Alba, General and Servant to the Crown

New book on Alba, edited by Maurits Ebben, Margriet Lacy-Bruijn and Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier. Each of its fifteen chapters are dedicated to developing a new understanding of a sometimes misunderstood figure in European history.

Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Third Duke of Alba, is one of the most formidable and controversial figures of the sixteenth century. He has been depicted as a great hero, an indefatigable defender of the Catholic faith and a true buttress of the Spanish monarchy, but also as a terrifying man, the dark suppressor of the revolt in the Low Countries.

During his long and fascinating life Alba revealed wide-ranging skills and interests. A successful soldier, he was also a distinguished courtier and an influential diplomat serving his monarchs, Charles V and Philip II, without fail. Moreover, he was a maecenas and an avid art collector.

 


A new understanding of a complex man

Alba loyally served the kings of Spain, Charles V and his successor Philip II, as he performed the three-part task they had set themselves: defending Christian Europe against the Muslim Turks, championing the Catholic Church in its fight against the heretics, and gaining supremacy within European Christianity. What should not be overlooked here is the fact that of the 59 years that he actively served the kings of Spain, Alba spent a mere six in the Low Countries. Were this to be disregarded, his versatility would receive insufficient attention. He was successful as a courtier but also as a diplomat, as is demonstrated by the results of the negotiations that he conducted with Paul IV (peace treaty of Rome) and the French (Peace of Cateau-Cambrésis). Alba's long, fascinating life, full of ups and downs and turbulent times, marks him as one of the key protagonists in 16th century European history. Using a variety of sources, including previously unexamined data, sixteen leading historians from eight countries present newly developed insights and offer a nuanced image of the Grand Duque. Adopting different perspectives, they shed new light on this intriguing and influential leader, thus showing that Alba continues to be deserving of study and discussion.

Edited by Maurits Ebben, Margriet Lacy-Bruijn and Rolof van Hövell tot Westerflier, Alba: General and Servant to the Crown is beautifully illustrated with contemporary paintings and works of art, drawn from collections around the world. Each of its fifteen chapters are dedicated to developing a new understanding of a sometimes misunderstood figure in European history.

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Last Modified: 23-07-2014