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Ferdinand VI

Ferdinand VIIFernando VI de España by Louis-Michel van Loo (Copyright © Museo Nacional del Prado)

Ferdinand VI (23 September 1713 – 10 August 1759), was King of Spain from 9 July 1746 until his death. He was the third ruler of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. He was the son of the previous monarch, Philip V, and his first wife Maria Luisa of Savoy.

When Ferdinand came to the throne, Spain was embroiled in the War of the Austrian Succession, which ended with little benefit for Spain. He started his reign by eliminating the influence of his stepmother and her group of Italian courtiers. As king he followed a steady policy of neutrality in the conflict between France and Britain and refused to be tempted by the offers of either into declaring war on the other.

Moderate changes to Spain were initiated under the king, including reforms of taxation, advance commerce, and the Spanish navy, as well as a ban on freemasonry. However, the last years of Ferdinand's reign were marked by mental instability, much like his direct predecessor Philip V. Upon his death, Ferdinand was succeeded by his younger half-brother, Charles III.