MEDINA SIDONIA, DON ALONSO PEREZ DE GUZMAN EL BUENO, 7TH DUKE OF (1550-1615), com mander-in-chief of the Spanish Armada, was born Sept. 10, 1550. His father, Don Juan Claros de Guzman, died in 1555, and Don Alonso became duke, and on the death of his grandfather in 1559, master of one of the greatest fortunes in Europe. The family of Guzman first appears in the loth century, and the branch to which the dukes of Medina Sidonia belonged was founded by Alonso Perez de Guzman (1256-1309), El Bueno "the stout-hearted," so called for allowing his son to be killed rather than surrender Tarifa (1296). The duchy of Medina Sidonia was conferred on his descendant, Juan Alonso de Guzman, count of Niebla in 1445. The titles and grandeeship passed in accordance with Castilian law, by marriage of a daughter and heiress in 1777, to the marquess of Villafranca, and have since remained in that house. The 7th duke married Ana de Silva y Mendoza, daughter of the prince of Eboli. Though he bore the name of El Bueno, he was a man of mean spirit. Appointed to the command of the Armada
on the death (Feb. 9, 1588) of the marquess de Santa Cruz (q.v.), he sought to move Philip II. (who forced him to go out) by piteous declarations that he had neither experience nor capacity, and was always sick at sea. His conduct of the Armada justified his plea. He was even accused of cowardice, and was completely broken by the sufferings of the campaign. He retained his posts of "admiral of the ocean" and captain-general of Andalusia in spite of the contempt openly expressed for him by the whole nation. In 1596 his sloth and timidity lost Cadiz to the English. He was held up to ridicule by Cervantes in a sonnet. Yet the royal favour continued unmerited and unabated even under the succes sor of Philip II. In 1606 the duke's obstinacy and folly caused the loss of a squadron which was destroyed near Gibraltar by the Dutch. He died in 1615.
See C. Fern5.ndez Duro, La Armada invencible (Madrid, 1884).