Stanley Payne in his tribute: “There have been many distortions in the history of Spain, more than in the history of any other Western country.”


My first words should be a deep gratitude to all those present at this act, Jesus Palacios and those who organized it with him, the distinguished participants who took the floor, and all those present who honored me with their presence or their good wishes. CEU and those who follow him through the platform.

I confess that all this causes me some surprise, because the various distinctions that I have received in my long life represent its zenith. This is a great honor and I am deeply grateful for it. Thank you all.

To a large extent, this event was organized in the spirit of “hispanism»; neologism that appeared in the 19th century to refer to a professional scientist engaged in research, analysis and publication about Spain. This is a special status qualification that is found in Spain, with no exact equivalent term for similar professionals in France or England. Even in the case of Germany, the name “Germanist” did not hold. This requires traveling to a somewhat non-European country such as Russia to find its equivalent. It may also indicate certain difficulties. included in this task.

During the nineteenth century, and for quite some time, the word “Hispanophile” was favored because Romantic writers, mostly French and English, who wrote about Spain exalted and usually exaggerated aspects they liked (and also misunderstood), with a blur what could have been foreseen. Hispanism as a professional and objective study based on research originated with historians in France and Scotland in the eighteenth century and then reached another level, especially with the great experts of Boston; which Prescott and Ticknoruntil the middle of the 19th century. Abroad, the works of the romantic and sometimes a few hysterical Latinophiles declined by the second half of that century, and were gradually replaced by the works of a new generation of Latinos. This took on greater importance due to the limited presence of Spanish historiography in the world, given the few translations of Spanish works into other languages, which represented a huge gap.

Now in my case I can’t deny that I’m a Hispanophilealthough by no means did I come to Spain as such, but simply as a doctoral student on a research project, and in the case of a country with such an exotic and unusual reputation as Spain, it also made sense for it to be a journey of discovery. On other occasions I have said that I devoted part of my first two months to this task, until I came to the conclusion that The Spaniards were really normal people just like any other group of Westerners, albeit with individual qualities or idiosyncrasies that can be found in any nation. In my case, Hispanophilia was not something made up from books or a short exotic trip, but something I learned from long personal experience.

However, I want to emphasize that I have never engaged in professional Hispanophilia. The aim of all my research was, modestly speaking, to tell the truth as objectively as possible, as an individual researcher, while recognizing the inevitable limitations of any personal work. Thus, I soon learned that reality was not quite what I initially believed, that it had an almost inevitably distorted perspective of one who had not penetrated beyond the surface, and that it would be necessary to speak and point out the things I was discovering. and learning that some or even many may not like them. I have never been afraid of this undertaking and, to my knowledge, have never taken a step back, despite the limitations of any single work.

Tribute to Stanley Payne

Over the years I have clearly seen that there were many distortions in history Spain, more than any other country in the West, which seems almost the fate of this national history, and so I did what I was able to correct, partly or largely within my modest means.

One of the big problems with history is the issue of perspective, context, and comparison. I think that the point of view from which the history of Spain is judged is too limited and biased, or even somewhat unreliable. There has long been a tendency in the Spanish historiographical world to become self-deepening, and when this was done in an international context, the most frequent was the study of France and England, when the actual relations should be much wider, with all of southern Spain, Europe and other peoples of the continent, and sometimes even in broader perspective. I think about this aspect in the classic Romantic story of Polish Jan Lelewel and in his very imaginative book of the nineteenth century Historical parallel between Spain and Poland in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.the story is not “scientific”, but very suggestive.

It was a great advantage for me that I lived in one of the two most unusual times in the long history of the country. I arrived in Spain when less than twenty years after the Civil War, and I was able to observe the last stage of traditional society and culture, the transformation of Francoism and the final modernization of the country, which had been expected for generations; later, the time of political reconciliation, because Spaniards have already reconciled a few years ago, and democratization after Franco and, finally, a quarter of a century of life in democracy; era of the so-called welfare state and stability, an era finally interrupted by a new political radicalization and an attack blamed on jihadists in 2004, two factors that ushered in a new era in which we live and which, apparently, will continue for more for some time. This time was marked by the resolution of great problems and historical issues, although it was eventually interrupted by the return of familiar demons.

Never apologize for the truth

In the realm of history, the current trend is almost universally towards politicization and imposition of ideologies, albeit with very different accents depending on the country in question. An important case is one that happened in the United States last month. This is one of my most notable colleagues from Wisconsin, James Sweet, President American Historical Associationwho published remarks in the Association’s Official Bulletin noting the profoundly distorting effects of the current emphasis on “presentism” and ideological bias.

Sweet is a man of the left, but he dared to tell the truth, which immediately provoked a wave of denunciations on Twitter, unanimously characterizing this relatively emeritus professor, married to a black woman and father of a mestizo daughter, as a “racist” and “fascist”.

As seems natural in today’s world, poor Professor Sweet instantly broke down and, without making the slightest attempt to defend himself or start a fight, publicly and repeatedly apologized for his mistakes; that is, for speaking the truth, promising to do everything possible to “fix” and merit “redemption”, as it is absurdly said in today’s corrupted language. Thus, what began as an honest and courageous statement by the president of the American Historical Association ended in typical irrationality and degradation of our time. Which shows how important it is to never apologize for the truth.

The United States still doesn’t have an official historical censorship law like the misnamed Spain Law of historical memory 2007 of President Zapatero and the one that is being forged now with Law of Democratic Memory Pedro Sanchez, which is clearly the ultimate aberration. This is so because the US tactic is to expand the network of a general totalitarian nature, but always referred to as “democratic”, as in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe.

The Spaniards did not let me down

The work of a professional scientist is inevitably individual, but not only because his research, in addition to sources, always depends on the collective work of a community of teachers and researchers. Any student enjoys the protection, pedagogy and encouragement of many people, most of whom are usually forgotten. As for me, when I first came to Spain, almost exactly sixty-four years ago, I did not really understand how I could carry out an original research project on the recent history of the country, but I had something. It was quite clear that this must largely depend on the cooperation and assistance of the Spaniards. And the Spaniard did not let me down. As is almost inevitable in a long oral history project, there were those who tried to deceive me or hide realitybut the degree of benevolent cooperation was impressive and essential to the success of the project.


It is true that the moment was auspicious; almost twenty years after the Civil War, with a certain perspective in terms of time and opportunities, it was possible to present this trauma as a story not as sectarian propaganda. Moreover, under these conditions, a foreign researcher enjoyed previously impossible recognition and freedom. Success in human affairs is always partly dependent on circumstances and the contributions and support of others.

For this reason, I am deeply grateful not only to the many Spaniards I met and became acquainted with during that first year, but also to the many others with whom I had the opportunity to meet, meet and befriend during the third century that followed. . . . The dominant notes have always been cordiality, sympathy and generosity. Relationships and support I have always depended on. It is true that the Spanish moralists sometimes branded their compatriots envious and resentful, but this always surprised me. little resentment that a Latino finds in Spain. When there is criticism, it is very rare to find it in xenophobic terms, because these are usually the same terms that these critics apply to many and sometimes millions of Spaniards themselves. Thus this long work of mine is not merely a study of, or an appendix to, the Spaniards, but has to a large extent been work done with the Spaniards themselves. To all of them, as well as to all participants, assistants and spectators of this event, my deepest and heartfelt gratitude. I couldn’t have done this without your help.

from the heart

(Libertad Digital thanks Jesús Palacios for sharing images and tribute texts)



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