Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Carlos IV, King of Spain, 6 July 1802

From Carlos IV, King of Spain

Mis Grandes y Buenos Amigos

De Madrid á seis de Julio
de mil ochocientos y dos.

Hallandose ajustados los Tratados Matrimoniales de nuestro muy amado hijo Dn. Fernando, Principe de Asturias, con la Infanta de Napoles Da. Maria Antonia, y de nuestra dilectisima hija Da. Maria Isabél con el Principe Heredero de aquel Reyno Dn. Francisco Genaro; y habiendose efectuado en este dia los desposorios de nuestra precitada hija Da. Maria Isabel; hemos creido deberos participar un acontecimiento que nos es tan agradable, no dudando tomaréis en nuestra satisfaccion igual interés al que tomamos en todas vuestras ventajas y prosperidades, deseando tener favorables ocasiones de poder contribuir á ellas.

Vuestro buen amigo



My Great and Good Friends.

Madrid, 6 July 1802

Finding the agreements to be settled for the marriage of our very beloved son Don Fernando, Prince of Asturias, with the Princess of Naples Doña Maria Antonietta, and of our most dearly loved daughter Doña María Isabel with the crown prince of that kingdom, Don Francesco Gennaro, and the betrothal of our aforenamed daughter Doña María Isabel having been carried out on this day; considering ourselves obliged to announce an event that to us is very agreeable, we do not doubt that you take in our satisfaction an interest equal to that which we take in all your gains and prosperities, hoping to have favorable occasions to be able to contribute to them.

Your good friend,


RC (DNA: RG 59, Ceremonial Letters); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Carlos; countersigned at foot of text by Pedro Cevallos; addressed: “A mis Grandes y Buenos Amigos los Estados Unidos de America”; endorsed for the State Department. Dupl (same); entirely in the same clerk’s hand with notation certifying the accuracy of the copy (“Concuerda con el Original”).

Carlos IV (1748–1819) became king of Spain in 1788. He engaged himself little in policy matters, and the early years of his reign were marked by the views and personalities of two chief ministers from his father’s day, the Conde de Floridablanca, who strongly opposed the democratizing elements of the French Revolution, and the Conde de Aranda, who was more ambivalent. Spain’s relationship with France became the overwhelming policy issue of Carlos’s rule. The two countries went to war after Louis XVI was executed in 1793. Manuel Godoy, who ousted Aranda from power and became the key figure in the Spanish court, brought the war to an end in 1795, and a year later Spain and France formed an offensive and defensive alliance that put Spain in opposition to Great Britain, led to the invasion of Portugal, and made the Spanish monarchy subject to manipulation by France. Dissatisfaction within Spain over that relationship and Godoy’s power prompted a seizure of the throne by Carlos’s son Fernando in 1808, which gave Napoleon the opportunity to set both kings aside and name his brother Joseph the ruler of Spain. Carlos spent the rest of his life in exile in France and Italy. During his rule, his government introduced some religious reforms, and Alejandro Malaspina made his significant 1789–94 voyage of exploration. Carlos accumulated debts, however, and did little to help his nation meet challenges presented by extended political disruption in Europe. His reign was known for the unequal relationship with France, the influence of Godoy at the sacrifice of national interests, and scandals surrounding the queen, María Luisa, particularly in her relationship with Godoy (Germán Bleiberg, ed., Diccionario de Historia de España, 2d ed., 3 vols. [Madrid, 1968–69], 1:706–9; Robert W. Kern and Meredith D. Dodge, eds., Historical Dictionary of Modern Spain, 1700–1988 [New York, 1990], 36–7, 118–19, 214, 251; Angel Smith, Historical Dictionary of Spain, 2d ed. [Lanham, Md., 2009], 137; Vol. 23:266; Vol. 24:669–70; Vol. 25:141, 142n, 191, 194n; Vol. 26:225–6).

TRATADOS MATRIMONIALES: the weddings, which took place in Barcelona on 4 Oct. 1802, were between two closely related branches of the Bourbon family. Reports from Spain indicated that what Charles Pinckney called an exchange of princesses occupied much of the Spanish court’s attention during the summer of 1802 and was enormously expensive. An entourage of thousands of people was expected to accompany the monarchs to Barcelona (Teófanes Egido, Carlos IV [Madrid, 2001], 271; Madison, Papers, Sec. of State Ser. description begins William T. Hutchinson, Robert A. Rutland, J. C. A. Stagg, and others, eds., The Papers of James Madison, Chicago and Charlottesville, 1962–, 33 vols. Sec. of State Ser., 1986–, 9 vols.; Pres. Ser., 1984–, 6 vols.; Ret. Ser., 2009–, 1 vol. description ends , 3:387, 417, 472–3, 525–6, 552). Carlos’s oldest surviving son, FERNANDO, and his betrothed, Maria Antonietta (called María Antonia in Spanish), both turned 18 in 1802. Maria Antonietta’s father, Ferdinand, the king of Naples and the Two Sicilies, was Carlos’s brother. Fernando’s sister María Isabel turned 13 in 1802. There were rumors that Godoy was her biological father. Francesco, her intended husband, born in 1777, was Maria Antonietta’s brother. This was his second marriage. His first wife, an archduchess of Austria, died in November 1801 (Bleiberg, Diccionario, 1:706, 709; 2:77, 905, 911–12; Giuseppe Coniglio, I Borboni di Napoli [Milan, 1995], 213, 233–36, 252; Vol. 35:725n).

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