Manuel Dc Godoy, a Spanish statesman, born in Badajoz, May 12, 1767, died in Paris in October, 1851. Descended from an old and noble family, yet poor, he went to Madrid at the age of 17 to seek his fortune. He entered the military service, and his handsome figure, amiable character, and elegant manners soon attracted the notice first of the ladies of the court, then of the queen, and next of the king. His talent for intrigue gained him rapid advancement, and he was successively created duke of Alcudia, generalissimo of the land forces, grand admiral of Spain and of the Indies, secretary of state, prime minister to succeed Aranda in 1792, knight of the golden fleece, and a grandee of Spain of the first class. When Louis XVI. was brought to trial by the convention, Godoy declared war against France; but by the treaty of Basel in 1795 Spain formed an alliance with the republic. For this service Charles IV. gave him the title of "prince of the peace," and a domain which yielded him a large revenue. In 1797 he married Maria Theresa de Bourbon, niece of the king, although it is alleged that he was already secretly married to Josephine Tudo, the daughter of a military officer.
Obliged in 1798 to resign his power for a time, he resumed it in 1801, when he signed the treaty of Badajoz, which proposed to partition Portugal between France and Spain, and which by a secret article gave to himself more than $3,000,000. During his ministry the Spanish possession of Louisiana was transferred to France. In the height of his power, however, he incurred the enmity of the nobles by his preponderance in the government, of the priests by his opposition to the inquisition, and of the people, who attributed to him all the political evils they endured; and soon a strong party was formed against him under the patronage of the prince of Asturias, afterward Ferdinand VII. When Napoleon determined upon the dethronement of the Bourbons of Spain, and at the same time a criminal suit instigated by the prince of Asturias was pending against Godoy, the latter advised the royal family to take refuge in America. This project was not matured when an insurrection broke out against Godoy, who was seized by the populace in his hotel, and his life having been with difficulty saved, he was held prisoner to await the course of justice.
Napoleon however, who wished to avail himself of his influence over Charles IV. to secure the renunciation of the crown of Spain by that monarch, obtained his freedom, and invited him to the conferences of Bayonne (1808). Godoy drew up the act of abdication signed by the king, whom he then accompanied in his exile to Rome; and his immense possessions in Spain were confiscated. Godoy lived in Paris after the death of Charles IV., and received a pension of 5,000 francs from Louis Philippe, although in 1842 he was reinstated in his dignities in Spain. His "Memoirs," of which he was only nominally the author, appeared in Madrid, Paris, and London in 183G.