Windsor, Reino Unido, 1931 - Londres, , 2017

Hugh Thomas studied contemporary history at various centres, Sherborne School, Queens' College, Cambridge, and the Sorbone in Paris. Between 1954 and 1957 he worked in the Foreign Office partly as secretary of the British delegation to the United Nations in the Sub-Committe on disarmament.  In 1955, he visited Spain for the first time and began his research on the Spanish Civil War. Six years later he published the first edition of the Spanish Civil War, a book which subsequently reviewed twice, and that has been translated to many languages. He was Professor of history of the University of Reading and of the University School of European studies. In addition, in 1957 was Professor at the British Military Academy of Sandhurst. His work The Conquest of Mexico has been considered by critics as one of the most comprehensive on the subject. In April 1981 he was appointed Lord of England, granting him the title of Baron de Swynnerton; He was a member of the House of Lords by Notting Hill. In June 2001, he was awarded the Grand Cross of Isabel la Católica. 

Carmen Balcells Literary Agency represents the author for Spanish language.



Third volume of a trilogy about the Spanish Empire

World Without End is the climax of Hugh Thomas's great history of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. It describes the conquest of Paraguay and the River Plate, of the Yucatan in Mexico, the only partial conquest of Chile, and battles with the French over Florida, and then, in the 1580s, the extraordinary projection of Spanish power across the Pacific to conquer the Philippines. More significantly, it describes how the Spanish ran the greatest empire the world had seen since Rome - as well as conquistadores, the book is people with viceroys, judges, nobles, bishops, inquisitors and administrators of many different kinds, often in conflict with one another, seeking to organise the native populations into towns, to build cathedrals, hospitals and universities. Behind them - sometimes ahead of them - came the religious orders, the Franciscans, Dominicans, Augustinians, and finally the Jesuits, builders of convents and monasteries, many of them of astonishing beauty, and reminders of the pervasiveness of religion and the self-confidence of the age.

Towering above them all, though moving rarely from the palace of the Escorial outside Madrid, is the figure of King Philip II, the central figure in the book. The Venetian ambassador thought him 'the arbiter of the world'. Once the Philippines had been consolidated, Philip's advisors contemplated an invasion of China: the Jesuit Father Sanchez called it 'the greatest enterprise which has ever been proposed to any monarch in the world'. It was an enterprise never undertaken, but never explicitly abandoned.
Was it a great or a terrible empire? In contrast to other empire builders, the Spaniards entered upon arguments with each other about their right to rule other peoples, and their ruthlessness was often tempered by humanity. Hugh Thomas's conclusion is unequivocal: 'The speed with which the sixteenth-century conquistadores conquered such large territories on two vast continents, and the comparable success of missionaries with large populations of Indians, stands as one of the supreme epics of both valour and imagination by Europeans.'

Second book of a trilogy about the Spanish Empire. Published in USA as The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America.

'Thomas tells the story of missionary zeal and military plunder with a zest worthy of a swashbuckling historical novelist' The Times

'A riveting story of adventure and cruelty ... a considerable scholarly accomplishment'  Ben WilsonDaily Telegraph

'This monumental history is an extraordinary achievement ... A beguilingly-written account of a fascinating subject' Alexander SamsonThe Times Higher Education Supplement


When the Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America in the sixteenth century, they swept across the continent in a blaze of imperial expansion and brutal savagery. Beginning with the return of the remnants of Magellan's circumnavigation in 1522 and ending with Charles's death in 1558, Hugh Thomas's masterful work brilliantly brings to life one of the most extraordinary periods of the Renaissance, revealing how the Spaniards were able to conquer Guatemala, Yucatan, Columbia, Venezuela, Peru and Chile; how the audacious conquistador Francisco de Orellana sailed down the Amazon, why Cabeza de Vaca walked from Florida to Mexico and what drove Hernando de Soto to pursue worldly riches in Florida, Mississippi and Georgia.

While adventurers and explorers like Cortés and Pizarro build entire cities and amassed vast wealth from the treasures of the land, they also killed thousands, and left the indelible mark of Spain's language and religion for centuries to come.

In 1764-65 the irrepressible playwright Beaumarchais travelled to Madrid, where he immersed himself in the life and society of the day. Inspired by the places he had seen and the people he had met, Beaumarchais returned home to create The Barber of Seville and The Marriage of Figaro, plays that became the basis for the operas by Rossini and Mozart that continue to delight audiences today. This book is a lively and original account of Beaumarchais’s visit to Madrid (he never went to Seville) and a re-creation of the society that fired his imagination.

Drawing on Beaumarchais’s letters and commentaries, translated into English for the first time, Hugh Thomas investigates the full range of the playwright’s activities in Madrid. He focuses particular attention on short plays that Beaumarchais attended and by which he was probably influenced, and he probes the inspirations for such widely recognized characters as the barber-valet Figaro, the lordly Count Almaviva, and the beautiful but deceived Rosine. Not neglecting Beaumarchais’s many other pursuits (ranging from an endeavour to gain a contract for selling African slaves to an attempt to place his mistress as a spy in the bed of King Charles III), Lord Thomas provides a highly entertaining view of a vital moment in Madrid’s history and in the creative life of the energetic Beaumarchais.

A dramatic biography of the extraordinary Spanish industrialist and entrepreneur Eduardo Barreiros Born in an impoverished region of Galicia, possessed of little education and less money, Eduardo Barreiros (1919--1992) rose to become an immensely successful entrepreneur and one of Spain's most prominent industrialists. In this engaging biography, the first on a Spanish entrepreneur in English, Hugh Thomas recounts Barreiros's origins as an auto mechanic, his success in the motor industry, his tragic alliance with the Chrysler Corporation, and his little-known role as a motor industry founder in 1980s Cuba. Drawing on an unrivalled knowledge of Spanish history, Lord Thomas also brings to light Barreiros's critical role in the modernization of the Spanish economy in the post--Civil War years. The book offers a detailed portrait of Don Eduardo's personality, character, and numerous entrepreneurial endeavors, as well as a full account of the difficulties the Franco-era government threw in the path of his capitalist activities. The relationship between Barreiros and the Chrysler Corporation is also described, along with the failed Dodge Dart project that ultimately cost Barreiros his business. Finally, the book recounts Don Eduardo's late-in-life efforts to help establish a motor industry in Castro's Cuba--a paradoxical conclusion for a great capitalist.

First book of a trilogy about the Spanish Empire.

“Affirms Hugh Thomas's record as one of the most productive and wide-ranging historians of modern times.” The New York Times

“Splendid ... bold and strong in its outlines, rich in fascinating details.” Paul Johnson, Literary Review

“So steeped is he in the spirit of the time, so familiar with its people and places that we almost feel he must have been there at the time.” Sunday Telegraph

“A vivid, dramatic and compelling narrative.” Arthur Schlesinger, Jr

“As a historian, Thomas is master of the big picture ... Rivers of Gold sweeps us restlessly on.” Jonathan Keates, Spectator

From one of the greatest historians of the Spanish world, here is a fresh and fascinating account of Spain’s early conquests in the Americas. Hugh Thomas’s magisterial narrative of Spain in the New World has all the characteristics of great historical literature: amazing discoveries, ambition, greed, religious fanaticism, court intrigue, and a battle for the soul of humankind.

Hugh Thomas shows Spain at the dawn of the sixteenth century as a world power on the brink of greatness. Her monarchs, Fernando and Isabel, had retaken Granada from Islam, thereby completing restoration of the entire Iberian peninsula to Catholic rule. Flush with success, they agreed to sponsor an obscure Genoese sailor’s plan to sail west to the Indies, where, legend purported, gold and spices flowed as if they were rivers. For Spain and for the world, this decision to send Christopher Columbus west was epochal—the dividing line between the medieval and the modern.

A Who’s Who of all those involved in the Spanish conquest of Mexico, compiled from detailed primary sources in historical archives in Spain and South America.
2000 detailed entries give a unique historical source for all scholars/students of Conquistadors.
The work of an eminent scholar, historian and writer of Spanish and South American history.

El último emperador azteca, Moctezuma II, dicta sus recuerdos a Orteguilla, el paje de Hernán Cortés, evocando su vida antes de la llegada de los españoles y describiendo los hechos que le condujeron a su decisión de convertirse al cristianismo. Ésta es, pues, la historia de la conquista de México en la voz del primero de sus protagonistas indígenas, cuya mentalidad, magníficamente reconstruida por el autor, retrata de un modo apasionante y vivísimo la época y las situaciones que hicieron posible uno de los episodios más extraordinarios de la historia universal.

Beginning with the first Portuguese slaving expeditions, he describes and analyzes the rise of one of the largest and most elaborate maritime and commercial ventures in all of history. Between 1492 and 1870, approximately eleven million black slaves were carried from Africa to the Americas to work on plantations, in mines, or as servants in houses. The Slave Trade is alive with villains and heroes and illuminated by eyewitness accounts. Hugh Thomas's achievement is not only to present a compelling history of the time but to answer as well such controversial questions as who the traders were, the extent of the profits, and why so many African rulers and peoples willingly collaborated. Thomas also movingly describes such accounts as are available from the slaves themselves.

Published in USA as Conquest: Montezuma, Cortés and the Fall of Old Mexico,


this is an account of the collapse of Montezuma's Mexican Empire under the onslaughts of Cortes's Conquistadors. At the beginning the reader is introduced to the capital city of the Aztecs, or Mexica –a massive edifice, far larger than any city in Europe at the time, and the centre of a culture which enshrined warfare and human sacrifice at the heart of the State. With the arrival of the Spanish, this civilization, seemingly so powerful, collapsed. This is an account, full of mutual incomprehension, cupidity for gold, duplicity, ruthlessness and casual contempt for human life.

Anthology of eyewitness accounts in diaries, letters, memoirs and novels ranging across five centuries reveals Madrid’s history.

Published in USA as A History of the World.

Following the paths of Herodotus, Raleigh and H.G. Wells, this updated edition surveys the story of humankind, from the dawn of man to the hopes that will carry the world through the last years of the 20th century. The book won the National Book Award for History in 1980. Hugh Thomas also won the Somerset Maugham Prize in 1962 for his book, "The Spanish Civil War".

El 3 de mayo de 1808 es uno de los más grandiosos cuadros de tema bélico de todos los tiempos, y por su implicación política, uno de los más polémicos. Pero ¿cuál fue la verdadera intención de Goya al cumplir el encargo del Consejo de Regencia poco después de la Restauración en 1814? En este fascinante libro, Hugh Thomas sitúa el cuadro en el contexto de la vida y la obra del artista y en el de la historia española, investiga las conexiones de Goya con la Corte, de la que era pintor oficial, sus relaciones con los ministros de un Despotismo benevolente y su amistad con los pocos representantes de la Ilustración en España antes de la invasión napoleónica.

Encyclopaedic in range and breathtaking in execution, Cuba is surely one of the seminal works of world history.

“Brilliant” The New York Times

“Immensely readable. Thomas's notion of history's scope is generous, for he has not limited himself to telling old political and military events; he describes Cuban culture at all stages ... not merely accessible but absorbing. His language is witty but never mocking, crisp but never harsh.” New Yorker

“Thomas seems to have talked to everybody not dead or in jail, and read everything. He is scrupulously fair.” Time

First published in 1971, Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom is still one of the most important and authoritative books on this country.  At the climax of the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the population of the Northern Hemisphere risked extinction. Two hundred years earlier, Cuba - whose position in the Caribbean was the military key to the New World - was similarly the storm centre of the Seven Years War between England, France and Spain. Hugh Thomas's book explores the whole sweep of Cuban history from the English capture of Havana in 1762 through the years of Spanish and United States domination down to the twentieth century and the extraordinary revolution of Fidel Castro. 'So much that seems obscure in the present Cuban scene', Hugh Thomas writes, 'becomes more comprehensible if set against the experiences of the previous four or five generations.' Accordingly, throughout this two hundred year period the author relates the political, economic and social events of Cuba; in particular he sets Cuba's greatest crop, sugar in the context of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade and the development of Cuba's relations with the United States and the other states of Latin America. Cuba marries Hugh Thomas's unique skills as an historian with an intricate and absorbing subject.

“Remarkable ... a definitive account.” Sunday Times

“A prodigy of a book ... about the most heroic and pitiful story of the twentieth century.” Michael Foot

“His masterwork” Independent

“A full, vivid and deeply serious treatment of a great subject.” The New York Times Book Review

What was it that roused left-wing sympathizers from all over the world to fight against Franco between 1936 and 1939? Why did the British and US governments refuse to intervene? And why did the Republican cause collapse so violently? Now revised and updated, Hugh Thomas's classic account presents the most objective and unbiased analysis of a passionate struggle where fascism and democracy, communism and Catholicism were at stake - and which was as much an international war as a Spanish one.

A new revised edition in 2011 commemorated the book being 50 years in print. It has been published in 15 languages.


  • 2014 - Grand Cross of the Civil Order of Alfonso X the Wise
  • 2013 - Member of the Seville Royal Academy of  Literature
  • 2013 - Joaquín Romero Murube ABC Prize in Seville (Spain)
  • 2009 - Calvo Serer Journalism Prize  (Spain)
  • 2009 - G. Bocaccio Prize (Italy)
  • 2009 - Nonino Prize (Italy)
  • 2008 - Comander of the Order of Arts and Letters (France)
  • 2008 - Gabarrón Prize
  • 2001 - Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic (Spain) 
  • 1995 -  Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle (México)
  • 1962 - Somerset Maugham Award