Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart, 17th Duke of Alba

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The Most Excellent
The Duke of Alba
Duque De Alba Zuloaga (Cropped).jpg
Portrait by Zuloaga, 1918
Foreign Minister of Spain
In office
30 January 1930 – 18 February 1931
Monarch Alfonso XIII
Prime Minister Miguel Primo de Rivera
Preceded by Miguel Primo de Rivera
Succeeded by Álvaro de Figueroa
Personal details
Born Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó
17 October 1878
Madrid, Spain
Died September 24, 1953(1953-09-24) (aged 74)
Lausanne, Switzerland
Nationality Spanish
Spouse(s) María del Rosario de Silva y Gurtubay, 9th Marchioness of San Vicente del Barco
Children Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart, 18th Duchess of Alba
Residence Liria Palace
Medal record
Men's Polo
Representing  Spain
Olympic Games
Silver medal – second place 1920 Antwerp Team competition

Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y Falcó, 17th Duke of Alba, GE, KOGF, OCIII, GCVO, LH, OL (17 October 1878 – 24 September 1953) was a Spanish noble, diplomat, politician and art collector. He was one of the most important aristocrats of his time, and held, among other titles, the Dukedoms of Alba de Tormes and Berwick, the Countship of Lemos, Lerín and Montijo and the Marquessate of Carpio. He was also a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece of Spain in 1926.[1]

Marriage and family[edit]

The Duke was the son of Carlos María Fitz-James Stuart, 16th Duke of Alba and María del Rosario Falcó, 21st Countess of Siruela. He married in London on 7 October 1920, María del Rosario de Silva, 9th Marchioness of San Vicente del Barco (Madrid, 4 April 1900 – Madrid, 11 January 1934) and had a single daughter, Cayetana, who inherited all the family's titles and fortune.

Early years[edit]

He carried out his first studies under private tutors, but was later sent to England to study at Beaumont College, followed by Eton. After returning to Spain and concluding his school days at San Isidro, he continued with his higher education enrolling in the Universidad Central de Madrid, where he obtained his bachelor's degree in Law.

Diplomatic career[edit]

He served as Lord of the Bedchamber to the young King Alfonso XIII, who had acceded on his birth. In May 1902 royal visitors came to Madrid for the festivities to mark the King´s birthday and enthronement. The duke received the Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order (GCVO) from the Duke of Connaught who was present for the festivities.[2][3]

Between 2 February 1930 and 18 February 1931 Alba was Foreign Minister in Spain. During the Spanish Civil War, the Communists occupied his residence, the Palace of Liria (which his daughter later restored), and murdered his younger brother Hernando Carlos Maria Theresa FitzJames Stuart y Falco (1882-1936). Alba became General Franco's official representative in London. He was still the Ambassador there in 1939, when Neville Chamberlain's cabinet formally gave Franco's Nationalists diplomatic recognition.

Master spy Kim Philby says in his memoir My Silent War that the Spanish diplomatic bag during WW2 was regularly accessed, "and from it [we] learnt that Alba periodically sent to Madrid despatches on the British political scene of quite exceptional quality. As we had no doubt that the Spanish Foreign Ministry would make them available to the German allies, these despatches represented a really serious leakage. Yet there was nothing that could be done. There was no evidence that the Duke had obtained his information improperly. He simply moved with people in the know and reported they said, with shrewd commentaries of his own."

Following World War II, Alba's relations with Franco markedly cooled, the result of Alba supporting a prompt monarchist restoration much more than Franco did. He was a leading guest at the 1947 wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.[4]

Olympic career[edit]

He won a silver medal in the 1920 Olympic Games polo event.[5]



Titles and styles[edit]



The Duke of Alba and Winston Churchill at a polo match in Madrid in 1914.



  • 16th Marquess of the Carpio, Grandee of Spain
  • 22nd Marquess of Coria
  • 19th Marquess of Ardales -Ceded to his sister Doña Sol
  • 19th Marquess of la Mota
  • 19th Marquess of Moya
  • 18th Marquess of Sarria
  • 17th Marquess of Barcarrota
  • 17th Marquess of Villanueva del Fresno
  • 16th Marquess of Villanueva del Río
  • 15th Marquess of la Albaga
  • 13th Marquess of Eliche
  • 13th Marquess of San Leonardo
  • 11th Marquess of Osera
  • 11th Marquess of Tarazona


  • 21st Count of Lemos, Grandee of Spain
  • 21st Count of Siruela, Grandee of Spain
  • 19th Count of Lerín, Grandee of Spain, Constable of Navarre
  • 19th Count of Osorno, Grandee of Spain
  • 15th Count of Monterrey, Grandee of Spain
  • 24th Count of San Esteban de Gormaz
  • 20th Count of Miranda del Castañar
  • 20th Count of Modica (Kingdom of Sicily)
  • 19th Count of Villalba
  • 18th Count of Andrade
  • 17th Count of Gelves
  • 16th Count of Galve
  • 15th Count of Casarrubios del Monte
  • 15th Count of Fuentes de Valdepero
  • 13th Count of Ayala
  • 11th Count of Santa Cruz de la Sierra
  • 10th Count of Fuentidueña
  • 10th Earl of Tinmouth (Jacobite Peerage)


  • 11th Viscount of la Calzada



  • The Most Excellent The Duke of Huéscar (1878–1901).
  • The Most Excellent The Duke of Alba de Tormes (1901–1953).


  1. ^ Geneall
  2. ^ "No. 27440". The London Gazette. 6 June 1902. p. 3681. 
  3. ^ William A. Shaw, The Knights of England, page 425
  4. ^ Royal Collection: Seating plan for the Ball Supper Room
  5. ^ Sports Reference Olympics Archived 2009-07-04 at the Wayback Machine.
  6. ^ Royal Decree of 1925/-Mémorial du centenaire de l'Ordre de Léopold. 1832-1932. Bruxelles, J. Rozez, 1933.

External links[edit]

Spanish nobility
Preceded by
Carlos María Fitz-James Stuart
Duke of Alba
Succeeded by
Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart
Duke of Berwick
Duke of Montoro
Duke of Huéscar
Succeeded by
Carlos Fitz-James Stuart
Preceded by
Empress Eugénie
Marquess of Ardales
Succeeded by
Jaime de Mitjans
Italian nobility
Preceded by
Carlos María Fitz-James Stuart
Count of Modica
Succeeded by
Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart