José Luis de Oriol y Urigüen
|José Luis Oriol Urigüen|
|Born||José Luis Oriol
4 November 1877
|Died||15 April 1972
|Comunión Tradicionalista, FET|
Family and Youth
José Luis Valentin Oriol was born to an affluent family, already forming part of the Basque financial oligarchy. Both his father, José Maria Oriol Gordo, and his mother, Maria de los Dolores Tiburcia Urigüen Urigüen, were heirs to business and finance fortunes. The marriage was somewhat unusual, since the former was an ultraconservative monarchist and served as a Carlist colonel during the Third Carlist War, while the latter was coming from a rather liberal family. José studied architecture in Paris. In 1904 he married Catalina de Urquijo Vitórica; her father was a wealthy aristocrat from Álava, Lucas Urquijo Urrutia, the banker and founder of the Hidroeléctrica Española company.
From 1905 to 1924 the couple had 8 children, José María, Lucas, Fernando, Antonio María, Sacramento, Teresa, Catalina and Ignacio. Four of their five sons enlisted as the Carlist military volunteers, Requetés (the youngest one as a 13 year-old could not enlist), and fought against the Republic during the Spanish Civil War. Except Fernando, who died in combat, all of them later became well known figures in the Francoist Spain, either as Falangist public servants and politicians or businessmen and enterpreneurs. Many of their numerous offspring are currently present in various areas of public life in Spain, like politics, business, arts and sports.
José Luis started his career as an architect mostly by work on family projects, usually large residential estates. The best known designs of this category are the luxury villas known as Palacio Oriol in Santurce (1902), Palacio Arriluce in Getxo (1904) and Palacio San Joséren in Getxo (1906), all overlooking the Bay of Biscay and having been very prestigious locations until today. Built in the historicism style, they present quasi-medieval outlook, adopting also many elements of the Victorian architecture.
Probably his most impressive design is a monumental complex of the Medicine Faculty of the University of Valencia (1908), with the façade spanning 300 yards. It was applauded as the masterpiece of its time, combining high esthetical value with immense functionality. Especially the large hospital, a system of pavilions and rooms accommodating 250 beds, with subterranean passages and open galleries, attracted general praise.
The best known work of Oriol is, however, the neo-baroque La casa de Montalbán, known today as Palacio del Retiro (1914). It was designed in the centre of Madrid as a family residence and office; currently it hosts a luxury hotel. The building gained notoriety for extravagant features, like elevators which carried horses up and down from the rooftop exercise ring. Oriol went also beyond architecture, trying his hand in the urban planning. At that time Madrid was changing into the modern metropoly and struggling to cope with the rapidly increasing traffic; to this end, in 1919 Oriol presented his proposal to rebuild a section of the Gran Via. His plan was eventually rejected by the municipal authorities. Also his other designs did not escape criticism, accused of verbosity; his style was sometimes labeled as pompous and academic.
Since his marriage, Oriol was getting gradually engaged in Hidroeléctrica Española, the company run by his father-in-law. In 1910 Oriol replaced the ailing Lucas Urquijo at the helm of the company; though his term lasted only a year, he remained in the executive management structures and contributed to the growth of Hidrola. When he returned to the top post in 1936, HE was already one of the 20 largest Spanish companies (second in the energy sector), controlling 12,5% of the national energy market. The company owed its success to the sound financial basis (not unrelated to stakes owned by the Basque banking sector), the expansive strategy and responsiveness to particular conditions of the oligopolistic energy market structure. Oriol led Hidrola through the years of the Civil War and resigned in 1941, to be replaced by his son José Maria. Throughout his career he has also remained engaged in many HE subsidiaries like Madrileña Electra, Electra Valencia, Cartagena UE or Volta Electric.
In 1942 Oriol, taking advantage of his family-related position in the banking industry, provided financial backing to an idea developed by Alejandro Goicoechea, namely the construction of a new generation, high-speed train. The result was the birth of TALGO, Treno Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol, the new manufacturing and transportation company. The enterprise proved to be a commercial and technological success, though initially it had to rely on the US-based production and was desperately short of foreign currency. By the early 1950s, the TALGO trains were already providing regular high-speed service, up to 135 km/h, at different national railway routes. They also figured prominently in the francoist propaganda, expected to demonstrate the robustness of the Spanish industry and the modernizing capacity of the regime. TALGO remains one of the engines of the Spanish economy today, though since 2010 its ownership is dispersed among the shareholders.
José Luis Oriol was also engaged in the publishing business, though probably it should rather be approached as part of his political activity. He has co-founded Editorial Católica, the publishing house issuing El Debate, one of the key Christian conservative newspapers in the country. In 1931 he took control of the local journal Heraldo Alavés, to be transformed, aided by the Carlist editorial team of El Siglo Futuro, into Pensamiento Alavés, the daily which championed the cause of Christian monarchism and Basque-Spanish loyalty, as opposed to the Republican and Basque national ideologies.
Raised by parents of dramatically different political leanings, Oriol followed in the ultraconservative steps of his father and developed Carlist allegiances. They were initially expressed as Christian monarchism, demonstrated by his stakes in Editorial Católica. Almost simultaneously Oriol tried his luck in politics and ran on the maurist ticket to the Cortes; he was elected in 1918 from the Baeza district (Jaen province) and joined one of the last Spanish parliaments before the coming of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship. After the fall of the monarchy Oriol, banking on his credentials of a local Basque man, helped to forge a Basque-Carlist alliance and joined its list as an independent Traditionalist competing in the Álava province. He was comfortably elected with 8016 votes, to repeat this success in the same province in 1933 (20 718 votes and representing a new united Carlist organization, Communion Tradicionalista). He emerged as a front-runner with 13 873 votes from the elections of 1936, again in Álava and again from CT. However, his mandate was cancelled on technical grounds by the Left-dominated parliament.
As a deputy and a politician Oriol was not particularly vocal on nationwide issues; however, because he enjoyed enormous prestige and commanded significant support in the Álava province, he played a pivotal role in negotiations related to the Basque question. Initially he spoke vigorously in favour of a Basque-Navarrese autonomy. His support for the Basque PNV leader Jose Aguirre amounted to calling the latter a “providential figure”, the statement which certainly raised many eyebrows among his fellow Carlists. He supported the initial autonomy draft, despite the fact that Traditionalists like Victor Pradera and Juan Olazábal called it godless; he supported the later amended version, called the Estella Statute; he still supported the third successive, scaled-down version, produced by the Madrid government. It was only after the Navarrese local councils had mostly rejected it that Oriol changed his mind. His view was that without Navarra, the sparsely populated Álava would be dominated by the nationally-minded Basques from Gipuzkoa and Vizcaya and would eventually fall prey to the Basque nationalism. At this point he advocated that the local Álava councils reject the autonomous statute, which would indeed turn out to be the case. As a result the autonomy work was suspended, while the Basques and the Carlists found themselves at the opposite sides of the barricades.
After the re-organisation of the Carlists in early 1934 Oriol, together with Conde Rodezno, José Lamamié and Victor Pradera, became a member of the Delegate Junta, the new executive body of the movement. Later that year he was even considered a candidate to replace Rodezno as the leader of the Carlists, but this role was assumed by Manuel Fal Condé instead. Starting 1935 Oriol became crucial in the Carlist preparations to overthrow the Republic. His key role was related to financing and organizing illicit transport of arms for Requetés; he also led local clandestine talks with the Falange, arranging political alliance between the two organizations. Finally, he was instrumental in negotiations with general Emilio Mola, actual leader of the military conspiracy and at that time the commander of the Pamplona army district. It is not clear what was Oriol’s position in the controversy between the Navarrese Carlist leadership, unconditionally supporting the rebellion, and the national Carlist leadership, claiming that the generals should accept the Carlist demands first. During the initial days of the insurrection Oriol was key to mobilizing local Álava support and organizing Requeté units; as a result, most of the province fell to the Nationalists.
During the forced amalgamation of the Carlists and the Falangists in the spring of 1937, Oriol decided to comply. He became the regional chief of FET y de las JONS in Vizcaya (the jefatura in Álava went to Echave Sustaeta), entered the National Council and as one of two Carlists (the other was Esteban Bilbao) formed Junta Politica. All Traditionalists who accepted such an offer were greeted with the chilliest of welcomes by the Carlist regent-claimant, Don Javier, who struggled to maintain an own and separate identity of the movement. The new situation, together with the dynastic unclarity within the community following the death of Alfonso Carlos, left a lot of Traditionalists puzzled. As a result José Oriol, formally maintaining loyalty to the regency, concluded that the legitimate Carlist claim was with the Alfonsist pretender, Don Juan. He started working towards rapprochement between him and Franco, representing the cause of the former and trying to alleviate Franco’s suspicions about his liberal leanings. He was a fairly frequent visitor to El Pardo, the Franco's residence. In 1957 Oriol joined the Carlists led by Luis Arellano and formally recognised Don Juan as the legitimate king. In 1958 Franco, as the head of state, confirmed the marques title for the Oriol line; it was originally conferred upon Jose Oriol’s ancestor Buenaventura by the Carlist claimant Carlos VII in 1870, as a reward for loyalty to the Carlist cause.
- Julio Aróstegui, Jordi Canal, Eduardo Calleja, El carlismo y las guerras carlistas, Madrid 2011, ISBN 9788499700557
- Martin Blinkhorn, Carlism and Crisis in Spain 1931-1939, Cambridge 1975, ISBN 9780521207294
- Jordi Canal,Banderas blancas, boinas rojas. Una historia política del carlismo, 1876-1939, Madrid 2006, ISBN 9788496467347
- Iker Cantabrana Morras, Lo viejo y lo nuevo: Díputación-FET de las JONS. La convulsa dinámica política de la "leal" Alava (Primera parte: 1936-1938), [in:] Sancho el Sabio, 21 (2004), ISSN 11315350
- Iker Cantabrana Morras, Lo viejo y lo nuevo: Díputación-FET de las JONS. La convulsa dinámica política de la "leal" Alava (Segunda parte: 1938-1943), [in:] Sancho el Sabio, 22 (2005), ISSN 11315350
- Jeremy Macclancy, The Decline of Carlism, Reno 2000, ISBN 0874173442
- Manuel Martorell Pérez, Retorno a la lealtad; el desafío carlista al franquismo, Madrid 2010, ISBN 9788497391115
- Evarist Olcina, El Carlismo y las autonomías regionales, Madrid 1974, ISBN 8429900535
- Stanley G. Payne, Navarrismo y españolismo en la política navarra bajo la Segunda República, [in:] Principe de Viana 166-167 (1982)
- Jose Oriol in Euskomedia
- Medicine Faculty project
- Palacio San Joseren official site
- Palacio del Retiro hotel booking page
- Estella Statute text
- death of Fernando Oriol
- Antonio Maria Oriol as Requete
- Antonio Maria Oriol
- Civil War in Alava
- Oriol dynasty and Christian Knights
- Oriol heraldic titles
- Talgo official site
- Iberdrola official site
- Geni Jose Oriol page
- Hidroelectrica - historical analysis
- Hidroelectrica - historical business analysis
- Historical Index of Deputies
- Errekete (Euskara) on YouTube
- Vizcainos! Por Dios y por España; contemporary Carlist propaganda
- Alava and Francoism 1936-1938
- Alava and Francoism 1938-1943