Juan Vázquez de Mella

For the 15th-century cardinal, see Juan de Mella (1397–1467).
Juan Vázquez de Mella y Fanjul
Born 8 June 1861
Cangas de Onís, Spain
Died February 26, 1928(1928-02-26) (aged 66)
Madrid, Spain
School Spanish Traditionalism

Juan Vázquez de Mella y Fanjul (8 June 1861, Cangas de Onís, Asturias – 26 February 1928, Madrid) was a Spanish scholar and politician, closely associated with the Spanish legitimist and traditionalist movement known as Carlism.


Mella was a convert to Carlism, and in 1885, he began to write for the Carlist and traditionalist newspapers El Pensamiento Galaico and La Restauración. From 1889 to 1919, Mella wrote for the major national Carlist daily, Madrid-based El Correo Español. After his break with the Carlists in 1919, he had his own national periodical, El Pensamiento Español.[2] Mella was most famous as an orator. He was a charismatic speaker whose speeches attracted thousands of observers (one Carlist historian claimed that 40,000 people attended one particularly large rally).[3]

Mella served as a Carlist deputy in the Cortes. He twice turned down the opportunity to become a minister, in his youth under Antonio Cánovas del Castillo and later in life under Antonio Maura.[4]

He broke with Carlist claimant Don Jaime I in 1919, over Jaime’s support for the French in World War I, as well as personal conflicts with the “King” and his advisors.

Ideas and intellectual achievements

Vázquez de Mella speaking, 1911

He said, "The political work of the French Revolution consisted mainly in destroying that whole series of intermediate organisms—family inheritances, guilds, autonomous universities, municipalities owning their own goods, regional administrations, the very assets of the Church—that extended between the individual and the state as protective bodies."[5]

Mella’s major achievement was to systematize the ideas and doctrine of the Carlist movement. He claimed that Carlism could be considered “modern” because it had viable solutions for modern social and political problems.

Mella strongly criticized liberalism and the French Revolutionary tradition, including thinkers like Rousseau. He condemned the rationalising and centralising impulses of these ideologies and deplored the destruction of intermediary social bodies like guilds, religious organizations and local and regional governments.[6]

Vázquez de Mella with other Carlist Members of Parliament (1911)

The problems caused by the destruction of traditional society, Mella believed, could not be fixed except by either an omnipotent, tyrannical state or a restoration of traditional institutions.[7] His solution, in general terms, was national unity and the healing of social conflict through tradition, monarchy, Catholicism, and a corporatist and decentralised political order.[8] Mella proposed a "federative" or "representative monarchy" based on the ideas of the "Persians" and Antonio Aparisi Guijarro. He also favored the formation of a corporatively-elected Cortes (a parliament whose members would not be elected by universal, direct elections but by social groupings: regions, professional organizations, the clergy, etc.).[9]


Vázquez de Mella speaking, 1916

During his lifetime, Mella gained the respect and praise of figures like Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo, Antonio Maura, and Miguel Primo de Rivera.[10] In the early 20th century he led Mellismo, a political strategy briefly institutionalized as a political party. His main disciple was Victor Pradera, though the two fell out in the early 1920s. Mella’s collected works, edited by Claro Abánades López, were published posthumously by the press of the Traditionalist Carlist Communion in 1931.[11] Key figures in the Nationalist side of the Spanish Civil War were familiar with Mella’s ideas. After their victory in the war, there were some unsuccessful proposals to implement his ideas in the new state,[12] but “by no stretch of the imagination” could the Franquist state be said to be closely inspired by Mella’s thought.[13]


  1. Cathey 2003, 27.
  2. Cathey 2003, 28-29.
  3. Cathey 2003, 29-30.
  4. Vázquez Mella 1953, 6.
  5. Vázquez Mella 1953, 12.
  6. Cathey 2003, 30.
  7. Cathey 2003, 31.
  8. Blinkhorn 1975, 22-23.
  9. Cathey 2003, 32; Blinkhorn 1975, 21.
  10. Blinkhorn 1975, 27.
  11. Blinkhorn 1975, 88.
  12. Cathey 2003, 27.
  13. Blinkhorn 1975, 297.


Blinkhorn, Martin. Carlism and Crisis in Spain 1931-1939. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1975.

Cathey, Boyd D. “Juan Vazquez de Mella and the Transformation of Spanish Carlism, 1885-1936.” In Spanish Carlism and Polish Nationalism: The Borderlands of Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries, edited by Marek Jan Chodakiewicz and John Radziłowski. 25-45. Charlottesville, VA: Leopolis Press, 2003.

Vázquez Mella, Juan. Textos de Doctrina Política: Vázquez Mella. Preliminary study, editing, and notes by Rafael Gambra. Madrid: Publicaciones Españolas, 1953.

External links

Online resources

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