Carlos Maria Isidro, Don
CARLOS MARIA ISIDRO, DON (1788-1855), the first of the Carlist claimants of the throne of Spain, was the second surviving son of King Charles IV. and his wife, Louisa Maria of Parma. He was born on the 29th of March 1788, and was christened Carlos Maria Isidro. From 1808 till 1814 he was a prisoner in France at Valençay with his brothers, who had been imprisoned by Napoleon when he seized the whole royal family of Spain at Bayonne. After his return he lived quietly as a prince at Madrid. In September 1816 he married Maria Francesca de Asis, daughter of King John VI. of Portugal, and sister of the second wife of his elder brother King Ferdinand VII. Though he took no part in the government of Spain, except to hold a few formal offices, Don Carlos was known for the rigid orthodoxy of his religious opinions, the piety of his life, and his firm belief in the divine right of kings to govern despotically. During the revolutionary troubles of 1820-1823 he was threatened by the extreme radicals, but no attack was made on him. When the revolutionary agitation was put down by French intervention in 1823, Don Carlos continued to behave as the affectionate brother and loyal subject of Ferdinand VII. The family affection between them was undoubtedly sincere, and was one of the very few amiable traits in the character of the elder brother. Towards the close of Ferdinand's reign Don Carlos was forced against his own will into the position of a party leader, or rather into the position of a prince whom a great party was forced to take as its leader. The extreme clericals among the Spaniards, who were the partisans of despotism because they rightly considered it as most favourable to the church, began to be discontented with King Ferdinand, who seemed wanting in energy. When the king showed his intention to alter the law of succession in order to secure the crown for his daughter Isabella, the clericals (in the Spanish phrase, "apostólicos") banded to protect the rights of Don Carlos. There can be no question that if he had been disposed to place himself at the head of an insurrection he would have been followed, and might have put Ferdinand under restraint. But Don Carlos held his principles honestly. He considered rebellion as a sin in a prince as much as in other men, and as wicked when made by "apostólicos" as by liberals. He would do no more than assert his rights, and those of his children, in words. His wife and her sister, the princess of Beira, widow of his first cousin the infante Pedro, were less scrupulous. They were actively engaged in intrigues with the "apostólicos." In March 1833 the princess of Beira was informed by the king that her brother Don Miguel, then regent in Portugal, desired her presence, and that she must pay him a visit. On the 16th of March Don Carlos left for Portugal with his wife, in company with the princess, after an interview with his brother the king which is said to have been friendly. In the following month he was called upon by the king to swear allegiance to the infanta Isabella, afterwards queen. Don Carlos refused, in respectful terms but with great firmness, to renounce his rights and those of his sons, in a public letter dated the 29th of April. The death of his brother on the 29th of September 1833 gave him an opportunity to vindicate his claims without offence to his principles, for in his own opinion and that of his partisans he was now king. But he was entangled in the civil war of Portugal and was shut off from Spain. He did, and perhaps could do, nothing to direct the Spaniards who rose on his behalf, and had proclaimed him king as Charles V. When the Miguelite party was beaten in Portugal, Don Carlos escaped to England on the 1st of June 1834 in H.M.S. "Donegal." His stay in England was short. On the 2nd of July he passed over to France, where he was actively aided by the legitimist party, and on the 11th he joined his partisans at Elizondo in the valley of Bastan, in the western Pyrenees. On the 27th of October of this year he was deprived of his rights as infante by a royal decree, confirmed by the Cortes on the 15th of January 1837. Don Carlos remained in Spain till the defeat of his party, and then escaped to France on the 14th of September 1839. During these years he accompanied his armies, without displaying any of the qualities of a general or even much personal courage. But he endured a good deal of hardship, and was often compelled to take to hiding in the hills. On these occasions he was often carried over difficult places on the back of a stout guide commonly known as the royal jackass (burro real). The semblance of a court which he maintained was torn by incessant personal intrigues, and by conflicts between his generals and the ecclesiastics who exercised unbounded influence over his mind. The defeat of his cause, which had many chances of success, was unquestionably due to a very large extent to his want of capacity, his apathy, and his increasing absorption in practices of puerile piety. His first wife having died in England, Don Carlos married her elder sister, the princess of Beira, in Biscay in October 1837. After his flight from Spain, Don Carlos led a life of increasing insignificance. He abdicated in May 1845, took a title of count of Molina, and died at Trieste on the 10th of March 1855.
By his first marriage, Don Carlos had three sons, Charles (1818-1861), John (1822-1887), and Ferdinand (1824-1861). Charles succeeded to the claims of his father, and was known to his partisans as Don Carlos VI., but was more commonly known as the count of Montemolin. In 1846, when the marriage of queen Isabella was being negotiated, the Austrian government endeavoured to arrange an alliance between her and the count of Montemolin. But as he insisted on the complete recognition of his rights, the Spanish government refused to hear of him as a candidate. The Carlists took up arms on his behalf between 1846 and 1848, but the count, who had been expelled from France by the police, did not join them in the field. In April 1860 he and his brother Ferdinand landed at San Carlos de la Rápita, at the mouth of the Ebro, in company with a feather-headed officer named Ortega, who held a command in the Balearic islands. They hoped to profit by the fact that the bulk of the Spanish army was absent in a war with Morocco. But no Carlist rising took place. The men who had been brought from the islands by Ortega deserted him. Montemolin and his brother, together with their devoted partisan General Elio, who had accompanied them from exile, lurked in hiding for a fortnight and were then captured. Ortega was shot, but the princes saved their lives, and that of Elio, by making an abject surrender of their claims. When he had been allowed to escape and had reached Cologne, the count of Montemolin publicly retracted his renunciation on the 15th of June, on the ignominious ground that it had been extorted by fear. Montemolin and his brother Ferdinand died within a fortnight of one another in January 1861 without issue.
The third brother, John, who had advanced his own claims before his brother's retraction, now came forward as the representative of the legitimist and Carlist cause. As he had shown a disposition to accept liberalism, and to make concessions to the spirit of the age, he was unpopular with the party. On the 3rd of October 1868 he made a formal renunciation in favour of his son Charles (Don Carlos VII.), who is separately noticed below.
See Hermann Baumgarten, Geschichte Spaniens (Leipzig, 1861); H. Butler Clarke, Modern Spain (Cambridge, 1906), which contains a useful bibliography.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)