Jorge Lorenzo Guerrero (Palma), 1987-. Motorcyclist.
A five-time world champion, Jorge Lorenzo is not just one of Majorca’s greatest sporting heroes, he is one of Spain’s as well. While Formula 1 may attract greater global attention than MotoGP, motor bike racing in Spain has traditionally been the more popular sport. Lorenzo won the 250cc World Championship in 2006 and 2007 before taking the MotoGP World Championship on three occasions - 2010, 2012 and 2015. Although he has retired, he may be making a wildcard appearance in this year’s revised MotoGP programme.
Joan March Ordinas (Santa Margalida), 1880-1962. Businessman.
He became one of the world’s richest men, his fortune having initially been amassed from smuggling before he went on to have numerous business interests, such as the bank that is named after him - Banca March. He played both sides in the two world wars; it is believed that the British used him as their agent to bribe Franco’s top generals not to enter the Second World War. Known as “Franco’s banker”, he facilitated the uprising in 1936. Arguably the most controversial figure in Majorca’s history, he nevertheless established the Fundación March to support cultural activities. The family’s art collection is one of the most valuable in the world.
Antoni Maura i Montaner (Palma), 1853-1925. Politician.
The only Majorcan to have been prime minister of Spain, he held the post on no fewer than five occasions. Initially a liberal, he was to become - in the view of many - a virtual dictator, and the at-times violent movement which took its name from him (Maurism) was to supply supporters of the first dictator, Miguel Primo de Rivera. In 1909, his calling-up of reservists to fight in Morocco provoked Tragic Week in Barcelona and other parts of Catalonia. The violence left as many as 150 civilians dead. European reaction was one of horror, and Alfonso XIII dismissed Maura.
Rafael Nadal Parera (Manacor), 1986-. Tennis player.
It would take a brave person to argue that Rafael Nadal is not the most famous Majorcan of all time. The nephew of former Real Mallorca and Spanish national team footballer, Miguel Ángel Nadal, he is the winner of nineteen Grand Slam singles titles. He is also an Olympic singles and doubles gold medallist and has been part of Spain’s Davis Cup final-winning team on four occasions. He founded the Rafa Nadal Academy in Manacor, with its international school and tennis camps, and is rightly considered to be Majorca’s foremost ambassador at a global level.
Miquel dels Sants Oliver i Tolrà (Campanet), 1864-1920. Journalist.
A poet, Oliver’s promotion of the Catalan language was all but unrivalled, and it was as a journalist that he found the fame that made him a hugely influential figure. He was to become the editor of a newspaper based in Barcelona, “La Vanguardia”, while in Majorca he advanced the cause of Balearics regionalism. Oliver was not a radical, but he was a visionary, not least in promoting the idea of the “industry of the foreigners” - tourism. His writings on this were to pave the way for the founding of the Majorca Tourist Board in 1905.
Antoni Parietti Coll (Palma), 1899-1979. Civil engineer.
Celebrated for having been the engineer responsible for the Formentor and Sa Calobra roads, there was far more to Parietti than just road-building. He came up with the idea for a funicular railway to the summit of the Puig Major; the Civil War intervened, and the project didn’t come to fruition. He was a president of Real Mallorca, the Majorca Tourist Board and the Circle of Fine Arts. He was one of the founders of the Palma Symphony Orchestra, which was to eventually become the Balearic Symphony Orchestra.
Guillem Sagrera (Felanitx), c.1380-1456. Architect.
In Palma, there is the Passeig Sagrera. This passes by La Lonja (or Sa Llotja), the market which in the fifteen century became the headquarters of the College (Guild) of Merchants. Guillem Sagrera was the architect, and La Lonja is considered to be a masterwork of Gothic architecture. It was his masterwork, one of Majorca’s most important heritage buildings. He was also a director of works at the Cathedral and was one of the most influential western Mediterranean architects of his time.
Juniper Serra i Ferrer (Petra), 1713-1784. Missionary.
The recent controversies surrounding statues of Friar Juniper are not new. Opinion about him has long been divided. Was he responsible for violent evangelisation and slavery, or was he a defender of the Native Americans in California? There is no questioning the fact that he was intent on converting them to Christianity and that in the process he established numerous missionaries which were to give their names to cities, such as San Diego. In 2015, he was canonised by Pope Francis and became Majorca’s second homegrown saint.
Catalina Thomàs i Gallard (Valldemossa), 1531-1574. Nun.
Canonised in 1930 by Pius XI, she had been beatified in 1792, and it was this which was to make her a folk legend. La Beata, The Blessed, provided the pretext for the fiestas in Santa Margalida, which drew on a folk song about Catalina and the devil. The procession for these fiestas is referred to as Majorca’s “most representative” (or most typical) and is one that defies other religious tradition. Pious and humble, she experienced ecstasies, and her “Spiritual Letters” are an extraordinary collection of religious mysticism.
Valeriano Weyler y Nicolau (Palma), 1838-1930. General.
Spain’s minister of war on three occasions in the first decade of the twentieth century, Weyler was made a general in 1878, having taken part in the Ten Years’ War in Cuba and in the final Carlist War (on the government’s side) between 1872 and 1876. He gained a reputation for being the man to put down insurrection, and he was made Governor-General of Cuba in 1896, with full powers to end ongoing rebellion. His policy of “reconcentrado” is said to have been the original use of concentration camps. The civilian death toll in Cuba was enormous. He was later to oppose the dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera and was imprisoned.