Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora
Person - Fernández de la Mora, Gonzalo (1924-2002)

Fernández de la Mora, Gonzalo (1924-2002)




Preferred form:

Fernández de la Mora, Gonzalo (1924-2002)Other forms

Dates of existence/Biographical dates:

Barcelona (España)  1924-04-30 - Madrid (España)  2002-02-10


Spanish politician, diplomat, and thinker. He was born in Barcelona on 30 April 1924, in a deeply catholic and monarchical family. His father, Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora y de Azcué, was a colonel of the Juridical‑Military Corps and gentleman of the House of Alfonso XIII, who had been destined, at that time, for Barcelona as division auditor. His mother, Maria de las Mercedes Mon y Landa, came from an old Galician family from which some political leaders arose, such as Alejandro Mon, Minister for Finance with Isabel II and Alejandro Pidal y Mon, leader of the Catholic Union, minister of Alfonso XII and Spanish ambassador to the Holy See. In 1926 the family moved to Madrid and, shortly after, Gonzalo began his studies at the Pilar school and concluded them in Poyo (Pontevedra), where the family resided when the Spanish Civil War broke out, specifically in the school of the Apostle Santiago, which was governed by the Society of Jesus. At that time, he received the first news of the existence of the magazine Acción Española and its monarchical-traditional project. After the contest and once he finished the baccalaureate with the Jesuits, he faced the State examination at the University of Santiago de Compostela, which he passed with Extraordinary Prize. Then, he matriculated in Law and Philosophy at the Complutense University of Madrid, where he had some of his favorite professors: Federico de Castro, Francisco Javier Conde, Juan Zaragüeta, Leopoldo-Eulogio Palacios, and José Camón Aznar. In 1945 he graduated in both degrees, with extraordinary prize, and he wrote his first book, Paradox, intimate work, beautician and unmistakable autobiographical profiles. In the university he came into contact with the Juventudes Monárquicas (Monarchical Youth), led by Joaquín Satrústegui, and with the survivors of Acción Española. Soon he was integrated into the political and intellectual circles that propitiated the return of the traditional monarchy. In mid‑1945, he gave a lecture at Ignacio Satrústegui's residence on 'La soberanía y el Super-Estado' (Sovereignty and the Super‑State), in which he defended European unity and the overcoming of the nation-state; and attended by, among others, Jesus Pabón, Alfonso García Valdecasas, the Marquis of Valdeiglesias, Jorge Vigón, Juan José López-Ibor, the Marquis of Quintanar, and Julio Palacio. Since then, he was known as 'the dolphin of Spanish Action'. On 4 February he was arrested by the national police, along with Alfonso Bullón de Mendoza, for distributing some flyers on the Gran Vía, whose text was El rey se acerca, viva el rey (The king is coming, long live the king). Fernández de la Mora was detained for seventy‑two hours in the General Directorate of Security and he was fined 25,000 pesetas. He was an admirer of José Ortega y Gasset. He met with the philosopher, but this meeting was disappointing. In spite of this, Fernández de la Mora did not hesitate to value positively Ortega's legacy. His elitism, his conservative spirit, his aversion to socialism and democracy found a fervent admirer in Fernandez de la Mora. He was also interested in the figure and work of Xavier Zubiri and he attended some of his private courses in Philosophy. These courses familiarized him with the ideas of Comte and with the theorists of the 'new physics'. In 1946 he joined the Diplomatic School and began to collaborate in the newspaper ABC, with which he maintained, until 1980, a fruitful relationship. He received the Mariano de Cavia, Luca de Tena, Julio Camba, and Gibraltar Español awards. Four years later, he married Isabel Varela Uña, with whom he had four children: Isabel, Gonzalo, Juan Luis, and Sandra. He was destined for Germany as secretary of embassy in the General Consulate of Frankfurt, under the orders of the Minister Plenipotentiary Eduardo García Comín. There he was able to complete his philosophical formation, studying Husserl and Heidegger. He also met the constitutionalist Carl Schmitt, attended the classes of Curtius, Benn and Rothacker at the University of Bonn and delved into Kant and the reading of Max Weber. In 1948 he met Rafael Calvo Serer and he began to collaborate in the magazine Arbor, body of the Higher Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He was appointed vice‑secretary of the Modern Cultures department of this entity in 1952. He was one of the founders of the magazine Ateneo. Calvo Serer used Arbor and Ateneo, together with the newspapers Informaciones and ABC and the Biblioteca de Pensamiento Actual, from Rialp publishing house, to bring together monarchist and traditionalist intellectuals in a coherent political project; an alternative both to the Falangists and the representatives of political Catholicism. Apart from Fernández de la Mora and Calvo Serer, the great presenters of this project were Vicente Marrero, Ángel López-Amo, and Florentino Pérez-Embid. Heirs of Acción Española, they were defenders of a political conception that pretended to maintain the tradition, as well as of the modernization of the economic and administrative structures without calling into question the stability of the regime born of Spanish Civil War. They were supporters of an understanding between Franco and Don Juan de Borbón and their institutional alternative was the traditional monarchy. In the cultural field they defended the articulation of the 'unitary national conscience', based on the assumptions of the Menéndezpelayist traditionalism; from a socio‑economic point of view, to reconcile the inescapable capitalist modernization with the catholic‑traditional mentality. As Pérez Embid would say: 'the Spanishization of the aims and the Europeanization of the media'. As a fervent supporter of Europe, Fernández de la Mora was one of the most enthusiastic promoters of the European Documentation and Information Centre, a platform of conservative Europeanism defended by the Franco regime. In 1953 he ceased his positions in the CSIC and in his collaborations with Arbor. After the crisis of 1956 and the change of government the following year, a radical change in the autarchic economic policy followed until then by the Franco regime began. At the request of Luis Carrero Blanco, Fernández de la Mora met with Laureano López Rodó, in El Escorial, to elaborate the first bases of the Ley de Principios del Movimiento Nacional (Law of Principles of the National Movement). Later, this would be the Ley Orgánica del Estado (Organic Law of the State), that is to say, two of the fundamental laws of Francoist Spain. In both projects, the traditional monarchy was established as a political form, the confessional of the State was guaranteed, and the social doctrine of the Church was adopted. In the second of these laws, Fernandez de la Mora influenced especially in the way of appointment of the head of government: he introduced the formula of the Consejo del Reino (Council of the Kingdom) as an institution that submitted to the King a shortlist of candidates. He also collaborated in the founding of the Association of Friends of Maeztu, whose objective was to promote general knowledge of the ideas of the Basque thinker, and he wrote in the magazines Reino and Círculo. In 1956 he was appointed member of the private Council of the Count of Barcelona, ​​while bringing his ideological and personal positions closer to that of the Opus Dei groups, which were close to power and with whom he collaborated, in 1965, in the preparation of the Organic Law of the State. In 1961 he published his first major work of intellectual criticism, Ortega y el 98, in which he contrasts the work of the Madrid philosopher with the so‑called 'spirit of 98'. Compared with the nineties writers, the work of Ortega, whom Fernández de la Mora describes as a politically conservative philosopher, appears as 'a veritable avalanche of pure reason'. The work received the National Prize for Literature. Two years later, after a short period as cultural advisor in the Spanish Embassy in Athens, which was presided over by Juan Ignacio Luca de Tena, on the occasion of the wedding of Prince Juan Carlos with the Princess Sofia of Greece, Fernández de la Mora was in charge of the direction of the bibliographic pages of ABC and of the criticism of the books of thought. His criticisms were subsequently published by the publisher Rialp in seven volumes under the title of Pensamiento Español (Spanish Thought). In 1965 he published his most famous and controversial book, El crepúsculo de las ideologías (The twilight of ideologies), which supports the obsolescence of traditional political ideologies (liberalism, Marxist socialism, nationalism, Christian democracy, etc.) in the economically and technologically developed West societies, because their historical mission had finished. He also collaborated in the magazine Atlántida, founded in 1963 by Florentino Pérez Embid. In 1969 he left the private Council of the Count of Barcelona, due to his disagreement with the line of action developed by José María de Areilza. That same year he was appointed undersecretary for Foreign Policy and Foreign Affairs, at the ministry chaired by Gregorio López Bravo. His progressive approach to the technocrats of the Franco regime and the consequent distancing of the political sectors related to the Count of Barcelona, ​​led him, on April 14 1970, to be appointed Minister for Public Works by Franco. Days before (on 17 March) he had been elected academic of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, in order to occupy the chair of the deceased José Ibáñez Martín. His admission speech, read on 29 February 1972, was titled 'Del Estado ideal al Estado de razón' (From the ideal state to the state of reason), in which he defended, in the line already developed in El crepúsculo de las ideologías, a functional theory of the State, whose legitimacy was based on efficiency, that is, on its capacity to guarantee order, justice, and development. In that sense, the Franco regime, which will be called 'Estado de obras' (State of works), was legitimized by its proven effectiveness in achieving economic development and the modernization of the Spanish society. Since 1990, he was a librarian at La Docta Casa as well as responsible for the reform of his headquarters. Moreover, he donated his wide library. Once he was confirmed in the Ministry by Admiral Carrero Blanco on 11 June 1973, he remained in office until 3 January 1974 when the Government of Arias Navarro was formed, following the assassination of the admiral in December. From the Ministry, Fernández de la Mora completed and expanded the policy followed by his predecessor Federico Silva Muñoz. His Plan de Accesos a Galicia (Access Plan to Galicia), the Plan de Autopistas (Highway Plan) and then the Plan de Autopistas of August 1972 must be pointed out. During his mandate, almost five hundred kilometers of highways were opened to traffic, sixty dams were finished (some of the greatest capacity) and Renfe obtained in 1973, for the first time, a positive operating margin. He was a lawyer in the Legislative Courts IX and X, and national counsellor of the Movement by direct appointment of General Franco. He promoted to ambassador, was designated director of the Diplomatic School, position of which was substituted by the first Government of Adolfo Suárez. During the democratic transition, he was one of the promoters, along with Antonio María Oriol, José Luis Zamanillo and José María Valiente, and president (1976) of the Unión Nacional Española (UNE/Spanish National Union), a right‑wing party that advocated the continuity of the political system of Francoism and that, later, thanks to his initiative, joined the coalition Alianza Popular (AP/People's Alliance). As a member of the Alianza Popular Federation, he gave his positive vote to the Ley de Reforma Política (Law of Political Reform). He was elected AP deputy for Pontevedra and served as counsellor of the pre‑autonomous regional government of Galicia (Xunta). But when, in 1977, Alianza Popular showed its support for the 1978 constitutional project, Fernández de la Mora not only abandoned this political coalition, but resigned from the presidency of the UNE in November 1977 and, against the position defended by Fraga, he voted negatively on the 1978 Constitution. The following year, in 1979, he resumed his political career and, together with Silva Muñoz, founded the el Partido de la Derecha Democrática Española (PDDE/Spanish Democratic Right Party) with the purpose of reforming the Constitution from the current legislation. The new formation did not prosper and it ended up in dissolution, without finding its own political space. After the 1982 elections and, apart from politics, Gonzalo Fernández de la Mora devoted himself fully to intellectual life. In this area, it is worth mentioning the founding of the journal of thought Razón Española, of which he was director, whose first volume came to light in October 1983, and from whose pages he defended the humanist conception of the world. In 1995, he received the Espejo de España Prize, from the Planeta publishing house, for his autobiographical book Río arriba. He died in Madrid on 10 February, 2002.

Cortes Constituyentes, 1977-1979

Date of the event: 1977-07-13 - 1979-01-02





(Function) He/She carries out/ perform:

Legislators between 1977 and 1979

Profession (carried on by):


Profession (carried on by):


Profession (carried on by):




Atenas (Ática, Grecia) between 1961 and 1962 Obs.:  Consejero Cultural de la Embajada Española en Atenas


Fráncfort (Hesse, Alemania) between 1949 and 1949 Obs.:  Cónsul

Pontevedra (provincia)  Obs.:  Diputado en el Congreso

Lugar de Nacimiento:

Barcelona (España) in 1924-04-30

Lugar de Defunción:

Madrid (España) in 2002-02-10





Menéndez, Manuel Ángel. Fontes, Ignacio. Quién es quién: sus señorías los diputados : atlas de la democracia parlamentaria española. Manuel Ángel Menéndez Gijón, Ignacio Fontes. Tres Cantos (Madrid): Foca. 931 p.. 84-95440-25-3.

Urquijo y Goitia, José Ramón de. Gobiernos y ministros españoles en la Edad Contemporánea. 2ª ed. corr. y aum.. José Ramón Urquijo Goitia. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas. 2008. 596 p.. 978-84-00-08737-1.

Related Authorities

Alianza Popular (España)  ( He/She is a member of )

Associative relations :

Borbón Battenberg, Juan de (1913-1993, infante de España)  ( He/She is friend with )

Embajada de España en Alemania  ( He/She works for )

Ministerio de Obras Públicas (España, 1931-1977)  ( He/She works for )

Temporary relationships :

Silva Muñoz, Federico (1923-1997)  - Later (He/She is the successor of; Ministerio de Obras Públicas)

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