Matías Barrio y Mier

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Matías Barrio y Mier
Matías Barrio y Mier, en Nuevo Mundo.jpg
Born Matías Barrio y Mier
Verdeña, Spain
Died 1909
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Occupation politician
Known for academic, politician
Political party Carlism

Matías Barrio y Mier (1844 – 1909) was a Spanish law academic and a Carlist politician.

Family and youth[edit]

Palentine mountains near Verdeña

Matías Barrio y Mier was born in a small mountainous village of Verdeña in the Province of Palencia, in the part of León bordering Asturias. Both his father, José Barrio Vuelba,[1] and his mother, Susana de Mier,[2] were descendants to local hidalgo families. The couple had 4 children, Matías coming third and the only son.[3] At the age of 8 he moved to Toledo, where his maternal uncle served at the prestigious post of the Cathedral dean;[4] he looked after Matías when the latter attended Latinidad y Humanidades course at the local Instituto Provincial de Segunda Enseñanza (periodically also private colleges in Madrid),[5] until the young Barrio became Bachelor of Arts in 1859 (cum laude).[6] As a teenager Matías intended to join the military, but dissuaded by his father, he eventually agreed to pursue a career in law.[7]

In 1859 Barrio moved to Valladolid, where at the local university he commenced studying Filosofia y Letras and Derecho Administrativo simultaneously. He completed the law studies first, obtaining bachillerato in 1863 and graduating (cum laude) the year after.[8] In 1865 he started doctoral research in Derecho Civil y Canónico at Universidad Central in Madrid; his PhD title (awarded 1866) was granted following the work on Teoría fundamental de las circunstancias atenuantes y agravantes de los delitos.[9] He pursued his Philosophy and Letters studies to obtain bachillerato (from Valladolid) 1867, graduating (from Central) in 1868 and reaching for PhD laurels again with his Idéa de las fuentes del conocimiento historico in 1872 (still at Central).[10] He followed a number of other classes, getting certified as archivist and librarian from Escuela Especial de Diplomática;[11] he also studied theology in Madrid and Vitoria, though sources differ as to the grade he reached.[12] Barrio completed also some courses abroad; at the Paris École des Hautes Études he studied sanscrit, perfected in Madrid in the late 1870s.[13] When the Spanish revolution of 1868 broke out Barrio was already a formidable prospective scholar, with one PhD, four licenciaturas and six carreras completed.[14]

Barrio ca 1870

In 1871 Matías Barrio married an Asturiana, Maximina Marcos Sánchez.[15] The couple had 4 children, José, Carlos, Jaime and Blanca;[16] the family moved across Spain, following the professional lot of Barrio and his subsequent academic assignments.[17]


Matías Barrio commenced his teaching career as an interim assistant professor in Valladolid in 1864-65,[18] the following year nominated assistant professor in Comparative Law at Facultad de Derecho at Central in Madrid.[19] As in 1869 he completed the required 25 years of age, following an unsuccessful bid for the chair of Derecho Romano at Central, he applied and won the chair of Derecho Político y Administrativo español and Derecho Político de los principales Estados at Universidad Literaria in Vitoria, a local Álavese institution managed by its self-government.[20] In 1873 the local ayuntamiento fired Barrio for his refusal to join Batallón de Voluntarios de la República;[21] one year later, in full swing of the Third Carlist War, the governmental order released him from the chair of Geografia Historica at Universidad de Zaragoza.[22]

former University of Oñate

Expulsed to France he returned to Spain to the Carlist-held territory, where at the university of Oñate he became dean of the Jurisprudence Faculty, working also as catedratico and a librarian.[23] Following the Carlist defeat he migrated to France but returned thanks to the 1877 amnesty, unsuccessfully requesting re-installment at his Zaragoza post.[24] In 1880 he was nominated (beating 9 counter-candidates) catedratico numerario at Universidad de Valencia and commenced teaching Prolegómenos de Derecho e Historia and Elementos de Derecho Romano.[25] Following a brief spell in Zaragoza (teaching Historia Universal) he had his rights fully reinstated and acknowledged by the ministry in 1881.

In 1881 Barrio commenced his 11-year-spell at Universidad de Oviedo, where he initially assumed Historia y elementos de Derecho civil español, in 1883 elected dean of the Faculty of Law and 1884 starting lectures in Derecho civil español, común y foral.[26] He is remembered for having reformed the library of the Law Faculty, granting access to the public.[27] In 1892 Barrio left Asturias for Madrid, as he won the competition to chair Derecho civil español, común y foral at Universidad Central;[28] in 1902 he assumed Derecho común de España comparado con el foral there.[29] Elected unanimously dean of the Faculty of Law in 1905.[30]

University of Oviedo

His fundamental work is the monumental Historia general del derecho español,[31] which served as a textbook for generations of students of law in Spain and in Latin America,[32] re-issued with some modifications even 30 years later, see Apuntes de historia general del derecho español, issued by Universidad Central in 1929.[33] In Palencia he is recorded as an author of a small booklet named Tradiciones pernianas, published in 1871; a late version of earlier Romantic books on folk culture,[34] it described Palencian customs and gathered together local tales.[35] Another work, never published and left as manuscript, is Territorio Perniano, dated 1878 and gathering data on localities in the regions of Liebana and La Pernía.[36]

Public servant[edit]

During his university years of early 1860s Barrio was active in the Ateneo of Valladolid,[37] later animating also the local Juventud Catolica.[38] Initially holding petty positions in the local fiscal structures he declined a career offer[39] and dedicated himself to law. In 1869 he entered Colegio de Abogados in Madrid, followed by joining similar bodies in Vitoria (1869) and in Valladolid (1878).[40] He practiced as an attorney for the poor in Madrid,[41] opening law offices in Palencia and Cervera de Pisuerga.[42] As a lawyer and academic he gained great prestige for competence and impartiality, and was often nominated as referee in many oposiciones de cátedras across the country. He is noted for his stance during the competition for Cátedra de Lógica, Etica y Derecho at Instituto de Enseñanza Media in Toledo; facing a choice between two contenders, a Traditionalist Catholic priest and the future socialist leader Julián Besteiro, Barrio voted for the latter.[43]

Cervera de Pisuerga

Some sources claim that he unsuccessfully ran for the Cortes in 1869 from Cervera.[44] Most studies start by noting that he commenced his parliamentary career elected from Cervera as a Carlist candidate in 1871, though the mandate did not last long.[45] Following 20 years dedicated to academic career, in 1891 Barrio resumed his parliamentarian duties as a deputy of his native Cervera de Pisuerga. From this moment onwards he was elected almost continuously 8 times from 1891 to 1907,[46] the only exception having been 1903, when he lost to a local conservative candidate.[47]

As a deputy he is recorded for calm logic rather than hyperbolic rhetoric;[48] he is not noted as an impressive speaker,[49] though remembered as a respectful, non-aggressive and conciliatory MP, even towards the Republican deputies.[50] During 15 years of service his interventions ranged from local Palentine issues (road construction and maintenance, subsidies to local institutions, relief for victims of natural disasters, pension rights, railway lines, also defense of peasants accused of rural property crimes) [51] to national and international matters. As an expert in law, he chaired the Comisión de Codificación and was counselor to Ministry of Education.[52] As a Carlist deputy he spoke in defense of the Church[53] and is noted for condoning atrocities committed by the Catholic missionaries in the Spanish Guinea Equatorial.[54] In June 1898 as leader of Carlist minority he abstained from giving advice when the prime minister Sagasta consulted the parties on continuation or termination of the war with the United States,[55] though 3 months later he voiced against accepting the Washington Protocol and along few deputies signed a manifesto to the nation, denouncing the treaty.[56]


Carlist cavalry charging

It was his parents, both fundamentally Carlist,[57] who passed their intransigent Traditionalist outlook to Matías Barrio. In 1867-1869 he was an editor and contributor to the local Carlist periodical La Cruzada.[58] It is possible that due to his political stance he faced some harassment as a fiscal official and as a candidate to the Cortes;[59] it is confirmed that politics cost him academic positions in Vitoria and especially in Zaragoza in 1874 during the Third Carlist War, when he was detained and expulsed from the country.[60] He joined the insurgency soon afterwards, though it is not clear whether he served with the combat troops[61] before nomination to Corregidor del señorio de Vizcaya by Carlos VII.[62] At this role, together with his position at the Orduña university, Barrio became the heart and soul of the judicial and cultural organisation in the insurgent Carlist state,[63] though the actual Minister of Justice was Romualdo de Viñaret.[64]

Carlist standard

Little is known about Barrio’s Carlist activity in the 1880s, though he was probably busy rebuilding the Traditionalist network in León. His position in the organization grew once he became a deputy and started speaking in defense of the Carlist cause in the Cortes.[65] With the number of Carlist deputies ranging from 5 to 10, Barrio, along Cesáreo Sanz Escartín, gradually became the most experienced MP and in the late 1890s[66] assumed the post of the Carlist Cortes minority speaker (though the parliamentarian leadership was reserved for the senator, marqués de Cerralbo); by the same time he emerged as the regional Leonese leader and the representative of León in the nationwide structures.[67] He also became one of the movement’s pundits, regularly publishing in the semi-official Carlist daily, El Correo Español.[68] In case the Jefe Delegado, marqués de Cerralbo, was out of the country, it was usually Matías Barrio replacing him.[69]

Jefe Delegado[edit]

When de Cerralbo resigned as Jefe Delegado in 1899 there were many personalities counting as his potential successors, including Juan Vázquez de Mella, Tirso de Olazábal, conde de Melgar, Romualdo Cesáreo Sanz Escartin, marqués de Valde-Espina, Joaquín Lloréns or Manuel Polo y Peyrolón.[70] Despite Olazábal having been rumored to get the post,[71] Carlos VII opted for Matías Barrio. As at that time the conservative and liberal press was widely speculating about another Carlist war approaching, the appointment of a “notorious legalist”[72] and “conciliator”[73] Barrio might have been interpreted as calming the waters, though actual intentions of the claimant remain rather unclear.[74]

Barrio did not manage to prevent isolated and probably spontaneous outbursts of Carlist insurgency, especially the 1900 Badalona uprising dubbed "La Octubrada".[75] As unlike many Carlist personalities Barrio was spared the resulting governmental repressive action, his primary task turned out to be reconstruction of the party, suffering from closures of circulos, suspension of periodicals and exile of its leaders.[76] The reopening of circulos produced their visible reformatting, with increased female presence and more focus on youth, including sport (especially football).[77] The resumption of press activities produced a conflict with de Mella, already averse towards Barrio,[78] as the claimant ordered his Jefe Delegado to purge El Correo Español of the Mellista influence.[79]

Barrio's funeral

In the early 20th century Matías Barrio was already suffering from leukemia, which was gradually taking its toll.[80] In 1903 the claimant intended to relieve him of some duties by forming Junta Central[81] with Barrio as president, but the body seemed inept and was dissolved after half a year.[82] During the last years of his activity Barrio kept focusing on building a strong parliamentary minority.[83] Except Navarre, where thanks to Barrio’s conciliatory strategy towards Integristas the Traditionalists gained almost a monopoly in political representation,[84] in other regions of Spain these efforts remained rather fruitless. Ready to take the blame Barrio submitted his resignation, which was rejected by Carlos VII.[85] His endeavours were finally crowned two years before death, in the 1907 elections, as the Traditionalists, mostly thanks to joining Solidaritat Catalana, recorded their largest electoral success so far and gained 16 mandates in the Cortes,[86] the result bettered only once, 26 years later.[87]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Froilán de Lózar, La aventura política de Matías Barrio y Mier, [in:] Publicaciones de la Institución Tello Téllez de Meneses, ISSN 0210-7317, 78 (2007), p. 167
  2. ^ Hijos ilustres del Valle de Redondo, [in:] Origeness Blogspot available here
  3. ^ Santiago Francia Lorenzo, Matías Barrio y Mier, [in:] La Pernía, montana palentina website, available here
  4. ^ Francia Lorenzo
  5. ^ Carlos Petit, Barrio y Mier, Matías (1844-1909) entry, [in:] Diccionario de Catedráticos Españoles de Derecho (1847-1943) at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid website, available here
  6. ^ Carlos Petit
  7. ^ Santiago Francia Lorenzo, Territorio Perniano. Un manuscript de Matías Barrio y Mier en el Archivio Capitular de Palencia, [in:] PITTM 71 (2000), p. 455
  8. ^ Carlos Petit
  9. ^ Carlos Petit, see also Froilán de Lózar, p. 169
  10. ^ Carlos Petit
  11. ^ Carlos Petit; Francia Lorenzo (2000), p. 455 gives the name as Escuela Superior Diplomática
  12. ^ According to Petit Barrio studied theology for 2 years; Francia Lorenzo claims Barrio graduated in theology p. 455, Froilán de Lózar, p. 169 says that the 1868 revolution interrupted Barrio's theology studies, but he later resumed them and obtained another PhD
  13. ^ Carlos Petit
  14. ^ Ángela del Valle, Angela del Valle López, Aportación bio-bibliográfica a la historia de la ciencia: Universidad Central, 1886-1902, Madrid 1998, ISBN 8427712308, 9788427712300, p. 100
  15. ^ Francia Lorenzo
  16. ^ Froilán de Lózar, p. 172; Petit claims Barrio had only one child
  17. ^ one study refers to Barrio's as to a "landholder", see José Varela Ortega, El poder de la influencia: geografía del caciquismo en España (1875-1923), Barcelona 2001, ISBN 8425911524, 9788425911521, pp. 186-187
  18. ^ Carlos Petit
  19. ^ Carlos Petit
  20. ^ Carlos Petit
  21. ^ Carlos Petit
  22. ^ Carlos Petit, Froilán de Lózar, p. 169
  23. ^ Carlos Petit, Froilán de Lózar, p. 169; according to a press obituary he was also a rector, see ABC 24/06/1909, available here
  24. ^ he challenged the rejection of his application in court; a number of MPs appealed in his favor, see Petit
  25. ^ For details see Yolanda Blasco Gil, La Facultad de Derecho de Valencia durante la Restauración (1875-1900), Valencia 2000, ISBN 8437043948, 9788437043944, pp. 193
  26. ^ Carlos Petit
  27. ^ see Barrio y Mier, Matías entry [in:]
  28. ^ Carlos Petit
  29. ^ Carlos Petit
  30. ^ Carlos Petit, Froilán de Lózar, p. 171; B. de Artagan, Politicos del Carlismo, Barcelona 1913 claims it was in 1906, referred after Blog de la Asociación Cultural Tradicionalista Fernando III el Santo, available here
  31. ^ Historia general del derecho Español. Extracto taquigráfico de las explicaciones del dr. d. Matías Barrio y Mier, Volumes I-IV, Madrid, no stated date of issue, usually dated at 1900
  32. ^
  33. ^ Carlos Petit
  34. ^ Froilán de Lózar, p. 179
  35. ^ Francia Lorenzo
  36. ^ His commitment to the native region was demonstrated also in 1904, when he co-founded Casa de Palencia in Madrid, see Froilán de Lózar, p. 190
  37. ^ Carlos Petit; Francia Lorenzo says it was in Pisuerga
  38. ^ Carlos Petit
  39. ^ Fróilan de Lózar, p. 169
  40. ^ Carlos Petit
  41. ^ Carlos Petit
  42. ^ Carlos Petit; Francia Lorenzo says he had also offices in Valladolid, Burgos and Madrid
  43. ^ Francia Lorenzo
  44. ^ though he did not complete the required 25 years of age; allegedly because of his bid he suffered harassment at Universidad Central , see Fróilan de Lózar, p. 169
  45. ^ Fróilan de Lózar, p. 170 claims that he succeeded in 1872 elections, but his mandate was annulled
  46. ^ some scholars even label the area as Barrio's political "property" and consider his long career part of the caciquismo phenomenon, see José Varela Ortega 2001, pp. 186-187; a hagiographical biographer attributes his success to popularity among the locals, see Fróilan de Lózar, p. 166 and onwards
  47. ^ Fróilan de Lózar, pp. 171-172
  48. ^ Fróilan de Lózar, p. 168
  49. ^ del Valle, del Valle López, p. 101
  50. ^ Fróilan de Lózar, pp. 254-255
  51. ^ Fróilan de Lozar, p. 171
  52. ^ Carlos Petit
  53. ^ See many excerpts quoted by Fróilan de Lózar
  54. ^ During the Cortes session of 29 May 1895, apparently replying to a republican deputy from Cuba, Rafael Maria de Labra y Cadrana, Barrio praised the missionaries, stressing that they work pro de la patria como constants obreros de la civilización, sobre la base indispensable de la enseñanza moral y religiosa. Referring to incident at Cabo San Carlos, when 500 batons administered to a native caused his death, Barrio went on noting that la mala voluntad de algunas personas, ejerciéndose contra esor misionerios, ha querido, sin embargo, sacar partido de algunos hechos aislados que hayan podido ocirrir, casi siempre sin culpa ni intervención de aquellos, pero de los cuales se pretendian deducir graves cargos que en definitive resultan infundiados, see Revista de Geografía Comercial, XI (1895), pp. 223-224, available here
  55. ^ Europa en 1898 y la Guerra de Estados Unidos con España, [in:] Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, vol. CXCV (2), 1998, p. 199
  56. ^ Europa en… (1998), p. 203-204
  57. ^ Fróilan de Lózar, 167
  58. ^ del Valle, del Valle López, p. 100, Fróilan de Lózar, p. 190
  59. ^ Froilan de Lózar, p. 169-170
  60. ^ Fróilan de Lózar, p. 170
  61. ^ ABC 24/06/1909 wrote in Barrio's obituary that he fought for the Carlist cause "with a spade"; not clear whether this was pure retorics or a reference to Barrio's actual combat experience
  62. ^ together with Lorenzo de Arrieta Mascaria, Conde del Pinar, see Julián Gómez de Maya, El código penal de Don Carlos VII, [in:] Anales de derecho 26 (2008), p. 102
  63. ^ Agustín Fernández Escudero, El marqués de Cerralbo (1845-1922): biografía politica [PhD thesis], Madrid 2012, p. 42
  64. ^ Fermín Pérez-Nievas Borderas, Contra viento y marea. Historia de la evolución ideological del carlismo a través de dos siglos de lucha, Estella 1999, ISBN 8460589323, pp. 76-81
  65. ^ E.g. when intervening about the Carlist political leader, Marques de Cerralbo, assaulted in Valencia, see Escudero 2012, p. 213
  66. ^ he declared in Cortes: nosotros no somos absolutistas, somos los menos absolutistas, rechazamos el absolutismo que condenamos con energía, reprobamos todos los absolutismos conocidos, somos partidarios de la libertad Cristiana, quoted after Escudero 2012, p. 214
  67. ^ in 1896 Barrio was heading junta regional, see Escudero 2012, p. 285, and in 1899 was representing León in a number of Carlist initiatives, like the Junta to commemorate conversión de Recaredo, see Escudero 2012, p. 293
  68. ^ Escudero 2012, p. 332
  69. ^ Agustín Fernández Escudero, El XVII marqués de Cerralbo (1845-1922). Primera parte de la historia de un noble carlista, desde 1869 hasta 1900, [in:] Ab Initio: Revista digital para estudiantes de Historia, 2/2011, ISSN 2172-671X , p. 149
  70. ^ Escudero 2012, p. 406
  71. ^ Escudero 2012, p. 374
  72. ^ Eduardo González Calleja, La razón de la fuerza: orden público, subversión y violencia política en la España de la Restauración (1875-1917), Madrid 1998, ISBN 8400077784, 9788400077785, p. 206
  73. ^ González Calleja, p. 214
  74. ^ Carlist leaders among themselves spoke openly about the insurgency and Carlos VII made some moves which might have been interpreted as gearing up for rebellion, see Escudero 2012 pp. 383, 385, 385-402;
  75. ^ he declared those taking part not being Carlists, Escudero 2012, p. 390 Escudero 2011 (2) p. 73
  76. ^ Jordi Canal i Morell, Banderas blancas, boinas rojas: una historia política del carlismo, 1876-1939, Madrid 2006, ISBN 8496467341, 9788496467347, p. 36, Escudero 2012, p. 408
  77. ^ Escudero 2012, pp. 408-409, Canal 2006, p. 36
  78. ^ A friend of the dismissed de Cerralbo, de Mella was reported by the press to hate Barrio and to call him “a camel” due to his posture and coarse look, see Escudero 2012, p. 373-4; see also the anecdote referred by Froilán de Lózar, p. 165: when asked by a journalist about his physis, Barrio replied that “God paints according to His own will”
  79. ^ see Juan Ramón de Andrés Martín, El control mellista del organo carlista oficial. “El Correo Español” antes de la Gran Guerra, [in:] Aportes. Revista de la Historia Contemporánea 1999 (40/2), pp. 67-78
  80. ^ de Artagnan 1913 claims his health suffered due to work overload
  81. ^ consisting of deputies, senators and regional jefes
  82. ^ Escudero 2012, p. 413-4; the formation of the Junta was led the government to anticipate Carlist uprising and triggered special measures, see González Calleja, p. 339
  83. ^ E.g. Barrio wrote in El Correo Español that Carlists should afford a sacrifice of going to the polls, see Escudero 2012, p. 415
  84. ^ following the Third Carlist War the Traditionalists were winning at best 3 of the 7 Navarrese mandates available; in 1903 they won 5, and in 1907 and 1910 they grabbed 6 out of 7 mandates, the remaining one ceded to the allied Conservatives; their domination was broken in 1918, when they slipped to 3 mandates again
  85. ^ Escudero 2012, p. 416
  86. ^ there were 7 deputies elected from Vascongadas: Alcocer Valderrama (Alava), Castillo de Pineyro (Navarre), Dominguez Romera (Navarre), Feliu Perez (Navarre), Llorens Fernandez (Navarre), Vazquez de Mella (Navarre) and Diaz Aguado (Gipuzkoa), 6 deputies from Catalonia: Alier Cassi (Lerida), Bofarull Palau (Gerona), Bordas Flaquer (Barcelona), Junyent Rovira (Vic), Llosas Badia (Gerona), Suelves Montagut (Tarragona) and 1 from León: Barrio Mier himself (Palencia). Apart from the mainstream Carlists, the Integrists elected were Sanchez Marco (Navarre) and Senante Martinez (Gipuzkoa)
  87. ^ for the complete list of those elected in 1933 see Martin Blinkhorn, Carlism and Crisis in Spain 1931-1939, Cambridge 2008, ISBN 9780521207294, pp. 332-333

Further reading[edit]

  • Baron de Artagan [Reynado de Brea], Politicos del Carlismo, Barcelona 1913
  • Juan Ramón de Andrés Martín, El caso Feliú y el dominio de Mella en el partido carlista en el período 1909–1912, [in:] Historia contemporánea 10 (1997), ISSN 1130-0124
  • Santiago Francia Lorenzo, Territorio Perniano. Un manuscript de Matías Barrio y Mier en el Archivio Capitular de Palencia, [in:] Publicaciones de la Institución Tello Téllez de Meneses 71 (2000)
  • Santiago Francia Lorenzo, Matías Barrio y Mier, [in:] La Pernía, montana palentina website
  • Gregorio de la Fuente Monge, Matías Barrio y Mier, [in:] Diccionario Biográfico Español, v. VII, pp. 186–189
  • Jordi Canal i Morell, Banderas blancas, boinas rojas: una historia política del carlismo, 1876-1939, Madrid 2006, ISBN 8496467341, 9788496467347
  • Agustín Fernández Escudero, El marqués de Cerralbo (1845-1922): biografía politica [PhD thesis], Madrid 2012
  • Agustín Fernández Escudero, El XVII marqués de Cerralbo (1845-1922). Segunda parte de la historia de un noble carlista, desde 1900 hasta 1922, [in:] Ab Initio: Revista digital para estudiantes de Historia, 4/2011, ISSN 2172-671X
  • Eduardo González Calleja, La razón de la fuerza: orden público, subversión y violencia política en la España de la Restauración (1875-1917), Madrid 1998, ISBN 8400077784, 9788400077785
  • Froilán de Lózar, La aventura política de Matías Barrio y Mier, [in:] Publicaciones de la Institución Tello Téllez de Meneses, ISSN 0210-7317, 78 (2007), pp. 165–264
  • Carlos Petit, Barrio y Mier, Matías (1844-1909), [in:] Diccionario de Catedráticos Españoles de Derecho (1847-1943) at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid website
  • Adolfo Posada, Fragmentos de mis memorias, Oviedo 1983, ISBN 8474680700, 9788474680706
  • Ángela del Valle, Angela del Valle López, Aportación bio-bibliográfica a la historia de la ciencia: Universidad Central, 1886-1902, Madrid 1998, ISBN 8427712308, 9788427712300

External links[edit]