Biography of Isidoro Antillón y Marzo (1778-1814)

Geographer, astronomer and Spanish politician, born in Santa Eulalia de el Campo (Teruel) may 15, 1778 and died in the same town on 3 July 1814.


Antillon studied law, political economy and mathematics at the University of Zaragoza and achieved his doctorate in law at the University of Valencia in 1798. The following year he/she was appointed Professor of geography, history and chronology, on a interim basis, at the Royal Seminary of Nobles, in Madrid, institution that established a high level for the teaching of geography. He/She held the square already full-fledged from March 1800, after having passed the corresponding competition. Also in Madrid gave in 1800 a few lessons on old Spanish discipline in the Real Academia Matritense of sacred canons, liturgy, history and church discipline, then published in 1813.

In 1805 he/she married and began to work excited with the Pestalozziano Institute created by Godoy, although two years later finally ruled out any involvement with it.

The war of independence prompted him to abandon Madrid and moved to Zaragoza, where provided good services to the Defence Board. He/She moved to Seville, where he/she founded numerous publications, periodicals, and from there to Palma. Editor of La Aurora Mallorquina, where he/she defended his antiroyalist ideas, and Deputy in the Cortes de Cádiz (1812). For his liberal ideas, was made prisoner by order of Fernando VII; death surprised him in 1814, when he/she went to his hometown.


Antillon wrote textbooks for his disciples and developed a style of teaching that is linked to the teaching methods of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi. The reading of texts was accompanied by the repeated examination of maps and "balloons of cardboard or wood". It also introduced innovations in the nomenclature for the clarity and precision in the geographical language.

Antillon reacted strongly against what warned to be the general inaccuracy of geographical information for Spain. Its elements (1808) he/she showed a harsh criticism against other Spanish geographers and foreigners who wrote about Spain, with the exception of Guillermo Bowles. Referring, for example, to Tomás López de 1792 Spain map, Antillon noted "its almost inconceivable puzzling astronomical situations of peoples", in lengths, and that both latitudes while "López maps are less bad thing on the geography of the interior of Spain".

Actually, the critical evaluation of State of Spain Antillon was the main stimulus for their own work. After reading the modern geography (1796) of Tomás Mauricio López, Antillon sent him a long list of mistakes by several writers on diverse points of the Spanish geography on its principles (1807). Antillon stresses the impossibility of separating the terrestrial geography of general cosmography, as it seems that they wanted to make those who were applying the Ptolemaic concepts: "so willing to conceive truths contrary to what looks like we see and we play, it cost little to persuade them, with demonstrations and clear figures, that is not the Sun which revolves around the Earth, but the earth around the Sun and on its own", producing the alternative day and night, and the succession of the seasons", passage that is clearly a refutation of the anticopernicanismo of T. M. López.

The own Antillon practiced astronomy. Published reports about the lunar eclipse on January 26, 1804 and the eclipse of the Sun from February 11, determining from these observations the longitude and latitude of Madrid, at the same time engaging in a polemic with José Chaix; He/She also studied the lunar eclipse of January 15, 1805. These observations were important for its geographical methodology, because you eclipses them "are the best means of rectified geography, because by its observation mainly determine the lengths of the different peoples of the Earth".

Antillon tried to always obtain the best possible data for geographic situations, taking them (for non-Spanish places) "of the latest and greatest astronomical observations that contain the almanakes English and French". For the peninsula used data Spanish, accepting, for example, with latitude of Madrid 45 ° 25' 07 '', "according to the average of several observations by Mr Jorge Juan, Tofino, Mazarredo and others". But when there were differences between the signs of Mazarredo and other scientists "I prefer always the altitude of the Mazarredo Lord", by his technique and the quality of their instruments. Antillon always suspicious of the accuracy of some data from Tofino, because I used to use bases to the coast considerable distance, while his ship was in motion. Antillon also extracted the data of barometric observations of altitude above sea level of the sources deemed accurate, especially Agustín de Betancourt and Simón de Rojas Clemente.

In addition to the above works, Antillon also wrote the following works: the manuscripts of D. Juan Sempere economic library report and report on the establishment of an economic society in Teruel, both from 1803; Historical news about the lovers of Teruel (Madrid, 1806); Catechism or brief summary of operations in Spain (Valencia, 1808); Latest reflections by reasonable freedom of writing during the Government of the Central Board (1810); Four useful truths to the nation, excerpted from some Spanish writers (Palma, 1810); Letter from a representative of Aragon to their clients (Palma, 1810); Ten minutes of reading useful Spanish Patriots (Palma, 1810 or 1811); Dissertation on the origin of the slavery of blacks, reasons that have perpetuated it, benefits attributed to him and means that could be taken to make prosper our neighborhoods without the enslavement of blacks (Palma, 1811), in which reveals the influence of the Social contract Rousseau; Geographic News of the Mediterranean (Valencia, 1811); and historical news of don Gaspar Melchor de Jovellanos (Palma, 1812), work this last banned by the Inquisition by edict of March 3, 1817.



Principles of civil and physical geography. (Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1807). Elements of astronomy, natural and political geography of Spain and Portugal. (1st ed., Madrid: Imprenta Real, 1808), (2nd ed., Valencia: Estevan, 1815).


BELTRAN Y ROZPIDE, Ricardo. Isidore of Antillón, geographer, historian and politician. (Madrid: Real Academia de la Historia, 1903).Hernandez and Eduardo FERRER. "Biography", in Beltran (see above), (pp. 97-104).

Thomas F. GLICK