Military adventurer, conquistador, and colonist settler Bernal Díaz del Castillo is best known for his participation in the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire under Hernán Cortés and for his memoirs, The True History of the Conquest of New Spain. He was part of three Mexican expeditions, that of Francisco Hernández de Córdoba, Juan de Grijalva and Cortés respectively.
While he initially studied law, Antonio Cánovas del Castillo showed a marked interest in history and politics, too. The six-time prime minister of Spain led the Conservative Party. As a historian, he had penned works such as History of the Decline of Spain. He was assassinated by an Italian anarchist.
Arab geographer Al-Bakri served as the governor of multiple provinces in southwest Spain, where he became a famous scholar. His best-known work, Kitab al-masalik wa-’l-mamalik, described the trade routes of Africa, especially Ghana, and were based on the accounts of navigators and merchants who had been there.
Best known for his treatises Sefer ha-kabbala and Sefer ha-emuna ha-rama, Abraham ben David Halevi ibn Daud was a 12th-century Spanish-Jewish philosopher, historian, and physician. Also known as Rabad I, or Ravad I, he was the first real Aristotelian Jew. Some historians believe he died a martyr.
An influential Jesuit missionary in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, José de Anchieta worked with the indigenous population, converting many of them into Catholic faith. He also wrote Arte de grammtica da lingoa mais usada na costa do Brasil, providing orthography to the local Tupi language and is known to co-found the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
Five-time Nobel Prize in Literature-nominated Spanish historian and literary critic Marcelino Menéndez y Pelayo was also a professor of Spanish literature. He also owned a library of around 45,000 books. Interestingly, a law was passed just to let him become a professor at the tender age of 22.
Américo Castro was a Spanish cultural historian. He is remembered for challenging some of the prevailing notions of Spanish identity and raising controversy with his conclusions. He graduated from the University of Granada and pursued an academic career, becoming a professor at the University of Madrid. He later taught at the University of Texas and Princeton University.
While he initially studied philosophy and literature, Alfonso Pérez Sánchez later also learned film direction. Apart from teaching at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, the Spanish art historian also served as the director of the Museo del Prado. He organized exhibitions and was also part of a ministry of culture commission.