Biography of Joaquín Costa y Martínez (1846-1911)

Polygraph, lawyer, sociologist, politician, agronomist and Spanish science promoter born in Monzón (Huesca) in 1846 and died in Graus (Huesca) on February 8, 1911.

He studied in the Institute of General and technical of Huesca (1864-1866), and then in the University of Madrid, where earned a doctorate in law in 1874. Prior to his university studies, he/she was sent to Paris by the Government as labor craftsman to the Universal exhibition in 1867. In Paris he/she studied applied mechanics, agriculture and agricultural chemistry. At the same time it collected samples of seeds of many countries, which he/she described as "a small agricultural Museum".

Ph.d. degree in the faculties of philosophy and letters (1875) and right (1872), Costa became Assistant Professor of the latter at the Central University. He/She repeatedly rejected university chairs and taught history and laws in the Institución Libre de Enseñanza, before definitively abandon academic life (see origin of the Institución Libre de Enseñanza).

He was instructed in all scientific fields, particularly in the utilitarian interests. Among the articles published in the newsletter of the institution in 1882, for example, were: a summary of the book by Charles Darwin on The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms (London, 1881); an obituary of Darwin; a report on mortality in Madrid, according to the discussion of the meeting of the Spanish society of hygiene; a note on the formation of fog, and several reports on the applications of electricity, including a prediction that, in view of the mountainous topography of Spain and its abundant rainfall, the hydropower would have "a future than how much one might suspect".

He served as official counsel in basin and then in Huesca, his home province, from 1877 to 1879. The latter year he/she returned to Madrid, where he/she worked as an intern. He/She collaborated in the magazine of Spain, the General magazine of law and jurisprudence and the Royal Academy of jurisprudence, and drafted a "Plan of history of the right Spanish in the antiquity" in 1887. In 1885 he/she founded the magazine of commercial geography in Madrid, was its editor until 1893, and signed a high percentage of items in the first volumes. During the same period, he/she was an active member of the geographic society, in which by adopting the role of defender of Spanish interests in Africa.

An important part of his work was oriented towards agricultural problems and as a central theme "redo the geography of the country to resolve the political issue and the social question". He/She proposed to accomplish this through various legal and technical, the main of which would be the massive development of irrigation systems. Its water policy is headed to achieve the following effects: extend the pastures to put an end to the traditional conflict between herders and farmers, and so do the American competitive Spanish meat; reduce the amount devoted to cereals, at the expense of doubling yields (theme of a polemic between Costa, Eduardo Abela and Sainz de Andino; creation of a fishery in inland waters; extension of the cultivation of fruit trees and the stimulus to afforestation and the creation of forests; the accessibility of agricultural credit; reduction of emigration; and the development of production in marginal lands.)

Costa was also a competent lawyer. In the last decades of the 19th century, wrote several works of legal and social issue: the life of the right (1876), theory of the legal, individual and social fact (1880), common municipal law of Spain (1885), the family Council in Spain (1890).

The loss of the last remnants of the Spanish colonial empire in 1898 pushed Joaquín Costa to examine, based on its solid knowledge legal, social and geographical, the location of the turn Spain and to promote a program of national reconstruction that, seated on the educational, agricultural and judicial reform, would determine an approach to Europe. Fruit of this stage are the works: reconstitution and Europeanization of Spain, program to a national party (1900), oligarchy and despotism as the current form of the Government of Spain: urgency and mode change it (1901-1902), customary law and popular economy of Spain (1902).

Energetic and vehement, man its interpretation of the Spanish reality moved you to form the League of taxpayers of Ribagorza, to promote the National Assembly of producers, which are constituted as force policy, alternative to the traditional parties, in the National League, which fought for a program of agrarian regenerationism. Slowly, however, the political movement that advocated coast disbanded after a few months of euphoria and intense activity. Subsequently, Costa and the League were integrated into the Republican party, where he/she defended an agricultural collectivism to that found Foundation in the Spanish legal doctrine.

Despite its relative political failure, thinking costista represents one of the most lucid analysis, documented and made Spanish turn crisis.


CHEVYNE J. G., George: bibliographic study of the work of Josquin Costa. Zaragoza, 1981.

CHEVYNE J. G., George: Joaquín Costa: the great unknown. Barcelona: Ariel, 1971.

Diaz, J. A.: "Nation, constitution et regeneration". Adnexa of Criticón, 1994, pp. 321-329.

MAEZTU. A.: We owe to coast the name and ideas. Zaragoza, 1911.

PÉREZ DE LA DEHESA, r.: The thought of coast and its influence on the 98. Madrid, 1966.

SÁNCHEZ VIDAL, a.: The novels of Joaquín Costa: Justo de Valdediós. Zaragoza, 1981.

TIERNO GALVÁN, e.: Coast and regenerationism. Barcelona, 1961.