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Juan Donoso Cortés

Portrayed with his orders and decorations.
Born Juan Donoso Cortés
6 May 1809(1809-05-06)
Valle de la Serena, Spain
Died 3 May 1853 (aged 43)
Paris, France
Occupation politician, diplomat, writer
Nationality Spanish
Genres Conservatism,

Juan Donoso Cortés, marqués de Valdegamas (May 6, 1809 – May 3, 1853), Spanish author and diplomat, was born at Valle de la Serena (Extremadura).


He studied law at Seville, and entered politics as an advanced liberal under the influence of Quintana. His views began to modify after the rising at La Granja, and this tendency towards conservatism, which became more marked on his appointment as private secretary to the Queen Regent, finds expression in his Lecciones de derecho politico (1837).

Alarmed by the proceedings of the French revolutionary party in 1848–1849, Donoso Cortés issued his Ensayo sobre el catolicismo, el liberalismo, y el socialismo considerados en sus principios fundamentales (1851), denouncing free discussion as the enemy of truth and liberalism as leading to social ruin. He became ambassador at Paris, and died there on the 3rd of May 1853.

The Ensayo failed to arrest the movement against which it was directed, but, it remains amongst the finest specimen of political prose published in Spain during the 19th century.

Donoso Cortés's works were collected in five volumes at Madrid (1854–1855) under the editorship of Gavino Tejado.

Tomb of Juan Donoso Cortés at San Isidro, Madrid


In his Political Theology (1922), political philosopher Carl Schmitt devotes large portions of his final chapter ("On the Counterrevolutionary Philosophy of the State") to Donoso Cortés, praising him for recognizing the importance of the decision and of the concept of sovereignty.[1]


  1. ^ Schmitt, Carl (2005). Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty. University of Chicago Press. pp. 51–66. ISBN 0226738892.  

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Don’t tire yourself in seeking a place of security against the chances of war, for you tire yourself in vain; that war is extended as far as space, and prolonged through all time. In eternity alone, the country of the just, can you find rest, because there alone there is no combat.

Juan Donoso Cortés (6 May 18093 May 1853) was a Spanish author and diplomatist, born at Valle de la Serena, Extremadura.


  • There is no man, let him be aware of it or not, who is not a combatant in this hot contest; no one who does not take an active part in the responsibility of the defeat or victory. The prisoner in his chains and the king on his throne, the poor and the rich, the healthy and the infirm, the wise and the ignorant, the captive and the free, the old man and the child, the civilized and the savage, share equally in the combat. Every word that is pronounced, is either inspired by God or by the world, and necessarily proclaims, implicitly or explicitly, but always clearly, the glory of the one or the triumph of the other. In this singular warfare we all fight through forced enlistment; here the system of substitutes or volunteers finds no place. In it is unknown the exception of sex or age; here no attention is paid to him who says, I am the son of a poor widow; nor to the mother of the paralytic, nor to the wife of the cripple. In this warfare all men born of woman are soldiers.
    And don’t tell me you don’t wish to fight; for the moment you tell me that, you are already fighting; nor that you don’t know which side to join, for while you are saying that, you have already joined a side; nor that you wish to remain neutral; for while you are thinking to be so, you are so no longer; nor that you want to be indifferent; for I will laugh at you, because on pronouncing that word you have chosen your party. Don’t tire yourself in seeking a place of security against the chances of war, for you tire yourself in vain; that war is extended as far as space, and prolonged through all time. In eternity alone, the country of the just, can you find rest, because there alone there is no combat. But do not imagine, however, that the gates of eternity shall be opened for you, unless you first show the wounds you bear; those gates are only opened for those who gloriously fought here the battles of the Lord, and were, like the Lord, crucified.
    • Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism, 1879.
  • We have shown that socialism is an incoherent combination of thesis and antithesis, which contradict and destroy one another. Catholicism, on the contrary forms a great synthesis which includes all things in its unity, and infuses them in its sovereign harmony. It may be affirmed of Catholic dogmas, that although they are diverse they are one. Only an abolute negation can be opposed to this wonderful synthesis. The Catholic word is then invincible and eternal. Nothing can diminish its sovereign viture.
    • Essays on Catholicism, Liberalism, and Socialism, 1879.

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