Teacher, lecturer, politician and philosopher
Leonardo José Coimbra was born in Lixa (Borba de Godim), in the council of Felgueiras, on 29 December 1883. He was the son of Dr. António Inácio Coimbra, MD, and Bernardina Teixeira Leite Coimbra.
He completed his secondary education in Colégio do Carmo, Penafiel, and later attended the University of Coimbra, the Naval School in Lisbon, the Porto Polytechnic Academy and a Literature course.
He taught at several high schools: Liceu Central, in Porto (1910-1911), Liceu Eça de Queiroz, in Póvoa de Varzim (1912-1913), Liceu Rodrigues de Freitas and Liceu Sampaio Bruno, in Porto (1914-1918), Liceu Gil Vicente, in Lisbon (1918-1919). He also taught at the Popular University of Póvoa de Varzim (from 27 December 1913 to 8 April 1914) and at the University of Porto (from April to May 1914). But his main teaching activity took place between 1919 and 1931, as Full Professor and Head of the Philosophy group at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Porto, which he founded while he was Minister of Public Education in 1919, and of which he was also the Director. With the extinction of the Faculty of Arts in Porto, he returned to Liceu Rodrigues de Freitas (1931-1936).
Between 1911 and 1912, he was the Director of Colégio dos Órfãos in Braga. In his last year at this school, he founded Renascença Portuguesa. As a philosopher and teacher, the creator of "O Criacionismo" (a draft of a philosophical system), he published about twenty books between 1912 and 1935.
In 1913, he became a member of the Portuguese Republican Party and joined the Masonry. He left this movement in 1925 when he joined the Democratic Left Part, and engaged in propaganda activities in favour of Portugal’s intervention in the First World War. He was arrested during the Sidónio Pais period, in 1918.
He was elected Member of Parliament for the Penafiel constituency (May 1919) and Porto constituency (January 1922) and was Minister of Public Education twice, first between 2 April and 28 June 1919, and the second time from 30 November 1922 to 8 January 1923.
At the end of 1935, he converted to the Catholic Church, got married and baptized his son. He died on 2 January 1936, in Porto, three days after a car accident while driving down the Baltar hills.
(Text by Maria de Fátima Coelho Vieira, 2008)