ANTONI Maria Alcover i Sureda (Manacor), 1862-1932. Folklorist and linguist.
Alcover’s importance for Majorcan (and Catalan) culture is immense. He contributed to a European folk tale body of work, his Rondaies Mallorquines (published under the pseudonym Jordi d’es Recó) having been an exercise not dissimilar to that of the Brothers Grimm in that he compiled fables that had been passed down orally. His Diccionari català-valencià-balear was a comprehensive dictionary which brought together different strands of Catalan. It is considered to be one of the most important works in the study of the Romance languages.
Antonio Barceló y Pont de la Terra (Palma), 1717-1792. Admiral.
The son of the captain of a xebec merchant ship that was granted the concession to transport the royal post, he rose to the rank of admiral in the Royal Armada and was celebrated for his campaigns in Algeria and in Gibraltar. For the Great Siege of Gibraltar, floating batteries were used for the first time, and Barceló is attributed with their invention. The siege was ultimately to prove to be a disaster for the Spanish (and French) forces.
Joan Binimelis i Garcia (Manacor), 1538 or 1539-1616. Historian.
A doctor and a priest, Binimelis was to posthumously find fame for his Història general del Regne de Mallorca. The general history of the Kingdom of Majorca was the first history book about Majorca. It was a book of major importance, and Binimelis is still often cited. At the time, however, he didn’t receive great accolades. Opinion differs as to why not, with a relationship with a nun (investigated by the Inquisition) the most likely reason.
Maria del Mar Bonet i Verdaguer (Palma), 1947-. Singer.
Detained only briefly, Maria del Mar Bonet, a young woman barely into her twenties, was nevertheless subjected to “horrific interrogation”. She was identifiable with the Catalan Nova Canço (New Song) movement, and one song in particular - Què volen aquesta gent? (What Do These People Want?) - incurred the wrath of the Franco authorities. She became a major artist in Spain and continues to be, and she has embraced different genres, such as north African music.
Joanot Colom (Felanitx?), c.1500-1523. Revolutionary.
A hatmaker by trade, he was one of the leaders of the Revolt of the Brotherhoods; the most celebrated of those leaders. He was eventually captured, and in June 1523 he was beheaded, drawn and quartered. His head was displayed in an iron cage at Palma’s Porta Pintada for three centuries. Colom is revered by those who believe that he led the first of the modern revolutions in seeking to bring about a form of anti-feudal and anti-monarchist democracy.
Jehuda Cresques (Palma), c.1350-1427?. Cartographer.
Also known as Jafudà Cresques and Jaume Riba, he was obliged to convert from Judaism to Christianity (hence the latter name), by which time he was a highly important figure in Majorca and elsewhere in Europe - Portugal especially. With his father, Abraham, he was responsible for the Atlas catalán, the mediaeval map of the world considered to have been the finest work of its time. Despite some doubts as to the Cresques authorship of the map, they almost certainly were - Jehuda was highly sought after.
Antoni Despuig i Dameto (Palma), 1745-1813. Cardinal.
From an illustrious noble family, Antoni Despuig is remembered with a fondness that is not often reserved for the nobility. He was the main driving force behind the beatification of Catalina Thomàs, who was to become Majorca’s first saint. He was no lover of Manuel Godoy, a Spanish Secretary of State (equivalent to prime minister) and one of the most reviled figures in Spanish history; Despuig convinced the Inquisition to investigate Godoy’s bigamy and atheism. He was also a great art collector, and it was he who was responsible for the features at the Raixa finca in Bunyola, which was owned by the Despuig family.
Gabriel Escarrer Juliá (Porreres), 1935-. Hotelier.
In 1956, Gabriel Escarrer Juliá founded what is now Meliá Hotels International. One of a number of leading hoteliers, he stands out because of what Melía has become - Spain’s top-rated hotel chain - and for having been the first to really sense opportunities overseas. His son, Gabriel Escarrer Jaume, the Meliá CEO, could equally be on this list, given the advances made in recent years and his global recognition, but it was his father who made this possible.
Antoni Fluxà i de Tonianina Figuerola (Inca), 1853-1927. Shoemaker.
Miguel Fluxà of Iberostar is another of the island’s leading hoteliers, and he owes a great debt to his grandfather, Antoni. In 1877, Antoni founded Lottusse, which was to become an international footwear brand. He also founded a dynasty. Camper, another global brand, came along in 1975, and meanwhile Llorenç, Antoni’s son, had bought Viajes Iberia, a travel agency/tour operator. Iberostar was to follow in the mid-1980s. Antoni Fluxà also helped seal Inca’s reputation as being the centre of Majorca’s leather trade by introducing new manufacturing technologies.
Ramon Llull (Palma), 1232-1315 or 1316. Polymath, religious philosopher.
Llull is Majorca’s most significant historical figure. He wrote Blanquerna (in Catalan), considered to have been the first European novel and developed the Lullian Circle, sometimes claimed to have been an early form of computer. His motivation for this had been to use logic in order to demonstrate truths (Christian truths). He founded Miramar in Valldemossa, and he was undoubtedly an important contributor to European religious thinking, in particular because of his dogma of the Immaculate Conception.
The other ten of the top twenty most notable Majorcans will follow tomorrow.