Biography of García Duque de Alba Álvarez de Toledo (ca. 1435-1488)

Spanish Aristocrat, second count of Alba (1464-1469) and first Duke of Alba (1469-1488). He/She was also Marquis of Coria and count of Salvatierra. He/She was born around 1435 and died in 1488. Figure of the first order in Castilian politics of his time, served with loyalty to Henri IV and, subsequently, to the Catholic monarchs. In addition to this political and military presence, the Duke of Alba noted for its quality of art patrons, beautifying the constructions of Alba de Tormes and keeping an extraordinary Court of musicians, artists and poets in his stately Palace.


He was son, eldest son of the first Earl of Alba, Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, and of Mencia Carrillo. As it is usual, data from their childhood, are unknown, although supposedly dedicated to the military and knightly education inherent in their noble status. In fact, during the Government of his father at the time House Barcelona, García has already put samples of their Warrior and military momentum. The chronicler Alonso de Palencia tells García against Juan II rebellion in 1451, when the monarch and their valid, Álvaro de Luna, imprisoned his father, Fernando conde. Palencia (Chronicle of Henry IV, I, p. 38) describes the first military action of the future Duke of Alba:

He made so many havoc with their raids and logging by the neighbouring territory, in revenge for the imprisonment of his father, that he/she came to hope of freeing him, and had succeeded [...] to have not hampered the King Juan de Castilla.

With the death of Álvaro de Luna (1453), and also the death of the own Juan II (1454), the count Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, was released and replaced in their States. In the following years, García accompanied his father in the campaigns against the Kingdom of Granada es in 1455 and 1456, already under the rule of Henry IV, highlighting especially the action of both father and son, in the siege of Alcalá la Real, June 15, 1456.

With the death of his father in 1464, García inherited condal dignity and also honda political presence in the Castile of his time. Thus, in 1465 was one of the nobles who remained loyal to King Enrique IV after the proclamation of his brother Alfonso as King in the so-called farce of Avila. However, his attitude remained somewhat ambiguous, always by tilting between both sides in search of greater territorial gains and rentiers: as an example, in July 1465 had eight hundred soldiers which, under his leadership, participated in the siege of Simancas in favor of Enrique IV, where he/she ranks with the Marquis of Astorga or the Marquis of Santillana, son of the poet Iñigo de Mendoza. On the other hand, did not take part in the second battle of Olmedo, in August 1467, which Yes were the other members of the enriquena nobility. While there is evidence of his flirtation with the bando alfonsino, the count of Alba was one of those present at the ceremony of reconciliation of Enrique IV with its remarkable, which won him that in 1469 his title of Alba was elevated to ducal dignity.

In the following years, the new Duke continued to serve Enrique IV in different political aspects. This upward career also contributed his marriage with María Enríquez, daughter of Admiral Fadrique Enríquez and his second wife, Teresa de Quiñones. This circumstance linked him with the same Royal House, to be his wife half sister Juana Enríquez, wife of the King of Aragon, Juan II, and mother of the future King Catholic. If this outside little, double policy of the Dukes of Alba served to establish an extraordinary network of alliances in the Castilian nobility, alliances which, of course, always benefited García Álvarez de Toledo in his political prominence.

In 1469, despite his loyalty to Enrique IV, it was one of the nobles of the realm who attended the link between Isabel de Castilla and Fernando of Aragon, since it was the future King Catholic cousin. This Alliance by noble interests followed total support to the new Kings after the death of Enrique IV (1474). Perhaps guided by the existing relationship between the Duke don García and the Catholic King, in the spring of 1475 was sent by Fernando, in the company of the Duke of Nájera, Pedro Manrique, to try to appease the spirits of the Archbishop Carrillo, who had suddenly gone from being the great defender of Isabel and Fernando to abandon their cause. This refusal of the Archbishop seems that you produced some moments of hesitation in the Duke don García, about which side the newly started conflict continue. The chronicler Bernaldez expresses how Alfonso V of Portugal, days before the invasion, made numerous gifts and present some gentlemen of the Castilian nobility with the aim to support their war. The Duke of Alba was among them:

E them, assi the Castilla as the Andalusia, or the largest part dellos, recebieron what you shipment [i.e, Alfonso V of Portugal], with some intention of serve you, others living to "living who beat", and not offend you; others with intention of war with the same money, give you assi as did the Duke of Alva, don García, who was married to King don Fernando's aunt (mother's sister).(Bernaldez, memoirs, ed. cit., p. 48).

All sources seem to agree that kinship linking him to King Fernando was decisive for you pelease for their cause. Thus, the Duke of Alba noted at the siege of Zamora, in the summer of 1475, where he/she led the Spanish army artillery pieces with remarkable success. Alfonso de Portugal offensive forced the Duke of Alba to maintain the siege of Zamora to the spring of the following year, span of time in which don García also successfully participated in Castronuño decision, in April 1476, Fortress held by the feared Avendaño Pedro, one of the most ferrous opposition to the Catholic monarchs. Few months later, the Duke of Alba was found in the famous battle of Bull leading the forefront of Castilian troops, in the same battle where the count of Alba de Liste, the elder Enrique Enríquez, was taken prisoner by the Portuguese.

After join the Catholic Kings to Seville, where the Marquis of Cádiz, Rodrigo Ponce de León, swore obedience to the monarchs, the Duke of Alba returned to participate in the war against Portugal in October 1479. Also stood in front of his stately troops to be used to fund in the hard siege of the fortress of Miranda de el Castañar, which had been taken by supporters of Alfonso V. As the culmination to these actions, the Catholic monarchs granted the titles of count of Salvatierra and Marquis of Coria in the year 1479, consolidating Alba House as one of the grandest stately States of peninsular nobility.

Pacified the Kingdom and accepted without any discussion the Catholic monarchs as a sovereign monarch, following mentions of the Duke of Alba in the political history of Castile have theater campaigns against the Muslim Kingdom of Granada, begun in 1485 and completed in 1492 with the conquest of the same. Thus, in April 1485, the Duke don García, in the company of his son and heir don Fadrique, took part in the military campaign in the Val de Cartama, in front of their own Lordly troops, like the rest of the Castilian nobles. However, García could not see completed the conquest of Granada, since he/she died in 1488. He/She was succeeded in their States by his son Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, second Duke of Alba, also leading military of the time, as evidenced by their participation in the war of Granada, in the war against France Roussillon and the incorporation of Navarre to the Crown of Castile (1512), always on the side of the Catholic King. The first Duke had built his tomb at the jeronimo monastery of San Leonardo, located in the town of Alba de Tormes and where he/she was buried.

Descendants of the first Duke Alba

García Álvarez de Toledo, married to María Enríquez, daughter of the Admiral of Castile, Fadrique Enríquez, and his second wife, Teresa de Quiñones. To be his wife sister father of Juana Enríquez, second wife of Juan II of Aragon and mother of Fernando the Catholic, family ties that linked him to the most powerful monarch of his time influenced deeply in the titled perquisites and rich heritage territorial both García Álvarez de Toledo and especially their children, cousins of the Kingthey were able to acquire. The offspring of the first Duke of Alba is as follows:

-Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, second Duke of Alba, Marqués de Coria, count of Salvatierra, and Señor de Valdecorneja and Piedrahita. He/She married Isabel de Estúñiga, daughter of Álvaro of Estuñiga, Duke of Bejar.- Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, Lord of Villora and Commander more of Leon in the order of Santiago. Origin of the House of Ayala-García Álvarez de Toledo, Lord of la Horcajada. He/She married Mayor of Toledo-Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, Lord of Mancera. Commander of Mora in the order of Santiago-Gutierre Álvarez de Toledo, Bishop of Plasencia-Mencía Enríquez de Toledo, married Leonor de Ayala, daughter of Pedro López de Ayala, second wife of Beltrán de la Cueva, first Duke of Alburquerque-Francisca Álvarez de Toledo, married to Francisco Fernández de la Cueva, second Duke of Alburquerque-María Álvarez de Toledo, married Gómez Suárez de Figueroasecond count of Feria-Teresa Álvarez de Toledo, married to Pedro Manrique, second count of Osorno.

Work poetics and cultural patronage

In some Castilian songbooks from the centuries XV and XVI can be read a few verses attributed to a 'Duke of Alba», in addition to some verses as 'inventions and letters of justadores', of which were on the crest of the helmet on the occasion of a knightly feast. As indicates Vicenç Beltran (op. cit., p. 19), the popularity of these compositions during the reign of Enrique IV (1454-1474) prefers the balance of the identification to the Duke don García, and not his son Fadrique. Fame as a poet of García Álvarez de Toledo must have been wide, since he/she even have a beautiful song "Never it was longer sentence", one of the most famous of all cancioneril poetry, although the basis of the fatherhood of the Duke of Alba is not entirely clear. Yes it is, instead, a topical song of love contained in the Cancionero general of Hernando of the Castillo (1511), an example of the literary activity emanating from the pen of the Duke:

You, my sad Esperança, agrees that despair, so that my fortune guide it against what you want.

And to your very cute colordale Beck of mourning, because he/she is not expected consueloque comfort your pain.More expected each diacrescer the evil that you die, so that my fortune guide it against what you want.

(General Songbook, 1511, f. 123v).

Another factor to identify García Álvarez de Toledo as the «Duke of Alba» of the Castilian songbooks resides in its work of cultural patronage. Through the pages of these poetic collections Roman can glean the relationship kept don García with other cancioneriles authors of the era of Enrique IV, as Juan Barba, Juan Álvarez cat, Tapia and the Commander. In addition, should take into account that during the Government of don García in the casa ducal, the city of Alba de Tormes became one of the most prominent noble courts of Castile late medieval, in which lived poets, musicians and artists from all over Europe. During the redevelopment of the castle of Alba de Tormes, and under the direct consent of the first Duke of Alba, they worked artists such as Enrique Egasand Juan racing. With regard to music, told the Court of the Duke of Alba with the best two of the time: Spanish Juan del Encina and, above all, the flamenco Johannes de Vrrede (whose Spanish name was Juan de Urreda), in the service of the Duke until 1477, King Fernando the Catholic joined in the chapel. In this way, García Álvarez de Toledo has gone down in history as one of the main patron of Spanish humanism, work that would be continued by his descendants.


BELTRAN PEPIÓ, V. The love song in the autumn of the middle ages. Barcelona, PPU, 1988.

BERNÁLDEZ, a. memoirs of the reign of the Catholic monarchs. Eds. M. j. Carriazo & M. Gómez-Moreno, Madrid, Royal Academy of history, 1962.

Lopez DE HARO, A. genealogical Peerage of the Kings and Spain titles. Madrid, Luis Sánchez, 1622, 2 vols.

PALENCIA, a. of crónica de Enrique IV of Castile. Madrid, Atlas, 1973-1975, 3 vols.