- Historical event:
- 6 June 1808
- Joseph was the elder brother of Napoleon, and the title of the King of Spain was the highest of all that he awarded to members of his own family.
On this day in 1808, Napoleon’s brother Joseph Bonaparte was crowned King of Spain in Madrid.
It was the highest honor that Napoleon had secured for any of the members of his family (another two of Napoleon’s brothers became kings, but of smaller countries – Westphalia and Holland). Joseph was, after all, the only elder brother of Napoleon (Napoleon was the second child in the family after Joseph who survived infancy).
Before he became King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte was King of Naples. An exchange was then made – Joseph was placed on the throne of Spain as the larger state, and Joachim Murat (husband of Napoleon’s sister) was made the new King of Naples. It seems that Joseph was actually reluctant to go to Spain because he was relatively popular in Naples and hated Spain.
The Spaniards never accepted Joseph as their king. A several-year-long war began, which eventually significantly weakened Napoleon’s overall military force. Indeed, it is possible that the long-term depletion in Spain was among the key factors in the final defeat of Napoleon’s European empire.