Selected biographies list
Queen Sofía of Spain (Spanish: Su Majestad la Reina Sofía de España, Greek: Βασίλισσα Σοφία της Ισπανίας;) born Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark on November 2, 1938; full name Sophía Margaríta Viktoría Frederíki), is the Queen Consort of King Juan Carlos I of Spain. Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark was born in Athens, Greece on November 2, 1938, the eldest child of the King Paul I of the Hellenes (1901-1964) and his wife, Queen Frederika (1917-1981), a former princess of Hanover. Queen Sofia is a member of the Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Glücksburg dynasty. Her brother is Constantine II of Greece and her sister Princess Irene of Greece and Demark. However, since the restoration of democracy, the royal titles are not recognized in Greece, where the former royal family is held in low regard by most Greeks.
Princess Sophia spent her childhood in Egypt and South Africa during her family's exile from Greece during World War II. They returned to Greece in 1946. She finished her education at the prestigious Schloss Salem boarding school in Southern Germany, and then studied pediatrics, music, and archeology in Athens. On May 14, 1962 Princess Sophia of Greece and Denmark married Prince Juan Carlos of Spain, the future king, whom she met on a cruise of the Greek Islands in 1954. In doing so, she relinquished her rights to the throne of Greece and converted to Roman Catholicism from Greek Orthodoxy. Further, the Latin transliteration of her Greek name Σοφία was changed from Sophia to the Spanish variant Sofía, which nonetheless is pronounced
Pedro Almodóvar Caballero (Spanish pronunciation: [ˈpeð̞ɾo almoˈð̞oβ̞aɾ kaβ̞aˈʝeɾo]) (born September 24, 1949 in Calzada de Calatrava, Spain) is a Spanish film director, screenwriter and producer. Almodóvar is the most successful and internationally known Spanish filmmaker of his generation. His films, marked by complex narratives, employ the codes of melodrama and use elements of pop culture, popular songs, irreverent humor, strong colors and glossy décor. He never judges his character's actions, whatever they do, but he presents them as they are in all their complexity. Desire, passion, family and identity are the director's favorite themes. Almodóvar’s films enjoy a worldwide following and he has become a major figure on the stage of world cinema.
Pedro Almodóvar Caballero was born on September 24, 1949 in Calzada de Calatrava, a rural small town of Ciudad Real, a province of Castile-La Mancha in the administrative district of Almagro. La Mancha is the windswept region of flat lands made famous by Don Quijote. He was born as one of four children (two boys, two girls) in a large and impoverished family of peasant stock. His father, Antonio Almodóvar, who could barely read or write worked most of his life hauling barrels of wine by mule. Almodóvar's mother, Francisca Caballero, turned her son into a part time teacher of literacy in the village and also a letter reader and transcriber for the neighbors. When Pedro was eight years old, the family sent him to study at a religious boarding school in the city of Cáceres, Extremadura, in the west of the country, with the hope that he might someday become a priest.
Luis Carrero Blanco, 1st Duke of Carrero-Blanco (March 4, 1903, Santoña, Cantabria – December 20, 1973, Madrid) was a Spanish admiral and statesman. In July 1936, when the Spanish Civil War erupted, Carrero Blanco found himself behind the coalescing Republican line. Taking refuge in the embassy of Mexico and later that of France, he was able to sneak across the front and reach the Nationalist side in June of 1937. Carrero Blanco then served in the Nationalist navy. After the Nationalist victory and subsequent installation of Generalísimo Francisco Franco as military dictator (Caudillo) of Spain, Carrero Blanco became one of his closest collaborators as well a chief of naval operations.
He was said to be in opposition to Spain entering World War II on the side of the Axis powers, a notably different political position compared to some other Falangists. Carrero Blanco himself was a monarchist. Devoted to the Roman Catholic Church, he was close to Opus Dei. After as political career of many positions, he reached its zenith in June 1973 upon being named Prime Minister of Spain and made a top deputy to Franco. It seemed as though it was only a matter of time before he would succeed the ailing dictator. Blanco was assassinated in 1973 in Madrid by four members of the ETA.
Sebastián Francisco de Miranda y Rodríguez (March 28, 1750 – July 14, 1816), commonly known as Francisco de Miranda, was a Venezuelan revolutionary. Although his own plans for the independence of the Spanish American colonies failed, he is regarded as a forerunner of Simón Bolívar, who during the South American wars of independence successfully liberated a vast portion of South America. Miranda led a romantic and adventurous life. An idealist, he developed a visionary plan to liberate and unify all of Spanish America. His military initiatives failed in 1812, and he was handed over to his enemies, dying four years later in a Spanish prison dungeon. Within fourteen years of his death, most of Spanish America was independent.
Born and raised in Caracas, Miranda was the son of a wealthy merchant from the Canary Islands, a region of Spain. He traveled throughout Europe, becoming a social sensation and garnering support for the independence of Spanish America. He had made friends with many important leaders and political figures throughout Europe, such as British Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger, and Catherine the Great of Russia, with whom supposedly he had an affair (most historians do not give much credence to the affair story). In the American Revolutionary War, he commanded Spanish troops aiding American insurgents in Florida and Mississippi. In the United States, he met George Washington, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, and Thomas Jefferson. He had a home in London, where he married a British lady and had two children. During this time he met Colonel William S. Smith secretary to John Adams's American Legation.
Hernán Cortés (also known as Hernán(do) Cortés Pizarro, 1st Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca; born 1485–December 2, 1547) was a Spanish conquistador who initiated the conquest of the Aztec Empire on behalf of Charles V, king of Castile and Holy Roman Emperor, in the early 16th century. Cortés was part of the generation of Spanish colonizers that began the first phase of the Spanish colonization of the Americas.
Born in Medellín, Extremadura, in Castile, to a family of lesser nobility, Cortés chose to pursue a livelihood in the New World. He went to Hispaniola and later to Cuba, where he received an encomienda and, for a short time, became alcalde (mayor) of a small town. In 1519, he was elected captain of the third expedition to the mainland, an expedition which he partly funded. His enmity with the governor of Cuba, Diego Velázquez de Cuéllar, resulted in the latter recalling the expedition at the last moment, an order which Cortés ignored. Arriving on the continent, Cortés executed a successful strategy of allying with some indigenous peoples against others. He also used a native woman, Doña Marina, as interpreter; she would later bear Cortés a son. When the Governor of Cuba sent emissaries to arrest Cortés, he fought them and won, using the extra troops as reinforcements. Cortés wrote letters directly to the king asking to be acknowledged for his successes instead of punished for mutiny. After he overthrew the Aztec empire, Cortés was awarded the title of Marqués del Valle de Oaxaca, while the more prestigious title of Viceroy was given to a high-ranking nobleman, Antonio de Mendoza. Cortés returned to Spain in 1541 where he died peacefully but embittered.
José María Teclo Morelos y Pavón (September 30, 1765, Valladolid, now Morelia, Michoacán – December 22, 1815, in San Cristóbal Ecatepec, State of México) was a Mexican priest and revolutionary rebel leader who led the Mexican War of Independence movement, assuming its leadership after the execution of Miguel Hidalgo in 1811. He was later captured by the Spanish colonial authorities and executed for treason in 1815.
Morelos was born into a poor family in the city of Valladolid, since renamed "Morelia" in his honor, in a house that is today a museum dedicated to his memory. He was a zambo of Amerindian, African from African American Registry and Spanish ancestry. His father was Manuel Morelos, a carpenter originally from Zindurio, a predominantly indigenous village a few kilometers west of Valladolid. His mother was Juana María Guadalupe Pérez Pavón, originally from San Juan Bautista de Apaseo, also near Valladolid. Valladolid was the seat of a bishop and of the government of the colonial Intendency of Michoacán. It was known as the "Garden of New Spain" because of its prosperity.
Antoni Plàcid Guillem Gaudí i Cornet (25 June 1852 – Barcelona, 10 June 1926) – sometimes referred to by the Spanish form of his name, Antonio Gaudí – was a Spanish Catalan architect, who belonged to the Modernisme (Art Nouveau) movement and was famous for his unique style and highly individualistic designs.
Gaudí was born in the province of Tarragona in southern Catalonia, Spain in 1852. While there is some dispute as to his birthplace – official documents state that he was born in the town of Reus, whereas others claim he was born in Riudoms, a small village 3 miles (5 km) from Reus. Gaudí, as an architecture student at the Escola Tècnica Superior d'Arquitectura in Barcelona from 1873 to 1877, achieved only mediocre grades but did well in his "Trial drawings and projects." After five years of work, he was awarded the title of architect in 1878. As he signed Gaudí's title, Elies Rogent declared, "Qui sap si hem donat el diploma a un boig o a un geni: el temps ens ho dirà" ("Who knows whether we have given this diploma to a nut or to a genius. Time will tell.") The newly named architect immediately began to plan and design and would remain affiliated with the school his entire life. Gaudí's first works were designed in the style of gothic and traditional Spanish architectural modes, but he soon developed his own distinct sculptural style. French architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc, who promoted an evolved form of gothic architecture, proved a major influence on Gaudí. But the student surpassed the master architect and contrived highly original designs – irregular and fantastically intricate. Some of his greatest works, most notably La Sagrada Família, have an almost hallucinatory power.
Aguas Santas Ocaña Navarro (born April 23, 1963 in Brenes, Seville, Spain) was the first lady of Honduras. Aguas Santas, her double given name means "holy waters" in Spanish. Navarro was the wife of former President Ricardo Maduro, marrying him when he was already President in October 2002 after meeting him during a 2 year stint working in the Spanish embassy in Tegucigalpa. She received dual Spanish-Honduran citizenship in 2004.
She and her husband legally adopted five children, two of whom had their families murdered but she now has 13 children in her care, all of whom accompanied her to Nicaragua on January 27, 2006, the day she ceased being first lady. She will work there with Nicaraguan children in need, and will help the wife of Nicaragua's President Enrique Bolaños. The five children legally adopted are called Leidy Jackeline, Kevin Josué, Francis, Joan and Jackie. During 2003, Ocaña Navarro returned to live in Spain for a short period of time, sparking rumours that she and her husband were about to divorce. The separation was allegedly provoked because Ricardo Maduro named a former girlfriend, Mireya Batres, to be Honduras' Minister of Culture. Batres was sacked and she returned.
Lope de Aguirre (c. 1510 – 27 October 1561) was a Spanish Basque conquistador in South America. Sent, along other rebellious settlers, to an impossible mission in search of the mythical Eldorado in the Amazon river, he eventually became their leader and rebelled against Philip II, being finally defeated and slain. Aguirre was born circa 1510 in Araotz Valley, in the Basque province of Guipúzcoa, part of the kingdom of Castile. (Today, Araotz belongs to the near municipality of Oñati, in northern Spain.) He was the son of a nobleman, with some culture, possibly from a family of court clerks. Aguirre was in his twenties and living in Seville when Hernándo Pizarro returned from Peru and brought back the treasures of the Incas, inspiring Aguirre to follow in his footsteps.
Aguirre probably enlisted himself in an expedition of 250 men chosen under Rodrigo Buran. He arrived in Peru in 1536 or 1537. In Cuzco, among other activities, Aguirre was responsible for the training of stallions. As a conquistador, however, he soon became infamous for his violence, cruelty and sedition. In 1544, Aguirre was at the side of Peru's first viceroy, Blasco Núñez Vela, who had arrived from Spain with orders to implement the New Laws, suppress the Encomiendas, and liberate the natives.
Lucrezia Bori (born Valencia, 24 December 1887 – died New York, 14 May 1960) was a celebrated Spanish operatic singer, a lyric soprano. Her real name was Lucrecia Borja y González de Riancho and her family were reputed to be descended from the Borgias. Bori studied in Milan with Vidal and made her debut at the Teatro Adriano in Rome as Micaëla in Bizet's Carmen in 1908. in 1911 she sang Octavian in the Italian premiere of Der Rosenkavalier at La Scala. Her career somewhat started at the Metropolitan Opera, New York City, where she became a favorite among regulars, began during the Met's first visit to Paris, in 1910 (June 9; Manon Lescaut); it would last until 1936, although from 1915 to 1921 she stopped singing due to nodes on her vocal cords. She appeared a total of 654 times. She was famous for her portrayals of Manon in Massenet's opera, Mimì in La bohème, Fiora in L' amore dei trè rè, Mélisande in Pelléas et Mélisande and Violetta in La traviata.
Her farewell gala on 29 March 1936 was one of the great events at the Metropolitan. Bori sang scenes from Manon and La traviata, with contributions from Flagstad, Melchior, Rethberg, Pinza, Ponselle, Martinelli, Tibbett and Richard Crooks. Ever the Grande Dame, after her retirement from singing she was elected to the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Opera Association and became chairman of the Metropolitan Opera Guild.
Ángel Sanz Briz (Zaragoza, September 28, 1910 - June 11, 1980) was a Spanish diplomat during World War II who helped save many Hungarian Jews from Nazi persecution. After studying law, his first diplomatic posting was to Cairo. He was sent to Budapest in 1942 where he is credited with saving the lives of 5,200 Jews from the Holocaust by using his influence and the facilities of the Spanish embassy. In 1944, as the Red Army approached Budapest, he was ordered to leave for Switzerland. Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian veteran of the Spanish War, continued his labor with fake documents.
After these events, Briz continued his diplomatic career: he was posted to San Francisco and Washington, Lima, Bern, Bayonne, Guatemala, The Hague, Brussels and China (1973, where he became the first Spanish ambassador). In 1976, he was sent to Rome as Ambassador of Spain before the Holy See, where he died on June 11, 1980. Briz Briz himself tells how he was able to save the lives of so many Jews, in Federico Ysart's book "Los judíos en España" (1973). In 1991, Briz was recognized by the Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem of Israel, and gave his heirs the title of Righteous Among the Nations. In 1994, the Hungarian government gave him the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.
José Ignacio de Aldecoa (July 24, 1925–November 15, 1969) was a Spanish author. Aldecoa was born in Vitoria-Gasteiz on 24 July 1925, the first child of Simón de Aldecoa and Carmen Isasi. He had a sister called María Teresa, born in 1927. Ignacio's father was a middle class artisan who ran a family business in industrial decoration and restoration inherited from his father, Laureano de Aldecoa. The young Aldecoa was affectionately known as Iñaki in the home and enjoyed a happy and lively childhood marred only by his experience of school.
Aldecoa studied in the Arts Faculty at the University of Madrid. He lived later in the United States of America. His first published works were collections of poetry, published in 1947 and 1949. El fulgor y la sangre was his first novel, published in 1954. It failed to win the important Premio Planeta by just one vote. El fulgor forms part of a projected trilogy: the first part, El fulgor deals with the Civil Guard; the second (Con el viento solano, 1956), deals with to some extent with gypsies, traditional enemies, not to say victims, of the Guards; the third part, Los pozos, never appeared but apparently dealt with bullfighters. The link between the three is that in the first part a guard is murdered by a gypsy; the flight to Madrid and eventual surrender of the killer (Sebástian Vázquez) are related in part two; Vázquez is a friend of the bullfighters and something of an aficionado of the sport - this may have been what leads to the final part.
Sebastián Julián Gayarre Garjón (born January 9, 1844 in Roncal, Navarre — January 2, 1890 in Madrid), better known as Julián Gayarre, was a Spanish opera singer who created the role of Marcello in Donizetti's Il Duca d'Alba and Enzo in Ponchielli's La Gioconda. He was one of the leading tenors of his day, and regarded by many contemporary critics as the supreme tenor of his day.
Garjón was born and raised in the small Pyrenean town of Roncal. The third child of Mariano Gayarre and Maria Ramona Garjón, a couple of modest means, he left school at 13 to work as a shepherd. When he was 15, his father sent him to Pamplona to work in a small store. It was there that he had his first contact with music. It was a passion that would cost him his job when he was fired for leaving the store to follow a band that was parading in the street outside. He then worked as a blacksmith in the village of Lumbier and later in Pamplona at the Pinaqui foundry. One of his fellow workers, who heard him singing as he worked, encouraged him to join the Orfeón Pamplonés, the city's newly formed choir directed by Joaquin Maya. Maya took him on as first tenor and introduced him to the celebrated music teacher and composer, Hilarión Eslava. Eslava, struck by the beautiful timbre of the yet untrained voice, arranged a scholarship for Gayarre to study at the Madrid Conservatory.
Joan Lluís Vives (6 March 1492 - 6 May 1540) was a Spanish scholar and humanist. Vives was born in Valencia. As a child, he saw his father, grandmother and great-grandfather, as well as members of their wider family, executed as Judaizers at the behest of the Spanish Inquisition; his mother was acquitted but died of the plague when he was 15 years old. Shortly thereafter, he left Spain never to return.
He studied at Paris from 1509 to 1512, and in 1519 was appointed professor of humanities at the University of Leuven. At the insistence of his friend Erasmus, he prepared an elaborate commentary on Augustine's De Civitate Dei, which was published in 1522 with a dedication to Henry VIII of England. Soon afterwards, he was invited to England, and acted as tutor to the Princess Mary, for whose use he wrote De ratione studii puerilis epistolae duae (1523) and, ostensibly, De Institutione Feminae Christianae, on the education of girls.
Federico Mayor Zaragoza (1934 in Barcelona) is a Spanish scholar and politician. He served as Director-General of UNESCO from 1987 to 1999. Mayor obtained a doctorate in pharmacy from the Complutense University of Madrid in 1958. In 1963 he became professor of biochemistry at the School of Pharmacy of the University of Granada, and in 1968 was elected rector of that university, a post he held until 1972. The following year he was appointed professor in biochemistry at the Community of Madrid. In 1974 he co-founded the Severo Ochoa Centre of Molecular Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid and of the High Council for Scientific Research.
José Millán-Astray y Terreros (July 5, 1879 – January 1, 1954) was the founder and first commander of the Spanish Foreign Legion, and a major early figure of Francisco Franco's Regime in Spain. Born in A Coruña, Galicia, his father was José Millán Astray, a lawyer, poet, librettist of the Zarzuela genre, and chief jailer of Madrid. His mother was Pilar Terreros Segade, an illustrator and comedic author. Though pressed to study the law, Millán-Astray aspired to a military career.
On August 30, 1894, he entered the Academia de Infantería de Toledo ("Infantry Academy of Toledo"). He graduated as a second lieutenant at the age of seventeen, and later served in the army in Madrid. On September 1, 1896, he enrolled in the Escuela Superior de Guerra ("Superior Military School"). Upon graduation, he joined the General staff of the Spanish army. Soon after, rebellion broke out in the Philippines, and he left his position to serve there as a volunteer. He would earn numerous decorations for his valor (Cruz de María Cristina, Cruz Roja al Mérito Militar, and Cruz Primera Clase al Mérito Militar) and became something of a war hero for his defence of the city of San Rafael, in which he fought off a rebel force of two thousand with only thirty men. He subsequently served in Morocco, where he lost an arm and an eye, earning the sobriquet Glorioso mutilado ("Glorious amputee").
Baltasar Garzón Real (born October 26, 1955 in Torres, Jaén, Spain) is a prominent judge (investigating magistrate) of Spain. Garzón currently sits on Spain's second highest criminal court, Sala 5 of the Audiencia Nacional). Garzón is known in Spain as "Super Judge" or "Judge-Star."
Garzón rose to international prominence on October 10, 1998 for his issuance of an arrest warrant for former Chilean president Augusto Pinochet over the deaths and torture of Spanish citizens during Pinochet's regime, using the Chilean Truth Commission (1990–91) report as the basis for the warrant. He has repeatedly expressed a desire to investigate former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in connection with a plot in the 1970s known as Operation Condor. Garzón also opened the gates to charges of genocide being filed in Spain against Argentine military officers of genocide on the disappearance of Spanish citizens during Argentina's 1976–1983 dictatorship. In April 2001, he requested that the Council of Europe remove the immunity from prosecution enjoyed by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of as a member of the Council's parliamentary assembly.
Enrique Iglesias (born May 8, 1975 in Madrid, Spain) is a pop singer and songwriter. Iglesias was born to Julio Iglesias and Filipina Isabel Preysler, the latter also being a singer. Iglesias's career started on Indie label Fonovisa who helped turn him into one of the most popular artists in Latin America and in the Latin market in the United States, selling more Spanish albums than any other artists in that period of time. Before the turn of the millennium he made a crossover into the mainstream English market and signed a unique multi-album deal with Universal Music for an unprecedented $48,000,000, with Universal Music Latino to release his Spanish albums and Interscope to release English albums.
Iglesias has had two Billboard Hot 100 #1s in English and holds the record for producing seventeen number 1 Spanish language hits singles on the Billboard's Hot Latin Tracks. His album sales currently total over 41 million, making him one of the biggest-selling Spanish musical artists in the world.
Felipe, Prince of Asturias (baptized as Felipe Juan Pablo Alfonso de Todos los Santos de Borbón y de Grecia; born January 30, 1968 in Madrid, Spain), is the third child and first son of King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofía of Spain. As the Prince of Asturias he is the heir apparent, meaning he is first in the line of succession to the Spanish throne. As heir to the Spanish throne he bears the official titles of Prince of Asturias, Prince of Viana, Prince of Girona, Duke of Montblanc, Count of Cervera and Lord of Balaguer. If Felipe becomes king as expected, he will be known as Philip VI of Spain.
Felipe attended high school at Lakefield College School in Ontario, Canada and studied in the Autonomous University of Madrid, where he earned a degree in Law. He also completed several courses on economics. He completed his academic studies by obtaining a Master of Science degree in Foreign Service from the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where he was the roommate of his cousin, Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece. Felipe has fulfilled his institutional commitments in his capacity as Heir to the Crown, chaired many official events in Spain, and participated in key events in different sectors and aspects of Spanish public life. Since October 1995, Felipe has made a series of official visits to the Spanish Autonomous Communities with a view to gaining in-depth knowledge of Spain and making contact with other Spaniards.
Salvador Felip Jacint Dalí Domènech (May 11, 1904 – January 23, 1989), known popularly as Salvador Dalí, was a Spanish artist from Catalonia who became one of the most important painters of the 20th century. A skilled draftsman, he is best known for his surrealist work identified by its striking, bizarre, dreamlike images. His painterly skills are often attributed to the influence of Renaissance masters. His best known work, The Persistence of Memory, was completed in 1931. In addition to painting, his artistic repertoire included film, sculpture, photography, and an Academy Award–winning short cartoon, "Destino," on which he collaborated with Walt Disney; it was released posthumously in 2003.
An artist of great imagination, Dalí had an affinity for doing unusual things to draw attention to himself. This sometimes irked those who loved his art as much as it annoyed his critics, since his eccentric manner sometimes drew more public attention than his artwork.
Antonio Gala (born 2 October 1936) is a Spanish poet, playwright, novelist and writer. Gala was born in Brazatortas, Ciudad Real (Castile-La Mancha), although he moved very soon to Córdoba and is widely considered an Andalusian. A graduate in law, philosophy, politics and economics, he has written in a wide variety of genres, including journalism, short stories, essays and television scripts. He has been awarded several prizes, not only within the field of poetry but also for his contributions to theatre and opera.
Gala's work has been more appreciated by his readership than by the critics, who find it hard to classify it due to its particular blend of lyricism and epic. Among his most successful plays are Los verdes campos del Edén (The Green Fields of Eden, National Theatre Prize "Calderón de la Barca" 1963), Anillos para una dama (Rings for a Lady, 1973), ¿Por qué corres, Ulises? (Why do you run, Ulysses?, 1975), Petra Regalada (1980), Samarkanda (1985), Carmen, Carmen (1988) and La truhana (The rogue, 1992). Among his collections of poetry are Sonetos de La Zubia (La Zubia Sonets), Poemas de amor (Love Poems), Testamento Andaluz (Andalusian Will) and Enemigo íntimo (Intimate Enemy, Adonais Prize 1959).