Historical story

The Duke of Alva

Last updated:2022-07-25

His Blood Council and other performances gave him a tough and ruthless image. The Duke of Alba traveled from Spain to the North in 1567 to put an end to the revolt there.

After the iconoclasm, Philip II sent the Duke of Alba to the Netherlands to restore peace. He gave him 10,000 soldiers and he was given unlimited authority to handle the situation as he saw fit.

Alva didn't let herself be told that twice. Immediately upon arrival, he set up the Council of Strokes, which the insurgents called the Blood Council for a reason. It was a kind of court. Those who opposed the Spanish regime ran the risk of being tried here. And the verdicts were not tender; the Council has had about 1,100 people executed. It seems that one of the councilors always slept, except when he was awakened to make his judgment, which was invariably:'to the gallows!'.

The Counts Egmond and Hoorne, colleagues of Willem van Oranje, were among the first victims of the Blood Council. It is thanks to this reign of terror that Alva acquired a bad reputation and people liked to ridicule him. The rhyme on April 1st, for example, refers to the day when the water beggars, a kind of pirates in the service of William of Orange, conquered the city of Den Briel (spectacles) from the Spaniards.

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