Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category.

Agustin Edwards Eastman. Una Biografia Desclasificada

cover of book on agustin edwards

Earlier this year a book was published titled “Agustín Edwards Eastman. Una biografía desclasificada del dueño de El Mercurio” by Víctor Herrero, a Chilean journalist with an international background. For those that don’t know, Agustín Edwards Eastman is arguably one of the most powerful men in Chile and has been that for the better part of a century. He is the current owner of the media conglomerate of “El Mercurio” and it is alleged that he was the driving force behind the coup that overthrew President Salvador Allende and installed General Augusto Pinochet as the Head of State of Chile.

Normally, I wouldn’t write about a book published that writes about such a public figure. However, this is an exception because (a) Agustín Edwards Eastman is a relative (3rd degree cousin of my maternal grandmother) (b) I was contacted by the author last year while he was doing his research and my name is listed in the book.

The book was the #1 best seller in the non-fiction category in Chile for several weeks and, as of this writing, it is still in the top 10 after 7 weeks. It has had a mixed reception in the country with a broad range of reactions on either side of the political divide. I know that the reception among the Edwards family members hasn’t been entirely positive.

I won’t go into the “meat” of the book which is the actual life of the man but just the genealogy listed. I have not had the pleasure of meeting him though I think my grandmother probably did. In any case, let’s move on.

I have written several articles about the Edwards family of chile:

On pages 102-113 of the first edition of the book, the author goes over the origins in Chile and the family legends that are prevalent in the Edwards family. As the author says, though the founder George Edwards was humble about his origin, his descendants created many stories about a noble past and an exotic origin.

Herrero starts with the story of how George Edwards arrived in Chile in the beginning of the 19th century and then goes into several of the myths that exist. The principle of which is the claim that George Edwards was really the 4th son of Lord Hugh Mostyn, Baron de Vaux and of Elizabeth O’Higgins and not the humble son of the working class George Edwards and Elizabeth Brown.

One of the tantalizing details written in the book is how the first Agustín Edwards in Chile (George Edwards’ 6th born child) married his niece Juana Ross Edwards who was his elder sister’s daughter. It caused a huge scandal at the time considering that the Edwards family was one of the richest in the country and Agustín the richest man. Because they were to marry in the Roman Catholic Church, they needed to get a special dispensation to be allowed to marry. Even though they were very rich, it was not easy (and it shouldn’t be) but they were eventually successful. Juana Ross Edwards, was a very religious woman and there have been many books written about this extremely interesting woman.

Herrero accurately recounts the conversation I had with him regarding the origins of George Edwards, at least according to the available documentation and my 4th great-grandfather’s own words. George Edwards was of humble origin, the son of a carpenter, and grew up in a working class family. He was a barber/surgeon (they were the same thing in the 18th century) and sailed with various ships serving the Crown against the Spanish. There are various stories of how he ended up in Chile, most very romantic speaking of love at first sight, etc. Whichever the truth he deserted his shipmates and chose to stay in “enemy” territory and after spending some time in a Chilean prison, he ended up marrying the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the area and becoming a very successful businessman himself. However, he never forgot his enmity towards the Spanish Crown and when the Chilean Revolution broke out, George Edwards was one of the principle financiers of Bernardo O’Higgins’ enterprise and because of that was granted citizenship in the new republic.

He also summarizes well my refutation of the Mostyn de Vaux myth where I demonstrate that not only is the legend false, it’s also a really bad story that has all facts going against it. As the author states, the particular branch of the Edwards family was among the richest and its scions studied at Eton and Oxford, their members were regulars in the highest aristocratic circles of London and socialized with members of the Royal Family there. The author speculates that they felt they needed a backstory to make them fit in better and, considering it was the late 19th century/early 20th, it may or may not be true. What is true is that when a professional genealogist was hired to research the family, the findings were discarded and never spoken of again because, presumably, the findings were not liked.

What was news to me and pleasantly surprised me was that the famous writer Joaquín Edwards Bello (1st degree cousin to my grandmother’s father) shared the same opinion as I. If someone like him reached the same conclusion as I did, I know I am on the right track!

Now to the disappointing part…

Section from page 104 of the book “Agustín Edwards Eastman. Una Biografia Desclasificada”


However exciting it was that my name was in such a popular book, it was a bit of let down to see that my name was written incorrectly (my name is “Kimon Andreou” and not “Kim Andreou”), had my nationality wrong (I am not English but an American of Greco-Chilean parentage), and I am not a distant relative of the Edwards.

However, the citation in the bibliography has my name correct.

To the author’s credit, when I reached out to him he did commit to working with his publisher to correct the mistakes in the next edition. Hopefully, the edits were submitted in time.

Again, as mentioned at the top of this article I am only discussing the sections relevant to the subject area of the blog and not the rest of it. I leave that criticism to others more qualified than I and I will keep my own personal opinions to myself, though my family is aware.

In any case, I would recommend to anyone that is interested in the subject matter to pick up a copy regardless of one’s personal political affiliation and opinion on Agustin Edwards Eastman.

Links of interest:



Ronny Andersen

COA Ronny Andersen

Arms of Ronny Andersen

Most artists don’t reach any level of fame until their later years in life and career. Even more become famous after death. This trend holds true in the world of heraldry and heraldic art as well.

Therefore, it is a rare event when an artist develops the artistic maturity and the recognition of the heraldic art world well before his 30th birthday. Such an artist is Ronny Andersen.

COA Trolle

Arms of Trolle

A native born Dane, Andersen has a very interesting background having received a BA in History in 2003 and will be receiving his MA in the same field later this year (2009). He did not receive any formal training and never was an apprentice to another artist.

To Andersen, it was all “learn by doing”. He studied on his own the established Masters of heraldic art and tried to learn from their example. His immersion into the field allowed him to learn about art and heraldry, whether it was good or bad. Learning what the essence of heraldic art is a life-long pursuit, as Andersen says.

Along the way, he started to find his influences and inspirations. As one can tell by looking at his art, he has a more Nordic feel and has looked to northern European sources such as Aage Wulff, Franz Sedivy, Johannes & Friedrich Britze, Gustaf von Numers, Sven Sköld, Bengt Olof Kälde and Jan Raneke among others. Though Andersen is quick to point out that English and Scottish heraldry is also a very important piece of his artistic mosaic.

COA VindArms of Vind

On the other hand, Andersen has not been attracted by the heraldic influences of his eastern and southern European counterparts. The traditions in those regions, however fascinating they may be, have not called to him artistically. He does make an exception for the outstanding work of the Italian Marco Foppoli.

Though Andersen started doing heraldic art as a hobby before the turn of the 21st century, he didn’t start professionally until about 2003. In 2005, he starts his business Ars Heraldica and that same year becomes the Royal Arms painter for the Royal family of Denmark, dedicated to the Royal Orders of the country. Specifically, he is responsible for the emblazonment of the arms of the Knights of the Order of the Elephant and the Order of the Dannebrog.

He prefers to work primarily with gouache on high quality paper but, never misses an opportunity to work on premium vellum either. An artist with discerning tastes and expectations, always seeks the best in his art. Even when it comes to working with wood or metal, he enjoys the challenge and the chance to work with his favorite gold and aluminum leaf.

COA Faroe IslandsIn 2003, Andersen was commissioned to create the arms (seen above) for the Faroe Islands when they opened a representation office in Copenhagen. These same arms where later adopted by the Prime Minister of the Faroe Islands as the official arms of the nation on April 1, 2004.

In 2005, Andersen was tapped to design the arms of all the noble families of Denmark for the nobility yearbook. Those designs are displayed throughout this post showcasing Andersen’s amazing work covering more than 200 families.

COA Crown Princess Mary of DenmarkIn 2006, Andersen created the arms above for HRH Mary, the Crown Princess of Denmark. An especially interesting commission as Mary is the wife of HRH Frederik, the Crown Prince of Denmark and heir to the throne.

COA Nelson Mandela

The most recent and arguably the most exciting commission of his was when he painted the arms of Nelson Mandela as a Knight of the Order of the Elephant. Although Mandela was created a Knight of the Order in 1996, Andersen created the arms seen above very recently.

But, in what does Andersen take the most pride in? It is those corporate arms he has created for local communes that are being used constantly in all official (and not so official) capacities and becomes part of that community’s culture and heritage. Naturally, the work he has done and continues to do for the Royal Orders of Denmark are especially prestigious and a source of pride. Though, however much he enjoys those creations and the joy of completing a major work, his biggest source of satisfaction is the reaction of a client when they first see the completed emblazonment of their arms.

COA Knuth-WinterfeldtArms of Knuth-Winterfeldt

Ronny Andersen’s website in Danish and English with an extensive gallery of images is located at:

Laurent Granier

COA Laurent Granier

(arms of Laurent Granier)

Laurent Granier is perhaps the premier French heraldic artist with a vast knowledge of French heraldry. A descendent of a minor noble family of the Duchy of Savoy, he has been active since 1995 and enjoys a broad recognition of his work worldwide. Many have included him in the company of the so called “masters” and I cannot say that I blame them.

As opposed to other artists who had the privilege to study at an art instruction school, Granier is entirely self-taught in the techniques of graphics and design. His innate talents came out and developed through trial and error over the years. However, he has benefited from speaking and consulting with professionals in the field, especially in that of the heraldic arts.

COA Fr. Turpault

Having graduated with a Master’s degree in History and Modern French Letters, he began working as a heraldic artist in 1995. Being the talented artist that he is, his name began circulating in heraldic circles, first in France and then elsewhere. By 2006, a mere decade after entering the field professionally, he had become established enough that the Vlaamse Heraldische Raad (Flemish Heraldic Authority) had asked him to become of their staff heraldic artists.

COA Ségyo

Granier’s bilingual website (in French and English) shares a lot of information about the artist, his work and the services he provides. He also lists , in chronological order, the exhibitions he has had over the years through 1995. The website also includes a lot of interesting information on heraldry in general but also specifics to the environment in France and the minor details that most would not know, especially those outside of France. A case in point are the pages “Overview of Heraldry”, where he shares information from Michel Pastoureau’s book “Traité d’héraldique”, and the one titled “Advices”. However, my favorite besides the gallery (of course) is the page “More Information” where a list of excellent books is presented that would allow a researcher to expand upon their knowledge of Heraldry and specifically, French Heraldry.

COA La Rivière près d'Auge

This noted artist has been commissioned to emblazon arms by customers with very exacting demands and an expectation of perfection over the years. Some of the recipients of his emblazonments have included Cardinal Philippe Barbarin (2004), Cardinal Louis-Marie Billé (2001) and Princess Isabelle of Orléans-Braganza (1997). In 2005 he was asked by the Prefect of the Pontifical House to create a few black and white sketches of the arms of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.

Alliance arms of the families de Valpergue de Masin and Le Deschault  de Montredon

His media exposure has included newspaper and journal publications, conferences, personal and group exhibitions as well as working on the heraldry of the 2006 French film “Les Aristos”.

Samples of his work are displayed in this entry and many more images can be viewed in the gallery hosted on the website mentioned above.

It must be noted that not only is Laurent Granier a most excellent heraldic artist, he also has extensive experience in navigating the often confusing waters of heraldic legislation in France. This is a talent, as well as a knowledge base, that is very rare to find and I’m sure can prove helpful to those interested in their rights in the French jurisdiction.

COA Champs de St Léger

When commissioned to design a coat of arms, his research is extensive spending hours going through books, manuscripts and other resources that most haven’t even heard of, let alone thought of. His formal academic training achieved by obtaining a Master’s degree in French History and Letters from the University of Grenoble in 1991 further validates the rigor of his work. The arms above of Champs de St Léger were derived by researching such obscure sources as the Tacuinum Sanitatis so as to come up with truly unique and expressive arms.


In the case of the arms above of Ms. Maureen Yeo from Singapore, Granier accomplished to fuse the best European heraldic tradition with the Asian tradition of the armiger. Notice the charges, helm and crest all being Asian inspired but the combination 100% traditional heraldry!

Bookplate of Michel Popof

Naturally, as with most other heraldic artists, emblazoning heraldic achievements is not all this extremely talented artist does. What you see above is a simple, yet masterfully executed Ex Libris (or bookplate) for Mr. Michel Popoff, President of the International Academy Of Heraldry.

An outstanding heraldic artist who’s work not only accomplishes what an armiger desires in an emblazonment but they can also stand alone as works of art.

Constantine Andreou

Today we’ll cover a great artist, my uncle Constantine Andreou recipient of the Légion d’Honneur and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.

My uncle was born in São Paulo, Brazil on March 24, 1917 died on October 8, 2008 in Athens, Greece. He had a very successful career that lasted over six decades gaining fame around the world and especially in France and Greece.

His career started in Greece just a couple of years before World War 2 reached Greece and by 1939 he was participating in national competitions of art.

He first tried participating at the Panellinio (Πανελλήνιο) in 1939 but was disqualified. In 1942, he tried again with the same artwork and the judges accused him of cheating as the art was so lifelike. Fortunately, to his defense came three of the major artists of the time in Greece: Memos Makris, John Miliades, and Nikos Nikolaou. The latter becoming his lifelong friend.

What’s also impressive is that he was drafted into the Hellenic Army in 1940, with Italy’s invasion of Greece, and later participated actively in the Greek Resistance while at the same pursuing his art career.

Right after the war, in 1945, he won an art scholarship to go to France. This was to be his country for residence for the next 57 years.

During his long career, he worked with some of the major intellectuals of his time such as Le Corbusier and Picasso. He was also part of Jean-Paul Sartre inner circle in Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Sartre wrote about my uncle several times in his periodical Les Temps Modernes, liking him as equal to Picasso, Mondrian and Gastaud. In 1999, he was honored by La Ville-du-Bois, the village where he lived, by having their library named after him.

He returned permanently to Athens in 2002 and in 2004 he founded the “Costas Andreou Foundation”, that is currently being chaired by my brother Arys Andreou.

In his career he won many awards for his work:

  • Gran Prix d’Antoine Pevsner, 1998
  • Croix de Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, 2000
  • Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres, 2005

There is an extensive write up on my uncle on Wikipedia under Constantine Andreou

Juan Martínez de Vergara

As a segue from the previous entry on my maternal arms of the Martínez de Vergara line and a departure from heraldry, I decided to spend some time discussing my genealogical research.

In the hispanic world, people are known by two surnames, that of the father and that of the mother. In the rest of the western world, only the father’s surname is used. Therefore, my surname would be “Andreou Vergara”.

Additionally, in the hispanic world, people are also known by their four surnames. The father’s surname, the mother’s, the paternal grandmother’s and the maternal grandmother’s. This is a boon to genealogists as they can get more information on a given individual and open up new avenues.

My four surnames are: Andreou, Vergara, Giakoumelos and Edwards.
My mother’s four surnames are: Vergara, Edwards, Ortúzar and Hurtado.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the same information, yet, for my father as the multiple surname custom is not part of Greek culture.
I’ll start with my mother’s side of the family. My mother’s surname is Vergara Edwards and follows the hispanic tradition of using the father’s paternal name and the mother’s paternal name. My maternal grandmother’s name was Edwards Hurtado and my maternal grandfather’s name was Vergara Ortúzar.

I’ll focus on the “Vergara” side. My mother’s paternal line is specifically, Martínez de Vergara” descending from the founder of the line in Chile named Juan Martínez de Vergara who travelled to Chile from Spain to participate in the Arauco War against the Mapuche indians.

He was born in Gibraleón, Huelva to Juan Martínez de Vergara and Isabel Alonso Márquez. The senior Juan Martínez de Vergara was a hidalgo originally from Guipúzcoa.

He married Magdalena de Leiva Sepúlveda in 1634 and had 4 children: Mariana Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda, Francisca Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda, Isabel Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda and Juan Martínez de Vergara Leiva Sepúlveda.

This is the quote from the book “Nobleza Colonial de Chile” by Juan Mujica, pages 444-445:

Partió a las Indias destinado a la guerra de Chile en los campos de Arauco en 1601. Vino enrolado en la tropa que acompaño al gobernador Alonso de Ribera, considerado el organizador del ejército reino de Chile. Formo en la compañía que mandaba el capitán Gines de Lillo y asistió con sus armas en los fuertes de Santa Fe y Talcahuano. En 1628 ya figuraba en grado de capitán.

Establecido en Chillan, donde fue maestre de campo y alcalde en 1640, fundo su hogar y perteneció a la cofradía de Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. Realizada la destrucción de esa urbe por los rebeldes araucanos, tuvo que abandonarla junto con su familia. Su esposa aporto al matrimonio una caudalosa dote con casa solar en la ciudad citada y una estancia de feraces tierras. Vergara con su mujer e hijos busco refugio en zona más segura y obtuvo rica merced de tierras en Colchagua. Se le cuenta entre los benefactores del convento que los mercedarios tenían en Chimbarongo. Consta que en 1658 realizo un viaje al Perú, otorgando antes su testamento en Valparaíso. Cuatro anos mas tarde volvió a disponer otro testamento en su estancia de Chimbarongo y fundo una capellania de misas. Por sus servicios militares obtuvo encomienda de indios en Colchagua y murió en 1672. El sabio Medina anota que la Real Audiencia le recomendó al rey como persona ilustre y benemérita en 1626.


He left for the Indies with a destination of the war in Chile on the fields of Arauco in 1601. He arrived enrolled in the troop that accomanied the governor Alonso de Ribera, considered the organizer of the royal army in Chile. He was part of the company under the leadership of Captain Gines de Lillo and assisted in the battles of Santa Fe and Tlcahuano. By 1628, he had already attained the rank of Captain.

Settling in Chillan, where he was Field Marshal and Mayor in 1640, he created his home and was part of the cofraternity of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios. He had to abandon the town with his family after its destruction of the town by the rebel Araucos. His wife contributed to the marriage with a significant dowry including an estate and land. Vergara, with his wife and children, sought refuge in a safer area and obtained a rich portion of land in Colchagua. He was one of the benefactors of the convent of the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy in Chimbarongo. In 1658 he traveled to Peru after completing his will in Valparaiso. Four years later, he authored another will at his estate in Chimbarongo and founded a chapel there. For his military service he received an encomienda of indians in Colchagua and died in 1672. Media notes that the Real Audiencia recommended he be recognized by the king in 1626.

Source: from data entered by me

Source: from data entered by me