Charles III was King of Spain and the Spanish Indies, after ruling Naples as Charles VII and Sicily as Charles V, kingdoms he abdicated to his son Ferdinand. 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, he succeeded to the Spanish throne on 10 August 1759, upon the death of his half-brother King Ferdinand VI of Spain, who left no heirs.
In 1731, the 15-year-old Charles became the Duke of Parma and Piacenza, as Charles I, following the death of his childless granduncle Antonio Farnese. In 1738 he married Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony, daughter of Polish king Augustus III and 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. Maria Amalia died in 1760.
As King of Spain, Charles III made far-reaching reforms such as promoting science and university research, facilitating trade and commerce, and modernising agriculture. He also tried to reduce the influence of the Church and avoided costly wars. His previous experience as King of Naples and Sicily proved valuable.