FERDINAND VII., King of Spain, b. 14th Oct., 1784, was the son of king Charles IV. and the princess Maria Louisa of Parma. Although he had the advantage of excellent preceptors, especially the canon Escoiquiz, in his youth, yet the machinations of the notorious Godoy, minister of Spain, prevented him from enjoying any opportunities for the intelligent exercise of his faculties. A deliberate attempt was made by his mother and Godoy to degrade him into a lover of mere animal pleasures, that their influence and authority might be unrestrained. F. soon conceived an aversion to the minister, which was increased by his marriage in 1802 with the amiable and accomplished Maria Antonietta Theresa, daughter of Ferdinand I., king of the Two Sicilies. This lady, who endeavored to maintain her husband's dignity, died 21st May, 1806, of grief, as is supposed, at the insults offered to her by Godoy, the king himself, and above all by the queen. Suspicions of foul play, however, were entertained by Ferdinand. Mainly for the purpose of gratifying their hatred towards Godoy, a number of the nobles, headed by the duke of Infantado, assembled round the crown-prince. A false step that the latter now took proved the beginning of great misery to Spain. By the advice of the canon Escoiquiz, he wrote a letter to Napoleon, in which he expressed a wish to marry the eldest daughter of Lucien Bonaparte. This letter fell into the hands of the minister himself, and the prince was in consequence arrested in the Escorial, 28th Oct., 1807, and declared a traitor by a royal proclamation, written in Godoy's own hand, and addressed to the council of Castile. The animosity of the people towards the minister led to the revolution of Aranjuez, and the king abdicated in favor of F., 19th Mar., 1808. Almost immediately after, however, Charles wrote to .Napoleon, declaring his abdication to be forced. Napoleon, who had designs of his owu upon Spain, refused to recognize F. as king, but sent him an invitation to meet him at Bayonne. In spite of all warnings to contrary, F. repaired to Bayonne, at which place he arrived on the 20th April, and was received with distinction by Napoleon. Meanwhile, however, the French troops under Murat had marched across the Pyrenees, and taken possession of the Spanish •capital. The wretched squabbles and recriminations that now took place between Charles and his son, and which were encouraged by Napoleon, ended in F.'s renouncing the crown of Spain unconditionally, receiving for himself and his posterity an annual income of 600,000 francs from the crown revenues of France, and likewise the palace and parks of Navarre. The château of Valencay, belonging to prince Talleyrand, was assigned to him as a residence, along with his brother Don Carlos, his uncle Don Anto nio, the canon Escoiquiz, and the duke of San Carlos. Here his proceedings were
watched with the utmost vigilance; and it was not till the end of the year 1813, when the splendid series of British triumphs in the peninsula had made a longer occupation •-of the country by the French impossible, that Napoleon offered to reinstate him on the throne of Spain. On the 14th of Mar. F. returned to Spain, where he was received with every demonstration of loyalty and affection. Very unfortunately for Spain, and also for his own comfort, F. had, in the mean time, learned to associate liberalism with Jacobinism, and both with Bonapartism, so that, on his reaccession to power, he threw himself into the hands of the clergy and the reactionary portion of his nobility. Even before his arrival in Madrid, he refused to swear or accede to the constitution of the .cortes, as interfering too much with the free exercise of regal authority, though he promised another in its place. From the moment, however, that he assumed the reins of government, a series of transactions took place which excited the astonishment and disgust of all liberal-minded politicians in Europe. Instead of the promised constitu tion, there commenced a fearful system of persecution against all who were suspected -of holding liberal opinions; and executions, imprisonment, exile, and confiscation of property reigned in all parts of the kingdom. The monastic orders, the inquisition, and the rack were restored, and every expression of opinion rigorously repressed. At length, in Jan., 1820, an insurrection broke out, and F. was compelled to restore the •constitution of the cortes of 1812; but the French government interfering by force of .arms, absolutism was restored in Spain in 1823. In 1829, F. married the notorious Maria Christina. She was his fourth spouse. By the first three, he had no children. Maria, however, bore him two children: Isabella II., the late queen of Spain, and the infanta Maria Louis, who married the duke of Montpensier, By the influence of Maria Christina, F. was induced to abrogate the Salique law excluding females from the throne, and to restore the old Castilian law of cognate succession. This step led to a ;dangerous combination among the adherents of the king's brother, Don Carlos, even •during the lifetime of the former, and after his death, to a civil war. See Dort CAR LOS, ESPARTERO, etc. On the 20th June, 1833, the deputies, cortes, and grandees of the kingdom took the oath of fealty, and did homage to the princess of the Asturias, And F. died on the 29th Sept. of the same year.