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Monument to Elio Antonio de Nebrija

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Antonio Martínez de Xarana, better known as Elio Antonio de Nebrija, was a Spanish humanist who was famous as a pupil at the Royal College of Spain in Bologna, Italy. His exact date of birth is unknown, although it is generally accepted by historians that he was born in 1444, in Lebrija. He holds a prominent place in the history of the Spanish language as the author of the first Spanish grammar in 1492, the first Latin-Spanish dictionary in that same year, and a Spanish-Latin vocabulary around 1494. He was also a historian, teacher, grammarian, astronomer and poet.

During his time in Italy as a student, he made the decision to change his name. He chose the name “Elio” in honour of an important family that conquered Lebrija during the Roman era. He took the surname “de Nebrija” in honour of his hometown, known at that time as “Nebrissa”.

Elio Antonio was the author of the Catholic Monarchs’ motto “Tantamount, Isabel and Fernando”. Furthermore, he was a pioneer in the use of the cursive and round font that we usually use today. At that time, the use of Gothic calligraphy made reading very difficult. His embalmed body is kept at the San Idelfonso Church at the University of Alcalá de Henares.

The historic town of Lebrija has built a sculpture in his honour. It was unveiled by Franco in May 1946, coinciding with the fifth centenary of his birth. There was an earlier monument dedicated to Elio Antonio. It consisted of a bust on a pedestal in the centre of Plaza de España. The bust is currently in the outer gardens of the Elio Antonio de Nebrija School. 

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