Don Pedro Alvarez de Toledo was born in 1484 near Salamanca in what was not yet the modern nation state of Spain. By the time of his death in 1553, not only did Spain exist, but the New World was upon us and the Spanish Empire encompassed the globe. It was a time that saw Copernicus, Martin Luther, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, the Counter Reformation, warrior Popes, and the Sack of Rome. In Italy, it was also a time of massive French invasions of the peninsula as well as the constant fear of invasion by the Turks. In Naples, add Vesuvius and the plague, and you have yourself some breathtaking times, to say the least.
Spain came into possession of the kingdom of Naples in 1503 but did not solidify her grasp until the final, failed attempt by France in 1529 to take the kingdom. For the first three decades of the century, a succession of inconsequential viceroys ruled the kingdom of Naples. By 1530, petty disputes, power brokering and general infighting among the local barons in and around Naples—still lords of their own fiefdoms—caused Charles V, the king of Spain and now the Holy Roman Emperor to send a viceroy to Naples who could take charge.
Don Pedro was such a person. (Portrait, above, is by an anonymous artist.) His arrival as viceroy in Naples in September of 1532 marked a fundamental change in the history of the kingdom and its capital city. The 20 years of his viceroyship were marked by political readjustment and social, economic and urban change. In spite of the intransigence of never-say-die feudalism, don Pedro converted the city from a medieval tangle into the largest and best-defended city in the Spanish Empire.
Naples had just been through the plague of 1529, which took, by some e...
... middle of paper ...
... handle some local problem. The viceroy died in Florence the following year. In spite of Don Pedro's religious zeal, his reputation as a city-builder has stood the test of time. The city of Naples still bears his stamp in countless places. He is entombed in the church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli (photo, above).
Amabile, Luigi. Il santo Officio della Inquisizione in Napoli, S. Lapi, Città di Castello 1892; [photostatic reprint]: Rubbettino, Soveria Mannelli. 1987.
Croce, Benedetto. Storia del Regno di Napoli. Bari. 1915.
De Seta, Cesare. Le Città nella Storia d'Italia: Napoli, "Il Viceregno" , pp 106-128. Editore Laterza, Roma- Bari. 1981.
Storia di Napoli, vol 5 (pp. 47-70), Società Editrice Storia di Napoli.
Tejada, Francisco Elìas. Napoli Spagnola, vol. 2. Controcorrente, Napoli, 2002.
(Original: Nàpoles hispanico. Madrid. 1958.)
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