January 4, 1762 — England declared war on Spain and Naples today, beginning the Anglo–Spanish War. Part of the Seven Years’ War between Britain and Spain, it lasted until February 1763 when the Treaty of Paris brought it to an end.
Here’s the back story: King Ferdinand VI of Spain opposed the French party who wanted to enter the war on the side of France. Britain made an attempt to persuade Spain to join the war on their side, by offering Gibraltar in exchange for Spanish help in regaining Minorca, but this was rejected by Madrid.
Everything changed when Ferdinand VI died in 1759.
He was succeeded by his younger brother Charles III of Spain, who was ambitious than his melancholy brother. One of his main objectives was the survival of Spain as a colonial power. In 1761, France looked like losing the war against Great Britain. Spain also suffered from attacks by English privateers in Spanish waters, and claimed compensation.
Fearing that a British victory over France would upset the balance of colonial power, Charles III signed the Family Compact with France (both countries were ruled by branches of the Bourbon family) in August 1761. And this brought war with Great Britain in January 1762. Learn more here.
Words of Wisdom
[Charles III of Spain] was probably the most successful European ruler of his generation. He had provided firm, consistent, intelligent leadership. He had chosen capable ministers....[his] personal life had won the respect of the people.