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Chronicle of Casa De Alba

The ancestry of the Dukes of Alba, the Toledo lineage, is intertwined with the history of the homonymous city, originally associated with Don Pedro, a descendant of Emperor Isaac Conmeno and a participant in the reconquest of Toledo. However, recent research points to their true roots in the prominent local Mozarabic community. The recognition of Esteban Illán as founder of the lineage stands out, with García Álvarez de Toledo consolidating the surname in 1326, whose descendants played key roles in medieval Castile.


The history of the ancestors of the Dukes of Alba, the Toledo lineage, is inextricably linked to that of the city from which it took its surname, whose main trunk was derived by genealogists from Don Pedro, son of the emperor of Constantinople Isaac Conmeno, who together with many other foreigners participated in the conquest of Toledo by King Alfonso VI. However, much more recent studies have indisputably established that the family origin is found in the large and influential Mozarabic community, established centuries ago in this city.

Esteban Illán has been recognized as the visible and original head of a wide kinship, and some of his descendants were important officers of the Castilian administration, such as García Álvarez de Toledo, who adopted the surname with which the family will be known in Castile since 1326.

1472 - 1667

In the fabric of the 15th century Castilian nobility, Gutierre Gómez de Toledo and his nephew Fernán Álvarez stood out for their political influence and military prowess. Their bond, highlighted by the Marquis of Santillana, cemented a legacy of loyalty and excellence that transcended generations, with figures such as García de Toledo and his son Fadrique strengthening the lineage. The education of the future Duke Fernando, under the guardianship of Juan Boscán and the influence of Garcilaso, reflects a commitment to the arts and culture, perpetuating the House's distinguished heritage.


Gutierre Gómez de Toledo and his nephew Fernán Álvarez de Toledo were leading figures in Castilian politics and militarism in the 15th century. Gutierre managed courtly affairs, assuring the prestige of the lineage with Fernán's military exploits.

Íñigo López de Mendoza, Marquis of Santillana, later praised the relationship between Fernán and his uncle Gutierre, highlighting how they shared teachings and experiences since childhood.

García de Toledo, Fadrique's successor and father, played an active role in the time of the Catholic Monarchs. Fadrique, known for his loyalty to Ferdinand the Catholic, faced personal tragedy but pinned his hopes on his grandson Fernando, the future duke.

Juan Boscán, as a tutor, was key in Fernando's education, influenced by the rules of the perfect courtier and poetry. Garcilaso, a friend of Boscán and close to Fernando, played a significant role in this formation and contributed verses in honor of the House.

Fadrique de Toledo died on October 18, 1531, and his grandson Fernando became the 3rd Duke of Alba. After the funeral ceremonies, Ferdinand assumed his titles and responsibilities, and went to Brussels to begin his service under Charles V and Philip II. His career, which encompassed various military and political functions, spanned fifty years, marking the reigns of both monarchs.

Fernando de Toledo is remembered as a complex and controversial figure in Spanish history, his legacy being the subject of extensive analysis and debate. His principles and values are reflected in his last words, transmitted by Fray Luis de Granada, where he emphasizes his loyalty, financial responsibility and integrity in recommending people for important positions.

The poetic legacy left by Fernando de Toledo is also remarkable, showing his emotional connection to his homeland, Alba de Tormes, and his sense of loss and love for his country. This aspect of his life underlines the personal and cultural dimension of his legacy, beyond his political and military achievements.

Fernando, the first-born son of the 5th Duke of Alba, became the 6th Duke after the death of his father. Born in 1595 and died in 1667, he married Antonia Enríquez de Ribera, heir to the marquisate of Villanueva del Río. Through this marriage, the Alba family inherited the Palace of Las Dueñas in Seville, of great future relevance for the family. Although the 6th Duke was not a prominent figure in Spanish politics, he stood out as a patron, counting Calderón de la Barca among his protégés.

The main succession of the Alba family ended with Antonio Martín, and the inheritance passed to Francisco de Toledo, the former duke's paternal uncle, who married Catalina de Haro and Guzmán, a union that added important titles and properties to the Casa de Alba. Despite the fact that the 17th century dukes of Alba played no important role in politics, the association with the Casa del Carpio brought new prestige to the family, especially because of the connection with figures such as the Count Duke of Olivares and Don Luis de Haro.

María Teresa Álvarez de Toledo y Haro, a product of this remarkable alliance, was the first woman to hold the ducal title of Alba, marrying Manuel de Silva, Count of Galve, thus continuing the legacy and influence of the family on the Spanish nobility.

Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba Key

1714 - 1762
The Duke of Huéscar

Fernando Silva Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of Huéscar and then 12th Duke of Alba, left a mark on Spanish diplomacy and militarism, notable from his youth in Versailles to being a major butler in Spain. The marriage bond of his descendant, María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana, with José Álvarez de Toledo, merged important lineages, highlighting the surname Toledo in the Alba family. María del Pilar's culturally rich life and controversies, including her supposed connection to Goya, have inspired literature and film, highlighting the enduring legacy of the Alba family.


Fernando Silva Álvarez de Toledo, initially known as Duke of Huéscar, later became the 12th Duke of Alba. Born in Vienna in 1714, Fernando played an important role both in the military and diplomatic spheres of Spain, becoming an extraordinary ambassador in Versailles at the age of thirty and later the chief butler of the palace in Spain.

The change of surname from Toledo to Silva, initiated by his father, marked a sentimental deviation in the history of the family, putting the surname Silva, of paternal origin, ahead of the historic Toledo. Fernando married only once and had a son, Francisco de Paula, who died before him, leaving behind a daughter, María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana.

María del Pilar married José Álvarez de Toledo, uniting two great lineages and restoring the surname Toledo to the Alba family. Known for her cultural and refined life, the Duchess became an emblematic character, involved in various controversies, including conflicts with Queen María Luisa and rumors of a relationship with Goya, becoming associated with the figures of the painter's famous Majas. His life and mysterious death have been the subject of numerous literary and cinematographic works.

Don Fernando de Silva Álvarez de Toledo, 12th Duke of Alba Mengs

1762 - PRESENT
The Berwick-Alba

The legacy of the Duchy of Alba passed to Carlos Miguel Fitz-James Stuart, 7th Duke of Berwick, after the death of the Duchess in 1802, marking the union of prominent lineages and the predominance of the Fitz-James Stuart surname in the Casa de Alba. Throughout the 19th century, the family maintained a politically reserved profile, but it excelled in artistic patronage. In the 20th century, James Fitz-James Stuart, 17th Duke, revitalized the house's political and cultural influence, contributing significantly to its legacy. Currently, the 19th Duke, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, focuses his efforts on preserving and promoting this legacy, opening family palaces to the public and continuing the tradition of patronage.


After the Duchess's death without heirs in 1802, the succession of the Duchy of Alba passed to Carlos Miguel Fitz-James Stuart, 7th Duke of Berwick, of the family descended from Maria Stuardo, established in Spain since the 18th century. His son, Jacobo, married Catalina Ventura Colón de Portugal, thus uniting important titles and noble lineages.

The duchy continued with Jacobo Fitz James Stuart, builder of the Liria Palace in Madrid. However, their direct successors did not stand out on the public scene. In 1802, Carlos Miguel Fitz-James Stuart united the houses of Berwick and Alba, marking the beginning of a new era for the family, where the surname Fitz-James Stuart predominated.

During the 19th century, the Dukes of Alba kept a low profile in politics, although they continued to influence the society of the time. Carlos Miguel, the first duke of this union, was a patron of the arts and formed a valuable artistic collection. Their descendants continued this tradition, and the family remained active in Spanish society.

In the 20th century, the political activity of the Casa de Alba was revitalized with Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, 17th Duke of Alba, a friend of Alfonso XIII and culturally and politically active. He began the reconstruction of the Liria Palace after the Civil War, and was ambassador to England. Married to María del Rosario Silva and Gurtubay, they fathered the future Duchess of Alba, Cayetana, who continued the family legacy, expanding artistic heritage and promoting culture through the Casa de Alba Foundation.

Today, the 19th Duke of Alba, Carlos Fitz-James Stuart, is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of the extended family legacy, opening the family's palaces to the public and continuing the patronage and cultural influence of his ancestors.

Charles Fitz-James Stuart, Duke of Alba


The literature on the Casa de Alba is wide and varied, reflecting both its significant history and its social and political impact in Spain:

  • “History of the Casa de Alba” by José Luis Sampedro Escolar (Madrid, 2006): This work combines historical description with anecdotes from the social life of the Alba family, offering an approach that mixes academic rigor with interest in the more human and everyday aspects of its members.
  • “The Duchy of Alba: the historical evolution, the government and the estate of a stately state (14th-16th centuries)” by José Manuel Calderón Ortega (Madrid, 2005): It focuses on the first centuries of family history, spanning from its origin to the 16th century, with special attention to the government and economic management of its domains.
  • “Los Álvarez de Toledo, Nobleza Viva” directed by Mª Pilar García Pinacho (Valladolid, 1998): This publication examines lineage connections and explores the history of different branches of the Toledo family, offering a complete view of their role in the Spanish nobility.

Biographies of prominent members of the Casa de Alba:

  • “The Grand Duke of Alba” by William Maltby, republished by Atalanta in 2007, offers a detailed view of the life and legacy of the 3rd Duke of Alba.
  • “The Iron Duke” and “The Grand Duke of Alba” by Henry Kamen and Manuel Fernández Álvarez, respectively, provide recent analyses of this important historical figure.
  • “Fernando Álvarez de Toledo” coordinated by Gregorio del Ser (Ávila, 2009), collects contributions from specialists on the occasion of the 5th Centenary of the birth of the 3rd Duke, celebrated in Ávila and Salamanca.

In addition, the figures of the Marshal of Berwick and Gutierre de Toledo have been studied in specific works, such as the biography of the Marshal of Berwick written by Duke Don Jacobo Fitz James Stuart (Madrid, 1925) and the work on Gutierre de Toledo by José Manuel Nieto Soria (Madrid, 2006).

Not only do these resources offer an in-depth look at the history and individuals of the Casa de Alba, but they also provide context and understanding of its role in Spanish and European history.

Liria Palace
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