DON JOHN OF AUSTRIA by Charles Petrie


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Sir Charles, the distinguished author of several volumes of Spanish history, presents us with an interesting and interpretative study of the life of Don John of Austria. Ambitious and filled with impetuosity, the half-brother of Philip II of Spain, Don John became the dominant figure of the Holy League and, at the age of 24, the commander of the fleet that defeated the Turks in the decisive Battle of Lepanto that saved Europe from invasion in 1571. His talents were certainly military rather than administrative, and the author finds some evidence to indicate that when Don John died seven years later as Governor of the Netherlands it was to Spain's best interest. His temperament was impulsive and he frequently let his own interests predominate over those of Spain's. It is unfortunate that, while the author's scholarship is indisputable, he allows himself to often drift off into irrelevancies, especially concerning the role of Cervantes in the Battle of Lepanto as well as a few sorties against other scholars, W.T. Walsh, in particular. At the same time, he breaks up an otherwise flowing narrative with frequent quotations of long dispatches. These are, however, peripheral criticisms of an excellent study.

Pub Date: Sept. 29th, 1967
Publisher: Norton