Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, Marquis of Villafranca

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Pedro Álvarez de Toledo

Marquis of Villafranca del Bierzo
Tizian (Umkreis) - Bildnis eines Edelmanns - WAF 1085 - Bavarian State Painting Collections.jpg
Viceroy of Naples
In office
September 1532 – 1552
MonarchCharles V
Preceded byPompeo Cardinal Colonna
Succeeded byLuis Álvarez de Toledo y Osorio
Personal details
BornJuly 13, 1484
Madrid, Spain
DiedFebruary 21, 1553(1553-02-21) (aged 68)
Florence, Italy
Spouse(s)Maria Osorio, 2nd Marquise of Villafranca del Bierzo

Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Zúñiga, jure uxoris Marquis of Villafranca del Bierzo (Spanish: Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Zúñiga, Marqués de Villafranca del Bierzo; July 13, 1484 – February 21, 1553) was a Spanish politician. The first effective Spanish viceroy of Naples, in 1532–1552, he was responsible for considerable social, economic and urban change in the city and southern Italian kingdom, in general.


Early life[edit]

He was born in 1484 near Salamanca in Spain, the second son of Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, 2nd Duke of Alba.[1] His paternal grandmother was Maria Enriquez, the step-sister of Juana Enríquez, Queen Consort of Aragon through her marriage to widower king of Aragon Juan II of Aragon, and the mother of Ferdinand II of Aragon and ancestress of Habsburgs. Through this relation, Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain was a second cousin of Don Pedro.

Viceroy of Naples[edit]

Spain took over the Kingdom of Naples in 1503 and solidified her grasp after the final, failed attempt by France in 1529 to retake the kingdom. For the first three decades of the century, a succession of inconsequential viceroys ruled the vicerealm. Don Pedro arrived as viceroy in September 1532.

Don Pedro’s rebuilding of the city went on for years. Old city walls were expanded and an entirely new wall was built along the sea front. Fortresses along those walls and further up and down the coast from the city were modernized, and the Arsenale—the naval shipyards—were expanded considerably. Don Pedro also built the viceregal palace as well as a dozen blocks of barracks nearby, a square grid of streets lined with multi-storied buildings—unique in Europe for its time. Today, that section of Naples is still called the “Spanish Quarter”. The goal was to make not just the city of Naples, but the Gulf of Naples and eventually, the entire vice-realm invulnerable—that is, the entire southern Italian peninsula.

Eleanor of Toledo, daughter of marquis Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, Viceroy of Naples, 1532- 1553, was the wife, since 1539, of Cosimo I de' Medici, Duke of Florence. Portrait by Angelo Bronzino, oil on wood, 115x96 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Don Pedro ruled harshly. In 1542 he closed the Accademia Pontaniana. He instituted summary execution for petty theft on public streets and made it a capital crime to go armed at night in the city. He was ruthless in dealing with feudal barons in the countryside and encouraged their moving into the city within reach of a central authority. This breaking-up of land holdings began a trend to urbanization as both the landed class and the landless peasant class poured into Naples. By 1550, the population of 200,000 was second only to Paris in all of Europe. Within the city, he centralized administration, moving all courts onto the same premises, the Castel Capuano, also known as the "Vicaria".

Don Pedro is remembered as the viceroy who tried without success to institute the Spanish Inquisition in Naples, in 1547. When the announcement of the Inquisition finally came in May 1547, the protest was immediate, turning violent very quickly. It was not a "popular" revolution, but rather a revolt by many of the landed nobility in and around Naples and Salerno, property owners who knew that the Inquisition had a reputation for confiscating the wealth and property of those whom it questioned.

Don Pedro, upon the order of the emperor Charles V, backed down and the Inquisition was called off. In 1552, Charles V calmed the populace further by sending Toledo off to Siena to handle a local problem. The viceroy died in Florence, where one of his daughters, Eleanor of Toledo was duchess consort of Medici the following year.

Don Pedro's reputation as a city-builder has stood the test of time. The city of Naples still bears his stamp in countless places. He was supposed to be entombed in the church of San Giacomo degli Spagnoli in Naples, but his sudden death in Florence meant he was buried in the Cathedral of Florence then.[2]




Don Pedro Álvarez de Toledo married in 1508 Maria Osorio Pimentel, 2nd Marquise of Villafranca del Bierzo. They had seven children:



  1. ^ Domínguez Ortiz, Antonio. Los judeoconversos en España y América (in Spanish). As with many Castilian noble families of the time, converso ancestry has been attributed. However, detailed genealogical analysis has suggested a mozarab origin
  2. ^ (in Italian)Via Toledo in Naples, information[permanent dead link]

Other sources[edit]

  • Amabile, Luigi (1892). Il santo Officio della Inquisizione in Napoli (in Italian). Città di Castello, Italy: S. Lapi.
  • Croce, Benedetto (1915). Storia del Regno di Napoli (in Italian). Bari, Italy.
  • De Seta, Cesare (1981). Le Città nella Storia d'Italia: Napoli, 'Il Viceregno' (in Italian). Bari, Italy: Laterza. pp. 106–128.
  • Domínguez Ortiz, Antonio (1971). Los judeoconversos en España y América (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain.
  • "Don Pedro de Toledo". Around Naples Encyclopedia. September 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 20 January 2009.
  • Tejada, Francisco Elías (1958). Nàpoles hispanico (in Spanish). Madrid, Spain.

Spanish nobility
Preceded by
Luis Pimentel, 1st Marquis of Villafrancal
Marquis of Villafranca
Succeeded by
Fadrique de Toledo, 3rd Marquis of Villafranca
Government offices
Preceded by
Pompeo Cardinal Colonna
Viceroy of Naples
Succeeded by
Luis Álvarez de Toledo y Osorio, interim, 2 months, in 1552, on his father illness