Salvador de MADARIAGA (1886–1978)

Statesman, scholar and writer

Box Tree House, 3 St Andrew’s Road, Old Headington, Oxford

Salvador de Madariaga

Salvador de Madariaga was born at Corunna, Spain, the son of an army colonel. Educated at Madrid and Paris, his first career was that of a mining engineer but he soon came to realise that his forte was writing and journalism. He wrote for The Times in London during the First World War and later joined the press section of the League of Nations. Meanwhile in the 1920s he had begun his scholarly writing on literature, including an influential work on Don Quixote. He was to become a prolific author, his output including works of history, biography, literature, politics, novels, poetry and plays. In 1928 he was appointed first holder of the King Alfonso XIII Chair of Spanish Studies at Oxford but his tenure was to be short.

Boxtree House



After the fall of the Spanish monarchy in 1931, the new Republic sent him to be ambassador first in Washington, and then in Paris. He was Spain’s delegate to the League of Nations until 1936 when the Spanish Civil War broke out. He returned to Oxford and Box Tree House (left) and lived there 1940–1973.


During the Second World War and beyond he made weekly broadcasts for the BBC to South America. Some of his finest scholarly work was written during this period, including biographies of Columbus, Cortes and Bolivar, The Rise and Fall of the Spanish American Empire, the essay On Hamlet, and the historical novel The Heart of Jade.

Living in voluntary exile from Franco’s Spain, he was a vocal opponent of that regime and advocate of liberal values. An active champion of European integration as a solution to the problems which had brought about dictatorship and war, he organised in Oxford a conference of European Liberal Parties which resulted in an affirmation of values known as the ‘Oxford Manifesto’ (1947). He was a founding member of the Liberal International and founder and president of the College of Europe at Bruges (1949–64). He was made an honorary fellow of Exeter College in 1942 and throughout his life received innumerable honorary doctorates and the highest honorific awards of many countries.

In 1912 he had married Constance Helen Archibald who was Scottish and two daughters were born, Nieves and Isabel. After Constance’s death in 1970 he married Emilia Rauman and spent his last years in Locarno. He visited Spain again after the death of Franco in 1976 and was able finally to give his inaugural address to the Royal Spanish Academy, delayed since 1936.

Source: Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, article by J. L. Gili, revised by P. J. Connell

The plaque was unveiled at at Box Tree House on 15 October 2011 by his daughter, Professor Isabel de Madariaga, FRHistS, FBA, formerly Professor of Russian Studies, University of London. Among those attending were other family members, Mr Fidel Lopez Alvarez, Minister of Cultural and Scientific Affairs at the Spanish Embassy, Mr Hans van Baalen MEP, President of Liberal International, and Cllr Elise Benjamin, Lord Mayor of Oxford.

Pictures taken at unveiling ceremony:

Plaque to de Madariaga


Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board



Scholar and Writer

lived here 1929–1931 : 1940–1973

The Embassy of Spain

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