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Osuna, Pedro Tellez Giron

OSUNA, PEDRO TELLEZ GIRON, 3rd duke of (1575-1624), Spanish viceroy of Sicily and Naples, was born at Osuna, and baptized on the 18th of January 1575. He was the son of Juan TeUez Giron, the 2nd duke, and of his wife Ana Maria de Velasco, a daughter of the constable of Castile. When a boy he accompanied his grandfather, the 1st duke, to Naples, where he was viceroy. He saw service at the age of fourteen with the troops sent by Phihp II. to put down a revolt in Aragon, and was married while still young to Doria Catarina Enriquez de Ribera, a grand-daughter on her mother's side of Hernan Cortes, the conqueror of Mexico. In 1598 he inherited the dukedom. Before and after his marriage he was known for the reckless dissipation of his hfe. The scandals to which his excesses gave rise led to his imprisonment at Arevalo in 1600. This sharp lesson had a wholesome effect on the duke, and in the same year he left for Flanders, with a body of soldiers raised at his own expense. His appearance in Flanders as a grandee with a following of his own caused some embarrassment to the king's oflicers. But Osuna displayed unexpected docility and good sense in the field. He was content to serve as a subordinate, and took a full share of work and fighting both by land and sea.

When peace was made with England in 1604 he is said to have visited London. He is said also to have paid a visit to Holland during the armistice arranged to allow of the negotiations for the twelve years' truce of 1609; but, as he was back in Spain by that year, he cannot have seen much of the country. His services had purged his early offences, and he had been decorated with the Golden Fleece. On the 18th of September 1610 he was named viceroy of Sicily, and he took possession of his post at Mclazzo on the 9th of March 161 1. In i6i6 he was promoted to the viceroyally of Naples, and held the office till he was recalled on the 28th of March 1620. The internal government of Osuna in both provinces was vigorous and just. During his Sicilian viceroyalty he organized a good squadron of galleys with which he freed the coast for a time from the raids of the Mahommedan pirates of the Barbary States and the Levant. After his transfer to Naples Osuna continued his energetic wars with the pirates, but he became concerned in some of the most obscure political intrigues of the time. He entered into a policy of unmeasured hostility to Venice, which he openly attacked in the Adriatic. The princes of the Spanish branch of the Habsburgs were at all times anxious to secure safe communication with the German possessions of their family. Hence their anxiety to dominate all northern Italy and secure possession of the Alpine passes. It would have suited them very well if they could have reduced Venice to the same state of servitude as Genoa. Osuna threw himself into this policy with a whole heart. There can be no reasonable doubt that he was engaged with the Spanish ambassador, and the viceroy of MUan, in the mysterious conspiracy against Venice in 16 18. As usual, the Spanish government had miscalculated its resources, and was compelled to draw back. It then found extreme difficulty in controlling its fiery viceroy. Osuna continued to act against Venice in an almost piratical fashion, and treated orders from home wiih scant respect. Serious fears began to be entertained that he meant to declare himself independent in Naples, and had he tried he could have brought about a revolt which the enfeebled Spanish government could hardly have suppressed. It is, however, unlikely that he had treasonable intentions. He allowed his naval forces to be gradually reduced by drafts, and when superseded returned obediently to Madrid. After his return he was imprisoned on a long string of charges, and largely at the instigation of the Venetians. No judgment was issued against him, as he died in prison on the 24th of September 1624. The " great duke of Osuna," as he is always called by the Spaniards, impressed the imagination of his countrymen profoundly as a vigorous, domineering and patriotic leader of the stamp of the 16th century, and he was no less admired by the Itahans. His ability was infinitely superior to that of the ordinary politicians and courtiers of the time, but he was more energetic than really wise, and he was an intolerable subordinate to the bureaucratic despotism of Madrid.

The Vita di Don Pieiro Giron, duca d' Ossuna, vicere di Napoli e di Sicilia of Gregorio Lc-ti (Amsterdam, 1699) is full of irrelevances, and contains much gossip, as well as speeches which are manifestly the invention of the author. But it is founded on good documents, and Leti, an Italian who detested the Spanish rule, knew the state of his own country well. See also Don C. Fernandez Duro, El Gran Duque de Osuna y su Marina (Madrid, 1885), and Documcntos incditos para la historia de Espana (Madrid, 1842, etc.), vols, xliv.- xlvii.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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