To maintain a little continuity in what I fear is going to be a heavily Spanish-themed couple of weeks, here is another green man*, to follow Sir John B. and Alfred East from back in the Spring.
This is Alfonso XII of Spain (or, to give him his full name Alfonso Francisco de Asís Fernando Pío Juan María de la Concepción Gregorio Pelayo), a nonchalant-looking sort of cove. He stands on the Balcon de Europa, and indeed is said to have given this natural belvedere its name during a visit. People queue up to have their photographs taken with their arms around his shoulder, as though he were Mickey Mouse at Disneyland. In fact, he looks rather as though he is himself posing for a holiday snapshot (Hola! Having a lovely time in Nerja!).
Alfonso reigned for only ten years (from 1875-1885) before dying of tuberculosis. He seems to have been a popular monarch, though he did have to survive two assassination attempts and one failed coup.
H.V. Morton, in A Stranger in Spain (1955) – a book I’ve just taken out of the library – comments
“I have sometimes wondered whether other nations are as ignorant of our history as we are of theirs. The story of Spain, so unlike that of any other nation in Europe, is little known in England except to the student, and even those who have absorbed a lot of Spain … would be hard put to to it to tell you anything of the history of Spain except at one or two points where it touched ours …”
But then I find that part of the liberation of travel lies in discovering that there are alternatives to our settled habits of mind, other histories.
*A lot greener in the flesh (as it were) than he appears in this photograph.