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Abstract

This essay analyzes the dynamics and limitations of Spanish diplomacy and espionage during the Fieschi conspiracy in Genoa in 1547, by focusing on the role played by the Spanish resident ambassador, Gómez Suárez de Figueroa (d. 1569). Figueroa received warnings from the Spanish intelligence network about a potential coup attempt well ahead of the event, but he discounted them; the actual event caught him by surprise, and it was only luck that saved him and Charles V from a diplomatic and strategic disaster. Despite this monumental blunder, however, Charles maintained Figueroa at his post, and valued his advice about how to handle Genoese politics. Charles secretly proposed seizing power in Genoa, but Figueroa argued against it. The fact that Charles accepted Figueroa’s advice says much about his personal style of rule, and his reliance on his officials in Italy who had knowledge of local conditions.

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