The New Student's Reference Work/Alva, Duke of

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Alva (äl' vä), Duke of, a Spanish general, was born in 1508. When a mere boy he gained distinction at the battle of Pavia, and at the age of 29 defended the town of Perpignan against the dauphin of France. He soon rose to be commander of the Spanish army. In 1567, at the head of 10,000 men, he marched into the Netherlands with unlimited powers from Philip II of Spain to proceed against the heretics there. The Court of Blood, which he established here, soon became widely known and feared, and Alva boasted that he had sent 18,000 men to execution. But this great cruelty led to the revolt, which afterward made the Low Countries independent. Alva was recalled to Spain, soon after imprisoned, and, though set free when a skillful general was needed to lead an army against Portugal, he never regained the confidence of Philip. He was able, cruel and proud. His pride is shown by his reply to Philip's demand for an account of the treasure he had captured at Lisbon, "If the king asks me for an account," said Alva, "I will make him a statement of kingdoms preserved or conquered, of signal victories, of successful sieges and of sixty years' service." Nothing more was said about the account. He died in 1582.