Category Archives: History

History Is Happening All The Time

Pont Romá Mallorca

It would feel safe to say that the island of Mallorca was inhabited well before the Romans came to settle. In prehistoric times, in the Neolithic period, there was life on the island, mostly in caves, it is said. At around 2500 B. C. and up to about 1400 B. C., one speaks of the pre-Talaiotic period, coinciding with the bronze and iron ages, when people settled in caves and man-made Navetes. The Talaiotic period covers the time between 1400 B. C. and the arrival of the Romans, at around 123 B. C., when Talaiotic settlements were built with impressive towers and robust fortifications.

The Romans changed all that. It seems that they first arrived on the Northern shore of the island. Settlements were made in Bocchoris near what today is Port de Pollença, and Pollentia, near today’s Alcúdia. The Pont Roma (Roman bridge, shown here) in Pollença dates from approximately 400 A. D.

The North of the island must have had its attraction for the early settlers just as it has today, what with Port d’Alcúdia, Port de Pollença, Formentor, s’Albufera and the scenery between the Badia de Pollença and the Badia de Alcúdia, embracing the Peninsula de la Victoria. One might assume that the Romans did not play golf nor practiced kite surfing nor cycling, but they may have done some bird watching, mountaineering or rock climbing, just as you can do today in this popular part of Mallorca.

If you should be looking for accommodation in the rural area of Alcúdia, there is plenty of accommodation for rent, such as can be found at Alcúdia villas. Enjoy an encounter with the past when you savour your holiday.

Massacre in Barcelona


Barcelona was bombarded for three days from March 16th to 19th, 1938, at the height of the Spanish Civil War. That’s seventy years ago, today.

The attacking aeroplanes were Italian, under the ultimate command of the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini, and had come at General Franco’s request to teach the Catalan population of Spain a lesson or two.

The Italian aeroplanes had been stationed on the island of Mallorca. The Republican forces had already retreated from Mallorca in September 1936. The retreat was more of a flight, leaving behind weapons, material and many men.

Now it was Barcelona’s turn. Barcelona suffered 13 massive air strikes by the Italian aeroplanes. A total of 44 tons of bombs were dropped over the city. The bombings were aimed at the civil population; no military objects were attacked. The bombs included fire bombs and gas bombs. More than one thousand people died, among them many children. The number of people injured is estimated to be in the thousands.

The medieval Cathedral of Barcelona was one of the targets that was bombed.


One has to remember that at that precise moment, Spain was still a Republic. General Elections in January 1936 had brought the Popular Front into Government, a coalition of Socialists, Communists, Catalan and Madrid-based left-wing Republicans. Manuel Azaña was the President of this Second Spanish Republic, formally and legally in charge until 1939, when Franco’s gruesome regime declared victory in the War of Brothers. 

Things had already gone out of control as early as 1936.

History bears evidence to the fact that from then on Spain entered a chaotic period of incredible violence and brutality in which not only partisans of the right and left but also ordinary citizens bore the burden of war, poverty, and murder.

It seems that only now, 70 years after the horrific events and massacres, people in Spain are finally coming to a state of mind where it is possible to talk about the events from the past and about what happened between 1936 and 1939, the Guerra Civil de España.


To this end, the Generalitat de Catalunya has organized a series of events, talks and exhibitions to make sure that the victims are not forgotten. And victims there were plenty. People were not only attacked, and killed, in Barcelona, but all over Catalunya during the years of the Civil War (and all over Spain, of course).

If you are interested in finding out more, and provided that your Spanish, Catalan or Italian language abilities are sufficient, you could get more information on the Barcelonabombardejada website (no English language option available).

The bloody war in Iraq started five years ago this week, on March 20th. Even though one can not compare one deadly war with another, it is quite evident that the only lesson we ever learn is that we never learn.

The 500 Most Important People in the History of Spain


The Spanish Academia de la Historia published a concise edition of the most important historical Spaniards, the definitive ‘Primer Gran Diccionario Biográfico’. It is a compilation of the 40,000 most influential people in Spain during the last 2,355 years, up to and including La Infanta Leonor, Crown Prince Felipe’s first born daughter. It makes interesting reading. 

The tome is written in Spanish for the time being, as would be expected. 

Let me for now introduce you to the Top 500 personalities of the ‘Gran Diccionario Biográfico’, in alphabetical order (no, La Infanta Leonor does not yet make the Top 500). And no, I do not offer a translation here, I am afraid. The more interested blog readers may have a sufficient command of the Castilian language; those who don’t would probably not be sufficiently interested in the listing to make such a tedious task viable.

1. Abarca de Bolea y Ximénez de Urrea, Pedro Pablo. Conde de Aranda (1719-1798).

2. Abd al-Rahmán I. El Inmigrado (734-788). 

3. Abd al-Rahmán III (891-961). 

4. Abd al-Rahmán II (790-852). 

5. Abú al-Hasán Alí. Muley Hacén (1464-1485). 

6. Abu Yusuf Yaqub Al-Mansur (fallecido en 1485). 

7. Adriano, Publio Elio (76-138).

8. Aguirre, Francisco de (1508-1581).

9. Al-Hakam II (915-976). 

10. Alarcón y Ariza, Pedro Antonio (1833-1891). 

11. Albéniz Pascual, Isaac Manuel (1860-1909). 

12. Alberoni, Giulio (1664-1752). 

13. Alberto de Áustria (1559-1621). 

14. Alcalá-Galiano y Alcalá-Galiano, Dionisio (1762-1805). 

15. Alcalá-Zamora y Torres, Niceto (1877-1949). 

16. Aleixandre Merlo,Vicente (1898-1984). 

17. Alejandro VI. El Papa Borgia (1431-1503). 

18. Alemán, Mateo (1547-1613). 

19. Alfonso XII. El Pacificador (1857-1885). 

20. Alfonso I. El Batallador (1073-1134). 

21. Alfonso I. El Católico (fallecido en 757).

22. Alfonso II de Aragón. El Casto (1154-1196). 

23. Alfonso II de Asturias. El Casto (759-842). 

24. Alfonso III. El Magno (848-910). 

25. Alfonso IV. El Benigno (1299-1336). 

26. Alfonso IX (1171-1230). 

27. Alfonso V. El Magnánimo (1394-1458). 

28. Alfonso V. El Noble (999-1028). 

29. Alfonso VI (1040-1109). 

30. Alfonso VII. El Emperador (1105-1157). 

31. Alfonso VIII. El de Las Navas (1155-1214).

32. Alfonso X. El Sabio (1221-1284). 

33. Alfonso XI. El Justiciero (1311-1350). 

34. Alfonso XIII (1886-1941). 

35. Almanzor (940-1002). 

36. Alonso Martínez, Manuel (1827-1891). 

37. Alonso Vega, Camilo (1889-1971). 

38. Alonso y Fernández de las Redondas, Dámaso (1898-1990). 

39. Alvarado, Pedro de (1485-1541).

40. Álvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, Fernando. El Gran Duque. Duque de Alba (III) (1507-1582). 

41. Amadeo I de Saboya. Duque de Aosta (1873-1933). 

42. Aníbal (247-182 a.C.). 

43. Aranda Mata, Antonio (1888-1979). 

44. Argüelles Álvarez, Agustín de. El Divino (1776-1844). 

45. Asenjo Barbieri, Francisco (1823-1894). 

46. Atahualpa (1500-1533). 

47. Augusto (63 a.C.-14 d.C.). 

48. Áustria, Carlos de. Príncipe don Carlos (1545-1568). 

49. Áustria, Jerónimo. Juan de Áustria (1545-1578). 

50. Áustria, Juan José de (1629-1679). 

51. Áustria, Margarita de (1584-1611). 

52. Azaña Díaz, Manuel (1880-1940). 

53. Aznar López, José María (1953-). 

54. Baroja y Nessi, Pío (1872-1956). 

55. Bartolomé de las Casas, Fray (1484-1566). 

56. Bazán y Guzmán, Álvaro de (1526-1588). 

57. Becerra y Bermúdez, Manuel (1823-1896). 

58. Bello López, Andrés (1781-1865). 

59. Ben Maimon, Rabí Moseh. Maimónides (1135-1204). 

60. Ben Rushd, Abú-l-Walíd Mohammed. Averroes (1126-1198). 

61. Benavente Martínez, Jacinto (1866-1954). 

62. Benlliure Gil, Mariano (1862-1947). 

63. Berceo, Gonzalo de (1198?-1264?).

64. Berenguer Fusté, Dámaso. (1878-1953). 

65. Berruguete, Alonso (1488-1561). 

66. Berruguete, Pedro (c.1450-c. 1503). 

67. Betancourt y Molina, Agustín de (1758-1824).

68. Blanca I de Navarra (1386-1441). 

69. Blasco Ibáñez, Vicente (1867-1928). 

70. Boccherini, Luigi (1743-1805). 

71. Bolívar, Simón (1783-1830). 

72. Borbón y Battenberg, Juan de. Juan III, Conde de Barcelona. (1913-1993).

73. Borbón y Borbón, Carlos María Isidro de. Conde de Molina, Carlos V (1788-1855). 

74. Borja, Alfonso de. Calixto III (1455-1458). 

75. Bravo Murillo, Juan (1803-1873). 

76. Bretón Hernández, Tomás (1850-1923). 

77. Buero Vallejo, Antonio (1916-2000). 

78. Buñuel Portolés, Luis (1900-1983).

79. Cabezón, Antonio de (1510-1566). 

80. Cabrera Griñó, Ramón (1806-1877). 

81. Cabrera y Felipe, Blas (1878-1945). 

82. Cala y Jarana, Elio Antonio de. Elio Antonio de Nebrija (1441-1522).

83. Calderón de la Barca y Henao, Pedro (1600-1681). 

84. Calvo Sotelo, José (1893-1936).

85. Cambó y Batlle, Francisco de Asís (1876-1947). 

86. Canalejas Méndez, José (1854-1912). 

87. Cano, Alonso (1601-1667). 

88. Cánovas del Castillo, Antonio (1828-1897).

89. Carlos I de España y V deAlemania (1500-1558). 

90. Carlos II. El Hechizado (1661-1700). 91. Carlos II. El Malo (1332-1387).

92. Carlos III (1716-1788). 

93. Carlos III. El Noble (1361-1425). 

94. Carlos IV (1748-1819).

95. Carlos VI (1685-1740). 

96. Carrero Blanco, Luis (1903-1973). 

97. Carrillo de Albornoz y Montiel, José Ignacio. 

98. Carvajal y Lancáster, José de (1698-1754). 

99. Casado López, Segismundo (1893-1968). 

100. Casals, Pau (1876-1973). 

101. Casas Nóvoa, Fernando de (?-1749). 

102. Castaños y Aragorri, Francisco Javier (1756-1852). 

103. Castelar y Ripoll, Emilio (1832-1899). 

104. Castillo, Fray Florencio del (1778 -1834). 

105. Castro de Murguía, Rosalía de (1837-1885). 

106. Catalina de Aragón (1485-1536). 

107. Cavanilles Palop, Antonio José (1745-1804). 

108. Cela Trulock, Camilo José (1916-2002). 

109. Cernuda Bidón, Luis (1902-1963). 

110. Cervantes Saavedra, Miguel de (1547-1616). 

111. Cervera Topete, Pascual (1839-1909). 

112. César, Cayo Julio (110-44 a.C.). 

113. Cierva y Codorniú, Juan de la (1895-1936). 

114. Cieza de León, Pedro (1518-1554). 

115. Císcar y Císcar, Gabriel (1760-1829). 

116. Coello de Portugal y Quesada, Francisco (1822-1898). 

117. Coello, Claudio (1642-1693). 

118. Colón, Bartolomé (1461-1514). 

119. Colón, Cristóbal (1451-1506).

120. Colón, Diego (1482-1526). 

121. Colón, Hernando (1488-1539). 

122. Colonia, Juan de (1410 -1479). 

123. Columela, Lucio Junio Moderato (siglo I a.C.). 

124. Companys i Jover, Lluís (1883-1940). 

125. Cortés, Hernán (1485-1547). 

126. Cosa, Juan de la (1449-1510). 

127. Costa Martínez, Joaquín (1846-1911). 

128. Covarrubias y Leyva, Diego de (1512-1577). 

129. Covarrubias, Alonso de (1488-1570). 

130. Cuauhtémoc, Guatimoz (1502-1525). 

131. Chapí Lorente, Ruperto (1851-1909).

132. Chueca Robles, Federico (1846-1908). 

133. Churriguera, José Benito de (1665-1725). 

134. Churruca y Elorza, Cosme Damián (1761-1805). 

135. Dalí y Domenech, Salvador (1904-1989). 

136. Daoiz y Torres, Luís (1767-1808). 

137. Dato Iradier, Eduardo (1856-1921). 

138. Dávalos, Alfonso (1502-1546). 

139. Díaz de Vivar, Rodrigo. El Cid Campeador (1043-1099). 

140. Díaz del Castillo, Bernal (1495-1584). 

141. Díaz Ordóñez Escandón, Salvador (1845-1911). 

142. Domingo de Guzmán y Aza, Santo (1170-1221). 

143. Domínguez Bastida, Gustavo Adolfo. Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (1836-1870). 

144. Echegaray y Eizaguirre, José de (1832-1916). 

145. Elcano, Juan Sebastián (1476-1526). 

146. Elorza y Aguirre, Francisco Antonio (1798-1873). 

147. Enrique II de Navarra (1503-1555). 

148. Enrique II. El de las Mercedes (1333-1379). 

149. Enrique III. El Doliente (1379-1406).

150. Enrique IV de Castilla. El Impotente (1425-1474). 

151. Ercilla y Zúñiga, Alonso de (1533-1594). 

152. Escaño y García de Cáceres, Antonio de (1750-1814). 

153. Espoz y Mina Ilundain, Francisco (1781-1836). 

154. Falla Mateu, Manuel de (1876-1946). 

155. Farnesio, Alejandro. Duque de Parma (1545-1592). 

156. Feijóo y Montenegro Puga, Benito Jerónimo (1676-1764). 

157. Felipe I. El Hermoso (1478-1506). 

158. Felipe II (1527-1598). 

159. Felipe III (1578-1621). 

160. Felipe IV (1605-1665). 

161. Felipe V (1683-1746). 

162. Fernán González (930-970). 

163. Fernández-Espartero Álvarez de Toro, Joaquín Baldomero (1793-1879). 

164. Fernández-Miranda y Hevia, Torcuato (1915-1980). 

165. Fernández de Castro Andrade y Portugal, Pedro (1632-1672). 

166. Fernández de Córdoba, Gonzalo. El Gran Capitán (1453-1515). 

167. Fernández de Moratín, Leandro (1760-1828).

168. Fernández Ladreda Menéndez Valdés, José María (1885-1954). 

169. Fernández Pacheco y Zúñiga, Juan Manuel (1650-1725). 

170. Fernández, Gregorio (1576-1636). 

171. Fernando I de Áustria (1503-1564). 

172. Fernando I de Castilla y León (1016-1065). 

173. Fernando I. El de Antequera (1379-1416). 

174. Fernando II de León (1137-1188). 

175. Fernando III. El Santo (1201-1252). 

176. Fernando IV (1285-1312). 

177. Fernando V de Castilla y II de Aragón. El Católico (1452-1516). 

178. Fernando VI (1713-1759). 

179. Fernando VII (1784-1833). 

180. Figueras y Moragas, Estanislao (1819-1882). 

181. Figueroa y Torres, Álvaro de (1863-1950). 

182. Flórez de Setién Huidobro y Velasco, Enrique Fernando (1702-1773). 

183. Fortuny y Marsal, Mariano José María (1838-1874).

184. Francisco de Borja y Aragón, San (1577-1658). 

185. Francisco Javier, San (1506-1552). 

186. Francisco Solano, San. Apóstol de Perú (1549-1610). 

187. Franco Bahamonde, Francisco (1892-1975). 

188. Gabriel Téllez, Fray. Tirso de Molina (1579-1648). 

189. Galindo, Beatriz. La Latina (1465-1534). 

190. Gálvez, Bernardo de (1746-1786). 

191. García-Alas y Ureña, Leopoldo. Clarín (1852-1901). 

192. García de la Cuesta, Gregorio (1741-1811). 

193. García Lorca, Federico (1898-1936). 

194. García Morato Castaño, Joaquín (1904-1939). 

195. Gaudí Cornet, Antonio (1852-1926).

196. Gelmírez, Diego de (1069-1140). 

197. Gil de Hontañón, Juan (1505-1577). 

198. Giordano, Luca. Lucas Jordán (1634-1705). 

199. Girón y Ezpeleta Las Casas y Enrile, Francisco Javier (1803-1869). 

200. Godoy Álvarez de Faria, Manuel de (1767-1851). 

201. Gómez Becerra, Álvaro (1771-1855). 

202. Gómez de la Serna, Ramón (1888-1963). 

203. Gómez de Mora, Juan (1586-1646). 

204. Gómez de Sandoval y Rojas, Francisco. Duque de Lerma (?-1624). 

205. Gómez de Silva, Ruy. Duque de Pastrana (I) Príncipe de Éboli (1516-1573). 

206. Góngora y Argote, Luis de (1561-1627). 

207. González-Gallarza Iragorri, Eduardo (1898-1986). 

208. González de Mendoza, Pedro. (1428-1495).

209. González Márquez, Felipe (1942- ).

210. González Pellicer, Julio. 

211. González Pérez, José Victoriano. Juan Gris (1887-1927). 

212. Goya y Lucientes, Francisco de (1746-1828). 

213. Gracián y Morales, Baltasar (1601-1658). 

214. Granados Campiña, Enrique (1867-1916). 

215. Gravina y Napoli, Federico Carlos (1756-1806). 

216. Grimaldi Pallavicini y Spinola, Pablo Jerónimo. Marqués de Grimaldi, duque de Grimaldi (1720-1786). 

217. Guas, Juan (?-1496). 

218. Gutiérrez de la Concha Masón Irigoyen de la Quintana, Manuel. Marqués del Duero (1806-1874). 

219. Gutiérrez Mellado, Manuel (1912-1995). 

220. Gutiérrez Solana, José (1886-1945). 

221. Guzmán y Pimentel Rivera y Velasco de Tovar, Gaspar de. Conde-Duque de Olivares (I) (1587-1645). 

222. Hamen y León, Juan van der (1596-1631). 

223. Hernández, Francisco (1517-1587). 

224. Hernando de Talavera, Fray (1428-1507). 

225. Herrera Oria, Ángel (1886-1968). 

226. Herrera, Juan de (c. 1530-1597). 

227. Hurtado de Mendoza, Diego (1503-1575). 

228. Ibn-Zeyad, Tarik (primera mitad del siglo VIII). 

229. Iglesias Posse, Pablo (1850-1925). 

230. Ignacio de Loyola, San (1491-1556). 

231. Isabel Clara Eugenia (1566-1633). 

232. Isabel I. La Católica (1451-1504). 

233. Isabel II (1830-1904). 

234. Isidoro de Sevilla, San (c. 560-636). 

235. Jaime I. El Conquistador (1208-1276). 

236. Jiménez de Cisneros, Francisco (1436-1517). 

237. Jiménez de Rada, Rodrigo (1170-1247). 

238. Jiménez Mantecón, Juan Ramón (1881-1958). 

239. José de Calasanz, San (1556-1648). 

240. José I Bonaparte (1768-1844). 

241. Jovellanos y Ramírez, Gaspar Melchor de. Jovino (1744-1811). 

242. Juan Carlos I (1938- ). 

243. Juan de Dios, San (1495-1550). 

244. Juan de la Cruz, San (1542-1591). 

245. Juan I de Aragón (1350-1396).

246. Juan II de Aragón y de Navarra (1398-1479). 

247. Juan II de Castilla (1405-1454). 

248. Juan Macías, San (1585-1645). 

249. Juan Manuel, Don (1282-1348). 

250. Juan y Santacilia, Jorge (1713-1773).

251. Juana de Castilla. La Beltraneja (1462-1530). 

252. Juana I. La Loca (1479-1555). 

253. Juana Inés de la Cruz, Sor (1651-1695). 

254. Juni, Juan de (c. 1507-1577). 

255. Kindelán y Duany, Alfredo (1879-1962).

256. Laín Entralgo, Pedro (1908-2001). 

257. Largo Caballero, Francisco (1869-1946).

258. Larra y Sánchez de Castro, Mariano José de. (1809-1837). 

259. León Pinelo, Antonio de (1594-1660). 

260. Leoni, Pompeo (1533-1608). 

261. Leovigildo. Flavio Leovigildo Rex (?-586). 

262. Lerroux García, Alejandro (1864-1949). 

263. Lezo y Olavarrieta, Blas de (1687-1741). 

264. López de Ayala, Pero (1332-1407). 

265. López de Legazpi Gurruchátegui, Miguel (1505-1572). 

266. López de Mendoza, Íñigo (II). Marqués de Santillana (1398-1458). 

267. López Portaña, Vicente (1772-1850).

268. Luís de León, Fray (c. 1527-1591). 

269. Luís I de España (1707-1724). 

270. Luján Miguel-Romero, Francisco (1798 1867). 

271. Luna, Álvaro de (1390?-1453). 

272. Luna, Pedro de. Benedicto XIII. El Papa Luna (c. 1328-1423). 

273. Luque, Hernando de (fallecido en 1532). 

274. Llull, Ramón (1232-1316). 

275. Macià y Llusà, Francesc (1859-1933). 

276. Machado y Ruiz, Antonio (1875-1939). 

277. Machuca, Pedro (?-1550). 

278. Madoz Ibáñez, Pascual (1806-1870). 

279. Madrazo y Kuntz, Federico de (1815-1894). 

280. Magallanes, Fernando de (c. 1480-1521). 

281. Malaspina y Melipuppi, Alessandro (1754-1810). 

282. Manrique, Jorge (1440-1479). 

283. Marañón y Posadillo, Gregorio (1887-1960). 

284. María Cristina de Borbón dos Sicilias (1806-1878). 

285. María Cristina de Habsburgo-Lorena (1858-1929). 

286. María de Molina. Señora de Molina (?-1321). 

287. Mariana de Áustria (1634-1696). 

288. Mariana, Juan de (1536-1624). 

289. Martí, José (1853-1895).

290. Martín Díez, Juan. El Empecinado (1775-1825). 

291. Martínez de Campos y Antón, Arsenio (1831-1900). 

292. Martínez de Irala, Domingo (1509-1556). 

293. Martínez Ruiz, José. Azorín (1873-1967). 

294. Masip, Vicente Juan. Juan de Juanes (1523-1579). 

295. Mateo-Sagasta Escolar, Práxedes (1825-1903). 

296. Mateo, Maestro (s. XII-s.XIII). 

297. Maura y Montaner, Antonio (1853-1925). 

298. Meléndez, Luís (1716-1780). 

299. Mena Medrano, Pedro de (1628-1688). 

300. Mena, Juan de (1411-1456). 

301. Méndez de Haro y Guzmán, Luís. Luís de Haro (1598-1661). 

302. Mendoza Pacheco, Antonio de. Marqués de Mondéjar (1490-1552). 

303. Mendoza y de la Cerda, Ana. Princesa de Éboli (1540-1592). 

304. Menéndez Pelayo, Marcelino (1856-1912). 

305. Menéndez Pidal, Ramón (1869-1968). 

306. Mengs, Antonio Rafael (1728-1779). 

307. Mesa y Velasco, Juan de (1583-1627). 

308. Miaja Menant, José (1878-1958). 

309. Miranda, Francisco de (1750-1816). 

310. Miró Ferra, Joan (1893-1983). 

311. Miró Ferrer, Gabriel (1879-1930). 

312. Moctezuma II (1468-1520). 

313. Mola Vidal, Emilio. (1887-1937). 

314. Mompou Mompou, Federico (1893-1987). 

315. Montenegro Gutiérrez, Diego de. Diego de Almagro (1475-1538). 

316. Montero Ríos, Eugenio María (1832-1914). 

317. Moñino y Redondo, José. Conde de Floridablanca (1728-1808). 

318. Mora Fernández, Juan (1784-1854). 

319. Moreno Torroba, Federico (1891-1982). 

320. Moret y Prendergast, Segismundo (1838-1913). 

321. Moscardó Ituarte, José. Conde del Alcázar de Toledo (1878-1956). 

322. Muhammad XI. Boabdil (1459-1528). 

323. Múñoz Grandes, Agustín (1896-1970). 

324. Murillo, Bartolomé Esteban (1617-1682). 

325. Mutis y Bosio, José Celestino (1732-1808). 

326. Narváez y Campos, Ramón María (1800-1868). 

327. Narváez, Luis de (1490-1547). 

328. Navarro Rubio, Mariano (1913-2001). 

329. Navia-Osorio y Vigil de Quiñones, Álvaro José de (1684-1732).

330. Negrín López, Juan (1891-1956). 

331. Núñez Cabeza de Vaca, Álvar (c. 1490-c. 1557). 

332. Núñez de Balboa, Vasco (1475-1519). 

333. O’Donnell y Jorris, Leopoldo (1809-1867). 

334. O’Higgins, Ambrosio (1720-1801). 

335. Ochoa de Albornoz, Severo (1905-1993). 

336. Olavide y Jaúregui, Pablo Antonio de. Anastasio Céspedes y Monroy (1725-1803). 

337. Ordoño I (?-866). 

338. Orleans y Borbón, Alfonso de. Duque de Galliera, Infante de España (1886-1975). 

339. Ors y Rovira, Eugenio d‘. Xenius (1881-1954). 

340. Ortega y Gasset, José (1883-1955). 

341. Ovando, Nicolás de (1451-1511). 

342. Pacheco Téllez Girón de Mendoza y Toledo, Juan Francisco. (1640-1718). 

343. Pacheco, Juan. (1449-1474). 

344. Palafox y Mendoza, Juan (1600-1659). 

345. Palomino de Castro y Velasco, Acisclo Antonio (1655-1726). 

346. Pardo Bazán, Emilia (1852-1921). 

347. Pardo de Tavera, Juan (1534-1545). 

348. Parma, Margarita de. Duquesa de Parma (1522-1586). 

349. Patiño y Rosales, Baltasar (1666-1733). 

350. Patiño y Rosales, José (1666-1736). 

351. Paula Montal Fornés, Santa (1799-1889). 

352. Pavía y Rodríguez de Albuquerque, Manuel María (1827-1895).

353. Pedro I. El Cruel (1334-1369). 

354. Pedro de Alcántara, San (1499-1562). 

355. Pedro I de Aragón. Pedro I Sánchez El Católico (1068-1104). 

356. Pedro II de Aragón. El Católico (c. 1177-1213). 

357. Pedro III. El Grande (1240-1285). 

358. Pedro IV. El Ceremonioso o el del Puñalet (1319-1387). 

359. Pelayo. Don Pelayo (?-737). 

360. Peral y Caballero, Isaac (1851-1895). 

361. Pereda y Sánchez de Porrúa, José María de (1833-1906). 

362. Pérez de Ayala, Ramón (1888-1962). 

363. Pérez de Guzmán, Alonso. Guzmán el Bueno (1255-1309). 

364. Pérez Galdós, Benito (1843-1920).

365. Pérez Villaamil, Jenaro (1807-1854). 

366. Pérez, Antonio (1540-1611). 

367. Pi y Margall, Francisco (1824-1901). 

368. Pinazo Camerlench, Ignacio (1849-1916). 

369. Pinzón, Martín Alonso (1440-1493). 

370. Pinzón, Vicente Yáñez (1461-1514). 

371. Pizarro, Francisco (1476-1541). 

372. Plinio. El Viejo (23-79 d.C.). 

373. Ponce de León, Juan (1465-1521). 

374. Ponce de León, Rodrigo (1444-1492). 

375. Portocarrero Lasso de la Vega, Melchor Antonio (1636-1705). 

376. Prieto Tuero, Indalecio (1883-1962). 

377. Prim y Prats, Juan (1814-1870). 

378. Primo de Rivera y Orbaneja, Miguel (1870-1930). 

379. Primo de Rivera y Sáenz de Heredia, José Antonio (1903-1936). 

380. Prudencio Clemente, Aurelio (348-415). 

381. Queipo de Llano y Ruiz de Saravia, José María (1786-1843). 

382. Queipo de Llano y Sierra, Gonzalo (1875-1951). 

383. Quevedo y Villegas, Francisco de (1580-1645). 

384. Quintiliano, Marco Fabio (35-95 d. C.). 

385. Quiroga, Vasco de. Tata Vasco (1479-1565). 

386. Ramírez de Saavedra y Rodríguez de Baquedano, Ángel. Duque de Rivas III (1791-1865).

387. Ramiro I de Astúrias (791-850). 

388. Ramón Berenguer IV. El Santo (1113-1162). 

389. Ramón y Cajal, Santiago (1852-1934). 

390. Rebolledo de Palafox y Melci, José de (1776-1847). 

391. Recaredo, Flavio. Recaredo Rex (?-601). 

392. Rey Pastor, Julio (1888-1962). 

393. Ribalta, Francisco de (1565-1628). 

394. Ribera, José de. El Españoleto (1591-1652). 

395. Ribera, Pedro de (1683?-1742). 

396. Rodrigo Vidre, Joaquín (1901-1999). 

397. Rodríguez de Campomanes y Pérez de Sorriba, Pedro. Conde de Campomanes (1723-1803). 

398. de Silva y Velázquez, Diego (1599-1660).

399. Rodríguez Tizón, Ventura (1717-1785). 

400. Rojas, Fernando de (1475-1541). 

401. Rojo Lluch, Vicente (1894-1966). 

402. Romero Robledo, Francisco (1838-1906). 

403. Ros de Olano y Perpiñá, Antonio José Teodoro (1808-1886). 

404. Rosales y Martínez, Eduardo (1836- 1873). 

405. Ruiz de Alarcón y Mendoza, Juan (1581?-1639). 

406. Ruiz Mendoza, Jacinto (1779-1809). 

407. Ruiz Picasso, Pablo (1881-1973). 

408. Ruiz Zorrilla, Manuel (1833-1895). 

409. Ruiz, Juan. Arcipreste de Hita (c. 1283-c. 1350). 

410. Saavedra Fajardo, Diego de (1584-1648). 

411. Sabatini, Francesco (1722-1797). 

412. Sacchetti, Giovanni Battista (1690-1764). 

413. Salamanca y Mayol, José de. Marqués de Salamanca. (1811-1883). 

414. Salas Larrazábal, Ángel (1906-1994). 

415. Salmerón y Alonso, Nicolás (1838-1908). 

416. Salzillo y Alcaraz, Francisco (1707-1783). 

417. San Martín Matorras, José de (1778-1850). 

418. Sánchez-Albornoz y Menduiña, Claudio (1893-1984). 

419. Sánchez Coello, Alonso (1531-1588). 

420. Sánchez Guerra Martínez, José (1859-1935). 

421. Sánchez y Fernández de la Cotera, Tomás Antonio (1725-1802). 

422. Sancho Garcés II. Abarca (fallecido en 994). 

423. Sancho Garcés III. El Mayor (c. 992-1035). 

424. Sancho Garcés IV. El de Peñalén (1040-1076). 

425. Sancho I Ramírez (1043-1094). 

426. Sancho IV. El Bravo (1258-1295). 

427. Sancho VI. El Sabio (fallecido en 1194). 

428. Sancho VII. El Fuerte (1154-1234). 

429. Sanjurjo y Sacanell, José (1872-1936).

430. Santa Cruz, Alonso de (c. 1505-c. 1572). 

431. Sarasate Navascués, Pablo (1844-1908). 

432. Scarlatti, Domenico (1685-1757). 

433. Séneca, Lucio Anneo. Séneca, el Filósofo (c. 4 a.C.-65 d.C.).

434. Sepúlveda, Juan Ginés de (c. 1490-1573) ). 

435. Serrano Suñer, Ramón (1901-2003). 

436. Servet Conesa, Miguel (1511-1553). 

437. Siloé, Diego de (c. 1495-1563). 

438. Siloé, Gil (último tercio del siglo XV). 

439. Silvela y de la Vielleuze, Francisco. (1843-1905). 

440. Sofía de Grecia (1938- ).

441. Soler Ramos, Antonio (1729-1783). 

442. Solórzano y Pereyra, Juan de (1575-1655) ). 

443. Somodevilla y Bengoechea, Zenón de. Marqués de la Ensenada (I) (1702-1781). 

444. Sor Montadas, José Fernando Macario (1778-1839). 

445. Soria y Mata, Arturo (1844-1920). 

446. Sorolla Bastida, Joaquín (1863-1923). 

447. Soto, Hernando de (c. 1500-1542). 

448. Spínola y Grimaldi, Ambrosio de (1569-1630). 

449. Suárez González, Adolfo. Duque de Suárez (I) (1932- ). 

450. Tarradellas i Joan, Josep (1899-1988). 

451. Teodosio (c. 346-395). 

452. Teresa de Jesús, Santa (1515-1582). 

453. Theoto- kúpoulos, Doménikos. El Greco (1541-1614). 

454. Tiépolo, Giovanni Batistta (1696-1770). 

455. Toledo y Figueroa, Francisco de (1516-1582). 

456. Toledo, Juan Bautista de (fallecido en 1567).

457. Tomás de Villanueva, Santo (1488-1561). 

458. Tomé, Narciso (?-1742). 

459. Torquemada, Fray Tomás de (1420-1498).

460. Torres Quevedo, Leonardo (1852-1936). 

461. Torroja Miret, Eduardo (1899-1961). 

462. Trajano, Marco Ulpio (c. 53-117). 

463. Turina Pérez, Joaquín (1882-1949). 

464. Unamuno y Jugo, Miguel de (1864-1936). 

465. Urraca de León (c. 1080-1126). 

466. Vaca de Castro, Cristóbal (c. 1492-1566). 

467. Valdés Leal, Juan de (1622-1690). 

468. Valdés y Flores, Cayetano (1767- 1835). 

469. Valdés, Juan de (c. 1509-1542). 

470. Valdivia, Pedro de (1497-1553). 

471. Valera y Alcalá Galiano, Juan (1824-1905). 

472. Valle y Peña, Ramón José del. Ramón María del Valle-Inclán (1866-1936). 

473. Vallés, Francisco (1524-1592). 

474. Vara del Rey y Rubio, Joaquín (1840-1898).

475. Vargas y Ponce, José de (1760-1821). 

476. Vega Carpio, Lope de (1562-1635). 

477. Vega, Garcilaso de la (c. 1501-1536). 

478. Velasco y de Castilla, Luis de (1511-1564). 

479. Velázquez de Cuéllar, Diego de (1465-1524). 

480. Verdaguer Santaló, Jacint (1845-1902). 

481. Vespucci, Amerigo Mateo (1454-1512). 

482. Vicente Ferrer, San (1350-1419). 

483. Victoria, Tomás Luis de (1548-1611).

484. Villaamil y Fernández Cueto, Fernando (1845-1898). 

485. Villanueva, Juan de (1739-1811).

486. Vitoria Compludo, Francisco de (1486-1546). 

487. Vives March, Juan Luís (1492-1540). 

488. Vives y Vich, Pedro (1858-1938). 

489. Yagüe Blanco, Juan (1891-1952). 

490. Yañez de la Almedina, Fernando (?-1536). 

491. Yusuf I (1318-1354). 

492. Zafra, Hernando de. Señor de Castril (1460-1507). 

493. Zorrilla y Moral, José (1817-1893). 

494. Zubiri Apalategui, Xavier (1898-1983). 

495. Zumalacárregui y de Imaz, Tomás de (1788-1835). 

496. Zumárraga, Juan de (1468-1548). 

497. Zúñiga y Acevedo, Gaspar de (1560-1606). 

498. Zúñiga y Guzmán, Baltasar (1658-1727). 

499. Zúñiga y Velasco, Baltasar de (1561-1622). 

500. Zurbarán y Salazar, Francisco de (1598-1664).


I might well tell you more about one or the other of these people, in a blog entry to come. Just in case you should be interested.


Primus Circumdedistum


On the last day of this year I want to tell you about something first ever. Or rather, someone who was the first one ever.

Juan Sebastián Elcano was the first man, and a Spanish one at that, who ever made the complete circumnavigation of the globe. Of course, the world thinks that it was Portuguese-born naval commander and navigator Hernando Magellan (Portuguese: Fernão de Magalhães) to claim such a feat, but one tends to overlook that Magellan was killed during a fight with natives in the Philippine Islands, half way through the circumference. Hence, Magellan attempted, but never completed the full circuit. 

Once Vasco da Gama and the Portuguese arrived in India in 1498, it became urgent for Spain to find a new commercial route to Asia and the Spice Islands. The Treaty of Tordesillas (see my entry dated  April 6th, 2007) reserved for Portugal the sea routes that went around Africa. The Spanish Crown therefore decided to send out exploratory expeditions in order to find a way to Asia, travelling westwards. 

Magellan had tried, but had failed to convince Manuel, the 14th King of Portugal and the Algarves, of such an endeavour. However, he was more successful in convincing the Spanish King Carlos V of his proposition. 

Magellan set out from Sevilla, Spain, in 1519 in service of the Spanish Crown with an expeditionary fleet of five vessels and a total of 265 men, including 40 from the Basque land (amongst which Juan Elcano from Getaria, Guipúzcoa). After Magellan’s death, it was Juan Elcano who brought the only surviving of Magellan’s original five ships, the Victoria, back to Sevilla with a handful of survivors, in September 1522, after a journey lasting three years and one month.

An adventurer, Elcano fought under orders of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba in Italy and, in 1509, he joined the expedition organized by Cardinal Cisneros against Algiers. Later, he settled himself in Sevilla and became a merchant ship captain.

After violating Castilian law by surrendering a ship of his to Genoan bankers in repayment of a debt, he sought a pardon from the Spanish King, by signing on, as a subordinate officer, to Hernando Magellan’s expedition to open a westward route to the Spice Islands (Molucca Islands). He was spared from execution by Magellan after taking part in a failed mutiny in Patagonia and, after five months of hard labour in chains, Elcano was made captain of the Concepción, one of the five vessels.

Elcano went on to take command of the fleet when Magellan was killed in the battle of Mactan, the Philippines, on April 27th, 1521. Only three ships of the original fleet survived by then, but there were insufficient hands to man them, so Elcano set the Concepción on fire and continued the voyage with the Trinidad and the Victoria.

Confused as to what direction to take, they sailed west towards Borneo, where they contacted the Sultan of Brunei. After a conflict with the Sultan’s men, they sailed back eastward and then southeast towards the Spice Islands.

After arriving in the Molucca Islands November 8th, 1521, and loading the ships with spices, he divided the fleet: the Trinidad was to sail back through the Pacific Ocean, while the Victoria, captained by Elcano himself, would risk the passage of the Indian Ocean, a Portuguese controlled area. The Trinidad was left behind for repairs and was later stripped by the Portuguese and destroyed in a squall.




In order to avoid conflict with the Portuguese, Elcano sailed directly from Timor through the Indian Ocean without approaching the coast. They reached Cape of Good Hope on May 6th, 1522.

After two months without re-supplying, in July 1522, the Victoria, without enough water or other necessary supplies, arrived at the Cabo Verde Islands, a Portuguese base in the Atlantic coast of Africa. Elcano lied to the Portuguese authorities pretending that he was sailing from the Castilian territories in America. Yet one of the sailors eventually revealed the fabrication and Elcano had to part hastily from Cabo Verde.

On September 6th, 1522, Elcano sailed into Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Spain, aboard the Victoria, after a 78,000 km trip around the world, along with 17 other survivors of the 265 men who originally had embarked on the expedition. The profits resulting from the spices they carried made them suitably rich.

For completing the first world circumnavigation in History and the unprecedented final sailing from the Philippines to Spain, King Carlos V awarded Juan Elcano a coat of arms with the words Primus circumdedisti me (‘You went around me first’) surrounding a world globe, plus an annual pension.

In July, 1525, Elcano sailed again from Spain, in a second expedition under command of Garcia Loaiza, and, after making some explorations on the eastern coast of South America, passed again through Magellan’s Strait, in May 1526. Loaiza died in July of that year and Elcano succeeded him, but did not survive him for very long. The voyage eventually led to the second circumnavigation of the globe, but without Elcano completing the full circuit the second time round.

The Basque people in Spain are particularly proud of Juan Sebastián Elcano for being a native of the País Vasco. The first circumnavigation of the globe was the greatest single journey ever made, by far exceeding Cristobal Colom’s discovery of the West Indies. By comparison, all subsequent journeys have been increments on the known.

On the day the leaking Victoria returned home, Elcano wrote to his King and Emperor ‘we have given practical proof that the earth is a sphere’, adding ‘having sailed round it, coming from the west, we have come back through the east’.

There has not been any event in the history of exploration which provoked among the general population such a sense of the miraculous.

Juan Sebastián Elcano’s statue (see main photo above) is erected in Getaria, Guipúzcoa, in the País Vasco. Say hello for me if you ever make it there.

The Forgotten Spanish War of Ifni


Not many of today’s school children in Spain have been taught about a war that their country was embroiled in fifty years ago, in 1957, the War of Ifni. Many Spaniards, young or adult, don’t even know what Ifni is or where it is situated.

Ifni, or rather: Sidi Ifni, is a Moroccan town of about 15,000 inhabitants, situated in the south of the country, just south of Agadir, at the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Ifni had been brought under Spanish rule in 1476, a few years before the capture of Melilla. Ifni, but not Melilla, was re-claimed by the Moroccan Saadien rulers in 1524.

The Treaty of Tangier of 1860 allowed the Moroccan cities of Sidi Ifni and Telata, as well as what later was known as Spanish Sahara, to be incorporated into the Spanish colonial empire. In 1946, Spain’s various coastal and inland colonies in Morocco were consolidated as Spanish West Africa.

France, having earlier been accorded protectorate status by the Sultan of Morocco, was at that time in control of all of the northern part of Morocco, plus all of Algeria.

When Morocco gained independence from France in 1956, the country expressed their keen interest in all of Spain’s possessions in Morocco, claiming that it was historically and geographically all part of Moroccan territory. Sultan Mohammed V encouraged efforts to re-capture the land and personally funded anti-Spanish conspirators, Moroccan insurgents and indigenous Sahrawi rebels to claim Ifni back for Morocco.

Violent demonstrations against foreign rule erupted in Ifni in April 1957, followed by civil strife and the widespread murder of those loyal to Spain. In response, Generalissimo Franco, then still very much in charge of a dictatorially controlled Spain, dispatched two battalions of the Spanish Legion, Spain’s elite fighting force, to El Aaiún in southern Morocco, in June 1957.

The Ifni War, sometimes called the Forgotten War (La Guerra Olvidada) in Spain, began in earnest on November 23rd, fifty years ago today. The Moroccan Liberation Army was now no longer tied down in conflicts with the French, and could thus commit a significant portion of its resources and manpower to the capture of Spanish possessions. The Spanish Legion repulsed the Moroccan drive easily, but two Spanish outposts were abandoned in the face of enemy attacks. Many others remained under heavy siege.

In the space of two weeks, the Moroccans and their tribal allies had asserted control over most of Ifni, isolating inland Spanish units from their South-Moroccan capital. Simultaneous attacks had been launched throughout Spanish Sahara, overrunning garrisons and ambushing convoys and patrols.

The siege of Ifni lasted until June 1958; it was uneventful and relatively bloodless, as Spain and Morocco both concentrated resources on Saharan theatres.

In January 1958, Morocco redoubled its commitment to the Spanish campaign, reorganizing all army units in Spanish territory as the Saharan Liberation Army.

In February 1958, Spanish troops, helped by French corps, launched a major offensive that successively dismantled the Moroccan Liberation Army. For the first time, massively superior European air power was brought to bear as France and Spain deployed a joint air fleet of 150 planes.

On April 2nd 1958, the governments of Spain and Morocco signed the Treaty of Angra de Cintra. Morocco obtained the region of Tarfaya (colony of Cabo Juby), between the river Draa and the parallel 27º 40′, excluding Sidi Ifni and the Spanish Sahara. Spain had won the Ifni War at the cost of 300 lives and more than 500 wounded, but very soon saw fit to slowly retreat from its Moroccan possessions. On Franco’s orders, the war was excluded from Spanish pupils’ curriculum. It was as if the war never had happened.



Spain retained possession of Ifni until 1969, when it returned the territory to Morocco.

Spain kept control of Western Sahara until the Green March of 1975 prompted a withdrawal, thus creating a power vacuum that was filled with brutal force by Morocco in the north and by Mauritania in the south. When Mauritania withdrew in August 1979, Morocco overran the remainder of the territory with great haste and eagerness.

A Saharan rebel group, the Polisario Front, has fought against Morocco since 1976 for the independence of Western Sahara on behalf of the indigenous Saharawis. Morocco and the Polisario Front agreed in September 1991 to a UN-negotiated cease-fire, which was contingent on a referendum regarding independence. For the past 15 years or so, however, Morocco has opposed such a referendum. In 2002, Morocco’s present King, Mohammed VI reasserted that he “will not renounce an inch” of Western Sahara. Abundant phosphate reserves appear to be the true reason for Morocco’s unauthorized land claims.

Last week, King Mohammed VI offered a status of autonomy to Western Sahara. There is no further mention of independence of Western Sahara. And no referendum either, which is a blatant breach of the United Nations cease-fire agreement.


Over to Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General.


Many Winners And Too Many Losers


November 20th is a significant date for Spain.


Thirty-two years ago yesterday, Spain’s Fascist era came to an end with the death of Generalissimo Francisco Franco, victor of the Spanish Civil War and head of state since 1939. Franco declared himself President for Life in 1947. His regime has been deeply reactionary, with political parties and trade unions banned, and with artists, intellectuals and sociological as well as ethnic minorities repressed. 

Franco ensured the Royalist succession by nominating, in 1969, Don Juan Carlos Borbon y Borbon as his “heir”. Juan Carlos became the first occupant of the Spanish throne since his grandfather Alfonso XIII had abdicated in 1931. 

Franco, also known as the Generalissimo, was buried in the mountainside mausoleum Abadía Benedictina de la Santa Cruz de el Valle de los Caídos (“Benedictine Abbey of the Valley of the Fallen”), a giant necropolis to the south of Madrid built under Franco’s auspices to house the Nationalist men who died under his command during the Civil War. 

Only a few weeks ago, the Spanish parliament passed a law (Ley de la Memoria Histórica de España) condemning General Franco’s regime, a law which provoked painful memories in Spain, three decades after his death. Up to one million Spaniards lost their lives during Franco’s Civil War between 1936 and 1939, which was supported by Hitler’s Germany and Italy under Mussolini. Many in Spain – the Military, the Church, the Bourgeoisie – had come out victorious, whilst many others found themselves on the losing side – artists, intellectuals, Republicans, and other democratically inclined citizens.

A mass was held yesterday at the cathedral in Granada, Spain, in Franco’s memory. Anti-Fascist demonstrators rallied in the streets of Granada to protest against this blatant demonstration of right-winged nationalism, against old-style Fascists and Franco-supporters, as well as against the role that the Catholic church played during the 39 years, condoning Franco’s tyranny. A dozen protesters were arrested; four of them were detained overnight.


A number of books have been published recently in Spain, giving an, as yet, untold insight into the darker aspects of Spain’s atrocious years of Civil War. One interesting example, albeit in Spanish only, at the moment, is Habíamos ganado la guerra, by Esther Tusquets (Editorial Bruguera, Barcelona).




Also, a number of filmmakers have begun to focus on the, as yet, untold stories of the victims on either side. One remarkable new movie is Las 13 Rosas, by Emilio Martínez Lázaro. You may have seen his work El otro lado de la cama.


If you live in Spain and are not afraid of the spoken Spanish word, this is a film that might help to look back not in anger, but in hope. The film is one of three Spanish entries for an Oscar nomination next year, for films in a foreign language, but let’s not get too excited. After all, Hollywood is Hollywood.


Crime and Punishment


November 1st is celebrated in Spain today as Dia de Todos los Santos (All Saints), as it also is in all other countries with large numbers of Catholic worshipers, such as in Latin America and the Philippines, as well as other former Spanish colonies.

Todos los Santos is the day, when Spanish families not only honour the Saints, but also remember their own dead relatives. 191 families, most of them Spanish (but not all), will remember today their relatives who where killed during the 2004 Madrid train bombings (also known in Spain as 11-M). 42 of the dead came from 13 countries other than Spain, giving an indication of the level of immigration that is typical for Spain at the beginning of the 21st Century.

As it happens, a Spanish court in Madrid yesterday sentenced three men to thousands of years in jail each, for their respective part in the terrorist bombings of that fateful March 11th, 2004. One suspected mastermind, known as “Mohamed the Egyptian“, however, was acquitted in court.

The 11-M bombings consisted of a series of coordinated explosions against the Cercancías (commuter train) system of Madrid, Spain, on the morning of March 11th, 2004. Ten backpacks filled with dynamite and nails blew up on four packed commuter trains heading for Madrid’s Atocha Station. 191 people died and 1,841 more were wounded. It proved to be the deadliest terrorist attack that Spain had ever seen in peacetime.



The Madrid attacks and their consequences created a huge divide in Spain, as was to be expected, reverberating to this very day. 

The attacks occurred 911 days after 9/11 and three days before Spain’s 2004 General Elections. The Spanish government at the time, headed by José María Aznar from the Partido Popular (PP), quickly put the blame for the terrorist attacks on the Basque ETA (Euskadi Ta Askatasuna) organization, their favorite enemy.


The bombings changed the course of Spanish politics as voters subsequently ditched the Conservative government. Instead, an attack by Islamists was widely suspected, and perceived as the direct result of Spain’s involvement in Iraq, an extremely unpopular war that had not been approved by Spain’s Parliament.

Seven top suspects, mostly Moroccans, blew themselves up in a Madrid apartment during a police raid in April 2004, three weeks after the bombings.

The surviving suspects, 27 men and one woman, 19 Arabs, mostly Moroccans, and nine Spaniards, now defendants, had faced charges including murder, forgery and conspiracy to commit a terrorist attack. All the accused pleaded not guilty to any involvement in the Madrid attacks, during the four-month trial.

21 of the accused were found guilty yesterday of at least one charge whilst seven others were acquitted through lack of evidence. One person had already been acquitted earlier for unsubstantial provability.

The judge also said there was no evidence of involvement by the Spanish separatist group ETA. After the verdicts President José Luis Zapatero said: “Today justice was done and we must now look to the future”.

Compensation for victims was also decreed, ranging from 30,000 euros to 1,500,000 euros.

The victims and their families are organized in two competing lobby groups, mirroring the divide that is so typical of everyday life in Spain today, one of the Left and one of the Right. The  Asociación de Ayuda a las Víctimas del 11-M, expressed their disagreement with some of the findings and in particular with the proposed distribution of compensation. The other victims’ lobby group, Associación 11-M Afectados por el Terrorismo, has already announced that they want to go to the Spanish High Courts for an appeal against yesterday’s sentences.

But justice is a fickle thing, especially in our day when, post 9/11, there is an irrational dislike, even fear, of people from other countries and especially, Arabs, Moroccans, Muslims and Islamists.


We may never know what really happened on 9/11 or 11-M, nor today, nor yesterday. 


A General Election has to be held in Spain in March, 2008. I expect that 11-M and yesterday’s court sentences will once more have a decisive influence in voters’ decision making. I don’t think the present government can be too sure of a win, this time round.


Let’s Talk About the Spanish Inquisition



I am sorry. I got it all wrong.

In my blog entry dated July 18th, Better Late Than Never, I was under the wrong impression that the Catholic church would beatify 498 Spanish martyrs as a late but somehow inevitable gesture to make amends about their role during the years of the Spanish Civil War. I even thought that the announced beatification was meant as a way of saying ‘Sorry’, albeit a bit late. But, as I suggested, it would be better late than never.

Well, last Sunday was the big day in Rome. 40,000 Spaniards apparently attended the largest mass beatification that the Catholic church has ever celebrated. But, it was all wrong, from my point of view, and from the point of a balanced historical assessment.

Amongst the 498 martyrs beatified and postumously honoured, it seems that there was not a single name that can be attributed to the Spanish Republican cause. All of the dead martyrs were Catholic priests and nuns, and all of them had died standing up for, and siding with, General Francisco Franco and the totalitarian regime that the Generalissimo stood for. 

Critics other then me accuse the Vatican of playing politics by promoting recognition of one side of the Civil War’s protagonists.

Spain remains deeply polarized, even today, as it struggles to come to terms with its past.


Spain is currently governed by the PSOE party of the Socialists, under José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero. His government is in the process of passing a bill later this week, called Ley de la Memoria Histórica, under which Spain would try to come to terms with the atrocities of the Franco regime. Spain’s Catholic church on the whole sided with the Fascists led by Francisco Franco, who overthrew the elected leftist government, eventually won the war and ruled as a dictator for nearly four decades, granting wide power and influence to the church.

The Catholic church in Spain has a history of doing dark and wicked deeds, and getting away with it. Let’s just look at another chapter of Spain’s history, a possibly even darker one than the Civil War. Yes, I am talking about the time of the Spanish Inquisition.

In 1478, Queen Isabel established the Spanish Inquisition under the leadership of the Dominican monk Tomás de Torquemada. The Inquisition was initially founded to ensure the sincerity of former Jews and Muslims who had recently converted to Christianity, known as Conversos and Moriscos respectively. Insincere converts were suspected of disloyalty and punished. 

As an institution that operated in both Castile and Aragón, the Inquisition was an instrument for unity in Spain. It brought both monarchies closer to the Roman Catholic church and it helped guarantee that Spain would remain a profoundly Catholic country.

In its first decades, the Inquisition tried and punished thousands of people, including many Conversos involved in commerce and trade. However, it soon turned into a general witch-hunt. The Inquisition turned on any and all royal subjects. People judged to be heretics were executed, often by burning at the stake.



In 1492, all unconverted Jews were ordered to leave Spain, and as many as 100,000 emigrated to Portugal, North Africa, the Ottoman Empire, and other parts of Europe. In the early 17th century the Spanish inquisitors turned their attention to Muslims. Between 1609 and 1614, more than 250,000 Spanish Muslims were driven out of Spain. Later, the Spanish Inquisition sought to discipline citizens suspected of practicing Protestantism.

At the time, many Spaniards considered the Inquisition a triumph for Roman Catholicism. The church, with Royal cooperation, also censored books, and students were prohibited from studying abroad to prevent the importation of Protestant ideas into Spain. These practices eventually cut Spain off from intellectual developments in Europe and turned Spanish universities into academic backwaters. This isolation made it more difficult for Spain to modernize in later centuries. In addition, the urge to protect royal legitimacy, power, and prestige, led Spain to fight wars it could not win, at great cost to Spain’s society and economy.

For the Reyes Católicos (Catholic Monarchs) – a title given to Fernando and Isabel by Pope Alexander VI for their religious devotion – religious observation was central to achieving domestic peace. The Spanish monarchs, like their European counterparts, were believed to rule as trustees of God. This direct link to divine authority is what made rulers legitimate in Europe. It also made non-Christians or heretics dangerous because their rejection of Christianity implied that they did not accept the monarch’s right to rule.

Spain, in my view, is to this day a rather conservative country. The country is polarized, not unlike it was in the Thirties, between those, who think that Franco was not a bad man after all, and those who would prefer to live in the present world rather than in the Past. The old divide continues to exist, between those on the Left and those on the Right.


The previous Spanish government was ousted three days after the deadly Madrid train bombing of 2004, which many people understood to be a consequence to the government of José María Aznar’s decision to go to war in Iraq with the Big Boys, against the expressed wishes of large parts of the Spanish population.

The Church in Spain now wants to gain some of the influence back that it had in the old days. The Vatican’s ceremony two days ago was not an attempt to come clean and to offer an apology, but an attempt to turn the clocks back to a Spain that is conservative, that is non-democratic and that is xenophobic

I would not be surprised if the Church somehow, secretly, would want to resurrect the days of the Spanish Inquisition.  

May God save us all from his or her Catholic disciples.


A Quite Unique Spanish Town – Llívia, in France


Llívia is a very special Spanish town, that most people have never heard of.

To be honest, there is not all that much to know about Llívia, other than it is small, charming, and rather laid back. The town sits at an altitude of 1,223 m due south-east of the Principality of Andorra, and its municipal boundaries extend to an area of less than 13 square kilometres. The area is quite pleasant for serious walking or some rather challenging mountain biking. Of course, the spellbinding Pyrenees mountains rise to an impressive height in the very near distance. There is a small museum that houses the complete remnants of what is said to have been the most ancient pharmacy in Europe. Some decent café solo, some proper tapas and a truly scrumptious tortilla are served in the local bar, and the 1,300 inhabitants are really friendly if you speak to them in Catalán.


Hey, that’s what makes this place so special. Everybody else in the area speaks French.


What and why and whence and who?

Llívia is a unique Spanish town in as much as it is completely surrounded by French territory (Pyrénées-Orientales département). Llívia is plainly situated in France and should normally be French, if you ask me, if it were not for the ominous Treaty of the Pyrenees.

The town of Llívia is part of Cerdanya, a province of Spain, and forms a Spanish exclave surrounded by France. The exclave is separated from the rest of Cerdanya, and Spain, by a corridor with a width of about 2 km, a corridor which also includes the French communes of Ur, and Bourg-Madame. Access is provided between Llívia and Puigcerdà, the nearest Spanish town in the Pyrenees, via a road that is considered neutral and that is administered in turn by France and by Spain, with a rota of 6 months each.

The Treaty of the Pyrenees was signed in 1659 to end the war between France and Spain that had begun in 1635 during the Thirty Years’ War. It was signed on Pheasant Island (called Isla de los Faisanes by the Spanish and Île des Faisans, Île de l’hôpital or Île de la Conférence by the French, or Konpantzia by the Basque people), a river island on the border between the two countries.

A long time ago, Llívia was the site of the Iberian Oppidum (Roman settlement) commanding the region and was named Julia Libica by the Romans. It was also the ancient capital of Cerdanya up to the early Middle Ages.

The Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659) ceded the Spanish territories of Roussillon, Conflent, Capcir, Vallespir, and northern Cerdanya (called Cerdagne in French) to the French Crown. Llívia did, however, not become part of the French kingdom as part of this agreement, because the treaty stipulated that only villages were to be ceded to France, and Llívia was considered a city and not a village due to its status as the ancient capital of the region.

Julia Libica, now Llívia, is a charming political anomaly in our contemporary European knit. You might want to visit and perhaps enjoy some tortilla and a copa, if you are anywhere near, any time soon.

But, please, don’t tell anyone in Brussels of the fun you had amidst this curiosity, or else the peaceful days at the foothills of the Pyrenees might soon be over.


Things used to be even more complicated a few years ago when the French neighbors in the area had their French Francs, whereas the Llívia folks had to pay for their vino tinto in Spanish Pesetas, but, with the onset of the Euro, there now is one less problem to deal with.

And thanks to for the photo of the forlorn Llívian cow. Small wonder that the bovine creature looks a bit confused.


Ernesto Che Guevara’s Day in Santa Clara, Cuba


October 9th, 1967, was the day when Ernesto Che Guevara was executed. That’s forty years ago, today.

He was captured by the Bolivian army on October 8th, in Vallegrande and executed the following day in La Higuera, in the jungles of Bolivia, at the age of 39. His death only enhanced Che Guevara’s mythical stature as a legend, not only in Latin America but also around the world. 

Che Guevara’s body was later exhumed from its communal grave in Bolivia and offered to Cuba. The remains were reburied in a specially built mausoleum in Santa Clara, Cuba (see photo), the site of Che’s decisive victory against Fulgencio Batista‘s forces at the end of 1958. 

I visited Santa Clara twice, in 2003 and in 2005. In 2003, I was not allowed to enter the mausoleum where Che and his seven guerilla mates are enshrined, due to some building work or whatever, but in 2005, I could go in and have a look. Photography was not permitted once inside. There was a large wall with 7 or 8 embossed wall plaques commemorating the dead, and an eternal light underneath Che’s allotted central panel. The mood inside appeared a tad contrived, especially if one considers that there seem to be reasonable doubt as to whether the bones found and repatriated to Cuba were in fact those of the man himself.

In any case, it seems important to remind ourselves that Guevara was neither Cuban nor Bolivian. He was born in Argentina and was a doctor by training. He gave up his profession and his native land to pursue the emancipation of the poor of the earth. In 1956, along with Fidel Castro and a small number of other badly armed rebels, he had crossed the Caribbean in a rickety yacht called Granma on the mad mission of invading Cuba and overthrowing the US sponsored dictator, Batista. Landing in a hostile swamp and losing most of their contingent, the survivors fought their way to the Sierra Maestra.

Two years later, and by now named Comandante, Che was victorious in this very same place, Santa Clara, in derailing a train full of Batista soldiers and thus stopping them from reaching their destination, Santiago de Cuba in the far east of the island of Cuba. Two days later, Batista fled Cuba, and Castro and his revolutionary men took over. The rest is history.

I went to see the remnants of the derailed train waggons In Santa Clara, now equipped as a museum to the Revolution. Santa Clara is certainly a place worthy of a visit for those who are interested in the Che Guevara trail.

Yesterday, Raúl Castro and other survivors of the 1958 train assault paid homage to Ernesto Che Guevara, hinting again at the need of a change of direction in present day Cuba. His ailing brother, Fidel, expressed his respect and gratitude for Che, in an article published in the Cuban publication, Juventud Rebelde

Rumours never ceased that Fidel Castro and Che did not really see eye to eye some time after the Cuban revolution had been won, because Ernesto soon started criticizing Communist Party doctrines. He revoked his Cuban passport, left Cuba for Africa and the Congo, and later for Bolivia, where he tried to fight for the oppressed indigenous people of the Andes. His Bolivian battle was never really successful.

You may wonder why I should concern myself with Cuban affairs on my supposedly Spanish-themed blog. In my mind Cuba and Spain are intrinsically linked due to Cuba’s long time domination by the Spanish. Cuba was linked to Spain’s wealth, to the Spanish slave trade and to Spanish history. As such, in my opinion, Spain may well have an active role to play in Cuba’s, hopefully peaceful, transition into the 21st century, especially in the light of big brother, USA, not being trustworthy with such endeavours. 

As for Che Guevara, it seems important to me to remember his 40th anniversary even though Che’s methods are no longer relevant in our day and age.


I want to recommend the movie, The Motorcycle Diaries (2004), by Brazilian director, Walter Salles, if you want to know Ernesto before he became Che.