Charles IV

( 11 November 1748 – 20 January 1819)


Charles IV: The Past King in Spain

Charles IV: The Past King in Spain

Charles IV, also known as Carlos IV, was the king of Spain from 1788 to 1808. He belonged to the House of Bourbon and played a significant role during a crucial period in Spanish history.

Early Life and Ascension to the Throne

Charles IV was born on November 11, 1748, in Portici, Italy, as the second son of King Charles III of Spain. He received a comprehensive education, including military training, and developed a passion for the arts and sciences.

In 1788, upon the death of his father, Charles IV ascended to the Spanish throne. His reign was marked by political instability, economic challenges, and external conflicts that would shape the future of Spain.

Political Challenges and Abdication

Charles IV faced numerous political challenges during his reign. One of the most significant was the French Revolution, which had profound effects throughout Europe. Spain became embroiled in the French Revolutionary Wars, leading to internal conflicts and social unrest.

In addition, Charles IV struggled with maintaining a stable government. He relied heavily on Manuel Godoy, his chief minister, who faced opposition from various factions within Spain’s political landscape.

Ultimately, Charles IV abdicated the throne on March 19, 1808, in favor of his son Ferdinand VII. This decision was influenced by political pressure and the invasion of Spain by Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces. Charles IV and his wife, Queen Maria Luisa, were forced into exile in France.


Charles IV’s reign is often remembered as a period of decline and instability in Spanish history. His abdication and subsequent events laid the groundwork for the Peninsular War, a prolonged conflict between Spain and France.

Despite the challenges faced during his reign, Charles IV’s interest in the arts left a lasting impact. He supported prominent artists such as Francisco Goya, whose works captured the political and social realities of the time.

Today, Charles IV’s reign serves as a reminder of the complex political landscape of late 18th-century Spain and its subsequent struggles. His abdication marked a turning point in Spanish history and set the stage for further transformations in the years to come.