The Duke of Alva (Alba)

Did I slander the Duke of Alba, in addition to misspelling his title?

A reader learned in Spanish history protests that my remark comparing Alva to bin Laden merely repeats English and Dutch slander. He also corrects the conventional misspelling: it turns out that Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel was the third Duke of Alba, not Alva. (Update: Another reader reports that b and v are pronounced almost identically in Spanish.) I was working from Hume’s report that under Alva’s (Alba’s) rule 18,000 heretics were burned in the Netherlands.

My reader refers me to William S. Maltby’s biography of Alba. I’ll add it to my list; in the meantime, anyone with facts is invited to tell me about them. I’m not sure whether the claim is that Alba didn’t preside over the burning of 18,000 heretics, or rather that under sixteenth-century conditions a Spanish nobleman could preside over the burning of 18,000 heretics without being especially bloodthirsty.

Update Apparently the burned heretics were mythical, but the bloodthirstiness wasn’t.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: