Skip to content

From the Enlightenment to Business Models. Episode 9B. Who moved the ways of the Enlightenment in Spain. Los Ilustrados de España

Thank you so much.
We are finished with Season I of this saga. First of all, I truly wish to assert my profound appreciation and enormous gratitude for your kind gesture of patience and for understanding when I changed the outline of this saga, by focusing all our efforts during this first quarter of the year to comprehend the historical context and the mapping of who moved the ways of the Enlightenment in Europe. All these changes were brewing in my mind once I started to write in January, and we made the outline shifts accordingly, as a core twist, not just to provide an Enlightenment context dashboard with the basic elements that all our readers must embrace before reading our core bibliography of Jonathan Israel; but also, because we wished to do strategic innovation, by answering three inquiries: who was who in the Enlightenment in Europe, what was happening historically in each of the Enlightenment hubs that gave birth to the philosophes, and where did their intellectual activities occur.  

Initially, dedicating time for the main historical events and biographies of the Enlightenment profiles per country of relevance, was not originally on my radar. But after watching the huge waves of analysis that we were required to do; we changed our plan accordingly. It was the right thing to do. I repaired my mainsail (the outline of my content). And, today, we are thankful that we did this shift.  We have covered the Dutch, the French, the British, the Holy Germanic Roman Empire, the Italian, and the Spanish-Portuguese backgrounds. More than 1500 years of history for each kingdom just to arrive at a comprehension of where we stand during the 1700s, the century that moved the ways of the Enlightenment philosophes. Of course, there are episodes that I must go back and upgrade a bit more, probably I will revamp the Italian and Dutch historical contexts after July of this year. I promise. I always fulfill my oaths.

As much as it has happened in the Ocean Race, it is not up to us to control the ocean of what happened in our history. We can´t even try to dominate the history of the “brain intellect misery or joy” of our past corporate-strategy decision-makers, and that has been for me an appalling experience when disclosing the material about this Enlightenment period in Europe. The 4 books of reference (considered textbooks) from Jonathan Israel, that we chose for our saga´s work were selected after reviewing more than 22 faculty professors’ syllabus, textbooks, outlines, and content. These special professors of history, political philosophy, literature, social sciences, ethics, cultural studies, and special topics about our past historiography, opened my eyes to a new type of world I was not used to reading daily. And they guided me, indirectly, to prepare the roadmap of what we have done. I am extremely grateful to them. All of them are teaching at the moment from their university chairs at Stanford, Vilanova, CUNY, Stonybrook, University of Mary in Washington, University of Michigan, University of Dallas, NYU Paris, Fordham University, Macquarie University, Newschool, Goethe University Frankfurt, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Oxford University, Princeton, Harvard, the Pratt Institute and Shippensburg University. My thankful appreciation to all of them for helping me to understand the Enlightenment as an ample spectrum of possibilities.

In addition, our core reference bibliography from Jonathan Israel, which in total represents around 4,000 pages of reading, was simply the most introduction to our own insight. During the last three months, every week, I had to read an additional amount of 250 to 500 additional pages of several chapters of books, articles, and academic papers that I downloaded from JStor or other academic research databases that I have access to. In consequence, I have been, not busy but extremely diligent to digest and assimilate, under a FastTrack mood, or “on the go”, while preparing our “graduate university level” writings.

As of next season II, my work in this saga will be focused to tie the knots between history and Enlightenment findings with our corporate strategy and business models. And we will elevate our strategic reflections accordingly. Nevertheless, without the foundations of Season I, it was unbearable for us to move forward.

This has been the most hectic hardworking saga that I have ever written since I started Eleonora Escalante’s Strategy endeavors. There have been some weeks in which I was not drained but depleted, consumed by the anguish of not finishing on the deadline that I was compromised to deliver all together with the Ocean Race timeline. The more I fought with the internet to find the right source of information, the more I was obliged to check the veracity of these traces. And the more I was compelled to cross-check not once, but at least 4 to 5 times or more, I didn´t stop to filter information until I was at least 80% sure that I was using truthful historical content. Of course, it is not the same to rely on third-party books written from the original versions of the Enlightenment authors of 1600 to 1800, but I had to trust the neatest and gleaming researchers that I found.   Nonetheless fatigued and wearied, I took heart from nowhere else than the sincere desire to do a good job, I prayed to God for strength, daily, and I sustained my work with the highest academic standards I could. Be sure that we have done all we can to provide the best we can for you.  

In relation to my time, this quarter of the year is the one in which I had to wake up before the birds start to sing. I was awake before the birds´ daily show. To write, read and do research at 4 am, starting to work, almost every day, when the night is still obscure outside my windows. This quarter of the year I have not painted delicious watercolors, which not only refresh my spirit but also inspire me to go for more every week.  Nevertheless, as the Southern Ocean, was so long and so brutally wild, I knew that this sacrifice was important… Here we are, finishing triumphantly season I of our beloved saga “From the Enlightenment to business models”.  This day is the fruit of perseverance and resilience. When sailing in the middle of so much, we simply decided to don´t give up and keep the pace, every day.


Carlos V Holy Roman Emperor wedding. Illustrative and non-commercial video. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good.

Spain and Italy were the cradles of the Catholic Enlightenment(1)
Before proceeding with the ilustrados profiles from Spain, it is very important to remark that Spain’s rulers had strong ties with Naples and many nobles of the Italian society. The fact that the Papacy was in Rome, and the link with Sardinia, Sicily, and Naples of the Castilla-Aragon territories; kept Spanish intellectuals tangled with several profiles of the Italian Enlightenment, particularly Genovesi, Muratori, Filangieri, and others asBeccaria and the Verris Brothers. Austrian Milan (under the Habsburgs), together with Naples and Tuscany, was in the 18th century, “the most creative conjunction of Catholic Enlightenment and enlightened despotism in Europe”.  Several reforms were conducted by these freethinkers who were hired by the Court of the Habsburgs, and who were supported by King Frederick III of Prussia. Even Catherina of Russia was actively backing Enlightenment figures from all over Europe too.

The Spanish Catholic Enlightenment or Enlightenment Despotism by the 1740s was a strategy for counterweighting the radicals in Spain and Italy. According to J. Israel, the catholic enlightenment was very precarious, but it commenced to accept at least Newton and Locke Scientific’s discoveries, simply because in Italy, these two were also beginning to be tolerated, even though all the rest of the international Enlightenment figures were considered non-acceptable, and were banned and burnt by the Inquisition.

The pressure of the international scientific developments affected not just the Iberian península but also the Spanish American creoles (and mestizos), who were not only trying to ascend socially in the New World, confronting the existing social-economic-political-intellectual discrimination from the Spanish Europeans (called Gachupines in México or Chapetones in Perú and Colombia). The Habsburg and the Bourbon crowns policies not only “aggravated the gap between these two groups, the península born nobles vs the Creoles, but they also created the virulent rivalry that existed since the times of the conquests”. The Spanish peninsular always accused the Creoles of being lazy, indolent, corrupt, oppressive, poorly trained, and even closed the doors to the Creoles when they tried to build large-scale businesses or enter into the craft guilds. The new universities in Spanish America started the reformation process in the 17th century because the royal crown (in 1750) issued an edict proclaiming that the works of Feijoo and those like him, had their full approval. King Ferdinand VI (r. 1746-59) finally supported the entrance of Bacon, Boyle, Locke, and Newton, in between everything that was tagged or supported by the true new philosophy that supported science, medicine, and botanical new discoveries that the English, Italian or French were already enhancing. On the contrary, the false philosophers or the chief mad atheist evangelists such as Spinoza, Bayle, Helvetius, Voltaire, D´Holbach, Rousseau, Diderot, Fontenelle, D´Argens, Mabbly, Montesquieu, Beccaria, Adam Smith, Raynal, etc. were not welcomed. In summary, The Catholic Spanish Enlightenment was the counter-radical enlightenment tool approved by the Spanish crown to keep the radicals out of their universities and educational leaders.

In 1756, the Spanish Bourbon monarchy was replicating the Italian and English intellectual ideas and projects toward science: they promoted the royal library in Madrid. They founded a public school of anatomy and a botanical garden and added a museum of natural history. On the other hand, they kept strongly adherent to the arm of the inquisition, banning books and persecuting several scientific treatises authors, who did not embrace miracles and divine providence. Men of science in Spain, according to Jonathan Israel (2) “were the most intimidated than elsewhere, and also, the more guarded in their explanations”. Anyone who was not complying with the fundamental catholic religious rationale was attacked by the Inquisition because of a combination of naturalistic, materialist, and non-providential deist provocations. In Spain, before 1750, just to hold or have a book of the forbidden Vatican list under the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, was a motive for an inquisition trial. The Index Librorum Prohibitorum was a book constantly updated list of approximately 5200 titles and 3000 authors, whose prohibition was issued by the Holy Pope Office between 1557 and 1966. For more information, I invite you to read the following article: Index librorum prohibitorum, 1557-1966 (2)

 Illustrative and non-commercial picture. Used for educational use. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Source: Public Domain

The Spanish-Portuguese Enlightenment figures. (2,3)

After taking off details from our research bibliography, it is our verdict that we have not found one “original” single philosopher of remarkable stature that I could name under Spanish-Portuguese territories. Researcher Jonathan Israel mentions several studious “Illustrates”, particularly Matheo Diego Zapata, Benito Jerónimo Feijoo, Andrés Piquer, and Luis Antonio Verney, but none of them produced “original” relevant material, innovative and truly from their own conceptions,  from their own free-thinking. Spanish enlightenment figures were basically reproducing or translating from Italian, French, or English Enlighteners to Spanish or they were trying to help the scientific community of Spain, by replicating or debating “others” content, beyond the Galenic or traditional Greek scholastic theories. The number of Enlightenment profiles in Spain and Portugal was not a lot in public, usually, these were scientific personages from the Medicine field, or catholic theologians or faculty professors established in local universities;  with extensive careers in other disciplines outside of philosophy. To be a reader of the international Enlightenment Philosophes created the opportunity for debate and those who dared to philosophize using the ideas of some of the Italian-French-English Enlightenment philosophes usually were connected to Spain because of the Bourbon´s domains in Sicily, the Papacy states, Florence and Naples.  There is an effort to spin off some Enlightenment (Radicals-Moderate-or Counter enlightenment) characters, which I will list below, but be sure that they were not as influential as Voltaire, Diderot, Raynal, or Rousseau. According to J. Israel, in Spain, the book “Le Histoire Philosophique de Deux Indes” by Guillaume Thomas Raynal (1713-1796) exercised an impact of magnanimous proportions, that no other Spaniard thinker was able to compete with. At least not during the reign of the last Spanish Bourbons rulers of our analysis Philip V (r. 1700-1746), Ferdinand VI (r.1756-1759) Charles III (r. 1759-1788), and Charles IV (r. 1788-1808).  Let´s discover who are the 4 main Spanish and Portuguese Freethinkers ( I have prepared a slide for each of these 4 individuals):

  1. Matheo Diego Zapata (1665-1745)
  2. Benito Jeronimo Feijóo & Montenegro (1676-1764)
  3. Andrés Piquer & Arrufat (1711-1772)
  4. Luis Antonio Verney (1713-1792) from Portugal

If you wish to download the last material in PDF format. Click here:

There were other notable studious who dared to publish their opinions towards or from other ilustrados philosophes. As I mentioned before, the intellectual fear to accept radical enlightenment was magnanimous. Particularly the Spanish-Portuguese intellectuals were worried about the radical enlightenment, in such a way, that regardless of if they belonged to the moderate-mainstream movement or were counter-enlightenment characters; their main preoccupation was to stop the growing risk of “an upsurge of materialism, fatalism, Naturalism, or the eruption of radical enlightenment ideas”. In this context, the additional personages called “novatores” if pre-ilustrados or ilustrados are (look at the biographies links added at the bottom of this publication):

  1. Gabriel Álvarez de Toledo y Pellicer (1659-1714). The first royal librarian to the Bourbons. (5)
  2. Emmanuel Maignan (1601 – 1676). A French philosopher that was well-received and influential in Spain. (6)
  3. Juan de Cabriada y Borrás (1665-1715). A Valencian Professor of Medicine influenced by the Neapolitan, Dutch, and English philosophes.  (7)
  4. Francisco Palanco (1657-1720). Counter-enlightenment Fray, leading Aristotelian, foe of Maignan and professor of theology, and bishop-elect of Panamá. (8)
  5. Juan de Nájera (1677-1748). A theologian, and philosopher who wrote under the pseudonyms of Alejandro de Avendaño and Francisco de la Paz. (9)
  6. Miguel Marcelino Boix & Moliner (1636-1722). Doctor of King Felipe V. One of the elderly members of the New Academia de Seville. (10)
  7. Juan Martin de Lessaca. Anticartesian, professor of medicine at Alcalá de Genares. A figure of counter-enlightenment (11)
  8. Fray Martin Sarmiento, born with the name Pedro José García Balboa (1695-1775).(12)
  9. Tomas Vicente Tosca (1651-1723).  A Valencian mathematician, physicist, astronomer, and cartographer who participated in and led the “scientific tertulias valencianas”. (13)
  10. Juan Bautista Berni y Catalá. Doctor in Theology who tried to reconcile some aspects of the Enlightenment with a moderate reception. (14)
  11. Gregorio Mayans y Siscar (1699-1781).  Royal Librarian, Jurist, Historian and Ilustrado (15)
  12. Francisco de Pina de Sa e Mello (1695-1773). A Scholarly courtier of the Portugal kings (16)
  13. Pablo de Olavide (1725-1803). A wealthy Creole from Peru. Royal assistant of Seville and Intendente of Andalusia who tried to reform the clerical privileges and change the universities, was persecuted by the Inquisition. (17)
  14. Manuel Lardizabal y Uribe (1739-1820). Mexican Creole and nephew of the Bishop of Puebla headed to reform the Spanish Law. (18)
  15. Fernando de Ceballos y Mier (1732-1802). Theologian, apologist, jurist, prior. Disciple of the antivoltaire Claude Nonnotte (19). Counter-enlightenment.
  16. Vicente Fernandez de Valcarce (1723-1798).  Dean of the Cathedral of Palencia, zealous scholastic, defender of demonology. Counter-enlightenment (20)
  17. Juan Pablo Forner y Segarra (1756-1797). The foremost representative of Spanish Counter-Enlightenment. Legal official and Law professor in Seville. Anti-radical and even anti-moderate enlightenment (21).
  18. Miguel Guijón de León (1717-1794). Spanish American Ilustrado. Friend and collaborator of Olavide in his Project Sierra Morena. (22)
  19. José Celestino Mutis (1732-1808). A Seville physician, naturalist, and expert botanist from Cadiz who moved to Bogotá in 1761. (23)
  20. Francisco Jose de Caldas (1768-1816). Astronomer and Physicist at the Royal College in Popayan, New Granada-Colombia. Assistant to Alexander Von Humboldt in Ecuador (1802). Captured by royalist forces and shot in 1816. (24)
  21. Hipólito Unanue (1755-1833). Physician, botanist, expert climatologist, editor at El Mercurio Peruvian. (25)
  22. Gaspar Melchior de Jovellanos (1744-1811). Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos was a Spanish neoclassical statesman, author, philosopher, and major figure of the Age of Enlightenment in Spain. (26)

A clandestine Spain: The Inquisition shaped an undercover culture of secrecy and double standards.
The Inquisition in Spain and Portugal is an episode of anti-toleration at its utmost cruelty and brutality. It lasted from 1478 to 1834. Practically for around 400 years. Its origins are clearly related to the period of the Reconquista, in which Christian northern Spain expelled the Moors or Arabs. In reality, the Inquisition in Spain was of three kinds: (A) Persecution against the Jewish Community and Jewish Marranos or conversos (by 1492, more than 160,000 Jews were expelled from Spain); (B) Suppression of Moriscos or Spanish Muslims, included any Arab who had accepted Catholicism too (by 1571, more than 300,000 Moriscos were expelled); (C) Tyranny and Oppression of anyone who was suspicious against the Catholicism and/or anyone perceived against the intellectual absolutist monarchy status quo: the few Spanish Protestants that existed in Iberia were eliminated; the enlightenment “luces” or “ilustrados” followers or enlightenment readers were victimized; the catholic priests as the Jesuits or even Dominicans had conflicts with the crown; and anyone else who was perceived as atheist or materialistic was tyrannized by the trial of the “auto-da-fe”. This inquisition was extended to Spanish American territories and was used against anyone sensed with a minimum sign of political revolt or opposition to the Bourbon and/or Catholic guidelines. The Inquisition was the right arm of domination since Isabella and Fernando´s period. It persisted with Charles V (The Habsburg Holy Roman Empire) who tried to introduce this punishment system internationally, particularly in the Netherlands in 1522, against Protestantism. Finally, it continued over and over through the next centuries, and it was utilized in Spanish America too. The inquisition “autos-da-fe” were even common in the New World. The Spanish Inquisition tribunals were included in several viceroyalties in America (México, Perú) and the Philippines. 

Spanish secrecy and undercover brainiacs. The Spanish Inquisition was finally suppressed in 1834. But, the Spanish population who was curious enough to read and cultivate themselves, was so habituated to keeping any type of enlightenment education or new ideas under secrecy, that even some professors at universities of best prestige adapted their courses in concealed disposition. So many faculty teachers and researchers were victimized and removed from their tenures simply because they were found with a scientific or enlightenment book under censorship. Examples: Trials to the Iriarte brothers in the 1780s, or against a secretary at the Ministry of War Bernardo Maria de Calzada in 1790, or the persecution of a wealthy Peruvian Pablo de Olavide, who was judged in a tribunal of the inquisition in 1776.  In Spain the culture of “obey-don’t ask why-shut up and keep it hidden” was so immersed included Spanish America, that the enlightenment ideas were everywhere, but no one defended them publicly. This cultural tradition expanded in the New World and still exists in our days.

Charles III Context of the Enlightenment (1)
We have chosen to visit the reign of the Bourbon Charles III (Reigned from 1769 to 1788) because it symbolizes the two most important decades of the Spanish Enlightenment.  Before Charles III, during the House of Habsburg Spain Rulers (From Charles V the Holy Roman Emperor to Charles II, the Bewitched), Spain and Portugal were too busy trying to establish the Spanish America new administration.  The Spanish Habsburgs were establishing new clusters of cities in the Viceroyalties of New Spain (México), New Granada (Colombia), Peru, and Rio de la Plata. Portugal was also exploiting Brazil, for which they used more than 4.3 million African slaves. Additionally, Charles III was trying to install lame reforms to the state and education, and the first thing they did was to shut up the Jesuits. The Jesuits were in charge of the educational backbone in Spain, and they reported directly to the Pope. Charles III wanted the Jesuits out of that privilege. He signed the order to expel the Society of Jesus from Spain and Spanish American territories, adducing that the Jesuits were too big in influence and economic power, in the New World, that their popularity among the indigenous and Creoles, could put in danger the plans of the Spanish crown expansion in the region. Spanish Crown’s official justification to evict the Jesuits and dismantle the Jesuit missions of the Americas was the Esquilache´s Riots, a plot conceived to accuse the Jesuits as responsible for the revolt. 

Charles III’s administration in Spain was in the hands of reforming ministers that had a relationship or at least had connections with the Enlightenment freethinkers’ ilustrados or intellectuals who were considered geniuses. So the brainiacs served sometimes as indirect advisors to specific statesmen. These main ministers (diplomats or secretaries of state, or finance reformist statesmen) were Don Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes y Pérez-Sorriba, first Count of Campomanes (in office 1760-1789), José Moñino y Redondo, 1st Count of Floridablanca (in office 1777-1792) and Pedro Pablo Abarca de Bolea y Jiménez de Urrea, 10th Count of Aranda (in office 1755-1792). We can´t categorize them as Ilustrados, because they were advised by genuine intellectuals in an undercovered way. These Bourbon statesmen were simply employed by the Spanish court.

Remember we are buoyantly joyous to finish Season I. But there is a new Season II of the saga “From the Enlightenment to Business Models” that we have not yet begun. As of April 23rd, we will restart our analysis and strategic reflections as we originally planned last year, but now with a solid basis: all that we have learned during Season I. Cheers!. Congratulations to all the teams: Malizia, Holcim PRB, 11th Hour Racing and Biotherm. And tons of hugs for all of you, adorable readers of all over the world. Blessings and thank you for reading to me.

Ocean Musical Section

For the time being, just let me celebrate that we have finally completed Season I of the saga “From the Enlightenment to Business Models”. We are safe and sound and we are ultimately anchored at a safe port. At this moment, I have docked before the 11th Hour Racing and Biotherm teams, who are less than 46 and 63 nautical miles respectively in distance to Itajai. So we arrived 3rd place. Not bad!

I close this section with a video about how the 11th Hour Racing team has shown us their resilience spirit to fix their mainsail that was hurt a few hours ago. The images talk by themselves. I feel on the same page as this valiant team. Repairing and maintenance is part of our life. Particularly when confronting extreme situations such as the Southern Ocean. As a civilization, we must learn to repair our gear, our kits for survival, and our business and management frameworks constantly. Many times, the ultimate artificial intelligence technology will not help us, but a simple traditional millenary craft knowledge of patching and sewing. Learning to stitch and suture our mental frameworks will transform our way out of delicate situations.

At the moment, even the wisest of our economic-business gurus worldwide are mistaken. We all are dragging strategic frameworks designed for the Enlightenment period centuries. That is why we see all the imbalance of trade between China and the world. That is why we are draining our profits and cannibalizing our value propositions with the Internet. We are far from knowing how to design, implement and handle strategic frameworks in such a way that we can love ourselves, love others, and truly love God with them. And I am not talking about any specific religious denomination. It is just love as Jesus taught us. We have a long way to repair.

The musical piece chosen to close Season I of “From the Enlightenment to Business Models” is from the Youtube Channel “Relax with Classic Music”. Some Mozart for your delight.

Thank you so much. See you again soon! Now I will enjoy my 2-week vacation… Ole!

Leg 3 is in full movement towards Itajai. Photo Source:

Sources of reference are utilized today. All are listed on the slides, and below
(1) Israel, Jonathan. Democratic Enlightenment. Philosophy, Revolution and Human Rights 1750-1790. Published in 2013. Chapters: 2, 12, 13, 14, 15, 17,18, 27


(3) Israel, Jonathan. Radical Enlightenment. Philosophy and the Making of Modernity 1650-1750. Chapter 28. Published in 2002.

(4) Ceballos, F. and Alvarez, G. Royal dynasties as human inbreeding laboratories: the Habsburgs.






















 Disclaimer: Illustrations in Watercolor are painted by Eleonora Escalante. Other types of illustrations or videos (which are not mine) are used for educational purposes ONLY.  All are used as Illustrative and non-commercial images. Utilized only informatively for the public good. Nevertheless, most of this blog’s pictures, images, or videos are not mine. I do not own any of the lovely photos or images posted unless otherwise stated.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s