Ferdinand VI of Spain (1713–1759)

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Ferdinand VI of Spain (1713–1759)

Ferdinand VI of Spain (b. 17 September 1713; d. 10 August 1759), king of Spain (1746–1759). Ferdinand's ascent to the throne marked the end of the pro-Italian policy of his stepmother, Isabel (Elizabeth) Farnese, and the inauguration of policies determined by his Portuguese wife, Barbara of Braganza, and his three chief advisers, the marqués of Ensenada, José de Carvajal, and Francisco de Rávago (the king's confessor). Ferdinand was well intentioned but had little interest in politics and experienced lapses into insanity. Thus, during his reign the government of Spain was entrusted to his ministers.

In foreign policy, Ensenada and Carvajal advocated peace and neutrality and sought to keep Spain out of hostilities brewing between France and England, with Ensenada hoping to maintain peace by adopting a pro-French stance and Carvajal favoring England. Under their joint leadership the Spanish state became an instrument of reform and, to a degree, modernization, as it pursued tax reform and investment in public works.

A colonial conflict with Portugal over its Uruguayan capital of Colônia do Sacramento, the death of Carvajal (1754), and the machinations of an anti-Ensenada faction ended Ferdinand's first ministry. The second, no less marked by internal divisions, ended tax reform and replaced single register ships (an important commercial innovation of 1740) with the old fleet system. After the death of his wife (17 August 1758) Ferdinand went into a terminal state of mourning. His refusal even to sign documents brought the government to a halt until his death a year later.

See alsoSpanish Empire .


Ciriaco Pérez Bustamante, "El reinado de Fernando VI en el reformismo español del siglo XVIII," in Revista de la Universidad de Madrid 12 (1954): 491-514.

Manuel Tuñón De Lara, ed. Historia de España, vol. 7, Centralismo, ilustración, y agonía del Antiguo Régimen (1715–1833) (1980), esp. pp. 199-213.

John Lynch, Bourbon Spain, 1700–1808 (1989).

Additional Bibliography

Delgado Barrado, José Miguel. El proyecto político de Carvajal: Pensamiento y reforma en tiempos de Fernando VI. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, 2001.

Gómez Urdáñez, José Luis. Fernando VI. Madrid: Arlanza Ediciones, 2001.

Voltes Bou, Pedro. La vida y la época de Fernando VI. Barcelona: Planeta, 1998.

                           Suzanne Hiles Burkholder

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Ferdinand VI of Spain (1713–1759)

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