Juan was the illegitimate son of the Spanish King and Holy Roman
Emperor Carlos I (Charles V) and half brother of King Felipe (Philip)
II of Spain. As a Spanish military commander, he achieved victory
over the Turks in the historic naval Battle of Lepanto.
from his mother, a burgher's daughter, at an early age, Juan was
brought up in concealment in Spain. After the death of his father
Carlos, Felipe II of Spain recognized him as his half brother,
provided him with a substantial household, and gave him the name
Don Juan de Austria (1559).
it was hoped that he would enter the church, the handsome and
spirited Don Juan expressed a desire to embark on a military career,
and Felipe acceded to his wishes. In the summer of 1568 Don Juan
had his first brief experience in warfare, fighting Moorish pirates
in the Mediterranean, and he was then appointed in March 1569
commander in chief of Spanish forces attempting to subdue the
rebellious Moriscos, or Christians of Moorish ancestry, in Granada.
Felipe then appointed him in 1571 to head the naval forces of
the Holy League of Spain, Venice, and the pope against the Ottoman
Turks in the eastern Mediterranean.
the prestige of his royal name, and by his enthusiasm, Don Juan
was able to impose a temporary unity of purpose on the quarreling
admirals of the league and to form the several fleets into an
effective fighting unit. In the Battle of Lepanto (Oct. 7, 1571)
the allies virtually annihilated the Turkish forces, thereby destroying
the myth of Turkish invincibility. The victory of Lepanto also
fired Don Juan's personal ambitions for further campaigns against
the Turks, but Felipe would only allow him to conquer Tunis (1573).
The city was, however, reconquered again by the Turks the following
several years Don Juan continued to chafe under the restraints
his prudent brother imposed upon him, but in 1576 he was appointed
governor-general of the Netherlands, then in open revolt against
Spanish authority. Don Juan was at first reluctant to accept this
difficult post and took it only on condition that he would be
allowed to invade England and wed Mary Stuart, the Scottish queen
then in captivity in England. In the Netherlands he signed the
Perpetual Edict with the rebels (February 1577), by which, in
exchange for rebel recognition of Don Juan as governor and restoration
of the Roman Catholic religion, Spanish troops were to be removed.
The provinces of Holland and Zeeland did not accept the return
to Catholicism and refused to recognize Don Juan's authority.
Don Juan then assumed the more congenial role of soldier and resumed
the war by capturing Namur.
Juan's last months were marred by the murder of his secretary,
Juan de Escobedo, who had aroused Felipe's enmity. The monarch's
complicity in the crime was strongly suspected. Don Juan felt
that he had lost his brother's confidence and was also hampered
in his war in the Netherlands by lack of adequate financial and
military backing. His death in 1578 released him from an increasingly