Facts and Events
Charles III (Spanish: Carlos; Italian: Carlo; 20 January 1716 – 14 December 1788) was the King of Spain and the Spanish Indies from 1759 to 1788. He was the fifth son of Philip V of Spain, but eldest by his second wife, Elisabeth Farnese. In 1731, the 15-year-old Charles became the Duke of Parma and Piacenza, as Charles I, on the death of his childless granduncle Antonio Farnese.
In 1734, as Duke of Parma, he conquered the kingdoms of Naples and of Sicily, and was crowned king on 3 July 1735, reigning as Charles VII of Naples and Charles V of Sicily. In 1738 he married Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony, an educated, cultured woman who gave birth to 13 children, eight of whom reached adulthood. Charles and Maria Amalia resided in Naples for 19 years; she died in 1760.
Upon succeeding to the Spanish throne on 10 August 1759, Charles, a proponent of enlightened absolutism, on 6 October 1759 abdicated the Neapolitan and Sicilian thrones in favour of Ferdinand, his third surviving son, who became Ferdinand I of the Two Sicilies.
As king of Spain Charles III tried to rescue his empire from decay through far-reaching reforms such as weakening the Church and its monasteries, promoting science and university research, facilitating trade and commerce, modernizing agriculture and avoiding wars. He never achieved satisfactory control over finances, and was obliged to borrow to meet expenses. His reforms proved short-lived and Spain relapsed after his death, but his legacy lives on to this day.
Historian Stanley Payne states Charles III: