Fernando Álvarez de Toledo Alba, duque de
Alba or Alva, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, duque de (ălˈbə, ălˈvə, Span. both: fārnänˈdō älˈvärāth dā tōlāˈħō dōˈkā dā älˈvä) [key], 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 Netherlands, he was appointed (1567) captain general there, with full civil and military powers. The regent, Margaret of Parma, 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 Egmont and Hoorn) 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 Silent, but he was unable to recover much of the NW Netherlands, which had been taken by the Gueux. 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.
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