Montaje de fotos con diversos momentos de la vida de Ignacio Larramendi

[For more information, read the chapter dedicated to Ignacio Larramendi in Los 100 empresarios españoles del siglo XX.]

Lawyer, writer, leading businessman who made MAPFRE, a bankrupt company in 1955, the year of its incorporation, into one of Spain’s largest businesses.

Unflagging advocate for cultural matters generally and Spanish culture in particular, he established different institutions and businesses and, through them, undertook ambitious projects in association with the right people for each.

Privately tutored until shortly before the Spanish Civil War, he enlisted as a volunteer at the age of 16 in order to search for a brother who had enlisted in the anti-Republican forces under an assumed name.

After the war he finished his law degree in record time in 1942 and in 1944 obtained the public sector position of Insurance and Savings Inspector by competitive examination. In 1947 he was awarded the first Marín Lázaro Prize for his first book, El riesgo catastrófico en los seguros personales [Catastrophic Risk in Personal Insurance], already taking the position that not everything can be settled on an administrative and technical basis and that insurance is a part of the social structure and has to be useful to it. He spent extended stays in London, where he learned about insurance in English-speaking countries, and on his return he published Tres claves de la vida inglesa [Three Key Aspects of English Life] (1952), setting out his personal view of The Corporation of Lloyd’s. He resigned his public sector job and for a short time worked for the Madrid branch of the Royal Insurance Company.

In 1955, at the age of 34, with four children and a wife, Lourdes Martínez, who would be his inseparable companion for nearly 60 years and is now the President of the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation, he was offered the position of Managing Director of MAPFRE, a technically insolvent, small mutual insurance company that had been started for farmers, with 72 employees.

That was the outset of a new professional career that would result in his, and MAPFRE’s, becoming watchwords in the insurance and financial sectors worldwide. Following his personal guiding principles to business – objective basis for selecting managers and staff, independence from political and religious powers, ethical conduct, transparency, meticulousness, innovation, decentralization, acquisition of knowledge – he took charge of a company that was technically insolvent in 1955 and built it into a great insurance company with 31,000 employees, doing business in 41 countries, the leading insurance company in Spain and IberoAmerica. The three foundation stones were a broad territorial base, expansion into the Americas, and corporate responsibility through the establishment of the MAPFRE Foundations. And in 1979 he was named president of Acción Social Empresarial [Business for Social Action]: “Business entails concern for society and its members; the life of a corporation unfolds in an environment, a country, and it cannot take on all comers all by itself. Its activity must be beneficial to the community as well as to its members and staff” (IESE Business School, First Meeting of the Insurance Sector, Barcelona, 27 February 1997).

On leaving his executive duties at MAPFRE in 1990 (the following year MAPFRE wanted to leave permanent memory of his decisive work for the company placing a bust of the sculptor Jose Maria Casanova in the main entrance of its central headquarters of Majadahonda, in Madrid), Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi y Montiano started the cultural and charitable Hernando de Larramendi Foundation (since 2002, the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation) in memory of his father, Luis Hernando de Larramendi, a leading traditionalist, lawyer and politician, writer, and exemplary citizen whose private and public lives both rested on the firmness of his convictions (his likeness can be viewed in the Virtual Library of Traditionalist Thinkers).

The Hernando de Larramendi Foundation, as it was then called, was established in 1986 with contributions from the Hernando de Larramendi family and Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi’s severance package on retiring from MAPFRE.

Until his death on 7 September 2001, his activity as president of the Foundation was centred on carrying out the Foundation’s objectives and developing historical projects, largely focussing on the Americas, in association with the Tavera Historical Foundation (since merged into the MAPFRE Foundation), which he had also founded.

His particular concerns were contributing to a reflection on the social analysis and thought of Spain and Western Civilization and disseminating knowledge of Spanish and Christian culture. To that end he promoted digital editions of historical treatises in the Tavera Classics Collection, writings by Spanish polymaths, and commentaries on Aristotle and traditionalist thinkers under the FHL Virtual Libraries project together with an ambitious undertaking to make available the Catholic Church’s documentary contribution to the history of Spain and the nations of IberoAmerica.

In 1996 he founded a company, Digibís, as an instrument that would furnish a business and technical springboard to enable him to carry out the various projects he had drawn up for the Tavera Foundation and the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation. The Foundation that bears his name subsequently took over the company and has used it not only as a means of undertaking a major programme of digitizing Spain’s historical heritage, in particular archives and library collections, but also for business and R&D initiatives to develop new products and applications, making Digibís into one of the leaders in the sector, both in Spain and in Europe.

He was the 1986 recipient of the John S. Bickley Founder’s Award Gold Medal for Excellence awarded by the International Insurance Society, Inc., the company that manages the Insurance Hall of Fame founded by Mr. Bickley.

He was also awarded the Gold Medal for Merit in Insurance in 1987 and was made a Commander of the Order of Her Catholic Majesty Isabella in 1996, along with the Grand Cross for Civil Merit in 1998 and the Labour Merit Medal posthumously in 2002.

Con toda la familia tras recibir la Encomienda de Isabel la Católica
Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi with his wife, Lourdes Martínez Gutiérrez, his nine sons and his political family after the ceremony of delivery of the Gran Cruz de la Orden del Mérito Civil in 1998

In 2000 his business career received recognition in the book Los 100 empresarios españoles del siglo XX [100 Spanish Businessmen of the Twentieth Century], edited by Eugenio Torres and published by LID Editorial Empresarial, S.L., Madrid.

In 2005 he was elected to the Insurance Hall of Fame, the highest individual honour bestowed by the insurance industry on persons who have had a significant influence on the development of the industry to the benefit of society anywhere in the world.

In addition to lectures, articles, and many presentations and studies for national and international meetings and conferences held in the insurance sector, Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi wrote the following books on non-business subjects: Tres claves de la vida inglesa [Three Key Aspects of English Life] (1952), Anotaciones de sociopolítica independiente [Independent Sociopolitical Commentaries] (1977), Utopía de la Nueva América. Reflexiones para la Edad Universal [The New American Utopia. Reflections for the Universal Age] (1992), Crisis de sociedad [Society in Crisis] (1995), Panorama para una reforma del estado [Vistas for Government Reform] (1996), Bienestar solidario. Cementerio de buenas intenciones [The Common Good, Graveyard of Good Intentions] (1998), Así se hizo MAPFRE. Mi tiempo [The Making of MAPFRE. My Time] (2000), and Irreflexiones provocadoras [Inflammatory Irreflections] (2001). His works can be accessed on the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation’s website.

In the framework of his activity as an insurance executive, in addition to Catastrophic Risk in Personal Insurance already mentioned above, he also wrote Manual básico de seguros [Basic Handbook of Insurance] (1981, with J.A. Pardo and J. Castelo).

The intellectual legacy we have discussed here is being preserved and extended, after Ignacio Larramendi’s death, by his widow, Lourdes Martínez Gutiérrez. When she died, in 2015, her family, that of Lourdes and Ignacio, had grown even more. To their nine children, Carmen, Luis, Coro, Ignacio, Tachi, Carolo, Margarita, Miguel and Ramón, had to add their respective children: Vega and Mariana Campillo Hernando de Larramendi; Coro, Lourdes and Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi Varela; Telmo Otiñano Hernando de Larramendi; Álvaro and Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi Tomás; Lola and Rita Hernando de Larramendi Planet; Inuk Hernando de Larramendi Villamanzo and Ignacio Armando Hernando de Larramendi Ramos.

Since 2015, the president of the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation is Luis Hernando de Larramendi Martínez.


  • Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi y Montiano Madrid, 1921-2001).
  • 1942. Lawyer, writer, businessman.
  • 1944. He he won a post by competitive examination as Insurance and Savings inspector.
  • 1947. He receives the first Marín Lázaro prize for his book El riesgo catastrófico en los seguros personales.
  • 1950. Wed Lourdes Martínez Gutiérrez in 1950, they had nine children, Carmen, Luis, Coro, Ignacio, Tachi, Carolo, Margarita, Miguel and Ramón.
  • In 1955 takes the helm at MAPFRE, technically insolvent.
  • In 1969 he decided to start the expansion of MAPFRE outside of Spain with a focus on the American continent. In 1976 he created MAPFRE International. At the end of 1980, MAPFRE happened to play an important role in this continent.
  • 1990. At his voluntary retirement MAPFRE is one of Spain’s largest companies.
  • His writings have always stressed the responsibility of corporations to society.
  • This same idea clearly informs his work as a patron of culture, moving him to create various foundations involved with IberoAmerican history and culture.
  • 1986. The last one was the Hernando de Larramendi Foundation, whose name was changed to the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation in 2002.
  • 1996. His spirit of self-reliance and business vision prompted him to found Digibís, a digital production company, to help in carrying out the projects he had planned out for the Foundation that now bears his name.
  • Today, thanks to its knowledge of the theory and practice of new technologies, the company is also involved in the creation of public and private virtual libraries compliant with the highest international standards.