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Dictionary of World Biography


X, Malcolm see Malcolm X

Xavier, St Francis (Francisco de Jasso y Azpilicueta) (1506–1552). Spanish (Basque) Jesuit missionary, born in Javier, Navarre. He studied in Paris from 1525 and there met Ignatius *Loyola (1529) and was among the first members of the Society of Jesus. Ordained in 1537, in 1541 he made his first missionary journey to Goa in Portuguese India. From there (1545–49) he visited many parts of the East Indies including Ceylon, where he converted the King of Kandy. A mission he established in Japan (1549–51) endured for a century and attained great influence. He returned to Goa (1552) to organise a similar mission to China, but on his way there died of fever on the island of Changchwen (St John) near Macao. One of the greatest Christian missionaries, he became known as ‘apostle of the Indies’ and was canonised in 1622. As well as many interesting letters his writings include treatises on asceticism.

Brodrick, J., St Francis Xavier, 1506–1552. 1952.

Xenakis, Yannis (1922–2001). Greek composer, architect and mathematician, born in Romania, living in France. He fought in the Greek Resistance, then worked as an architect for 12 years with *Le Corbusier, while studying composition with *Honegger and *Messaien. He was the originator of ‘stochastic’ (i.e. dependent on random variables) music, in which pieces were programmed with the aid of a computer.

Xenophon (428–354 BCE). Greek soldier and writer, born in Attica. A pupil of *Socrates at Athens, he wrote several books about him, e.g. Memorabilia, that reveal a much more conventional personality than that portrayed in *Plato’s works. Xenophon’s greatest experience as a man of action took place when (401 BCE) he joined the army of the Persian prince *Cyrus in revolt against his brother King *Artaxerxes. The death of Cyrus (400) left 10,000 Greeks marooned in Persia. Xenophon placed himself at their head and led them on the long and hazardous march across Asia Minor made famous by his Anabasis. Next he joined the army of the Spartan king Agesilaus, an act regarded as treasonable by the Athenians, who decreed his banishment. During his exile he lived in retirement at Scillus near Olympia, where he devoted much time to writing, and at Corinth. It is known that the banishment decree was eventually repealed but the exact date and manner of his death are uncertain. His other works include Cyropaedia, a kind of political romance in which Cyrus I of Persia fills the role of a model ruler, and Hellenica, a continuation of the work of Thucydides from 411 to 362 BCE. All Xenophon’s books are written in a clear, straightforward style and his historical works reveal a gift for narrative and an objective search for truth.

Miller, W., et al. (eds), The Complete Works of Xenophon. 1960–68.

Xerxes I (Greek form of Kshajarsha) (c.519–464 BCE). King of Persia 485–64. Son and successor of *Darius I, having crushed revolts in Egypt and Babylon he continued his father’s preparations for an invasion of Greece. In the spring of 480 his great army began to cross the Hellespont (the Dardanelles) by a bridge of boats, an operation said to have taken a full week. No resistance was encountered during the march through Thrace until the Spartan king *Leonidas and his famous ‘Three Hundred’ made their heroic stand at the Pass of Thermopylae. When Xerxes reached Athens he found that the population had taken to the sea. Seated on his throne above the straits between Salamis and the mainland he had the humiliation of watching the destruction or dispersion of his ships. Fighting in Greece ended with the defeat and death of the Persian general Mardonius at Plataea 479. Much of Persepolis (Takht-e Jamshid) was built during his reign. Xerxes spent the rest of his reign in peace until his murder by the traitor Artabanus (see also *Ahasuerus). His grandson Xerxes II (d.425 BCE) was murdered after ruling for 45 days.

Xi Jinping (1953– ). Chinese Communist official, born in Beijing. Son of the party veteran Xi Zhongxun (1913–2002), he became a party official in Fujian and Zhejiang provinces and in Shanghai. He became Vice President of China 2008–13 and *Hu Jintao’s presumed successor. General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and Chairman of the Central Military Commission 2012– and President of China 2013– , he represented the fifth generation of leadership since the Revolution. He argued for free trade, globalisation, action on climate change and strengthening legal institutions, while maintaining the CCP’s total monopoly on political power. In 2018, the Chinese Constitution was changed to enable the President to serve more than two terms, a demonstration of Xi’s dominant leadership.

Brown, K., CEO, China. 2017; Rowell, R., Xi Jinping. President of China. 2018.

Xia. Chinese dynasty, the first, possibly legendary, said to have been founded by Yu (‘the Great’) around 2200 BCE, displaced by the Shang about 1700 BCE. Archaeological and documentary evidence about the Xia is dated centuries after the presumed date of their rule.

Ximenes (Jimenes) de Cisneros, Francisco (1436–1517). Spanish prelate and statesman, born in Castile. He completed his education for the priesthood in Rome, but though he received a papal nomination as archpriest for the Spanish diocese of Toledo, the archbishop refused to admit him and held him in prison for six years. After his release he retired to a Franciscan monastery where he gained such a reputation for learning and the austerity of his life that Queen *Isabella of Castile appointed him her confessor (1492). Three years later he became Archbishop of Toledo and in this dual capacity exercised his great talent for affairs of state. Eventually, Isabella having died (1504), and with her husband and co-ruler *Ferdinand of Aragon often absent in Italy, her daughter and heiress Juana mad and her son-in-law *Philip of Burgundy dying in 1507, the influence of Ximenes (cardinal from 1507) became almost paramount. Much of what he did, and especially the centralising of monarchic rule and his financial management, was beneficial. The capture of Oran in Africa by an expedition (1509) financed and led by himself reduced piracy but his continued persecution of the Moors (in defiance of the promise of religious tolerance which led to the capitulation of Granada) did irretrievable harm. After the death of Ferdinand (1516), Ximenes became regent and fully maintained the royal authority, but on his way to meet his new sovereign, Carlos (afterwards the emperor *Charles V), the great minister died. Apart from his political achievements, Ximenes was a great patron of literature and the arts. He refounded the university of Alcalá de Henares and published at his own expense the great work of Spanish scholarship known (from Complutium, the Latin name for Alcalá) as the Complutensian Polyglot Bible.

Xuantong (Hsuan T’ung) see Pu’yi, Henry

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