Search site


Ronald Cueto

It is very sad to have to report that Dr Ronald Cueto, former Reader in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, died on 22 September 2006.

Born in 1932, Ronald Cueto won an Exhibition from Workington Grammar School to read History at St Catherines College, Cambridge. Graduating in 1954, he taught for several years in Santander in northern Spain. In 1959, he began research at the University of Madrid under Professor Manuel Ballesteros Gaibrois. Awarded his doctorate in 1962, Dr Cueto returned to this country where he taught at Bromsgrove College before being appointed, in 1966, as the founding Head of the Department of Spanish at Trinity and All Saints College. Here, he was a popular colleague and at the forefront of developing successful and academically rigorous and comprehensive courses.

In 1974, Ronald Cueto was appointed to a Lectureship in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese in the University. He was to remain at Leeds until his retirement in 1997. Dr Cueto was a highly esteemed and very productive scholar. His first book was a major contribution to the understanding of the transition between Habsburg and Bourbon rule in Spain at the end of the seventeenth century. He published extensively on the role of the Catholic religious orders in Spain and on the influence of religion in politics and society in the early modern period in particular. This relationship between religion, political and social life was a recurrent theme in his works, which also embraced the Celtic dimension of the Spanish Counter-Reformation and the iconography used in Spanish painting and sculpture of the period. Pursuing an interest originating in his days at Cambridge, he quarried a huge volume of archival material in Segovia, both ecclesiastical and civil, in order to produce a series of illuminating local histories. These provide a vivid and detailed account of church and village life from medieval to modern times, whilst also being notable for the insights they provide into national life as seen from the perspective of the regions. Towards the end of his career, and drawing on his interests in Golden Age spirituality and iconography, Ronald Cueto produced Souls in Anguish: Religion and Spirituality in Lorcas Theatre (1994), a novel and stimulating study of the writings of Lorca the only one of the volumes under his sole authorship to be written in English. In recognition of his outstanding scholarship, Ronald Cueto was made Reader in Spanish History in 1986.

Within the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, Ronald Cueto was known as a warm-hearted, generous, loyal and kind colleague, and as a compelling teacher and lecturer who drew his students into his own enthusiasm for, and love of, Spanish history, literature and culture. He was fully involved in the life of the Department, holding a variety of offices and serving as Acting Head from 1987 to 1988. By dint of the range and depth of his scholarship, and his ability to tease out connections which others but dimly perceived, Dr Cuetos advice and guidance were much sought after by his colleagues in the academic community and, especially in later years, he received many invitations to participate in international conferences and to lecture at universities both here and abroad. The extent of the affection and respect for Ronald Cuetos scholarship and person found tangible expression in the volume of essays Convivium: Celebratory Essays for Ronald Cueto, edited by John Macklin of the University and Margaret A Rees of Trinity and All Saints, which was published on the eve of Dr Cuetos retirement in 1997. In the Foreword to this volume, a former student, Dr Monica Tomkiss, writes:

Few of us who had the privilege to be taught by Ronald Cueto could ever hope to emulate his erudition, breadth of knowledge and commitment to scholarship. Nevertheless, his personal and intellectual integrity have provided an unforgettable example to those of us who are fortunate to count him as a teacher, colleague and friend.

Dr Cueto died in Segovia, where his funeral took place.