The historical origin of the town of Alba de Tormes is uncertain, according to Fr. César Morán corresponds to a pre-Roman fort and then to a Roman population with the name of Albocola. On the other hand, there are indications that sink the roots of its occupation to the first prehistoric periods in relation to its topographic situation on the right bank of the river Tormes.

The only reference of the antiquity is of Roman epoch, proof of this, is that in the vicinity of the villa, there is the Roman road towards Salamanca and the approximate layout of the bridge of this epoch is intuited.

In the 10th century, after a period without news of Alba de Tormes, references of the population appear again. The repopulation process was ordered by Alfonso VI.

On July 4, 1140, King Alfonso VII granted the Charter to the council of Alba, but that charter was lost, and in 1273 King Alfonso XII ratified it, said document is in the historical archive of the town council.

Doña Beatriz de Portugal was Lady of Alba until 1411. On her death, it became the property of the Infantes de Aragón. The wars between these and John II of Castile, gave the victory to the latter supported among others, by great lineages, causing the Lordship of Alba to yield to the lineage of the Álvarez de Toledo.

During the sixteenth century, Alba de Tormes developed the most fertile cultural life of its history by the hand of the III Duke of Alba, Don Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, and the Santa Teresa de Jesús.

The history of the town darkened in successive centuries to coincide with the destruction caused by the great floods of the river Tormes, the War of Independence and the process of confiscation of religious property. The recovery and development acquired at the end of the 19th century and during the 20th century indicate that Alba de Tormes wants to have a place in the history of the new millennium.

Today it has great historical importance due to the characters that passed through it, from the House of Alba to Santa Teresa de Jesús, along with Garcilaso de la Vega, Lope de Vega or Calderón de la Barca among others, in addition to the various tourist resources such as natural, gastronomic, historical, monumental and religious.

The duchy of Alba

The relationship of Alba de Tormes with the Álvarez de Toledo family began in 1429, when Juan II, King of Castile, handed over the Lordship of Alba de Tormes to D. Gutierre Álvarez de Toledo, Bishop of Palencia, Major Chancellor of Queen Leonor, Archbishop of Seville and Primate of Toledo.

The villa was bequeathed to his nephew D. Fernando, becomes I Duke of Alba, title granted to him by King Henry IV. On his death, he inherited the title of II Duke of Alba, his son D. Fadrique, born in 1460, and cousin by mother, of Fernando El Católico. He was at the service of the Catholic Monarchs and later with Charles I, who in 1519 granted him the Golden Fleece, and was the first Castilian nobleman to receive it. D. Fadrique introduced him to the coat of arms of the House of Alba and in 1520 the king named him Grandee of Spain.

D. Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, III Duke of Alba, the Grand Duke, is one of the most important figures in the history of Spain, both militarily and politically.

His son D. Fadrique, became the IV Duke of Alba. He was born on November 21, 1537 and shared with his father numerous war adventures. The descendants continued the dynasty of the Álvarez de Toledo until the XI Duchess of Alba, Dña. María de Teresa Álvarez de Toledo Haro y Guzmán, married Mr. José Manuel de Silva y Mendoza. Thus, in the following generations the Silva were the holders of the Alba states.

Later, there was a new change of surname. The XIII Duchess of Alba, Dña. María del Pilar Teresa Cayetana, died in 1802 without issue, and that is when her rights pass to the Fitz- James Stuart, surname that is preserved to this day with the current XIX Duke of Alba, D. Carlos Fitz-James Stuart Martínez de Irujo.



D. Fernando Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel was born in Piedrahíta on October 29, 1507. He is the son of García Álvarez de Toledo and Zúñiga, heir of Fadrique Álvarez de Toledo, II Duke of Alba, and Beatriz Pimentel.

From his early childhood he accompanied his grandfather D. Fadrique in his military campaigns and at the age of 6 he witnessed the capture of Navarre. When he died in 1531, he became 24 years old in III Duke of Alba, being recognized throughout Europe as Grand Duke of Alba or The Grand. With it, the House of Alba reached its greatest splendour, as did its residence, the Renaissance Ducal Castle of Alba de Tormes, which lived its golden age.

He maintained an inseparable friendship with his comrade in arms, the poet Garcilaso de la Vega, and with Juan Boscán, his preceptor.

Throughout his life he incorporated countless titles of nobility and diplomats, among others, the IV Marquis of Coria, III Count of Salvatierra de Tormes, II Count Piedrahíta and VIII Lord of Valdecorneja. He was named Grand of Spain and Horse of the distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece in 1546, in Utrecht.

For his bravery and unbeatable qualities as a military strategist, he became Major Butler and Member of the Councils of State and War of the kings Charles I and his son and successor, Philip II, becoming his man of greater confidence and obedience.

In Alba de Tormes, on 27 April 1529 he married his cousin María Enríquez, confidant of Santa Teresa de Jesús.

In 1579 the Duke suffered exile to Uceda, because of the marriage of his heir Fadrique without permission of the king, but, on the occasion of the war with Portugal, the king requested his services that culminated in a new victory that allowed him to enter Lisbon triumphantly.

He died in Tomar (Lisbon), on December 11, 1582. His remains were buried in the convent of San Leonardo, currently the convent of San Jerónimo and Archaeological Museum Father Belda, in Alba de Tormes, awaiting the completion of the works of the church of San Esteban (Salamanca). In November 1619, her grandson, the 5th Duke of Alba, moved her remains from the convent of San Leonardo to San Esteban.


Alba de Tormes was a strategic place during the years of the War of Independence. By its geographical position, controlling Alba meant maintaining the Tormes line.

With the mission to dominate the Medieval Bridge, the Castle of the Dukes of Alba became a privileged watchtower and, consequently, the entire town on a battlefield with continuous surprises.

Since its occupation in 1809, the Castle witnessed on 28 November 1809 how the battle of Alba de Tormes was being fought in which the Spanish army of the left led by the General del Parque suffered defeat before the cavalry of the French General François Ètienne de Kellerman. This led to Alba de Tormes being recorded in the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Clashes with the enemy army continued. During the retreat of the French defeated in the battle of Arapiles on July 22, 1812, the Spanish troops led by the Count of Spain, should have defended the Bridge of Alba. Not following General Wellington's orders, he forced the cavalry of the League of Germany to face the French rear in the neighboring municipality of Garcihernández, with a resounding victory for the Germans.

But it can be said that when the Castle took a special role, it is on the occasion of the withdrawal of the troops. In November 1812, with the French regrouped, Wellington had to withdraw from Burgos to Portugal via Alba de Tormes.

On 14 November 1812 there were clashes between the armies which resulted in the destruction of two arches of the bridge by the Scots led by Stewart. It was the Spanish troops with Lieutenant Colonel José Miranda Cabezón in command, which, from the Tower, prevented its reconstruction by facilitating the withdrawal of the Allies.

From 14 to 24 November 1812 were decisive days in the defense of the Castle, which was already destroyed. Wellington ordered Cabezón to hold him until his retreat, a mission which he carried out successfully until his complete evacuation.

With the passage of time and the collection of materials by the neighbors «a dos reales el carro»the Castle of the Dukes of Alba was dismantled and the Armory Tower remained standing, with successive renovations, keeps in its walls the passage of the history of the Villa of Alba de Tormes.