Charles Ibañez of Ibero Biography

Charles Ibañez of Ibero (14 April 1825 – 28 January 1891). Military, Scientific, Mathematical, Geographer, Surveyor, Engineer and Geodesta of Spanish origin, considered the pioneer of Geodesy in Spain.

It is also recognized for its invention of the Ibáñez Apparatus, a geographical instrument intended to measure geodesic bases, the main characteristic of which was its great precision and simplicity, for the time. His contributions were fundamental to the development of topographic science both in Spain and in the world.

Early Life

Charles Ibañez of Ibero was born on April 14, 1825 in the city of Barcelona, Spain, in the marriage between Martín Ibáñez and María del Carmen Ibañez of Ibero. His father was Mathematician and Military, who had an important and heroic participation in the Spanish War of Independence, during the defense of Zaragoza.

Following in his father’s footsteps, on September 10, 1838, Carlos Ibáñez de Ibero entered the Academy of Engineers of the Army, where he received a solid training, both in martial disciplines and in scientific matters.

In his early life as a military man he was part of several campaigns, which made him worthy in the long run of Professor of Great Practices of the Lieutenants, graduates of the Academy of Engineers. According to historians, at this time, Ibanez would have begun to take an interest in Geodesy.

Military and scientific career

In May 1844 he was promoted to Captain, due to his heroic performance during the espartero uprising. Four years later, in 1848, he obtained the rank of Second Commander and was awarded the Cross of San Fernando, for his performance in the actions undertaken to control the movement May 7.

A few months later the Army promoted him to lieutenant colonel. In 1851 he participated as part of the team appointed to carry out several studies in military engineering. In 1854 he was promoted to Coronel de Ingenieros, for his performance within the Spanish Map Commission of that year, a position he would share with that of Lieutenant Colonel of Infantry.

Between 1857 and 1858, he served on the Board of Directors of the Geographical Charter, which was in charge of the measurement of the Madridejos Base, his performance earned him the rank of First Commander of Engineers. A year later, in 1859, he was also appointed to the General Statistical Commission.

As for his personal life, Charles Ibáñez de Ibero married in 1861 to Juana Bebouléne Thénié. In 1870 he began to serve as deputy director of geodesic work, for the Directorate General of Statistics. He became a member and vice president of the Royal Academy of Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences. His great scientific work led him in 1870 to be part of the International Commission to determine the universal measurements of the kilogram and the meter.

From 1870 he was appointed as President of the National Geographic Institute of Spain, where he remained for almost twenty years, until he resigned apparently for health reasons, although some historians have pointed out that his retirement may probably be related to not entirely clear budget management, which would be at risk of being investigated by the recent institutional controls undertaken at the time by the Ministry of Development. In 1878 he married for the second time, to his second wife, Cecilia Grandchamp and Rosseten.

Contributions and works

Among Ibáñez’s contributions to Geodesia, his participation in the elaboration of the topographic map of Spain, achieved at a scale of 1: 50,000, stands out. Likewise, this military engineer was the inventor of the Ibáñez Device, an instrument used to measure geodesic triangulations, which stood out for its precision and great simplicity.

He led, in 1858, the operation that was given to the task of Measuring the central basis of the triangulation of Spain. He was the doer of the plot plan of Madrid, published in 1870, which for the opinion of some as the architect Fernando Chueca Goitia was a masterpiece.

Likewise, his performance was crucial in obtaining excellent results in the Census of the Verified Population, which took place in 1877. He also led the process of measuring the Population Movement, for the decade 1861 to 1870.

Charles Ibañez of Ibero also excelled as a writer, publishing various works such as Manual de Pontonero, written in 1851. Eight years later, in 1859, he wrote the work Experiences Made with the Measuring Base apparatus, belonging to the Spanish Map Commission. In 1864 his book Studies on Geodesic Leveling was released.

A year later, he wrote Central Base of the Geodetic Triangulation of Spain. Finally, in 1871, he wrote his work Geodesic Description of the Balearic Islands. That same year, he was discharged from the Corps of Engineers, after thirty-three years of service. From that moment he became part of the General Staff.


His scientific career earned him several recognitions from the leaders of his country. In 1871, he was promoted by King Amadeus I to the rank of Brigadier. Six years later, in 1877, King Alfonso XII appointed him Field Marshal. Likewise, in 1889, Charles Ibañez of Ibero, ascended to the rank of General of Division. He was also endowed with noble titles, being appointed first Marquis of Mulhacén. He died in the city of Nice, France, on 28 January 1891, at the age of sixty-five.

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Charles Ibañez of Ibero Biography
Source: Education  
July 31, 2019

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