Council of Troubles
By R.E. Black

Historical novel based on the tyranny of the Duke of Alba and the Dutch Revolt during the sixteenth century and the tormented heir to the Spanish throne, Don Carlos.


Madrid, Spain, 1566

Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, the fifty-eight-year-old third Duke of Alba, former Commander of the Spanish Army and devoted High Steward to King Philip II of Spain, accepts that his long and distinguished military career is finally over.  Alba had always been at the king’s side ever since Philip had been made regent of Spain at age sixteen by his late father Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor. 


Alba also keeps a close fatherly eye on Philip’s only heir, the physically and mentally unstable Crown Prince Don Carlos whose erratic behaviour and violent tendencies place his automatic succession to the Spanish throne in grave doubt.  The only person who Don Carlos behaves with civility to is his father’s young third wife, Elizabeth of Valois who has so far failed to provide another heir for her impatient husband.  Alba ensures that Elizabeth and Don Carlos are never alone together as unfounded suspicions of their friendship circulate beyond the palace walls. 


As Protestantism spreads across the Habsburg Netherlands, the devoutly Catholic King Philip enforces the heresy laws, making preaching and worshiping of the new faith a capital offence.   Rioting commences throughout the Netherlands as Protestants lay siege to Catholic churches and buildings, removing and destroying Catholic icons and images. Illegal Mass open air sermons are carried out in the countryside where Protestants can finally read the Word of God for themselves.  The ruling nobles of the Netherlands, including King Philip’s friends, William (the Silent), Prince of Orange, Lamoral, Count of Egmont and Filipe, Count of Horne, plead with the King to visit the Netherlands as a matter of urgency, which Philip promises to do.  Unknown to the nobles of the Low Countries, Philip has no intention of risking his life.  Instead, Philip sends a vast allied army, led by the now sixty-year-old Duke of Alba, via a specially built ‘Spanish Road’ to bring the rebels and nobility to order by any means necessary; an act of unprecedented aggression and death toll that will eventually lead to a revolt lasting eighty-years.


  • Council of Troubles is a work of fiction but is based entirely on true events and the lives of the real people involved, including:

  • The significant events of the first three years of the Dutch Revolt (1565-1568), including the arrests and martyrdoms of the Counts of Egmont and Horne.

  • William the Silent, Prince of Orange’s transformation from a devoted servant of the Spanish Habsburg rulers to rebel leader and outlaw. 

  • The premature deaths of Crown Prince Don Carlos and Queen Elizabeth of Valois.

  • The imprisonment of the Duke of Alba’s son Fadrique for failing to honour a proposal of marriage.


Council of Troubles is written as a stand-alone novel although it

continues the stories of real historical characters and events that originally featured in also by R. E. Black.


The planned sequel* to (title yet to be confirmed) will continue Alba’s reign of terror in the Netherlands until his disgraced return to Spain in 1573 and his eventual imprisonment and death due to aiding his son and heir in an act of bigamy.


As well as continuing the Duke of Alba’s story the intended sequel will primarily focus upon:

  • the rise of William the Silent as a rebel leader in the Netherlands

  • King Philip II of Spain coming to terms with the deaths of his only son and his wife Elizabeth Valois

  • Philip II’s controversial marriage to his sister’s young daughter, Anna

  • the ambitions in the Netherlands of Don Juan of Austria (illegitimate half-brother of King Philip II of Spain) and Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma (son of Margaret of Parma, illegitimate sister of King Philip of Spain.)



Additional Information:

Seeking initial publication as well as Foreign Rights

123.000 words - World Rights Available (incl. World English)

KvK nr.:  60491833

VAT nr: NL002160634B54

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