Alba or Alva, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, duque de
, 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 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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