Concept

José Moñino, 1st Count of Floridablanca

Summary
José Moñino y Redondo, 1st Count of Floridablanca (October 21, 1728 – December 30, 1808) was a Spanish statesman. He was the reformist chief minister of King Charles III of Spain, and also served briefly under Charles IV. He was arguably Spain's most effective statesman in the eighteenth century. In Spain, he is simply known as Conde de Floridablanca. He was born at Murcia in 1728 as the son of a retired army officer. He studied in Murcia and Orihuela, and later law at the University of Salamanca and was an esteemed advocate in the Spanish courts. He became a criminal prosecutor in Castile in 1766. He was given the task of investigating the Esquilache riots that same year and acquired a reputation as a supporter of the king's reformist policies. He defended the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767. The chief minister at the time, the Marquis of Esquilache, recognized his ability and made Moñino Spanish ambassador to Pope Clement XIV in 1772. He was rewarded with the title "Count of Floridablanca" in 1773 for succeeding in obtaining the support of the Pope in suppressing the Jesuits. Floridablanca was named chief minister in 1777. He embarked on a thorough reform of the Spanish bureaucracy, establishing a true cabinet in 1787 (the Supreme Council of State). He established commercial freedom in the American colonies in 1778, founded the National Bank of San Carlos in 1782. He involved himself in university reform (Spain's universities had become increasingly lax since the 16th century) and improved press liberties. After the expulsion of the Jesuits, Spain's higher education system was left woefully understaffed; Floridablanca worked to hire new teachers and administrators and to modernize pedagogical methods. He also established new schools throughout Spain. During his tenure, Madrid was rebuilt; a great deal of the city dates from this period. Floridablanca regulated the Madrid police and encouraged public works in the city. As master of Spain's foreign policy, Floridablanca sought prominently to restore the economic well-being of Spain.
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