House of Alba

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Coat of arms of the Dukes of Alba of the House of FitzJames
Arms of Cayetana, 18th Duchess of Alba

The House of Alba (es: Casa de Alba) is a prominent Spanish aristocratic family that derives from the 12th century Mozarab nobility of post-conquest Toledo. Their claim to Alba goes back to 1429, when the first Álvarez de Toledo was made Lord of the City of Alba de Tormes. In 1492, it was a member of this family, the second Duke of Alba, who signed the capitulation of the city of Granada.

Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 3rd Duke of Alba, was given the title of governor general of the Spanish Netherlands during the mid 16th century. The third duke's first cousin was Doña Eleonor de Toledo, who married Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany. By her granddaughter Marie de' Medici, Queen of France, she became the ancestress of many crowned heads and heirs apparent of Europe. Her descendants include Juan Carlos I of Spain, Henri, Grand Duke of Luxembourg, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.

In 1802, María Cayetana de Silva, 13th Duchess of Alba, died without issue and her titles were inherited by a relative, Carlos Miguel Fitz-James Stuart, 14th Duke of Alba. Thus, the dukedom of Alba passed to the senior branch of the House of FitzJames, which took over the patrimony of the House of Alba.

The current head of the House of Alba is Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba. She holds the Guinness Book of Records title for the largest number of noble titles, with over 40 titles.

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