Biography of Félix de Latassa y Ortín (1733-1805)

Religious and Spanish scholar born in Zaragoza to the day, November 20, 1733 and died in his hometown on April 2, 1805. Priest of Juslibol (Zaragoza) and racionero of the Church of el Salvador, was Professor of theology at the cesaraugustana University during the 18th century. In addition to his teaching, he devoted much of his life to the realization of a catalogue of Aragonese writers, known in the academic world as Latassa libraries. Despite the experience of the study, it is still a capital reference work, because a good number of Aragonese writers only known what Latassa collected in its catalog.


Felix Latassa and Ortin was born in an Aragonese family of noble origin, but whose incomes had declined significantly. He was son of Juan Latassa and Ortiz, born in Navarra but based in Zaragoza after marriage in the early years of the 18th century with Lady María Ortín. After taking basic lessons in his teens, in 1749 he began to study arts and philosophy at the University of Zaragoza, reaching the degree of Bachelor in 1752. After that, he enrolled in theology, where also would reach the same degree of March 12, 1761 and after bright substitutions as Professor of discipline for the great confidence that their teachers set out in it. At the same time he began his career in the bosom of the Church, because after having received minor orders, became a priest and later priest of Juslibol. In 1762, and with the support of the Professor of theology, Manuel Cabós, Latassa conducted their exercises to achieve the degree of Doctor in theology, verifying its action before the Court of the University met on 13 May of this year. After more than one decade of studies, praise to the scholarship and Latassa culture made him be one of the most reputed projects of University teaching.

Finished studies, Latassa devoted himself to religious work in the parish of Juslibol, perceiving therefore the income intended to do so, however, they seemed to be quite scarce. Therefore, and within the usual ecclesiastical career, first agreed to a racionero stand in the Metropolitan Church of the Savior (1780) and later to a canonry of the Cathedral itself of the Pilar (1782). With this scarce financing, Latassa Félix dedicated his entire life to the consultation of manuscripts and documents in all libraries to write its catalogue of Aragonese writers. When their obligations would allow it, it locked in his office in Zaragoza home, located in the street of the pillar number 33, corner Street Talamantes, where he did his work of drafting. Appreciated by all Zaragoza scholars, who named him member of merit of the Aragonese Association of friends of the country, Latassa Félix died without test on 2 April 1805. His body was buried in the basilica of the pillar, within the chapel of San Vicente.

Work: thes librariesof Latassa

Analyzing his Magnum Opus, the libraries of writers of the Kingdom of Aragon, it is required to insert it in the context of scholarship of his time. In this sense, there is a clear correspondence with the academic canon of the 18th century, in which the works of quantitative data collection on literary authors of a region was the order of the day. Coetanea Latassa Félix's work is made by Nicolás Antonio castellanos writers in their library Hispana Vetus and library Hispana Nova, as well as Josep Rodríguez and Vicente Ximeno for the Kingdom of Valencia and the Torres Amat for Catalan writers. In fact, the work of documentation carried out by Latassa for Aragonese writers had the stimulus of the undertaken some years earlier by Juan Francisco Andrés de Uztarroz. This scholar, chronicler of the Kingdom, left his unfinished study, although the manuscript draft also tends to be consulted by specialists (a copy is preserved in the national library in Madrid, ms. 9391). However, the patient dedication of Latassa, with their meticulous search of data and their biobiliograficas chips, far exceed the claims of Uztárroz, to the point of turning the Latassa example par excellence of this type of 18th catalogues.

The first part of the library of Aragonese writers, known as the old library, was published in two thick volumes, volumes of room size, in the city of Zaragoza during the year 1796 and Medardo Heras print workshop. Latassa dedicated this first edition to a relative of his, Juan Martín de Goicoechea. The contents of the old library is about the Aragonese writers whose activity was registered between the early years of the Christian era and the year 1500, i.e. all the literati of ancient and medieval times. Two years later, again Latassa delivered to Zaragoza Medardo Heras presses one of his writings, the memories of the Mensa of the Holy Metropolitan Church of Salvador Racioneros, little-known work of the Aragonese scholar and whose value, yet solid for the time and the researcher of the institutions religious, has been overshadowed because of the immensity of the libraries.

Leaving behind this work less, the second part of the library of Aragonese writers, known as the new library, I wanted to dedicate it Latassa to one of his best friends and organizers of its research work, as it was the dean Larrea Pérez. It was published in six volumes, also fourth in size, in the city of Pamplona between 1798 and 1802, within the typography of Joaquín de Domingo. In it, Latassa completed the chronological journey putting at the service of the academic community bio-bibliographical tabs of writers of their land whose works were published from the year 1500 to their day. However, and according to his biographers, the erudite veteran, who already began to assault him with the aches and pains of old age, obsessed is both not to leave their unfinished work, which presses delivered a last manuscript volume containing a condensed version of his research.

Deceased once scholar in 1805, during the 19th century were various attempts to complete Latassa libraries. The first and most important of them took out Miguel Gómez Uriel, archivist and Librarian of the Aragonese bar, re-edited it the work in 1884 with sweeping new documentary contributions drawn from the papers that Latassa left in his private library. Thanks to the reissue of Uriel Gomez has been known that during the Spanish invasion of the Napoleonic troops, the French army recorded the desktop of the Aragonese master, seizing and burning a large amount of documents. It has of joining the documentary decline which brought the war, so the work of Latassa was most amplified to be able to consult religious documents years later his death were lost forever. Several reprints of the work have secured academic use during the 20th century and, in addition, thanks to the brilliant initiative at the University of Zaragoza, even new technologies such as the Internet allow access Latassa libraries.


FATÁS, g. (coord.) Famous Aragonese people. (Zaragoza, Caja Ahorros de la Inmaculada, 1983).

LAMARCA LANGA, g. "Felix Latassa. Biographical notes". (Revista de Historia Jeronimo Zurita, 72 [1997], pp. 185-193).

Links on the Internet; Electronic edition of the libraries of Latassa, made by the professors M. j. Pedraza grace, J. A. Sánchez Ibáñez, and L. Julve Larraz, of the University of Zaragoza (in Spanish).