Bourbon Dynasty (Spain)

views updated May 14 2018


BOURBON DYNASTY (SPAIN). The House of Bourbon, French in origin, was enthroned in Spain upon the death of Charles II, the last Habsburg monarch, who named as his heir to Spain and its overseas empire the duke of Anjou, second son of Louis, the Grand Dauphin of France, and Maria Ana of Bavaria. As Philip V of Spain (16831746; reigned 17001724 and 17241746), the first Spanish Bourbon married Maria Luisa, daughter of the duke of Savoy (16881714), and, after her death, Isabel Farnese of the ducal House of Parma, aiming to reinforce Spain's presence in Italy. His abdication in 1724 made way for the brief reign of his eldest son Luis I (17071724; reigned 9 February31 August 1724). Luis's marriage to the French princess Luisa Isabel of Orleans (17091742) had not produced children before the young sovereign's death so Philip V was able to resume his kingship without difficulty, despite the constitutional scruples raised by his return.

The most notable result of his dynastic identity was an alliance with France through the so-called Family Pacts (7 November 1733 and 25 October 1743), which gave Philip the support he needed to enthrone his son Charles in the Kingdom of Naples (1734), and his son Philip in the duchies of Parma, Piacenza, and Guastalla (1748), thereby creating two new dynasties in Europe: the Bourbons of the Two Sicilies and the House of Bourbon-Parma. Philip V was followed on the throne of Spain by his son Ferdinand VI (17131759; reigned 17461759), who married Barbara of Braganza (17111758), daughter of the king of Portugal. The marriage proved childless, and Ferdinand was succeeded by his half-brother Charles, king of Naples (17161788; reigned in Naples, 17341759 and in Spain, 17591788), who ceded his Neapolitan throne to his third son Ferdinand, before leaving Naples to become Charles III of Spain. Abandoning the policy of neutrality regarding France and England that had marked the previous reign, Charles returned Spain to its alliance with France, with the third Family Pact of 15 August 1761. His marriage to Maria Amalia of Saxony (17241760), daughter of the prince elector and king of Poland, produced his heir Charles IV (17461819; king of Spain, 17881808), who married Maria Luisa of Bourbon-Parma (17511819) and had to confront the political upheavals occasioned by the French Revolution.

War against the regicide French government under the Convention (17931795) was followed by a new Spanish alliance with France, sealed by the Treaty of San Ildefonso (1796), which lasted despite vicissitudes until the Napoleonic invasion of 1808. Prior to that, a palace intrigue had persuaded Charles IV to abdicate in favor of his son Ferdinand VII (17841833) on 19 March 1808, a decision he ratified on 5 May in the French city of Bayonne. Ferdinand in turn ceded the throne to Napoleon Bonaparte, who gave it to his brother Joseph and invaded Spain. This confusing episode led to an uprising of the Spanish people against Napoleon's army and a protracted war of independence that received crucial support from English forces under the duke of Wellington. After Napoleon's defeat, the Bourbons were restored in Spain in the person of Ferdinand VII. Surviving republican ousters in 18681871 and 19311936, and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco from 19391975, the Bourbon dynastyin the person of Juan Carlos Iled Spain's democratic, constitutional monarchy into the twenty-first century.

See also Charles II (Spain) ; Charles III (Spain) ; Farnese, Isabel (Spain) ; Ferdinand VI (Spain) ; Philip V (Spain).


Bergamini, John D. The Spanish Bourbons: The History of a Tenacious Dynasty. New York, 1974.

Carlos MartÍnez-Shaw (Translated from the Spanish by Carla Rahn Phillips)

Bourbon Dynasty (France)

views updated May 23 2018


BOURBON DYNASTY (FRANCE). The Bourbon dynasty succeeded to the French throne in 1589, following the assassination of the last Valois king, the childless Henry III. Through the French Revolution two centuries later, there were only five Bourbon monarchs: Henry IV (ruled 15891610); Louis XIII (ruled 16101643); Louis XIV (ruled 16431715); Louis XV (ruled 17151774); and Louis XVI (ruled 17741792). The dynasty returned to the throne in 1814, after the fall of Napoleon, but the last Bourbon king fled the Revolution of 1830, and was replaced by a cousin from the Orléans line.

The first three Bourbon reigns included civil wars in their early years, and the fourth opened with an unstable regency government; in each case, disorder resulted primarily from the dissatisfactions of wealthy aristocrats, some of them related to the dynasty itself. But the dynasty's principal characteristic was its successful affirmation of strong kingship, compounded of military, bureaucratic, and ritual elements. With the exception of Louis XVI, all the Bourbon kings were able individuals, and at least through 1715 they all interested themselves in the details of government. They succeeded in improving government's control over French society, and they temporarily restored French dominance within European power politics. With their encouragement, the apparatus of government expanded dramatically, as did the state's investments in culture; the Bourbons showed themselves keenly aware of the propaganda value of artistic sponsorship, most dramatically in works associated with the palace of Versailles. They also insisted on the sacredness of kingship itself. Public acceptance of this idea diminished in the secular atmosphere of the eighteenth century, but like his predecessors, Louis XVI continued to view himself as a sacred being, rather than as a mere administrator of his country.

See also Divine Right Kingship ; France ; Henry IV (France) ; Louis XIII (France) ; Louis XIV (France) ; Louis XV (France) ; Louis XVI (France) ; Versailles.


Antoine, Michel. Louis XV. Paris, 1989.

Bluch, François. Louis XIV. Translated by Mark Greengrass. Oxford, 1990.

Buisseret, David. Henry IV. London and Boston, 1984.

Moote, A. Lloyd. Louis XIII the Just. Berkeley, 1989.

Jonathan Dewald

Bourbon dynasty

views updated Jun 11 2018

Bourbon dynasty

A royal house whose members ruled many states of Europe, including France, Navarre, Naples, Sicily, and Spain, which still has a Bourbon member as its ceremonial king. The most powerful branch of the Bourbons ruled France from 1589 until 1792, when King Louis XVI was overthrown and executed during the French Revolution.

The family was established as the hereditary lords of Bourbon and vassals of the Capetian dynasty that established the French monarchy in the late tenth century. In 1268, Beatrix of Bourbon married Prince Robert, the count of Clermont and a son of King Louis IX. Charles of Bourbon, the last of the line, died in 1527; another branch of the family was ruling the duchy of Vendôeme. This family became lords of Navarre, a small kingdom on France's southern border with Spain, in 1555. In the meantime, the Protestant revolt against the Catholic doctrine and hierarchy was driving France to a full-scale civil war. To make peace with the Huguenots (Protestants) of France, Catherine de Médicis, the mother of the French king, arranged a marriage of her daughter Margaret to Henry, the Bourbon and Protestant prince of Navarre. On the wedding day, August 24, 1572, the Catholics of France took the festivities as an occasion for a wholesale slaughter of Protestants in the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre. Henry announced his conversion to the Catholic faith but in 1576 again declared himself a Huguenot. In 1584, after the death of the younger brother of the king, Henry of Navarre became next in line for the throne. In 1589, when the king of France was assassinated, King Henry III of Navarre became the first Bourbon king of France as Henry IV.

The arrival of a Protestant on the throne of France raised the ire of Catholics, who rallied around Henry's uncle, Cardinal Charles de Bourbon. Henry defeated Charles in battle in 1590, but was unable to seize Paris, a Catholic stronghold, with the forces at his disposal. For the sake of the French kingdom and a hope for a lasting truce, he converted once again to Catholicism, remarking that Paris is worth a mass, and was formally crowned in 1594. In 1598 Henry passed the Edict of Nantes that recognized Catholicism as the official religion of France but also decreed tolerance for the Huguenots. The civil war now at an end, France grew into the most powerful, united kingdom in Europe. Henry and his successor Louis XIII built new roads and canals, promoted the growth of textiles and other industries in the north, reformed and improved French agriculture, and built the French army and navy into a military force second to none in the western world. The Bourbons, through a system of their intendants, dominated the French nobles and extended their absolute control over the kingdom's many counties, duchies, and the semi-independent domains of the nobility. Under Louis XIV, France fought several wars for more territory in the north and east; but when the king revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685 an exodus of Protestants from northern France took place, weakening the kingdom's productive industries.

In 1700, when the king of Spain died without an heir, Louis contested the throne of Spain with the Habsburg dynasty of Austria. England, the Netherlands, and Austria formed a coalition against the ambitious French. A War of the Spanish Succession lasted until 1714, when Louis finally succeeded in placing his grandson on the throne of Spain, at the cost of nearly emptying the French treasury. At his death Louis had reigned longer than any other king in the history of Europe. Under his great-grandson, Louis XV, France lost several major wars in Europe and North America, further damaging the kingdom's finances and leading to the widespread unrest that brought about the French Revolution.

See Also: France; Henry IV

About this article

Bourbon Dynasty

All Sources -
Updated Aug 08 2016 About content Print Topic