Chapter IX Part Two


JUST as Roman, Lombard, and Gothic blood brought the Italian people its best powers, so Gothic and Swabian blood brought the Spanish and Portuguese peoples theirs, even after the Visigothic kingdom had been destroyed in 711 by the Moors. The heroic ages of these peoples, the daring voyages of the Portuguese and Spanish, and the exhaustion of these peoples, are to be explained by the leadership of the Nordic men, and then the running dry of the Nordic blood. This exhaustion must have been as much contributed to by the never-ending feuds of the Gothic and Swabian families as by the common struggle against the intruding Moors. It was from Asturias and Cantabria, whither the best of the Gothic families had withdrawn before the Moors, that the winning back of the land began. In this fighting the 'Cid,' Don Rodrigo Campeador, especially distinguished himself, whom the Cid poems of the Spaniards paint just as Nordic in his appearance as they do his wife, Ximenes, and just as much Nordic in appearance as in disposition. The Nordic class, indeed, in these lands had to carry on the fight for centuries against Saracen intruders (of predominantly Oriental race), and thus was doomed gradually to bleed to death. 'The aboriginal stratum has more and more come to the surface, and has thus left Spain sapless and supine.'11 But as late as 1879, de Jouvencel reported that in the north of Spain many of the nobility were fair-skinned, tall, and blond.12 Nordic blood is shown, too, by the very tall, light-eyed Primo de Rivera.

Fig. 252 - Spain, Paez de la Cadena, statesman, Mediterranean-Nordic

Fig. 253 - Spain, Alvarez, sculptor, Nordic

Fig. 254 - Count Colonna, Spanish General, Nordic, Engraving: van Dyck

The terrible contra-selection brought about by the Inquisition in Spain may well have fallen with special force on the men of the Nordic race, or with a strong Nordic strain, who would incline to spiritual independence. '. . . The Spanish nation was drained of free-thinkers at the rate of 1000 persons annually, for the three centuries between 1471 and 1781, an average of 100 persons having been executed and 900 imprisoned every year during that period. The actual data during those three hundred years are 32,000 burnt, 17,000 persons burnt in effigy (I presume they mostly died in prison or escaped from Spain), and 291,000 condemned to various terms of imprisonment and other penalties. It is impossible that any nation could stand a policy like this, without paying a heavy penalty in the deterioration of its breed, as has notably been the result in the formation of the superstitious, unintelligent Spanish race of the present day.'13

Fig. 255 - Galileo, tall, fair-skinned, ruddy-blond, blue-eyed, predominantly Nordic

Fig. 256 - Titian, E, blue, H, reddish-fair, predominantly Nordic

The high spiritual and artistic achievement of the Italian Renaissance seems almost beyond our understanding: in the midst of a people racially mixed through and through like this one, at a signal given by the new discovery of the old Greek world, creative spirits wake to life on every side, and with swift understanding and joyous activity in a short time produce those works that reach the utmost heights of the human mind. Since Woltmann's researches, however, the Italian Renaissance is seen clearly as a renewed flow of Nordic blood into the life of a people and its soul. Down to the beginning of the fifteenth century we find, indeed, in documents many Italians given as descendants of Lombards, Alamans, and so on (ex Alamannorum genere; legibus vivens Langobardorum).

Awakened by the world of Greece -- a world essentially akin to them, as being of Nordic creation -- all over the former Lombard upper Italy and the former Norman lower Italy, Nordic men came forward, and in unresting creativeness built up a new world. The spiritual creations of the Hellenes had been, it is true, taken over by the Eastern, especially the Islamic world, and lived on there, more or less transformed; but the Hellenic culture did not form part of its real life. On the other hand, the Italian Renaissance took the life of Greece into itself, and had the power once again so to grasp and understand the world and mankind as the Hellenes of the creative times had done; for the same Nordic blood was stirring in both ages. Giotto, Masaccio, Filippo Lippi, Donatello, Signorelli, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Andrea del Sarto, Titian, Dante, Pico della Mirandola, Petrarch, Tasso, Galileo -- all are of Nordic blood, and, when they are artists, depict men of the Nordic type.14

Fig. 257 - From the Veronese Nobility, predominantly Nordic, painting: Morando

Fig. 258 - Savonarola, forerunner of the Reformation, E, blue, predominantly Dinaric

Columbus, too, the second discoverer of America (the first being, of course, Leif Erikson, the Viking), shows Nordic blood. 'He was tall, had a long, striking countenance, aquiline nose, blue eyes, and a light skin, inclined to be ruddy; his beard and hair in youth were fair, but care soon whitened them' -- so writes Bartolomeo Las Casas,15 who was much with Columbus. It is most significant how few gifted men were produced by central Italy (most mixed racially), and the city of Rome and its neighbourhood. The greatest men of the time are almost without exception from districts that formerly were settled by Germanic tribes; and their Nordic blood can often be shown in the details of their descent. These racial connexions, however, were quite unknown to the great men of the Renaissance. They thoroughly looked down on the peoples beyond the Alps, whose Nordic blood in Italy at this very time could not but eagerly welcome the revival of the Hellenic and Roman world.16

Fig. 259 - Leonardo da Vinci, Nordic

Fig. 260 - Leonardo da Vinci (self-portrait), Nordic, E, blue, H, fair

Fig. 261 - Macchiavelli, statesman, E, blue, predominantly Dinaric

Fig. 262 - Loredan, Doge of Venice, predominantly Nordic

Fig. 263 - Raphael, Nordic

Fig. 264 - Jacopo de Barbari (self-portrait), Dinaric-Nordic

Fig. 265 - Alfieri (of Piedmont Nobility), poet, E, blue, H, fair (according to his own description), Nordic

Fig. 266 - Ariosto, poet, E, brown, H, black, Dinaric

Fig. 267 - A. Manzoni, writer, E, blue, H, fair, predominantly Nordic

Fig. 268 - N. Paganini, musician, Dinaric-Nordic (the Dinaric strain is much clearer in other portraits)

Fig. 269 - Count Visconti, archaeologist, predominantly Nordic

Fig. 270 - General Paoli (of Corsica), predominantly Nordic, according to Goethe, fair

Disraeli's words about the racial question being the key to the world's history, are, however, illustrated not only by the Italian Renaissance. Their truth is shown also by modem Italian history: its leaders in politics and culture are for the most part predominantly Nordic men. The portraits in Woltmann's book never show a 'true Italian,' but have mostly features such as to-day we shall rather find in Westphalia or Holstein. Woltmann's investigations have yielded the same results for France and Spain; the Swabian, Gothic, Burgundian, Frankish, and Norman blood in these lands was their best blood; it was the seat of their creative powers, and its disappearance means their decay.17

To Chapter IX Part Three

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Footnotes for Chapter IX Part Two

11 M. Grant, The Passing of the Great Race.

12 Bull. de la Soc. d'Anthr., 1879, p. 428.

13 F. Galton, Hereditary Genius, 1914.

14 Woltmann, Die Germanen u. d. Renaissance in Italien, 1905, out of 200 celebrated Italians found 81.6 per cent. light-eyed, 63 per cent. blond, 24 per cent. brown-haired, 13 per cent. black-haired.

15 Historia de las Indias, first printed in 1875 in Madrid.

16 Burdach ('Der Ursprung des Humanismus,' Deutsche Rundschau, March 1914) would see in the view of the foreigners as 'barbarians' (taken by the Italian Renaissance from the Nordic-led Greeks) a proof against the importance of Nordic blood for the culture of Italy. According to him 'Humanism and the Renaissance' are derived 'from the soul of the autochthonic Latin race' from the 'inherited Italian primitive culture of Roman antiquity.' But what does Burdach understand by 'Latin race'? Even in 1914 it might have been known that there is no such thing. If he means the culture-creating race of old Rome, for the expert he points, however unwillingly, to the Nordic race, just as much as if he had referred to the Hellenic culture, which was the pattern and example for the great men of the Renaissance.

17 Cp., too, the portraits of leading Italians in my Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes.