Ramiro de Maeztu, author of Defensa de la Hispanidad.

Hispanidad is an expression with several meanings, loosely alluding to the group of people, countries and communities sharing the Spanish language and displaying a Spanish-related culture. The term traces back to the early modern period, but it was resignified by Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in 1909. Afterwards the idea of Hispanidad was adopted in the interwar period by Nationalist, Fascist and Reactionary tendencies. It was since then closely related with Roman Catholicism.


The word "Hispanidad" has existed since the early modern period; it's been found in the Tractado de orthographía y accentos en las tres lenguas principales by Alejo Venegas, printed in 1531, in the sense of "style of linguistic expression". It is featured with a similar meaning in the 1803 edition of the Dictionary of the Spanish Royal Academy, standing as synonym for "Hispanismo" (Hispanism), which in turn was defined as "the peculiar speech of the Spanish language".[1]

In the beginnings of the 20th century, the word and concept Hispanidad, made a comeback with several new meanings. Its reintroduction was attributed to Spanish philosopher Miguel de Unamuno in 1909. It was used by Unamuno on 11 March 1910 in an article by the title La Argentinidad published in Argentinian newspaper La Nación. He compared there the word Hispanidad to other similar expressions such as argentinidad, americanidad, españolidad and italianidad.[1][2] Unamuno linked the concept to the multiplicity of peoples speaking the Spanish language, encompassing in turn his idea of race, bestowing it an egalitarian substrate, questioning the very same status of Motherland for Spain; he claimed the need of approaching hispano-american republics in terms of sisterhood (opposing "primacies" and "maternities").[3]

The priest Zacarías de Vizcarra spread the term en 1926

Further development of the concept of Hispanidad had to wait for the 1920s, when a group of intellectuals moved by the ideas of extreme right thinker Charles Maurras rescued the term.[4] As precedent, the Spanish writer José María Salaverría (who lived in Argentina between 1910 and 1913) would have revindicated, although not explicitly, the idea of an Hispanic community comparable to Hispanidad (the leading status of Spain in this community is however a moot point in his work).[5] The term word "Hispanidad" was re-used by Spanish priest Zacarías de Vizcarra (who lived in Buenos Aires).[6] He proposed back in 1926 the need for changing the expression "Fiesta de la Raza" for "Fiesta de la Hispanidad".[7]

During the reign of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, the Virgin of Guadaloupe was proclaimed "Queen of the Hispanidad" in Spain.[8] In the later years of the decade, vanguardist writer Ernesto Giménez Caballero began to elaborate a neo-imperialist narrative of the Hispanidad in La Gaceta Literaria.[9] The doctrine of Hispanidad would also become a core tenet of the reactionary thought in Spain in the coming years.[10]

Cover of the 1st edition of Defensa de la Hispanidad (1934), by Ramiro de Maeztu.

In the years of the Second Spanish Republic, Spanish monarchist author Ramiro de Maeztu (who had been Ambassador to Argentina of the Primo de Rivera dictatorship between 1928 and 1930),[11] re-used the concept of hispanidad, motivated by the interests aroused on him by Argentine-related topics,[12] and the meetings between him and the attendants to the Courses of Catholic Culture; those concomitants were representative of the nationalist, catholic and antiliberal clergy in Argentina; of which Vizcarra was a member.[13] Those experiences helped Maeztu to give form to his doctrine of Hispanidad, that was captured in his work Defensa de la Hispanidad (1934)

He attributed the concept to Vizcarra instead of Unamuno.[14] In the Hispanidad of Maeztu, the christian and humanist features that would identify Hispanic peoples would take place, in opposition to the ideas of rationalism, liberalism and democracy, alien to the Hispanic ethos according to Maeztu.[15] The work of Maeztu "relentlessly" linked Catholicism and Hispanidad and was highly influential both among Argentine nationalists[16] and the Spanish extreme right and First francoism.[17] Although declaredly anti-racist due to its catholic origin, the sense of racial egalitarianism in the Maeztu's idea of Hispanidad was restricted to the scope of unearthly salvation.[18]

Isidro Gomá defended the ideas of Vizcarra and Maeztu.[19]

The Spanish primate Isidro Gomá, declared in Argentina in 12 October 1934, a manifesto titled Apology of the Hispanidad, re-using the ideas of Maeztu:[n. 1]

"America is the work of Spain. This work by Spain is essentially of Catholic nature. Hence, there is a relation of equality between Hispanidad and Catholicism, and it is madness any attempt of Hispanidad disowing that relation".

"América es la obra de España. Esta obra de España lo es esencialmente de catolicismo. Luego hay relación de igualdad entre hispanidad y catolicismo, y es locura todo intento de hispanización que lo repudie."[21]
Isidro Gomá, fragment of «Apología de la Hispanidad» (Buenos Aires, 1934), collected in Acción Española (1 November 1934).

The narrative of the Hispanidad was heavily featured in the rebel faction propaganda during the Spanish Civil War,[22] being used as war tool.[23] Spanish philosopher and francoist propagandist Manuel García Morente would made Francisco Franco the savior of the legacy of the Hispanidad from an "invisible army" sent by the Communist International of Moscow.[24] García Morente would synthetize the essence of Hispanidad in the archaistic ideal of "christian knight", half monk-half soldier;[25] this figure was employed in the pages of student books during the first part of the Francoist dictatorship.[26]

Spanish psychiatrist Antonio Vallejo-Nájera, used the idea of Hispanidad by Maeztu and Vizcarra[27] in his work Eugenesia de la Hispanidad y Regeneración de la Raza ("Eugenics of the Hispanidad and Regeneration of the Race"). In his work, Vallejo-Nájera would defend the legal guardianship by the State in order to achieve national regeneration. This set a justifying framework for the appropriation of minors by the State.[28]

After the Spanish Civil War, the Our Lady of the Pillar, became a symbol of Hispanidad in Spain, and was linked in the National Catholicism of the Franco dictatorship to the ideas of patriotism and "hispanic essences".[29]

Franco created the Council of the Hispanidad in 2 November 1940.[30] It was an organism (at first it was thought it may became a sort of supra-national institution)[31] that ended up being a council of 74 members, charged with the task of coordinating the relations with Latin America.[32] The Hispanidad became the source of an expansive nationalism (first imperialist, cultural afterwards).[33] Besides its character both as national identitary element and as stalwart of catholicism, the Francoism would use the Hispanidad as "business card" in international relations.[34]

The Council of the Hispanidad would mutate into the Institute of Hispanic Culture in 1946, experiencing in turn a transition from a more purely falangist profile to a more catholic one.[35] This happened within a framework of a general change in the doctrine of the Hispanidad between 1945 and 1947, with Alberto Martín-Artajo at the helm of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. During this period, the message became more defensive and less aggressive, with decreasing mentions of "empire" and "race" (biological).[36] Afterwards, during the second part of the Francoist dictatorship, the regime (less constrained by the international community) recovered more aggressive rhetorics, without reaching the full extent of the period with Ramón Serrano Suñer as minister of Foreign Affairs.[37]

Already in the decade of 1930 conservative Mexican writer Alfonso Junco became and active propagandist of the Hispanidad.[38] One of the key parts of the ideology of "panista" mexican politician Efraín González Luna was (he took pride in miscegenation), the Hispanidad, conceived in terms of a united community of sovereign states, defenders of their own values in opposition to foreign threats, such as, according to the author, communism.[39] Another personalities weary of post-revolutionary Mexico, on whom the doctrine of the Hispanidad left a print were Miguel Palomar y Vizcarra, Jesús Guisa y Azevedo, Salvador Abascal and Salvador Borrego.[40] The Sinarquism saw in the Hispanidad a key component of the vitality of the mexican nation.[41]

The idea of Hispanidad was also featured with new meanings in authors of the Spanish republican exile, such as Fernando de los Ríos, Joaquín Xirau, Eduardo Nicol or Américo Castro.[42] Salvador de Madariaga, also exiled, defended the Hispanidad as a positive factor towards cultural ontogeny, highlighting the positive miscegenation in contrast to the Anglo-Saxon example.[43]

In Argentina, one of the few sovereign states with a friendly attitude towards the Francoist regime in the immediate period after the end of World War II, Juan Domingo Perón defended the concept of Hispanidad, highlighting the Hispanic roots of Argentina. However, peronism began to unlink from the idea in the 1950-1954 period, replacing it in its message with the concept of "Latinidad" (Latinity).[44]

In Colombia Eduardo Carranza used the idea of Hispanidad in his work.[45] In Chile, Jaime Eyzaguirre would do the same.[46]

En 1958 the Day of the Race was renamed as "Day of the Hispanidad" in Spain.[47]


  1. According to Stephen G. H. Roberts this manifesto was the nexus between the ideas of Maeztu and the fundamental of the ideology developed by the dictatorship of Francisco Franco.[20]


  1. 1 2 "Hispanidad". Filosofía en Español. Buenos Aires. Retrieved 2015-12-15.
  2. Unamuno, Miguel de (1997). Víctor Oiumette, ed. De patriotismo espiritual. Artículos en "La Nación" de Buenos Aires (1901-1914). Salamanca: University of Salamanca. p. 24. ISBN 847481880X.
  3. Rabaté, Jean-Claude (2005). Ana Chaguaceda Toledano, ed. "Miguel de Unamuno frente a las conmemoraciones del 12 de octubre". Miguel de Unamuno. Estudios sobre su obra. Salamanca: University of Salamanca. II: 247. ISBN 8478006834.
  4. Colom González 2013, p. 9.
  5. González Allende 2009, pp. 65-67.
  6. Ramón Solans 2014, p. 364«Zacarías de Vizcaya» [sic]
  7. González Cuevas 2003, p. 244; Marcilhacy 2014, p. 75.
  8. Pastor 2010, p. 259.
  9. Friedman 2011, pp. 38-39.
  10. Juan Navarro 2006, p. 392.
  11. Núñez Seixas 2013, p. 870.
  12. Martínez de Velasco Farinós 1981, p. 180.
  13. González Calleja 2007, p. 612.
  14. González Cuevas 2003, p. 244.
  15. González Calleja 2007, p. 619.
  16. Saborido 2007, pp. 425-426.
  17. Rodríguez Jiménez 1994, p. 45.
  18. Álvarez Chillida 2014, pp. 111-112.
  19. Martini 2015, p. 58.
  20. Roberts 2004, p. 62.
  21. Roberts 2004, p. 62; Colom González 2006, p. 64.
  22. Pasamar 2010, p. 197.
  23. Pardo Sanz 1992, p. 211.
  24. Nicolás Marín 1998, pp. 39-40.
  25. Colom González 2006, p. 66.
  26. Núñez Seixas 2006, p. 205.
  27. Capuano & Carli 2012, pp. 6,7.
  28. Capuano & Carli 2012, pp. 11-12.
  29. Cenarro 1997, pp. 92, 97 y 98.
  30. Payne 1987, p. 360; Barbeito 1989, p. 117.
  31. Barbeito 1989, p. 118.
  32. Payne 1987, p. 360.
  33. Marcilhacy 2014, p. 101.
  34. Calle Velasco 2004, p. 170.
  35. Fernández de Miguel 2012, p. 360.
  36. Sepúlveda Muñoz 2005, p. 174.
  37. Sepúlveda Muñoz 2005, pp. 174-175.
  38. Urías Horcasitas 2010b, p. 615.
  39. Gómez Peralta 2010, p. 172.
  40. Urías Horcasitas 2010a, p. 196.
  41. Ard 2003, p. 44.
  42. Sánchez Cuervo 2014, pp. 17, 25 y 30.
  43. Rojas Mix 1997, p. 187.
  44. Rein 1991.
  45. Carranza 2006, pp. 6-7.
  46. Campos Harriet 1983, p. 49.
  47. Marcilhacy 2014, p. 100.


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