He was born as the heir of the throne of Parma and when he was four he took the demanding title of King of Etruria.
His childhood was upset by the Napoleonic events and he was taken away from his mother and entrusted to his grandparents. He was a sharp man with lots of cultural interests. In 1817 he moved to Lucca and in 1820 he married Maria Teresa of Savoia, Vittorio Emanuele I's daughter.
He succeed to his mother on the throne of Lucca in 1824, but he preferred to dedicate himself on the foreign stays in Vienna, Dresden and Berlin, staying in Lucca only for short periods of time and leaving the governance of the dukedom to his ministers.
His ephemeral conversion to the Protestant religion and the numerous improper personalities in his court made him a very talked-about man in Europe.
He was such a tolerant and mild-mannered man that he hosted political emigrants in Lucca. As a very profligate man, he accumulated a lot of debts, and to contain them he consigned the Dukedom of Lucca to the Grand Duchy of Tuscany ahead of time.
Thanks to the agreements of the Congress of Vienna, he regained the control of the Dukedom of Parma in 1847, with the name of Carlo II.
But the revolutionary events in 1848 made him abdicating in favor of his son; he spent the rest of his life between Paris, Lucca and Nice, where he died.