Famous Hispanics in History


Famous Hispanics in History

  • Aguirre, Lope de – Explorer – (1518-1561) A 16th century Spanish adventurer. He began as a conquistador, trainer of stallions in Peru. Unhappy with the laws he was supposed to implement, he mutinied against his leader. He made his way down the Amazon River in search of the Lost City of Gold also known as El Dorado. During his failed search for the city, his cruelty knew no boundaries. He became known as “The Tyrant.” He plotted murder against two highly ranked government officials along with a multitude of his men for imagined crimes. However, none was as despicable as his stabbing his daughter, Elvira. His own men shot and beheaded him, cut his body into quarters, and then scattered his body parts all over Venezuela as a lesson to others.
  • Albucasis – Scientist – (ca. 936 A.D.-?) He was born Abu Qasim Khalaf ibn Abbas Al Zahrawi in Al-Andalus, the capital of Muslim Spain. He is considered to be the father of surgery and is most noted for his medical encyclopedia Al-Tasrif Liman ‘Ajaz ‘Aan Al-Taleef (The Clearance of Medical Science for Those Who Cannot Compile It). He describes surgical procedures not yet known and described many medical and dental conditions in detail. He performed the first thyroidectomy using catgut sutures. He also created over 200 surgical tools. Albucasis was considered to be the foremost expert in surgery until the 13th century.
  • Alfonso X "El Sabio" -- King – (1221-1284) King of Castile and Leon in the 13th century, he is also known as The Learned King. He is thought to have brought culture to the kingdom, compiling some of the music in the production of Cantigas de Santa Maria. While he advocated tolerance in his kingdom, he was not a very efficient ruler and poor administrator. Though he had no executive skills, he did want his kingdom to have a concrete, consistent set of laws that were fair to all.
  • Alvarado, Pedro de – Explorer – (ca. 1485-1541) Nicknamed the “Sun God” for his fair hair and blue eyes, he was the chief officer of Hernan Cortes during the conquest of Mexico. He was known for his bravery and military prowess. When he learned that the Mexican Indians were preparing to attack in the absence of Cortez, he launched a successful offensive. He conquered Guatemala and became Governor. He is renowned for his cruelty to all; women and children were not exempt. He fancied himself an adventurer and conqueror and attempted to follow in the footsteps of Pizarro in western South America, with the result that he returned to Guatemala empty-handed. He set out on various adventures from time to time when bored as Governor. He died in battle when his horse rolled over on him.
  • Avenzoar – Scientist (ca. 1091-1161 C.E.) Avenzoar was born Abu Merwan Abdal-Maliki ibn Zuhr. Avenzoar was a Spanish Muslim physician. He was the first to discover parasites, namely in diagnosing scabies. He was also a pioneer in the field of experimental surgery, inventing the tracheotomy. He devised new methods of dissection and autopsy. Avenzoar tested medicines on animals to gauge their effects before giving them to humans. He was also one of the first to denounce the four humours theory that was the prevailing belief at the time. Most importantly, he proved the existence of blood in the body. He made many significant discoveries in the fields of neuropharmacology, dissection, parasitology, experimental surgery, and anesthesiology.
  • Balboa, Vasco Nunez de -- Explorer – (1475-1519) Vasco Balboa was born to a poor Spanish family in 1475. He originally intended to be a farmer on the island of Hispaniola (Haiti) but was unsuccessful. He and his dog stowed away on a ship headed for San Sebastian. By the time the ship landed, he was a Spanish soldier. Later, he was appointed the interim governor of Santa Maria de la Antigua del Darien by the King of Spain. In Darien, Panama, he climbed a peak alone, becoming the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the Eastern side. He became enormously wealthy, having found treasure. Later, he was charged with treason against Spain by his enemies and beheaded in 1519.
  • Ballesteros, Severiano -- Sportsman - (1957 - ) Born in Pederena, Spain to a golfing family, Seve Ballesteros emerged on the scene as a teenage golf prodigy in 1975. He turned pro at the tender age of 19. He won more than 70 professional tournaments in his career, including five majors. He is considered to have made golf more accessible to Europe. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1999.
  • Benacerraf, Baruj -- Scientist – (1920- )While he was born in Caracas, Venezuela, he was raised and educated primarily in Paris, returning only after the end of World War II. He went to Columbia University in the United States and graduated with top honors. He was denied entrance, however, to many medical schools, possibly due to his Sephardic descent. Finally studying at the Medical College of Virginia, he specialized in immunology. He became a medical researcher at Columbia, Paris, New York University and the National Institute of Health before settling at Harvard University concurrently with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He is credited with discovering the immune response genes that determine transplant organ acceptance or rejection. He won the 1980 Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine for this discovery.
  • Borbon, Juan Carlos I de -- King – (1938- )His full name is Juan Carlos Alfonso Víctor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias. He was actually born in exile in Rome, Italy in 1938. General Franco, dictator of Spain for life, allowed him to attend school in Spain in 1948. Afterwards, as expected, he performed the requisite military service. He was named Prince of Spain. General Franco decided to name him as the successor to the throne of Spain. On Franco’s death, he became the reigning but non-ruling King of Spain. While he has no official power, he is commander-in-chief of the Spanish Armed Forces. He still resides in Spain with his queen consort, Queen Sofia.
  • Cabeza de Vaca, Alvar Nunez -- Explorer - (1490-1559) Coming from a noble family, whose name literally means "head of a cow," he was a Spanish conquistador who was the first European to explore Texas and Southwest America. In 1527, he joined an expedition to the New World commissioned by Emperor Carlos V. After arriving in Florida and claiming the land for Spain, he, along with 3 other survivors from the ill-fated expedition was captured by natives and enslaved. He escaped and wrote of his experiences. On his return home, he was made Governor of La Plata (Argentina). While Governor, he attempted to write laws fair to the natives, but it backfired, resulting in a massive loss of revenue. He was then exiled to North Africa. After many years, he was allowed to return to Spain in disgrace.
  • Chavez, Cesar -- Activist – (1927-1993) United Farmworkers of America founder and activist. He was born in 1927 in Arizona to poverty. He learned early on about racism and hate, being an outcast in the United States because of his Hispanic heritage. Although he believed strongly in the power of education, he himself did not get past the 8th grade, having to work in the fields to support his family. What he lacked in formal education, he made up for with voracious reading, mainly of pacifist protestors such as Gandhi. He organized the United Farmworkers of America to bring attention to the plight of the unskilled farmworker. His demonstrations were nonviolent in nature and brought national attention to the union. He died quietly near the place he was born in 1993.
  • Chavez, Julio Cesar -- Sportsman - (1962- ) Born in Mexico to a railroad worker, he started boxing in amateur fights at just 16 years old. He quickly established himself, turning professional when he was 17 in the super featherweight class. He had a record of 44 wins and was at last ready to fight for the super featherweight title and won in 1984. He moved up in weight from lightweight to light welterweight, still continuing to be victorious. Eventually losing a fight, he had difficulty maintaining his titles and eventually retired in 2004. He now trains his son, Julio Chavez, Jr. 
  • Clemente Orozco, Jose -- Painter - (1883-1949) In a life filled with early adversity, including a losing his left hand in an explosion, Orozco fulfilled his dream of becoming an artist. The Mexican Revolution, stock market crash of 1929, and European fascism shaped his art and his idealism. He went against the stereotypical concepts of “Mexican” art and painted vast public murals. Orozco influenced other artists and challenged them to alter their own concepts of freedom of expression in their own communities. Largely unknown until late in life, he cared little for publicity – only art.
  • Colon, Cristobal -- Explorer – (1451-1506) Born Cristoforo Colombo (Christoper Columbus) in Italy in 1451, his name changed to Cristobal Colon when he became a Spanish citizen. He received an education beyond his station, thanks to a father who wanted him to follow his career path as a weaver, which relied heavily on mathematics, and then one day possibly become an international merchant. He had other plans, namely finding a western route to China. He originally appealed to John II, the King of Portugal but was rejected. He was also initially rejected by Ferdinand and Isabella, but they changed their minds and approved the plan. He discovered many lands, including America quite by accident during his four voyages. He became rich during his stint as Governor of Hispaniola and lived there for awhile before going back to Spain where he was stripped of his titles and wealth then jailed due to complaints. He was later released from prison and given his wealth back but not his titles. He died in Spain in 1506.
  • Coronado, Pedro Vazquez de -- Explorer – (ca.1510-1554) Pedro Vazquez de Coronado was a Spanish explorer who tried desperately to find gold on his expeditions but instead discovered landmarks, including the Grand Canyon. First he went to Mexico, then known as New Spain with the Spanish viceroy. He soon proved himself with the natives. He later traveled to New Mexico looking for the fabled lost cities of gold. He ventured through Texas and later areas of Kansas. He was unsuccessful in his quest and returned home permanently. 
  • Cortazar, Julio -- Writer - (1914-1984) Born to Argentine parents while they were on business in Belgium, his family did not actually return to Buenos Aires until he was four years old. He became a professor of French literature. He was a political radical, briefly imprisoned for protesting against Peron. After several years fighting against the Peron regime, he returned to Paris permanently. Although he had several vocations, including translator, it is for the existential short story that he is well known.
  • Cortes Hernan -- Explorer, conqueror – (1485-1547) Cortes was born into a wealthy family in Medellin, Spain. His family sent him to a school of law, but he soon tired of that and instead set out to be an explorer. He traveled first to the West Indies and the island of Hispaniola where he lived for about 6 years as a notary. He then moved to Cuba and found a lot of gold there. Moving on, he went to Mexico in the attempt to claim both the Mayan and Aztec lands and was partially successful. After realizing no profit, he looked to expanding Spain's territory to the Pacific Coast, discovering California. He was ignored by the nobility and retired to Seville to live out the rest of his life.
  • Dali­, Salvador – Painter – (1904-1989) Salvador Dali was born in Figueras, Catalonia, Spain in 1904. Throughout his career as an artist, he relied on more than one medium to express himself. He tried various genres of painting before settling on Surrealism. He quickly became world renown as an eccentric, an identity he cultivated. Although he had recurring religious themes in his works, he also painted nudes of his wife, Gala. He worked in theatre, as an author, sculptor, and jewelry designer.
    De la Cierva, Juan -- Scientist – (1895-1936) From an early age, de la Cierva was fascinated by flight, specifically aircraft. After obtaining a degree in engineering, he became intrigued with the idea of the helicopter. The concept for the helicopter was not new, but the technology of the times, 1920s-1930s was not advanced enough to even attempt to create one. He worked relentlessly and created the rotor blades that finally allowed the creation of the helicopter in 1936 to be realized.
  • De la Cruz, San Juan -- Writer – (1542-1591) Also known as St. John of the Cross, he was born John de Yepes to a poor weaving family. At a young age, he demonstrated a proficiency for learning. However, when he was apprenticed to an artisan, he did not have success. Afterwards, he worked at a hospital for the poor. He believed that the Blessed Virgin had saved his life twice; he became a priest with the Carmelites in 1567. In trying to reform the friars, he was imprisoned for more than 9 months. He passed the time with intense prayer which led to some of his greatest poetry, namely "The Ascent of Mount Carmel" and "Spiritual Canticle." He was reviled for his beliefs for the rest of his life until he became gravely ill. He was canonized in 1726.
  • De Soto, Hernando -- Explorer – (1496-1542) Spaniard Hernando de Soto left home at the age of 14 to live the life of the adventurer. He voyaged to the Indies, Panama, Nicaragua with Francisco de Cordoba, and finally with Pizarro on his expedition to Peru. While in Nicaragua, he set up a very profitable slave trade. He later landed at Cajamarca and captured the emperor of the Incas, stealing the Incan treasure. He returned to Spain a very rich man. He attempted to settle down, but he was named as the Governor of Cuba by Carlos V, so he journeyed there. Finally, he went to Florida from Cuba to find treasure, clashing with the natives as he did so. He died there in 1542.
  • Diego, Gerardo – Poet – (1896-1987) He was born in a small town called Satander. He was a famous avant-garde poet and musicologist. Poetry was his first love beginning in childhood. He won the National Prize for Literature in 1925. He was a member of the Generation of 27, an intellectual group of poets that wanted to write poetry using a variety of bold influences. He died in Madrid in 1987.
  • Disney, Walt -- Artist – (1901-1966) He was born Jose Luis Girao in Spain and later adopted by Elias and Flora Disney. His Spanish heritage was relatively unknown until just recently. Walt Disney was an intensely artistic man who did not realize his true talents until after World War II. He was an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross. On arrival home after the war, he opened an animation studio which was unsuccessful. The second attempt at making a success of an animation studio almost ended in failure as well, until Disney created the character of Mickey Mouse. The rest is history.
  • Domingo, Placido -- Musician – (1941- ) Christened Jose Placido Domingo Embil, he was eight years old when his parents toured with their musical company in Mexico and Cuba and never left. His musical career started with playing the piano and conducting. He did eventually make his singing debut in Mexico. He and his wife moved to Tel Aviv to sing with the Hebrew National Opera, and he was discovered there. He has performed over 100 roles in his career and teamed up with his friends, the late Luciano Pavarotti and Jose Carreras as part of "The Three Tenors."
  • "El Greco", Domenikos Theotokopoulos -- Painter – (1541-1614) Born in Greece, then a Venetian territory, he began his career painting icons. He traveled through Venice and Rome pursuing art commissions for portraits and devotional paintings but was largely unsuccessful. He finally settled in Spain, where he was not initially successful. This was thought to do less with his talents and more with his vocal opinions regarding Michelangelo. It was not until he moved to Toledo that he achieved his aspirations, painting View of Toledo. After that, his career exploded. It was not until he had a disagreement over a bill that led to a lawsuit that El Greco lost his shine. It was not until he painted his famous masterpiece, The Burial of Count Orgaz for the priest of Santo Tome in 1586 that he was again recognized for his genius.
  • Estefan, Gloria – Musician –(1957- ) Gloria Estefan was born in Cuba in 1957. Her family escaped Cuba when Castro came to power. She was studying psychology at the University of Miami, when she went to a wedding where the Miami Latin Boys were performed. She was asked to sing with the band and received a standing ovation. She joined the band shortly thereafter. The band, renamed Miami Sound Machine quickly gained popularity in Miami. The band started having breakout success in the 1980s. In 1990, she was involved in a serious tour bus crash in which she suffered a broken spine. After surgery and a year of rehabilitation, she regained full function. She continues to perform in English and Spanish.
  • Felipe II -- King – (1541-1598) Born the son of Carlos V, he spent his formative years being educated in the ways of court and ruling a vast kingdom. Although he was highly educated and learned several languages, he only ever spoke Castilian. His first wife, Maria, died during childbirth. He next married Queen Mary Tudor of England, Catholicism. For him this was a political marriage; however for her it was based on love. She died of cancer after only four years. In 1555, his father, Carlos V, bestowed upon Felipe the Low Countries, Castille, Aragon, Sicily and Burgundy. He was a devout Catholic and set about to exterminate heresy in Spain through violent means.
  • Goya, Francisco de – Painter – (1746-1828) Francisco de Goya was a court painter whose works reflected the political and social events of the time. He could easily switch styles to suit the subject matter, from stiff court portraiture to frescoes. Through his enrollment of Royal Academy of San Fernando in Madrid, he was introduced to Carlos III and became court painter. He continued this role under Carlos IV. His work became more cynical after a bout with cholera with resultant deafness. He offered social commentary through his art, but he was depressed due to the political climate in Spain. He started his Black Paintings, painting in black, brown, and gray on the walls of his home. He retired to France, where he lived out his last days
  • Hayworth, Rita -- Actress – (1918-1987) She was born Margarita Carmen Cansino in Brooklyn, New York to a flamenco dancer and former Ziegfeld girl. As a child, she danced alongside her family in a vaudeville act, where she was discovered at the age of 16. Her name was changed to Rita Hayworth (her mother’s maiden name). She was a reluctant star who appeared in many movies with living legends, including Fred Astaire. Her most famous role was in Gilda as a femme fatale. Even though she had success as an actress, her personal life was not so golden; she was married five times for no more than 5 years at a time. She struggled with alcoholism and eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s dementia, from which she died at the age of 68.
  • Iglesias, Julio -- Musician – (1943- ) Julio Iglesias was born in Madrid. He came from an affluent family. He dreamed not of music growing up but of playing professional soccer. He initially studied law but was forced to stop because an accident that caused him to be paralyzed from the chest down. During rehabilitation, he learned guitar and started writing songs. He found success in the late 1970s in Spain and in the early 1980s in the United States. He became the world’s foremost romantic Latin singer. Although his popularity eventually declined, he continues to write music and tour.
  • Lopez de Segura, Ruy – Sportsman – (ca. 1540-1580) He was a Spanish bishop who wrote the first book about chess. He is considered to be the first world chess champion. The Ruy Lopez opening was rediscovered in the 1800s and is the most popular opening move in chess today.
  • Lucano – Writer
  • Maimonides -- Writer, philosopher – (1138-1204) Maimonides is considered the greatest Jewish philosopher of his time whose writings on Jewish thought are still relevant today. He was born in Spain in 1138. At that time in history, that region was under Muslim rule. His family was forced to flee and eventually landed in Morocco. His masterpiece, The Mishneh Torah is a 14-volume collection, combining the current Jewish beliefs, theories, laws, the Torah, and knowledge. His interpretation was controversial at the time. He believed it was his mission to enlighten those about Jewish thought and worked tirelessly to bring make his views public. He eventually died of exhaustion in 1204.
  • Maradona, Diego -- Sportsman – (1960- ) Born in the slums of Argentina, he emerged as a professional soccer player at only 15, playing on the national team at the unprecedented age of 16. He has been controversial in his opinions and has not shied away from expressing them in the public forum. Argentinians consider him to be the undisputed greatest player of all time, even though he battles drug addiction to this day.
  • Milstein, Cesar – Scientist – (1927- ) Dr. Milstein was born in Argentina in 1927. He studied biochemistry and chemistry at the National University of Buenos Aires. He continued through graduate school, finally enrolling at Cambridge University for his doctoral on amino acid enzymes. He concentrated his studies on antibodies, which became the basis of how they work and in the process discovered monoclonal antibodies. The resultant breakthrough research has had multiple practical applications. He and his partners were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1984.
  • Nerva – Roman Emperor – (30 A.D.- 98 A.D.) Marcus Cocceius Nerva was the first of the “Five Good Emperors,” following the assassination of the bloodthirsty Domitian. He was in his 60s at the time. While not popular, he attempted to rule fairly. Two years into his tenure, he had a stroke and died several weeks later. Nerva had already named his successor, Trajan.
  • Novello, Antonia – Scientist – (1944- ) Born in Puerto Rico, her early life experiences shaped her future. She had a chronic condition as a child that required surgery. Since her family could not afford to send her to a surgical hospital, the condition was not corrected until she was nearly 20. By this time, she had already decided to be a physician to help children. After a very distinguished career in pediatrics, she was appointed Surgeon General by President George W. Bush.
  • Ochoa, Severo -- Scientist – (1905-1993) Severo Ochoa received his education in southern Spain, where teachers noticed his aptitude for anatomy and physiology. He studied medicine at Madrid University. His main interest was muscles and their function. Due to a civil war, he and his wife had to leave Spain for Germany in order to continue his research in fatty acid metabolism and pyruvic acid oxidation. He won a Nobel Prize in Physiology/Medicine in 1959. He and his wife later relocated to the United States where he became an American citizen.
  • Ochoa, Ellen -- Scientist – (1958 - ) Demonstrating brilliance early on, she studied physics, music electrical engineering, and business. While at Stanford, she developed optical systems using advanced computer hardware. NASA heard of her expertise and enlisted her to help them develop a system that gathered data and measured the safety of the equipment. She became an astronaut in 1991, a dream since she saw the first moon landing as a child. e Her first mission was on the Discovery Space Shuttle in 1993. She continues innovative research for NASA.
  • Pele – Sportsman – (1940- ) A living legend in Brazil, he began life in poverty in Sao Paulo as Edson “Dico” Arantes Zoca. He was discovered by another football star, Waldemar de Brito. He joined the national team of Brazil when he was just 16. He won his first World Cup the next year, the youngest person to accomplish that feat. He stayed with the Santos Futebol Clube for nearly two decades, demonstrating his natural abilities and technique. He brought notoriety to football, known as soccer in the United States, with millions of boys and girls taking up the sport in the 70s. He briefly played with the New York Cosmos towards the end of his career. His last game was an exhibition between Santos and the Cosmos. He played a half with each team and carried each country’s national flag at the end. He continues to work to improve the social conditions of the poor.
  • Picasso, Pablo -- Painter – (1881-1973) Picasso displayed artistic talent at a young age. He was born in Spain but lived in Barcelona and Paris, which influenced his development as an artist. He reinvented his artistic expressions as his moods moved him, profit and fame not being the motivations for his creativity. He is well known for his Blue Period and Rose Period not to mention his Cubist, Analytic, Synthetic, and neoclassic phases. He dabbled in the Surrealist movement, sculpture, ballet, and drawing. He continued throughout his lifetime to focus his energies creatively, holding exhibition after exhibition. Picasso continued to create until his death at the age of 91.
  • Pinzon, Martin Alonso -- Explorer – (1441-1493) Martin Alonso Pinzon was a navigator to Christopher Columbus on the initial voyage to the New World. It was a natural choice of vocation for him as he was born into a seafaring family. His initial foray as a sailor/navigator was not successful, due in part to his behavior and actions. He was subsequently dismissed from service and became a shipbuilder with his brothers when he returned to Spain. It was on returning home that he learned of the ambitious plan of Columbus, whose views he shared with Queen Isabella. He was commander of the Pinta. He discovered Haiti (then called Hispaniola) after deserting Columbus in Cuba. His actions were again called into question when Columbus caught up with him. He again deserted him and tried to reach Spain first to tell the King of “his” discoveries. The weather was against him, and both he and Columbus made port the same day in 1493. He was unable to get an audience with the king and died a few months later, an angry and broken man.
  • Pizarro, Francisco -- Explorer – (1495-1541) Pizarro began life as an uneducated farm boy in Trujillo, Spain. He left home in search of adventure. His bold spirit helped him achieve his aims. He went on expeditions to the Columbian coast and the Pacific Ocean. He heard rumors of great treasure to be had in Peru. He attempted to lead an expedition to Peru, which was a failure. His second attempt was financed by the mayor of Panama. His directives were to bring back the treasure and convert the Incas to Christianity. However when he got there, he discovered there was no possible way he could defeat the Incas, so he returned with his findings. A third expedition financed by Carlos V was better equipped. In this, he triumphed, wiping out over 4000 Inca. Pizarro captured the Incan wealth for Spain and conquered Peru. He was assassinated in 1541 in his own palace.
  • Ponce de Leon, Juan -- Explorer – (1460-1521) Ponce de Leon is famous for his fruitless search for the Fountain of Youth. What is less well known is that he was a crew member to Christopher Columbus on the second voyage to the New World. He decided to live on Santo Domingo, south of Florida. It was then he decided to find the Fountain of Youth. It was reported to be on the island of Bimini. However, he mistakenly traveled to Florida, becoming the first European to explore it. He claimed it for Spain and actually named it due to its flora. A second expedition to find it was his undoing. As his ship landed, the Native Americans shot at ship crew with arrows, one of which inflicted the mortal wound of Ponce de Leon.
  • Puente, Tito -- Musician – (1923-2000) He was born in New York City to Puerto Rican parents. From early on, he demonstrated a passion for music. He had to put his musical aspirations on hold to enter the service during World War II. It was during his service that he was initiated to big band music. He went to Juilliard on the GI Bill, studying all aspects of music. While there, he started a band that was later called the Tito Puente Orchestra. He mixed and matched popular musical genres, getting hit after hit and eventually his own television show. He is credited with composing over 400 songs. He also worked in the community, providing scholarships for the musically gifted. He died in 2000, but his music lives on. 
  • Queen Isabella of Castile -- Queen – (1451-1504) Queen Isabella is famous for many things. She was a queen in her own right, of Castile. She was married to Ferdinand, and they ruled Spain jointly. It is during their reign that the Spanish Inquisition began, expelling Jews. Isabella’s support and financial backing allowed Christopher Columbus to lead his expeditions. Without her, those voyages would never have happened. She was interested in the welfare of the Native Americans. Finally, she was the mother of Catherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VII and mother to Mary I.
  • Quintilian -- Writer – (ca. 40 A.D.- ca. 118 A.D.)Born Marcus Fabius Quintilianus in Spain, he was master of two professions, that of pleader and teacher. He opened his own school of rhetoric, oratory being considered imperative to a well-rounded education. After approximately 20 years, he unofficially retired to spend the rest of his life at rest. Quintilian became an author quite unexpectedly. Two manuscripts on rhetoric were published in his name without his prior approval. His Institutiones Oratorioe set the record straight and led to further publications. His treatise on oratory is considered to be the best of its kind for the time period, even surpassing Cicero’s De Oratore.
  • Rivera, Diego -- Painter – (1886-1957) Diego Rivera was a Mexican artist of exceptional caliber. His earliest inspirations were El Greco, Francisco Goya, Diego Velázquez, and Pablo Picasso. His preferred the mural as his medium for expressing the political scene at the time. He was loyal to the Communist Party. He tried Cubism and Renaissance art but returned to murals, usually of his countrymen. His tempestuous marriage to Frida Kahlo is almost as famous as his murals.
  • Rodriguez, Chi Chi -- Sportsman – (1935- )That he was able to walk at all was a miracle, having had tropical sprue and rickets as a child. The fact that he became one of the best golfers in the world is inconceivable. He looked at sports as a potential way out of poverty, attempting many before settling on golf. After a stint in the military, Rodriguez devoted himself full time to the sport, having a great deal of natural talent. Honing his skills, he became known as the longest hitter ever. He created his own personal trademark, covering the hole with his hat whenever he made a birdie. He won 8 PGA tournaments and 22 Champions Tour tournaments.
  • Santana, Carlos -- Musician – (1947- )Born in Mexico, his musical beginnings started with his father who was a mariachi violinist. He was influenced by many different sounds, not just those that are stereotypically Latin. His early inspirations included salsa, African rhythms, blues, jazz, and rock. He combined these sounds to make Santana, his band distinctive. A performance at Woodstock in 1969 led to a recording contract. Santana was on its way. Carlos Santana and his band continue to perform today.
  • Serra, Fray Junipero -- Priest and Explorer – (1713-1784) He was baptized as Miguel Jose in Majorca, Spain. His name changed when he took vows as a Franciscan monk at 16. He was an educated man, studying law and philosophy. He allowed himself little in the way of earthly pleasures, flagellating himself often to remind himself and others of penitence. When he was 36, he became a missionary to the New World, being sent to Sierra Madre to teach the doctrine to the natives. When he was 54, he established the first settlement in California. He stayed there, dying at the age of 71.
  • Servet, Miguel -- Scientist – (1511-1553) A man of great intellect, Miguel Servet studied many subjects while at university, finally settling on medicine as a career. His principle interests revolved around medicine and theology. He was the first to adequately describe pulmonary circulation. He was physician to several high-ranking officials. He also fervently studied the Bible in its original languages that were available at the time. His theological opinions were thought to have formed at this time. He did not believe in the Holy Trinity, making him reviled by Protestants and Roman Catholics alike. In 1553, he was accused of being a heretic and convicted by the French Inquisition. He escaped jail but was captured shortly thereafter in Geneva and burned at the stake.
  • Teodosio I the Great-- Roman Emperor – (346 A.D.-395 A.D.) One of many Roman Emperors who were born in Spain, his father Teodosio, the Elder was a senior military officer. Teodosio I served under his father during his requisite military service. The Elder was executed in 375 A.D., presumably at the order of Emperor Valentinian I. He succeeded the emperor after his death.
  • Trajano, Marco Ulpio -- Roman Emperor – (53 A.D.-117 A.D.) Born Marcus Ulpius Nerva Traianus, he is commonly referred to simply as Trajan. He was a military commander of great esteem. He was the second in a succession of emperors nicknamed “The Five Good Emperors,” the first being Nerva. They followed a brutal reign of terror by Domitian. Trajan was a popular leader, releasing imprisoned slaves and returning property to the original owners. He governed peacefully without the bloodshed that had been the hallmark of Domitian’s reign. He was so loved that he was bestowed with the name Optimus Princeps or the best.
  • Valenzuela, Fernando – Sportsman – (1960- )He is well-known as a pitcher for Los Angeles Dodgers. However, few know the story behind the famed left-handed pitcher. He started out in the Mexican league and was discovered by the big leagues in 1978. He won Rookie of the Year and the Cy Young Award in the same year. Valenzuela was wildly popular and was known by his fans as Fernandomania. His star began to fall in 1991. Over the ensuing decade, he split his time between the Mexican league where he started and American league. He retired in 1993-4.
  • Velazquez, Diego -- Painter – (1599-1660) Diego Rodriguez de Silva y Velazquez was considered Spain’s premier baroque artist. He was apprenticed to Francisco Pacheco, a Mannerist painter who wrote The Art of Painting. He became the court painter and courtier to Felipe IV. His rise as the most prestigious painter in court led to many new opportunities for him as architect and interior designer. In addition to creating pieces for the King, he also purchased a great deal of art to decorate the palace rooms. He continued to serve King Felipe IV until the artist’s death in 1660.
  • Villa, Pancho -- Revolutionary – (1878-1923) Pancho Villa started life as Jose Doroteo Arango Arambula in a village near the Rio Grande. He fled his village after the murder of his sister’s rapist, who happened to be the son of the hacendado, or owner/manager of the hacienda. He met up with a band of outlaws in the mountains and was arrested for stealing mules. He did not get the death penalty; instead he had to join the federal army. Villa soon deserted. He played a large part in the Mexican Revolution, confiscating anything he could find to finance it. He was a superlative guerrilla fighter, whose instincts served him well. For his efforts, he was given his own hacienda near Chihuahua in 1923. 
  • Zurbaran -- Painter – (1598-1664) Francisco de Zurbaran was born in 1598 in the Badajoz Province. His major influence was Michelangelo. Monastic life was the focus of his talent, bringing both realism and dream-like qualities to his paintings. Zurbaran preferred to live and work in Seville and only left for a two-year period to serve the royal court. Changing his style rather late in his career, critics agreed that it was not for the benefit of his particular talents. Declining popularity for his paintings resulted in his leaving Seville for Madrid, where he died in 1664.