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Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola

Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola
Born Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola
Madrid, Spain
Died 1978
Madrid, Spain
Nationality Spanish
Ethnicity Spanish
Occupation academic
Known for philosopher, theorist
Political party CT
Religion Roman Catholicism

Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola (Madrid, 1917 - Madrid, 1978) was a Spanish philosopher, historian and Carlist theorist.


  • Family and youth 1
  • Academic 2
  • Politics 3
  • Thought and works 4
  • Other 5
  • Reception and legacy 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Family and youth

summer in rural Extremadura

Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola, though born in Madrid, originated from Extremadura, which he considered the mother region. His distant ancestor was the 17th-century knight Sancho de Tejada, whose son Elias won his laurels during the siege of Breda (1624) and got his name incorporated into the family surname, over the centuries passed on to Francisco's father, José Maria Elías de Tejada y de la Cueva. His mother, Encarnación Spínola Gómez, was coming from the wealthy landowners family. It was in her estate in Granja de Torrehermosa (Badajoz province) where Francisco spent most of his childhood and partially youth, raised in the profoundly Catholic and conservative ambience.

Elías de Tejada was first educated in the Jesuit college in the Madrid quarter of Chamartin; when the order was expulsed from Spain in 1931 he continued his learning in the Portuguese Estremoz, still with the Jesuits. In 1935 he entered Universidad Central in Madrid, studying philosophy, letters and law, to graduate in law in 1938. His PhD thesis was dedicated to works of Jerónimo Castillo de Bobadilla. Having spent two years assisting Nicolás Pérez Serrano at the Cátedra de Derecho Político in Madrid, at the turn of the decades Tejada had the unique opportunity to compare the democratic and totalitarian systems when pursuing his research in Oxford and then in Berlin. He returned to Spain to assume his first principal academic post in 1941.

Francisco Elías de Tejada was married (1962) to an Italian, Gabriella Pèrcopo, descendant to a distinguished Neaopolitan family of immense intellectual heritage, fluent in Spanish, perfectly familiar with the Spanish cultural realm and the PhD herself. Throughout the rest of his life she supported de Tejada on all possible fields, as a secretary, erudite partner, co-author, organizer and academic inspiration. The couple had five children.


Universidad Complutense, Rectorate

In 1941 Francisco Elías de Tejada assumed the chair of Derecho Natural y Filosofía del Derecho at the provincial University of Murcia, becoming one of the youngest catedraticos in Spain. The next year he moved to equally small but definitely more prestigious University of Salamanca, renowned across Europe for its conservative and Catholic penchant. In 1951 de Tejada left for Andalusia to the University of Seville, where he headed the philosophy of law for the next 26 years (periodically chairing also the history of ideas). In 1977 Elías de Tejada left for Universidad Complutense in Madrid, assuming Cátedra de Filosofía. He died when giving a lecture there.

The original bibliography of Elías de Tejada covers around 280 books and major studies plus some 370 works of lesser scope. The full list of all publications, including translations, reprints, compilations and joint works spans across more than a thousand titles. His works fall chiefly into three categories: philosophy of law, philosophy of politics and history of political thought. Out of many national and international scientific bodies he was a member of, the Spanish Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas is probably the first to be mentioned. Doctor honoris causa of a number of Spanish and foreign universities and institutions, also outside Europe. His private library contained more than 50,000 volumes. As an academic tutor, de Tejada promoted generations of lawyers, philosophers and historians. In the field where it is difficult to distill own ideological preferences from scientific impartiality he emerged as doctrinally intransigent but practically open-minded scholar, e.g., promoting the PhD dissertation of the future Spanish Socialist Workers' Party politician, mayor of Madrid and co-author of the 1978 constitution, Enrique Tierno Galván.


the Carlist standard

In the early 1940s de Tejada was captivated by works of Franco and ridden with internal conflicts stemming from different political strategies and dynastical allegiances, de Tejada campaigned for Don Javier to terminate the regency and announce his personal claim to the throne. When this eventually happened in 1952, he was (together with Rafael Gambra and Melchor Ferrer) the co-author of Acto de Barcelona, the proclamation issued by the pretender, and kept editing some of his later pronouncements. In 1954 he became the top Carlist pundit when published La monarquía tradicional, the complete lecture of Traditionalist political theory.

Don Javier, 1960

After 1955, when mainstream Carlism abandoned the opposition strategy and its limited co-operation with Francoism produced some concessions granted by the regime, de Tejada became active in a number of initiatives (though he has neither aspired to nor has been offered political positions within Francoism). He animated the elitist Traditionalist periodical Reconquista, engaged in Ediciones Montejurra, the publishing house set up by the group, and in Círculos Culturales Vázquez de Mella, the network of semi-official Carlist offices. In 1963 he co-founded the Madrid-based Centro de Estudios Históricos y Políticos General Zumalacárregui, intended as a Carlist think-tank and entrusted with refinement and diffusion of Traditionalist ideology. The same year Tejada had his one and only meeting with Franco, who consulted him on dynastic legitimacy issues.

Throughout the 1960s de Tejada grew increasingly skeptical about Don Javier's son, anarchist and sided with his opponents, grouped around José Zamanillo and José Valiente. The hugocarlistas outmaneuvered their rivals, won the struggle for power and got most of their adversaries expelled.

When Carlos Hugo transformed Comunión Tradicionalista into Comunión Católico-Monárquica-Legitimista, one of many Carlist grouplets created during the Transición and deprived of any political weight.

Thought and works

Thomas Aquinas

As a philosopher of law de Tejada remained indebted to Aquinas and the Scholastics. He proposed Catholic Existentialism based upon the idea that God assumes a decisive role, but which renders it possible to find acceptable reasons for an objective-value-based human agency; he defined natural law as a conjunction of divine power and human liberty. He applied this framework across many cultural realms, starting with Spain, but covering also major European entities like Germany and England, smaller countries like Romania, Finland or Norway, Asian civilisations like Japan, Thailand or the Borneo tribes, and even the Soviet Union. His key works are Introducción al estudio de la ontología jurídica (1942) and Tratado de filosofía del derecho (1974-77). He is currently classified as representative of Neo-Scholastic school, as opposed to Axiological and Neo-Kantian approach and Innovative Natural Law trends.

In history of political thought de Tejada focused on the Iberian Peninsula. Apart from the general Las Españas. Formación histórica, tradiciones regionales (1948) he strived to produce separate accounts for Castile (1991), Catalonia (1950, 1963-65), the Basque Country (1963–65), Galicia (1944, 1966) and Portugal (1943, 1999); he paid only slightly less attention to various areas which one time or another were linked to the Spanish realm, like Franche-Comté (1975), Sardinia (1954), Naples (1958–64), Sicily (1958-64) and various Latin America states, some of his works monumental in design (e.g., Historia del pensamiento político catalán was intended as 11 volumes) or execution (e.g. Nápoles hispánico covered 5 volumes and 1300 pages).
Vazquez de Mella
De Tejada has systematically referred to Las Españas (instead of España), underlining unity in diversity and separate identity of many entities forming the hispanidad. Many of his works cover also non-Hispanic political thought, like those dedicated to medieval England, Arabic and Sephardic thinkers, 19th-century German philosophy, Greece, Scandinavia, Russia and many other.

Philosophy of politics demonstrated the ultra-conservative, profoundly anti-liberal and anti-democratic outlook of Elías de Tejada. His initial works (e.g., La figura del Caudillo, 1939), contributed to theoretical basis of Francoism and placed de Tejada in line with Juan Beneyto Pérez, Francisco Javier Conde García and Luis Legaz Lacambra, key law theorists of the early regime. During the research in Berlin he became disillusioned with nacional-sindicalismo and upon the return he wrote (though had no chance to publish) anti-Francoist pamphlets like El caudillaje es la tiranía anticatólica (in 1944 the Falangist militiamen stormed into his house, dragged de Tejada into the nearby Retiro park and left him severely beaten). Having absorbed the works of Vázquez de Mella he switched to Traditionalist vision, founded on three pillars of spiritual order provided by Catholic unity, political order provided by traditional monarchy and social order provided by foralism. This political framework was best presented in La monarquía tradicional (1954), but resurfaced in studies dedicated to conservative thinkers from the Lusitanian and Hispanic realm, like Balmes, Donoso Cortés, Menéndez y Pelayo, Ganivet, Sardinha, de Farías Brito, Veiga dos Santos, Galvão de Sousa, Marrero, Aparisi, Torras i Bages and, above all, Vázquez de Mella.


Elías de Tejada (or Paco Elías for friends) was of Second Vatican Council and never reconciled with its outcome. Self-denying up to appearing slovenly, his only addictions were travelling and languages. De Tejada mastered 12 tongues and learnt to some extent further 26; he could read Russian and Japanese, had basic knowledge of Mandarin and Sanskrit.

Reception and legacy

Traditionalist Carlism has unconditionally accepted political philosophy of Elías de Tejada and considers him one of the intellectual giants of the movement, the heir of Juan Vázquez de Mella and Victor Pradera. In the Francoist Spain he was widely recognized as one of the most distinguished scholars in philosophy of law and history of political ideas. However, his political vision was suppressed and the regime has never admitted any resemblance to his ideas; indeed there is no evidence of either Franco or any of key Francoist politicians having been directly influenced by de Tejada. Abroad de Tejada enjoyed acknowledgement among specialists in the respective fields, though his appeal was visibly limited by the generally cold reception of Francoism in Europe. Following the Spanish transition he was increasingly considered anti-democratic, reactionary and obsolete. Few scholars (Álvaro d´Ors and Juan Vallet de Goytisolo in Spain, Osvaldo Lira and José Pedro Galvão de Sousa in Latin America) admitted inspiration by de Tejada; currently Puy Muñoz is probably the best known of his followers. The nearest thing to full-scale monography is the book by Miguel Ayuso, another of de Tejada's disciples.

Following the death of her husband, Gabriella Pèrcopo founded Fundación Francisco Elías de Tejada, which until today reprints his works, publishes related books, issues annuals and awards Premio Francisco Elías de Tejada. The separate commemorating award is assigned by Real Academia de Ciencias Morales y Políticas (with the Spanish government participating financially). Centro de Estudios Históricos y Políticos General Zumalacárregui is active until today. There are a few streets named after de Tejada in Spain, including a short one in Madrid. The thirtieth anniversary of his death in 2008 produced a number of memorial articles in Spain and elsewhere, from Chile to Poland.

See also


  • Miguel Ayuso Torres, Francisco Elías de Tejada en la ciencia juridico-politica hispana, [in:] Revista de estudios extremeños, 1994 50/2, pp. 423–444, ISSN 0210-2854
  • Miguel Ayuso Torres, Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola, 30 años después, [in:] Anales de la Fundación Francisco Elías de Tejada, XIV (2008), pp. 15–21
  • Miguel Ayuso Torres, La filosofía jurídica y política de Francisco Elías de Tejada, Madrid 1994, ISBN 8460495728
  • Jacek Bartyzel, Franciszek Elías de Tejada y Spínola, [in:] haggard website
  • Jacek Bartyzel, Elías de Tejada y Spínola Francisco, [in:] OMP website
  • Consuelo Caballero Baruque, Francisco Elias de Tejada: bibliografia, Perugia 1984
  • Estanislao Cantero, Sobre una interpretación de la definición del derecho de Elías de Tejada, [in:] Anales de la Fundación Elías de Tejada II (1996)
  • Estanislao Cantero, Francisco Elías de Tejada y la tradición española, [in:] Anales de la Fundación Francisco Elías de Tejada, I (1995), pp. 123–163, ISSN 1137117X
  • Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora, Elías de Tejada, el hombre y sus libros, [in:] Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola (1917-1977) [sic!]. El hombre y la obra, Madrid 1989
  • Antonio-Enrique Pérez Luño, Natural Law Theory in Spain and Portugal, [in:] The Age of Human Rights Journal 2013/1, ISSN 23409592
  • Francisco Puy, El tópico del derecho en Francisco Elías de Tejada, [in:] Francisco Elías de Tejada y Spínola. Figura y pensamiento, Madrid 1995
  • Rudolf Steineke, Die Rechts- und Staatsphilosophie des Francisco Elias de Tejada, Bonn 1970

External links

  • de Tejada foundation
  • Centro de Estudios General Zumalacarregui
  • de Tejada by Ayuso (shorter)
  • de Tejada by Ayuso (longer)
  • de Tejada by Bartyzel (shorter)
  • de Tejada by Bartyzel (longer)
  • de Tejada by Cantero
  • de Tejada by Cuban site
  • de Tejada by Euskomedia
  • de Tejada by Gonzales de la Mora
  • natural law theory in Spain and Portugal
  • current opening of VII Premio Francisco Elías de Tejada by RACMYP
  • by Gambra, Tejada & Puy¿Que es el Carlismo?
  • collection of minor de Tejada's pieces at Fundacion Larramendi
  • Catholic fundamentalism 1980s [East] on YouTube
  • Catholic fundamentalism 1980s [West] on YouTube
  • - ultimate day of reckoning in the crypto-Catholic Narnia versionthey come, in numbers and weapons far greater than our own on YouTube
  • ; contemporary Carlist propagandaPor Dios y por España
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