Santa Cruz, Álvaro De Bazán, First Marquis of (1526–1588)

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SANTA CRUZ, ÁLVARO DE BAZÁN, FIRST MARQUIS OF (15261588), Spanish admiral. Born in Granada to Álvaro de Bazán the elder, who contracted and commanded both Atlantic squadrons and Mediterranean galleys, the younger Bazán began early to serve alongside his father and, in 1543, fought at Muros Bay against the French. In 1554, he sailed in the armada that took Philip II of Spain to his marriage with Mary Tudor of England. On the death of the elder Bazán in 1555, he assumed command of his Atlantic squadron. With peace in 1559, Bazán took command of eight galleys to patrol the Strait of Gibraltar. In the war on corsairs, he closed the harbor of Tetuán, aided by engineers, and in 1564 participated in the capture of Peñón Vélez de la Gomera, an island off the coast of northern Morocco. In 1565 he joined García de Toledo's armada for the successful relief of Malta, under siege by the Turks. Philip II promoted Bazán to command the Neapolitan galleys, and in 1569 made him Marquis of Santa Cruz de Mudela. On his estates in La Mancha, Santa Cruz constructed at Viso del Marqués an Italianate palace decorated with murals of his naval triumphs.

At the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, Santa Cruz proved brilliant in command of the Holy League rearguard and countered an attempted Turkish rally to ensure the league's victory. In 1572 he captured a Turkish galley and liberated its slaves, an episode related in Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, a Lepanto veteran who called Santa Cruz "that thunderbolt of war . . . and never defeated captain." Interested in shipbuilding, Santa Cruz designed six galleasses (large warships using oars and sails) for Naples.

In 1578 he took command of the royal galleys of Spain. His quick response to the defeat and death of Dom Sebastian in Morocco saved Portugal's remaining strongholds at Tangier and Ceuta. For Philip's annexation of Portugal in 1580, Santa Cruz assembled a vast armada at Cádiz for a joint campaign with the duke of Alba. Alba invaded from Badajoz and marched to the sea at Setúbal. Santa Cruz sailed with his armada, assisted the duke of Medina Sidonia in the subjection of the Algarve, and met Alba. He loaded Alba's army aboard his armada and landed them at Cascais, downriver from Lisbon. The forces of Dom António, Philip's rival, had to abandon their positions upriver to face the invaders. Alba, supported by Santa Cruz's galleys, routed them, capturing Lisbon and the Portuguese navy.

Backers of Dom António, with covert aid from France and England, gained control of the Azores, save for São Miguel. Terceira was their stronghold. In 1582 Santa Cruz assembled an armada against the Azores and in July sailed from Lisbon. Off São Miguel, he encountered French admiral Philip Strozzi and the Portuguese count of Vimioso with thirty large and over thirty small armed vessels. He had twenty-five big ships, including two Portuguese galleons. After several days of maneuvering, on 26 July Strozzi forced the Atlantic's first big blue-water battle. After a hard fight, Santa Cruz emerged victorious. In 1583 he returned with an invasion force and conquered Terceira. Triumphant, he suggested that he invade England, which backed Dom António and Dutch rebels. Philip made Santa Cruz Captain General of the Ocean Sea and a grandee, but shelved the suggestion and allowed Santa Cruz's armada to dwindle.

In 1585 war erupted between Philip and England. Francis Drake attacked Vigo in Spain, then sacked Santo Domingo and Cartagena in the Caribbean. Philip ordered Santa Cruz to collect an armada of thirty-four ships to pursue Drake and asked him to submit a plan for the Enterprise (invasion) of England. Santa Cruz proposed an armada of more than 500 ships, large and small, to carry an invasion force from Spain. Philip decided on a smaller armada that would support an invasion army from the Spanish Netherlands.

In AprilMay 1587 Drake attacked Spanish preparations at Cádiz and the Algarve. Unprepared, Santa Cruz did not sail till July. He met the homeward-bound treasure fleets in the Azores, but on his return his armada was battered by storms. In Lisbon he found new orders to sail with 6,000 reinforcements to join Parma in the Narrows and cover his invasion of England. Storm damage, shortages, and foul weather held him to port, despite Philip's repeated demands that he sail. Under criticism and in failing health, he died on 9 February 1588. An aggressive and innovative commander, he might have succeeded, Spaniards believed, had he lived long enough to command the armada he had created.

See also Alba, Fernando Á lvarez de Toledo, duke of ; Armada, Spanish ; Lepanto, Battle of ; Medina Sidonia, Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, 7th duke of ; Parma, Alexander Farnese, duke of ; Philip II (Spain) .


Altolaguirre y Duvale, Angel de. Don Á lvaro de Bazán, primer marqués de Santa Cruz de Mudela. Madrid, 1888.

Herrera Oria, Enrique. Felipe II y el marqués de Santa Cruz en la empresa de Inglaterra: según los documentos del Archivo de Simancas. Madrid, 1946.

Pierson, Peter. "Thunderbolt of War," MHQ: Quarterly Journal of Military History 13, no. 4 (Summer 2001): 5463.

Peter Pierson

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Santa Cruz, Álvaro De Bazán, First Marquis of (1526–1588)

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Santa Cruz, Álvaro De Bazán, First Marquis of (1526–1588)