Built for the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique (known, latterly, as the French Line) by A. & J. Inglis at Glasgow, Charles Quint and Ville de Madrid were two of a group of broadly similar iron steamers ordered for the company's fleet in 1880-81. Charles Quint was registered at 1,562 tons gross, measured 325 feet in length with a 34 foot beam, and engined by her builders to give a cruising speed of 10 knots. Entering service in July 1880 between Marseilles and Oran, her career was cut short when, on 8th July 1888, she sank off the Tunisian coast after colliding with her sister Ville de Brest. Ville de Madrid was registered at 1,874 tons gross, measured 309 feet in length with a 33 foot beam and launched in April 1880. Chartered as a troopship for the Tunisian campaign in 1881 before beginning her scheduled service, she survived until broken up at Genoa in 1921.