15 June 1808

Joseph Bonaparte becomes King of Spain.

Joseph Bonaparte, born Giuseppe Buonaparte on January 7, 1768, was a key figure in the history of Europe during the early 19th century. He was the elder brother of Napoleon Bonaparte, the French military and political leader who became Emperor of the French. Joseph himself had a notable political career and served as the King of Spain from 1808 to 1813.

When Napoleon became Emperor of the French in 1804, he sought to expand French influence and control over Europe. In 1808, during the Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon orchestrated the abdication of the Spanish King Charles IV and installed his brother Joseph as the new monarch of Spain. This move was met with significant resistance from the Spanish people who saw Joseph as a foreign invader and rejected his rule.

Joseph’s reign in Spain was marked by numerous challenges and conflicts. The Spanish people fiercely resisted the French occupation and engaged in a long and brutal guerrilla war known as the Peninsular War. The Spanish resistance, coupled with the intervention of British forces, weakened Joseph’s control over the country and made his rule precarious.

During his time as King of Spain, Joseph implemented several reforms aimed at modernizing the country and centralizing power. He introduced a new legal code, promoted economic development, and attempted to implement administrative and educational reforms. However, these efforts were largely unsuccessful due to the opposition and instability caused by the ongoing war.

In 1813, with Napoleon’s waning power and the French Empire facing multiple military defeats, Joseph abdicated the Spanish throne and returned to France. After Napoleon’s ultimate defeat in 1815, Joseph went into exile in the United States, where he lived primarily in New Jersey. He purchased an estate called “Point Breeze” in Bordentown and became known as Count of Survilliers.

Joseph Bonaparte lived in the United States for nearly two decades, maintaining a relatively low profile and indulging in his passion for art and collecting. He assembled an extensive collection of artworks, books, and artifacts, which he eventually sold to finance his lifestyle.

Joseph Bonaparte died on July 28, 1844, at the age of 76, in Florence, Italy. Despite the controversial nature of his rule in Spain, he left a lasting legacy as a patron of the arts and a collector, contributing to the cultural heritage of both Europe and the United States.