A history of Spain by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

A history of Spain by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

I took this book from the library (you can buy it in The Amazon). I started reading and noticed something strange. It had a weird style, very short chapters, very casual language, and tons of irony. They looked like articles instead of a book. I expected something similar to Minimal history of Spain by Juan Pablo Fusi, but I was wrong.

And indeed, simply reading the back cover (something I don't like to do) confirmed the suspicion. A history of Spain, is a compilation of the articles that Arturo Pérez-Reverte has published for more than 4 years in his column Marque de Mar of the supplement XL Semanal.

If you've never read his week column, I mean this:

The downside was that Sagunto, a former Greek colony, was also an ally of the Romans: some turkeys that at that time - the third century BC, take account of it - were starting to make cockerels in the Mediterranean. Of course. A remarkable bird was involved, with war and such.

I liked it a lot, I don't have much more to comment on, just leave some notes that I have been taking on characters and on books that are mentioned.

A history of Spain is written with the same look with which I write novels and articles; I did not choose it, but it is the result of all those things: the vision, acidic more often than sweet, of someone who, as a character in one of my novels says, knows that being lucid in Spain always brought a lot of bitterness, a lot of loneliness and much hopelessness.

Arturo Perez-Reverte

Enjoy it!

Historical figures related to the history of Spain that Arturo Pérez-Reverte speaks well of

Characters of lso who speaks well Arturo Pérez-Reverte in his book A history of Spain

Accustomed to the darts that the author sends in his books and columns, I have been drawing attention to the people he praises or speaks well of. So I leave a compilation.

I do not put the citation format because when there is too much it is a bit cumbersome, but everything that follows about the different historical figures are quotes taken from the book

Emir Abderraman I

The young emir left us intelligent and cultured (from time to time, although less, it also happens to us) and left Muslim Spain as new, powerful, prosperous and chachi. He organized the first efficient tax machinery of the time and encouraged so-called knowledge trips.

Alfonso X

His son Alfonso X was one of those kings who unfortunately do not frequent our history: educated, enlightened, even though he faced another civil war ... he had time to compose, or order to do it, three fundamental works: The General History of Spain ( watch the name, now that they say that Spain is a thing of two days ago), the Cantigas and the Code of the Seven Games.

The Cid (Sidi)

And finally, around fifty blocks, five days before the capture of Jerusalem by the Crusaders, feared and respected by Moors and Christians, the most formidable warrior that Spain ever knew died in Valencia a natural death.

James I

That family was lucky enough to give birth to an unusual guy: his name was Jaime and he went into History with the nickname of The Conqueror ... but because he tripled the extension of his kingdom. Educated man, historian and poet.

The Catholic kings

They were young, handsome, and smart. I am referring to Isabel de Castilla and Fernando de Aragón, the so-called Catholic Monarchs. Above all, set.

In a few decades, it was going to end up placing Spain as the world's leading power, thanks to various factors that coincided in space and time: intelligence, courage, pragmatism, tenacity and good luck.

Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany

The son they had, however, came out smart, efficient and with a couple of eggs. His name was Carlos. He was blond to red, well educated in Flanders, and inherited the throne of Spain, on the one hand, and that of the German Empire on the other; so it was Carlos I of Spain and V of Germany.

Felipe II

... the most courageous and interesting guy who occupied a Spanish throne ...

Felipe II turned out to be a good official, skilled in paperwork, and personally a turkey with many virtues: meapilas but cultured, sober and little friend of personal luxuries

Count-Duke of Olivares

He was a minister with ideas and intelligence, although the task of governing that immense putifer was great for him, like anyone else. Olivares, who despite being stubborn and arrogant was a smart and diligent uncle, hard-working as few saw, wanted to start the business, reform Spain and turn it into a modern state in the way it was then.

The Marquis of La Ensenada

... it turned out to be an out of the ordinary: cultured, competent, active prototype of the illustrious minister, who maintained contact with the most prominent European scientists and philosophers, promoted national agriculture, opened irrigation canals, perfected transport and communications, restored the Royal Navy and it protected everything that had to do with the arts and sciences. one of those great characters, in short, with whom Spain and Spaniards have an immense debt and of which, of course, not to be lacking in custom, no Spanish schoolboy knows his name today.

Charles II

He was an enlightened king who sought to surround himself with competent people. If in a newspaper library we consult the Madrid Gazette corresponding to its time, we will be left with sweet potato paste, admired by the number of fair and timely laws with which that very decent Bourbon tried to open the windows and air the smell of closed and sacristy that rarefied this place. There was support for research and science, repopulation with immigrants from abandoned regions, and effective laws that did justice to the underprivileged, broke the immobility of medieval guilds and corporations, allowed children to live from honorable jobs, and opened up to women. possibility of exercising trades that until then were forbidden to them.

Canovas del Castillo

… But a piece of politician named Cánovas del Castillo - undoubtedly the most clever and competent of his time - convinced some and ended up taking them all to the garden.

Sagasta (and Cánovas again)

And at this point, a decisive fact should be highlighted: at the head of the two main parties, whose weight was enormous, were two politicians of extraordinary stature and intelligence, including Pedro Sánchez, Mariano Rajoy, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and José María Aznar, To name just four presidents from almost right now, they wouldn't even be able to carry the jug. Cánovas and Sagasta, the first leader of the conservative party and the second of the liberal or progressive, ...

Adolfo Suárez

Adolfo Suárez, a young, bright and ambitious member - he was from Ávila - who had worn a blue shirt and came from the Movement, was in charge of organizing this. And he did it wonderfully, handing out tobacco, patting the back and looking the staff in the eye (he was great among the greats, halfway between nobility of spirit and a trilero from Lavapiés, and also handsome).

Taking advantage of the history theme, I leave you a book cover restoration Spain is like that, used in school during the Franco regime.


There are a lot of interesting passages, stories, battles, characters and times.

I love the prologue with quotes about different authors about Spain and the Spanish.

The envy of the Spanish is not to get a car like his neighbor's, but to make sure that the neighbor does not have a car

Julius Camba

And I write down these topics to deepen and remember.

The almogávares

It was a troop of mercenaries, Catalans, Aragonese, Navarrese, Valencians and Majorcans for the most part, fiercely hardened in war, who gave the enemy goose bumps, they were Arago, Arago y Wake up, iron: wake up, iron.

And there they went, six thousand five hundred uncles with their women and children, ferocious wanderers without land and with a sword. If it weren't listed in the history books, it would be incredible: deadly as scythes, as soon as they landed, they fought three successive battles against a total of fifty thousand Turks, slaughtering them after slaughter.


As for Catalonia, then feudatory of the neighboring Frankish kings, it was expanding with rulers called counts of Barcelona. The first of them to become independent from the gabachos was Wifredo, by nickname Pilós or Velloso, who in addition to being hairy must have been pious that you laugh, since he filled the county with magnificent monasteries. Certain manger historians now present good Wifredo as the first king of a supposed Atalan monarchy, but do not let them eat the jar. Kings in Catalonia with that name never existed. Not a joke. The kings were always from Aragon and the thing was tied later, as we will tell when it comes to play. At the moment they were Catalan counts, to great honor.

To blood and fire

Among these was our most lucid chronicler of that time, the journalist Manuel Chaves Nogales, whose foreword to the book A blood and fire (1937) should be compulsory study today in all Spanish schools:

Idiots and murderers have been produced and acted with the same profusion and intensity on the two sides that split Spain […] In my desertion the blood spilled by the gangs of assassins that carried out the red terror in Madrid was as heavy as that spilled by the planes of Franco, murdering innocent women and children. And I was as much or more afraid of the barbarism of the Moors, the bandits of the Tercio and the murderers of the Falange, than of the illiterate anarchists or communists […] The final result of this struggle does not worry me too much. I am not very interested in knowing that the future dictator of Spain is going to emerge from one side or the other of the trenches […] It will have cost Spain more than half a million deaths. Could have been cheaper

To blood and fire. Manuel Chaves Nogales


Interesting books that have been mentioned throughout the different articles.

  • Magnet by Ramón J. Sender
  • The way of a rebel by Arturo Barea
  • To blood and fire by Manuel Caves Nogales
  • The nine by Evelyn Mesquida
  • The Iberian ring by Valle-Inclán
  • National episodes by Galdós

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