Diego Duque de Estrada - Encyclopedia

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DIEGO DUQUE DE ESTRADA (1589 - ?), Spanish memoir writer, soldier and adventurer, son of Juan Duque de Estrada, also a soldier of rank, was born at Toledo on the 15th of August 1589. Having been left an orphan when very young, he was educated by a cousin. While still young he was betrothed to his cousin's daughter. One night he found an intruder in the house, a gentleman with whom he was acquainted, and in a fit of jealousy killed both him and the young lady. The prevailing, code of honour was considered a sufficient justification for Duque de Estrada's violence, but the law looked upon the act as a vulgar assassination, and he had to flee. After leading a vagabond life in the south of Spain, he was arrested at Ecija, was brought to Toledo, and was there put to the torture with extreme ferocity, in order to extort a general confession as to his life during the past months. He had the strength not to yield to pain, and was finally able to escape from prison, partly by the help of a nun in a religious house which faced the prison, and partly by the intervention of friends. He made his way to Naples, where he entered the service of the duke of Osuna, at that time viceroy. Duque de Estrada saw a good deal of fighting both with the Turks and the Venetians; but he is mainly interesting because he was employed by the viceroy in the conspiracy against Venice. He was one of the disguised Spanish soldiers who were sent into the town to destroy the arsenal, and who were warned in time that the conspiracy had been betrayed, and therefore escaped. After the fall of his patron, Duque de Estrada resumed his vagabond life, served under Bethlen Gabor in Transylvania, and in the Thirty Years' War. In 1633 he entered the order of San Juan de Dios, and died at some time after 1637 in Sardinia, where he is known to have taken part in the defence of the island against an attack by the French. He left a book of memoirs, entitled Comentarios de el desengenado de si Mismo prueba de todos estados, y eleccion del Mejor de ellos - " The Commentaries of one who knew his own little worth, the touchtstone of all the state of man, and the choice of the best." They were written at different times, and part has been lost. The style is incorrect, and it would be unsafe to trust them in every detail, but they are amazingly vivid, and contain a wonderful picture of the moral and intellectual state of a large part of Spanish society at the time.

The memoirs have been reprinted by Don Pascual de Gayangos in the Memorial historico espanaol, vol. xii. (Madrid, 1860).

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