He dissembled until such time as he could despatch his greatest general, the duke of Alva, to Brussels at the head of a picked force to crush all opposition.
But Philip's preparations were now complete, and Alva set out from Italy at the head of a force of some io,000 veteran troops, Spaniards and Italians, afterwards increased by a body of Germans, with which, after marching through Burgundy, Lorraine and Luxemburg, he reached the Netherlands (August 8), and made his entry into Brussels a fortnight later.
The powers conferred on Alva were those of military dictator.
He was met by Alva with cautious tactics.
The Spaniards skilfully avoided a battle, and in Alva November the invaders were compelled to withdraw triumph- p ant.