Alba, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, duque de

Alba or Alva, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, duque de

(ăl`bə, ăl`və, Span. both: fārnän`dō äl`värāth dā tōlā`thō do͞o`kā dā äl`vä), b. 1507 or 1508, d. 1582, Spanish general and administrator. After a distinguished military career in Germany and Italy, Alba returned to Spain as adviser to King Philip II. Advocating a stern policy toward the rebels against Spain in the NetherlandsNetherlands
, Du. Nederland or Koninkrijk der Nederlanden, officially Kingdom of the Netherlands, constitutional monarchy (2005 est. pop. 16,407,000), 15,963 sq mi (41,344 sq km), NW Europe.
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, he was appointed (1567) captain general there, with full civil and military powers. The regent, Margaret of ParmaMargaret of Parma,
1522–86, Spanish regent of the Netherlands; illegitimate daughter of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. She was married (1536) to Alessandro de' Medici (d. 1537) and (1538) to Ottavio Farnese, duke of Parma.
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, opposed him and resigned, and Alba became regent and governor-general. A religious fanatic and ruthless absolutist, he set out to crush the Netherlanders' attempts to gain religious toleration and political self-government. He set up a special court at Brussels, popularly known as the Court of Blood, which spread terror throughout the provinces. Some 18,000 persons were executed (among them the counts of EgmontEgmont, Lamoral, count of
, 1522–68, Flemish general and statesman, member of one of the noblest families of the Netherlands. In the service of Philip II of Spain he helped defeat the French at Saint-Quentin (1557) and Gravelines (1558) and was governor of Brabant and
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 and HoornHoorn or Horn, Philip de Montmorency, count of
, 1518?–1568, Netherlands nobleman, member of the council of state during the regency of Margaret of Parma.
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) and their properties confiscated. Increased taxation also fanned popular resentment, and in 1572 the Netherlanders rebelled again, on a larger scale than before. Alba defeated the invading forces of William the SilentWilliam the Silent
or William of Orange
(William I, prince of Orange), 1533–84, Dutch statesman, principal founder of Dutch independence. Early Life
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, but he was unable to recover much of the NW Netherlands, which had been taken by the GueuxGueux
[Fr.,=beggars], 16th-century Dutch revolutionary party. In 1566 more than 2,000 Dutch and Flemish nobles and burghers (both Protestants and Roman Catholics) signed a document—the so-called Compromise of Breda—by which they bound themselves in solemn oath to
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. In 1573 he was recalled to Spain in disgrace. In 1580, Philip was persuaded to use Alba for the conquest of Portugal. He took Lisbon within a few weeks.