The appointment of Requesens to replace Alba, badly managed though it was, showed just how determined Philip was to resolve the situation in the Low Countries, for Don Luis was no ordinary adviser. Philip had known him for nearly forty years and trusted him deeply. Insistently, over the first two decades of his reign it had been to Requesens that Philip had turned when his own reputation had been at serious hazard: in 1563 he had sent him to Rome to find a settlement to the Carranza affair, and he had then trusted him to guide (and restrain) Don John in the campaigns in the Alpujarras and at Lepanto; in 1571 he had appointed him to the governorship of Milan so that he could both organise the despatch of troops and resources to Alba in the Low Countries and deal with the turbulence unleashed in the duchy by the enthusiasm with which Archbishop Carlo Borromeo had imposed the Tridentine reforms. Now, in 1573, Philip laid upon his friend the obligation of salvaging his own prestige in the Low Countries after the disasters of Alba’s rule. He wrote to him: ‘I entrust to you the greatest and the most important business that I have had or could have’ and insisted that ‘I will admit no excuses, nor must you for any reason give me [one] … I want you to serve me in this without making any reply’.1 So that Requesens could serve him effectively Philip gave him much greater resources in terms of men and money than Alba had ever enjoyed.
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