extended and enlarged over the centuries, particularly after the 16th century...

, his youth was depressed. His father's second wife, Elisabeth of Parma
Elisabeth of Parma
Elisabeth Farnese , the daughter of Odoardo Farnese and Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg, was Queen consort of Spain who exerted great influence over Spain's foreign policy.-Parma:Elisabeth was born at the Palazzo della Pilotta in Parma, the capital of a duchy which had been ruled by...

, was a domineering woman, who had no affection except for her own children, and who looked upon her stepson as an obstacle to their fortunes. The hypochondria
Hypochondria
Hypochondriasis or hypochondria refers to excessive preoccupation or worry about having a serious illness. This debilitating condition is the result of an inaccurate perception of the body’s condition despite the absence of an actual medication condition...

 of his father left Elisabeth mistress of the palace.

Ferdinand was by temperament melancholy, shy and distrustful of his own abilities. When complimented on his shooting, he replied, "It would be hard if there were not something I could do."

In his life he was orderly and retiring, averse from taking decisions, though not incapable of acting firmly, as when he cut short the dangerous intrigues of his able minister Zenón de Somodevilla y Bengoechea, Marquis of Ensenada
Zenón de Somodevilla y Bengoechea, Marquis of Ensenada
Don Zenón de Somodevilla y Bengoechea , widely known as the Marquis of the Ensenada, was a Spanish statesman.-Early life:...

 by dismissing and imprisoning him. He was called Ferdinand the Learned for his refined pursuits.

Shooting and music were his only pleasures, and he was the generous patron of the famous singer Farinelli
Farinelli
Farinelli , was the stage name of Carlo Maria Broschi, celebrated Italian castrato singer of the 18th century and one of the greatest singers in the history of opera.- Early years :...

, whose voice soothed his melancholy.

Marriage




Ferdinand was married in 1729 to Infanta Barbara of Portugal
Barbara of Portugal
Barbara of Portugal was an Infanta of Portugal and later Queen of Spain as wife of Ferdinand VI of Spain.-Life in Portugal:...

, daughter of John V of Portugal and Mary Anne of Austria
Mary Anne of Austria
Maria Anna of Austria was an Archduchess of Austria and Queen consort of Portugal. She was also Regent of Portugal from 1742 until 1750 during the illness of her husband King John V of Portugal....

. The very homely looks of his wife were thought by observers to cause the prince a visible shock when he was first presented to her. Yet he became deeply attached to his wife, and proved in fact nearly as uxorious as his father.

Beginning of the Reign


When he came to the throne, Spain found itself in the War of the Austrian Succession
War of the Austrian Succession
The War of the Austrian Succession  – including King George's War in North America, the Anglo-Spanish War of Jenkins' Ear, and two of the three Silesian wars – involved most of the powers of Europe over the question of Maria Theresa's succession to the realms of the House of Habsburg.The...

 which ended without any benefit to Spain. He started his reign by eliminating the influence of the widow Queen Elisabeth of Parma
Elisabeth of Parma
Elisabeth Farnese , the daughter of Odoardo Farnese and Dorothea Sophie of Neuburg, was Queen consort of Spain who exerted great influence over Spain's foreign policy.-Parma:Elisabeth was born at the Palazzo della Pilotta in Parma, the capital of a duchy which had been ruled by...

 and her group of Italian courtiers. As king he followed a steady policy of neutrality in the conflict between France and Britain, and refused to be tempted by the offers of either into declaring war on the other.

Prominent figures during his reign were the Marquis of Ensenada
Zenón de Somodevilla y Bengoechea, Marquis of Ensenada
Don Zenón de Somodevilla y Bengoechea , widely known as the Marquis of the Ensenada, was a Spanish statesman.-Early life:...

, a Francophile; and José de Carvajal y Lancaster
José de Carvajal y Lancáster
José de Carvajal y Lancáster was a Spanish statesman.He was son of the duke of Linares and his mother was descendant of Jorge de Lancastre, a natural son of King John II of Portugal. After graduating at the University of Salamanca, he was appointed oidor of the Chancillería of Valladolid and...

, a supporter of the alliance with Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. The fight between both ended in 1754 with the death of Carvajal and the fall of Ensenada, after which Ricardo Wall became the most powerful advisor to the monarch.

The Projects of Ensenada


The most important tasks during the reign of Ferdinand VI were carried out by the Marquis of Ensenada, the Secretary of the Treasury, Navy and Indies. He suggested that the state help modernize the country. To him, this was necessary to maintain a position of exterior strength so that France and Great Britain would consider Spain as an ally without supposing Spain's renunciation of its claim to Gibraltar.

Reforms


Among his reform projects were:
  • New model of the Treasury suggested by Ensenada in 1749. He proposed substitution of the traditional taxes with a special tax, the cadastre
    Cadastre
    A cadastre , using a cadastral survey or cadastral map, is a comprehensive register of the metes-and-bounds real property of a country...

    , that weighed the economic capacity of each contributor based on their property holdings. He also proposed a reduction of subsidies by the state to the Cortes and the army. The opposition by the nobility caused the abandonment of the project.
  • The creation of the Giro Real in 1752, a bank favoring the transfer of public and private funds outside of Spain keeping all of the foreign exchanges in the hands of the Royal Treasury, enriching the State. It is considered the predecessor to the Bank of San Carlos, introduced during the reign of Charles III
    Charles III of Spain
    Charles III was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788. He was the eldest son of Philip V of Spain and his second wife, the Princess Elisabeth Farnese...

    .
  • The stimulation of commerce in the Americas, which tried to end the monopoly in the Indies and eliminate the injustices of colonial commerce. Thus he leaned toward registered ships rather than fleets of ships. The new system consisted of the substitution of the fleets and galleons so that a Spanish ship, previously authorized, could conduct trade freely in the Americas. This increased the revenues and decreased the fraud. Even so, this system provoked many protests among merchants in the private sector.
  • The modernization of the Navy. According to Ensenada, a powerful navy was fundamental to power of an overseas empire and aspirations of being respected by France and Great Britain. He increased the navy's budget and expanded the capacity of the shipyards of Cádiz
    Cádiz
    Cadiz is a city and port in southwestern Spain. It is the capital of the homonymous province, one of eight which make up the autonomous community of Andalusia....

    , Ferrol, Cartagena
    Cartagena, Colombia
    Cartagena de Indias , is a large Caribbean beach resort city on the northern coast of Colombia in the Caribbean Coast Region and capital of Bolívar Department...

     and Havana
    Havana
    Havana is the capital city, province, major port, and leading commercial centre of Cuba. The city proper has a population of 2.1 million inhabitants, and it spans a total of — making it the largest city in the Caribbean region, and the most populous...

     which marked a commitment to extending the naval policies already underway in his predecessor's reign.
  • Church relations which were really tense from start of the reign of Philip V
    Philip V of Spain
    Philip V was King of Spain from 15 November 1700 to 15 January 1724, when he abdicated in favor of his son Louis, and from 6 September 1724, when he assumed the throne again upon his son's death, to his death.Before his reign, Philip occupied an exalted place in the royal family of France as a...

     because of the recognition of Charles VI
    Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor
    Charles VI was the penultimate Habsburg sovereign of the Habsburg Empire. He succeeded his elder brother, Joseph I, as Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia , Hungary and Croatia , Archduke of Austria, etc., in 1711...

     as the King of Spain by the Pope. A regalist policy was maintained that pursued as much political as fiscal objectives and whose decisive achievement was the Concord of 1753. From this the right of Universal Patronage was obtained from Pope Benedict XIV
    Pope Benedict XIV
    Pope Benedict XIV , born Prospero Lorenzo Lambertini, was Pope from 17 August 1740 to 3 May 1758.-Life:...

    , giving important economic benefits to Crown and a great control over the clergy.
  • Cultural advancement. He helped create the Royal Academy of the Fine Arts of San Fernando in 1752. The noted composer Domenico Scarlatti
    Domenico Scarlatti
    Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti was an Italian composer who spent much of his life in the service of the Portuguese and Spanish royal families. He is classified as a Baroque composer chronologically, although his music was influential in the development of the Classical style...

    , music teacher to Barbara, wrote many of his 555 harpsichord
    Harpsichord
    A harpsichord is a musical instrument played by means of a keyboard. It produces sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed.In the narrow sense, "harpsichord" designates only the large wing-shaped instruments in which the strings are perpendicular to the keyboard...

     sonatas at Ferdinand's court.