Alessandro Farnese

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Farnese, Alessandro

(älĕs-sän`drō färnā`zā), 1545–92, duke of Parma and Piacenza (1586–92), general and diplomat in the service of Philip II of Spain. He was the son of Duke Ottavio Farnese and Margaret of Parma and thus a nephew of Philip II and of John of Austria, under whom he distinguished himself at the battle of Lepanto (1571). In 1577, Farnese joined John in the Low Countries to fight the rebels against Spain. Appointed (1578) governor of the Netherlands, he took Tournai, Maastricht, Breda, Bruges, Ghent, and Antwerp from the rebels and secured continued possession of the southern part of the Netherlands for Spain (see Netherlands, Austrian and SpanishNetherlands, Austrian and Spanish,
that part of the Low Countries that, from 1482 until 1794, remained under the control of the imperial house of Hapsburg. The area corresponds roughly to modern Belgium and Luxembourg.
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). In 1590 he was sent to France at the head of a Spanish army to assist the Catholic LeagueLeague
or Holy League,
in French history, organization of Roman Catholics, aimed at the suppression of Protestantism and Protestant political influence in France.
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 against Henry IV of France. He relieved the siege of Paris (1590) and the siege of Rouen (1592), but was wounded soon afterward and retired to Arras, where he died. Farnese showed exceptional skill in military art and diplomacy.


See R. Solari, The House of Farnese (1968).

Farnese, Alessandro


Born Aug. 27, 1545, in Rome; died Dec. 3, 1592, in Arras. Military commander and official of the Spanish monarchy. Vicegerent in the Netherlands for the Spanish king from 1578 (officially, from 1581). Duke of Parma and Piacenza. Son of Ottavio Farnese, duke of Parma and Piacenza, and Margaret of Parma.

During the struggle of the Spanish monarchy to put down the Dutch bourgeois revolution, Farnese succeeded in recapturing the Walloon provinces for Spain, concluding a treaty with the Union of Arras in May 1579. After a series of victories over the revolutionary forces, he was able to seize most of the southern Netherlands. In the early 1590’s, Farnese was defeated by the troops of Maurice of Nassau. On orders from Phillip II of Spain, Farnese invaded France, forcing Henry of Navarre to lift the siege of Paris in 1590 and the siege of Rouen in 1592.

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