Alessandro Farnese (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Combining prodigious military ability and political talent, Farnese came close to retaking all of the Netherlands for Spain before imperial distractions and drains on Philip’s finances elsewhere combined to undermine his achievements.
Alessandro Farnese had illustrious ancestry. His great-grandfather on his father’s side, for whom he was named, was Pope Paul III. His mother, Margaret of Austria, was the natural daughter of the Emperor Charles V. Two years after his birth, his father, Ottavio Farnese, inherited the Duchy of Parma. Alessandro and his twin, Carlo (named for his maternal grandfather), were the only children of his parents’ marriage. Carlo died within a few months of birth, making Alessandro the only legitimate heir to Ottavio and a treasured only child to Margaret.
In 1556, to cement the alliance between his father and Philip, the regent of Spain, Alessandro was sent to Brussels to reside at the Spanish court. For the next nine years, until his marriage and subsequent return to Parma, Alessandro would serve as a hostage to his family’s good faith and would complete his education in the Low Countries and Spain. He studied for a time in the great university town of Alcalá de Henares, where his course of study, shared with his contemporaries the Crown Prince Don Carlos and his uncle Don Juan of Austria, was designed by his uncle Philip II. Although Alessandro...
(The entire section is 1999 words.)
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