Charles III was King of Spain, after ruling Naples and Sicily. He was the fifth son of Philip V of Spain, and the eldest son of Philip's second wife, Elisabeth Farnese. A proponent of enlightened absolutism and regalism, he succeeded to the Spanish throne on 10 August 1759, upon the death of his childless half-brother Ferdinand VI.
In 1731, the 15-year-old Charles became the Duke of Parma and Piacenza, as Charles I, following the death of his childless grand-uncle Antonio Farnese. In 1738 he married Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony, daughter of Augustus III of Poland, who was an educated, cultured woman. The couple had 13 children, eight of whom reached adulthood, including Charles, heir to the Spanish throne. Charles and Maria Amalia resided in Naples for 19 years. He gained valuable experience in his 25-year rule in Italy, so that he was well prepared as monarch of the Spanish Empire. His policies in Italy prefigured ones he would put in place in his 30-year rule of Spain.
As King of Spain, Charles III made far-reaching reforms to increase the flow of funds to the crown and defend against foreign incursions on the empire.