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History of the BORBONES in Spain

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History of the Bourbons in Spain

The history of Spain is marked by several royal dynasties, but among all of them we must highlight that of the Bourbons, due to their enormous importance in the Modern and Contemporary Age, which reaches the present day as the current kings of this dynasty. To know in depth this royal family and its relevance in Spanish history, in this lesson from a Professor we must talk about the history of the Bourbons in Spain.

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  1. How did the Bourbon dynasty start in Spain?
  2. What was the first Bourbon in Spain?
  3. The Bourbons after the War of Independence
  4. Bourbon family tree

How did the Bourbon dynasty start in Spain?

To know the history of the Bourbons in Spain we are going to travel to the origins. And it is that, before his arrival in Spain, the Bourbons were a royal house of French origin, with little or no power on Spanish soil. They were kings of France, being a family of great power on European soil that tried to increase their influence throughout the world, having their eyes on Spanish soil.

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At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Spanish king Carlos II, of the royal house of Austria, died without issue, causing that there were several European royal houses that will seek the vacant throne. One of these families was that of the Bourbons, who presented as a candidate for Philip of Anjou, grandson of the King of France.

But the arrival of the Bourbons to the Spanish throne was not welcomed by the rest of Europe, who were fearful of the growing power of the French. Much of Europe then supported the Austrian candidate, the well-known Archduke Charles, thereby initiating the War of succession for the Spanish throne.

The war ended with the French victory, causing the arrival to the Spanish throne of Felipe V of Bourbon, but without uniting France and Spain, causing two distinct branches of the Bourbons ever since. It was at this time that the origin of the Bourbons took place in Spain.

What was the first Bourbon in Spain?

The first of the Bourbons in Spain was Felipe V who, upon arrival, was clear that many things had to change in the Spanish nation, since his idea was that Spain should be more like France.

Among the main Actions of the new king were:

  • The centralism of the whole nation
  • The Decrees of Nueva Planta that ended with the fueros and with the privileges of the areas that used to be the Crown of Aragon
  • The new Salic Law that ended with the possibility of a woman being queen
  • The policy of Family Pacts, which were based on the mutual support of France and Spain in wars.

King Ferdinand VI

After Felipe V the arrival to the throne of his son Luis I, but he alone ruled 9 months before dying, not leaving any kind of change to Spain. After this, the next king was the third son of Felipe V, Ferdinand VI, a king with clear influence from the Illustration.

Between his main measures we should talk about:

  • The Ensenada cadastre that registered all the properties of the kingdom in order to increase taxes
  • The economic liberation of America
  • His conflict against the Holy See to convert the Crown into an entity superior to the Church.

Carlos III

After the death of Ferdinand VI, his successor was Carlos III, who was also the son of Felipe V. This monarch was known for the Enlightened Despotism, which was based on taking measures to improve the life of the people but without their participation. Carlos III is considered the best mayor of Madrid, due to the great evolution that the city had during his government.

Charles IV

The last Bourbon of the first stage of these in Spain was Charles IV, son of Carlos III. This king, known for his weakness, had to live with the French Revolution that he brought death to the Bourbons in France, these being the greatest allies of Spain.

His weakness made the lover of his wife, Manuel de Godoy, the decision maker in Spain. Finally, and after Napoleon's intervention, Carlos lost the throne, initiating the conquest of Spain by the French.

History of the Bourbons in Spain - What was the first Bourbon in Spain?

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The Bourbons after the War of Independence.

Behind the War of independence, being when the Spaniards achieved drive out the french In the area, the Bourbon government had to change, since the people had seen the power they had and had even been able to create their own Constitution.

The first of these Bourbon monarchs was Ferdinand VII, which was received by the people with honors and swore in the Constitution. Shortly after, Fernando broke with everything he had promised on his return, provoking years of struggles between different sides of Spaniards, being those who wanted to go back to business as usual and those who wanted something similar to what was seen in France after the Constitution. During his rule, Spain lost almost all of its American colonies and it had numerous civil wars, being one of the worst moments in Spanish history.

Fernando's successor was his daughter, Isabel II, coming to the throne because her father changed the Salic Law shortly before he died. Her government was marked by the Carlist Wars, the Constitution of 1837 and the transformation of Spain from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. She was finally deposed by a revolution.

Four years after the abdication of Elizabeth II, was her son Alfonso XII who took the throne. Alfonso did not have many years of government before dying prematurely from tuberculosis, which is why he could not change many things in the nation.

His successor was his son, Alfonso XIII, who had to deal with the increasingly common problems in Spain, such as the problems of the peasants, the social inequality, the lack of valid political representation, the loss of Cuba, Catalanism or the wars against Morocco. Finally in 1931 he left the country with the entry of Spain into the Second republic to take away the throne.

After the Republic the Franco dictatorship And because of that, the Bourbons lost the throne between 1931 and 1975, at which time Juan Carlos I occupied the throne. Both Juan Carlos I and his successor, Felipe VI, entered the throne in a new Spain, with a constitutional monarchy in which they have little power and in which they have not changed much either.

History of the Bourbons in Spain - The Bourbons after the War of Independence

Bourbon family tree.

To conclude this lesson on the history of the Bourbons in Spain, we must talk about their genealogical tree, in order to understand the entire timeline of monarchs of this royal house. The list of Bourbon kings of Spain are as follows:

  • Philip V (1700-1746)
  • Louis I (1724)
  • Ferdinand VI (1746-1759)
  • Charles III (1759-1788)
  • Charles IV (1788-1808)
  • Ferdinand VII (1813-1833)
  • Elizabeth II (1833-1868)
  • Alfonso XII (1875-1885)
  • Alfonso XIII (1886-1931)
  • Juan Carlos I (1975-2014)
  • Felipe VI (2014-present)

If you want to read more articles similar to History of the Bourbons in Spain, we recommend that you enter our category of History.


  • ALBALADEJO, P. F. (2001). The Bourbons. Dynasty and memory of nation in.
  • Vidal, J. J., & Ruiz, E. M. (2001). Domestic and foreign policy of the Bourbons (Vol. 188). Akal editions.
  • Millán, J. M., Bullón, C. C., & Traficante, M. L. (1994). The Bourbon court: crisis of the court model. Representations, 47, 8.
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