Spain

Amerigo Vespucci and the New World

Amerigo Vespucci and the New World

On February 22, 1512, Italian explorer, financier, navigator and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci passed away. He first demonstrated that Brazil and the West Indies did not represent Asia’s eastern outskirts as initially conjectured from Columbus’ voyages, but instead constituted an entirely separate landmass hitherto unknown to Afro-Eurasians. Colloquially referred to as the New World, this second super continent came to be termed “America“, deriving its name from Americus, the Latin version of Vespucci’s…
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Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

Averroes – The Commentator and Polymath

On December 10, 1198, medieval Andalusian polymath Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad Ibn ʾAḥmad Ibn Rušd, better known as Averroes, passed away. Averroes wrote on logic, Aristotelian and Islamic philosophy, theology, the Maliki school of Islamic jurisprudence, psychology, political and Andalusian classical music theory, geography, mathematics, and the mediæval sciences of medicine, astronomy, physics, and celestial mechanics. Averroes had a greater impact on Christian Europe: he has been described as the “founding father of…
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Juan de la Cierva and the Autogiro

Juan de la Cierva and the Autogiro

On September 21, 1895, Spanish civil engineer and aviation pioneer Juan de la Cierva y Codorníu was born. His most famous accomplishment was the invention in 1920 of the Autogiro, a single-rotor type of aircraft, a predecessor of today‘s helicopter. Aviation Pioneer Juan de la Cierva Juan de la Cierva was born in Murcia, Spain to a wealthy family. Although trained as a civil engineer, Cierva became interested in aviation early in…
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The Last Victim of the Spanish Inquisition

The Last Victim of the Spanish Inquisition

On July 26, 1826, Cayetano Ripoll, a schoolmaster in Valencia, Spain, teaching deist principles should become the last victim executed by the Spanish inquisition. Ripoll has the dubious honor of being the last of the many people known to have been executed under sentence from a Church authority for having committed the act of heresy. For almost 350 years the Spanish inquisition tried to secure the primacy of the Catholic Church in…
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El Greco – Precursor of Expressionism and Cubism

El Greco – Precursor of Expressionism and Cubism

On April 7, 1614, Greek painter, sculptor and architect of the Spanish Renaissance Doménikos Theotokópoulos, widely known as El Greco, passed away. A major master of Spanish Mannerism and the fading Renaissance, he painted mainly pictures with religious themes and portraits. His painting developed away from naturalism toward an individual style, as he attempted to find a new expression for spiritual phenomena, and in his later work increasingly referred back to his…
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Luis Buñuel and his Cinema of the Absurd and Desire

Luis Buñuel and his Cinema of the Absurd and Desire

On February 22, 1900, Spanish, later naturalized Mexican, filmmaker Luis Buñuel was born. Often associated with the surrealist movement of the 1920s, Buñuel created films from the 1920s through the 1970s. Having worked in Europe and North America, and in French and Spanish, Buñuel also directed films spanning various genres. His first picture, Un Chien Andalou — made in the silent era — is still viewed regularly throughout the world and retains its…
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Alfonso X from Spain and the Alfonsine Tables

Alfonso X from Spain and the Alfonsine Tables

On November 23, 1221, Spanish King and astronomer Alfonso X of Castile was born, who encouraged the preparation of revised planetary tables. These “Alfonsine Tables” a revision and improvement of the Ptolemaic tables, were the best available during the Middle Ages. “Had I been present at the Creation, I would have given some useful hints for the better ordering of the universe.” – Alfonso X, after studying Ptolemy’s treatise on astronomy.[10] Alfonso…
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Joseph Proust and the Law of Constant Composition

Joseph Proust and the Law of Constant Composition

On September 26, 1754, French chemist Joseph Louis Proust was born. He was best known for his discovery of the law of constant composition in 1799, stating that in chemical reactions matter is neither created nor destroyed. A Young Chemist Joseph L. Proust was born on September 26, 1754 in Angers, France as the second son of Joseph Proust, an apothecary, and Rosalie Sartre. Joseph studied chemistry in his father’s shop and later came to…
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Balboa and the Discovery of the Southern Ocean

Balboa and the Discovery of the Southern Ocean

Balboa taking possession of the South Sea On September 25, 1513, Spanish conquistador and explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa discovered the legendary Southern Ocean, having crossed the Isthmus of Panama facing the Pacific Ocean. Inspired by Christopher Columbus, Balboa embarked on a trip to the Americas as part of Rodrigo de Bastidas’ expedition. The young explorer started settling at Hispaniola in 1505 but was bankrupt shortly after. Balboa hid in a barrel…
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El Escorial – The World’s largest Renaissance Building

El Escorial – The World’s largest Renaissance Building

On September 13, 1584, the Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, about 45 kilometers northwest of the Spanish capital, Madrid, is finished. El Escorial is the world largest Renaissance building. The Rubble Heap After Philip II of Spain defeated the French King Henry II in the Battle of Saint-Quentin on August 10, 1557, the feast of St. Lawrence (Spanish: San Lorenzo), he vowed to build a monastery in honor of…
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