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Statue of Antonio de Nebrija, outside of the Biblioteca Nacional de España, in Madrid.

Antonio de Lebrija, also known as Antonio de Nebrija, Elio Antonio de Lebrija, Antonius Nebrissensis, and Antonio of Lebrixa, (1441-1522) was a Spanish scholar born at Lebrija in the province of Seville.

Nebrija wrote a grammar of the Castilian language, credited as the first published grammar of any Romance language.



His given name was Antonio Martínez de Calá. In typical humanist fashion, he latinized his name as Aelius Antonius Nebrissensis by taking Aelius from the Roman inscriptions of his native Lebrija, the Roman Nebrissa Veneria. He also signed his books as Antonius Lebrixen (1481) and Antonius Nebrissen (1501).


After studying at Salamanca he resided for ten years in Italy, and completed his education at Bologna University. On his return to Spain (1473), he devoted himself to the advancement of classical learning among his fellow countrymen. After obtaining the professorship of poetry and grammar at Salamanca, he was transferred to the university of Alcalá de Henares, where he lectured until his death in 1522, at the age of seventy-eight.

His services to the cause of classical literature in Spain have been compared with those rendered by Valla, Erasmus and Scidaeus to Italy, the Netherlands and France. In 1492, he published the first grammar of the Spanish language (titled Gramática Castellana in Spanish), which was the first grammar produced of any Romance language. At this time, Castilian became Spanish, the official language of Spain, replacing Latin.

He produced a large number of works on a variety of subjects, including a Latin-Spanish dictionary, commentaries on Sedulius and Persius, and a Compendium of Rhetoric, based on Aristotle, Cicero, and Quintilian. His most ambitious work was his chronicle entitled Rerum in Hispania Gestarum Decades (published in 1545 as an original work by his father), which twenty years later was found to be merely a Latin translation of the Spanish Chronicle of Pulgar, which was published at Saragossa in 1567. Nebrija also took part in the production of the Complutensian Polyglot Bible published under the patronage of Cardinal Cisneros.

It was said that he as a Scholar suggested to Columbus to capture the land by way of language of the place rather than arms and weapons.


  • Introductiones latinae, 1481
  • Gramática de la lengua castellana, 1492
  • Latin-Spanish (1492) and Spanish-Latin (1495) dictionaries.
  • Reglas de ortografía española, 1517.
  • Reglas de orthografía en la lengua castellana (published posthumously, 1523).

In addition Nebrija wrote minor works on education, weights and measures and numbering systems.


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