The Basques And Their Claim To Nationhood

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The Basques And Their Claim To Nationhood Essay, Research Paper THE BASQUES: An analysis to their claim of nationhood Historical Background The Basque “nation” –for lack of a better word– is composed of seven different “provinces” –for the lack of a better word– four are located within the borders of Spain and three within those of France in the triangle formed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Garonne and Ebro rivers, as shown in the map below. Euskera-Herria, is the Basque name given to these seven provinces. The Basques are the descendants of the native inhabitants of the area who are referred to as the proto-Basques and for the most part did not mix with other ethnic groups. Basque speak a language called Euskera, which has been proven to be older any other

Indo-European language. It is considered by linguistic experts, as perhaps, the oldest living languages in Europe and it is unrelated to any of the families of Indo-European languages The Basques are an ancient people whose history is deeply intertwined with the people of Spain and France. Toward the end of the tumultuous period that followed the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, the Kingdom of Navarre (Nafarroa in Basque), centered in Pamplona, came into being. Originally this kingdom covered all of modern Navarre, plus the three Vascongadas, or Basque countries (Gipuzkoa, Bizkaia, Araba), and the modern French Basque countries, and into neighboring areas in modern Spain. When the moors invaded Spain, Navarre was never conquered, thus it retained many Basque characteristics

Navarre was probably not a “Kingdom of the Basques”, but it was a kingdom whose dominant ethnic group were the Basques . Through the high and late middle ages Navarre gradually lost bits of its territory through various dynastic marriages and inheritances, as well as through a move from the estates of the three Vascongadas to place themselves in allegiance to the crown of Castille. By 1500 the Basques lived in three kingdoms: Navarre, Spain, and France. By the mid-1500’s Navarre was divided and absorbed into Spain and France along the current border (more or less). In Spain, the Basques, especially those of the Vascongadas, retained special “fueros”, privileges of self-governance and local assemblies for that purpose. The Basques were not individually subjects of the

crown, but rather as a group subject to the crown (as long as they resided in the Vascongadas). In the 1800’s a series of civil wars were fought in Spain (the “Carlist Wars”) between factions who either sought to retain the medieval legal structure of Spain, or to reform it using the principles of the French Revolution. Rural Basques sided with the more conservative faction in order to preserve the fueros. When they lost, many of them fled Spain. The loss of the fueros became more critical under Franco, his regime sought to take the integration of the different linguistic minorities in Spain one step further. He pushed for total Castillianization. Therefore, Catalan, Galician, and Basque were to be eradicated. After Franco’s in1975, King Juan Carlos II and the Spanish

Parliament established a system of autonomous regions that restored the fueros in spirit, if not in every detail. The Basques are, nowadays, seeing to obtain concessions that would allow them greater autonomy in political matters. However, there is a also a more radical faction of the Basque national movement that is seeking complete independence. This faction is usually related to the ETA who is also actively involved in terrorist activity against members of the Spanish government. Unifying Elements of the Basque Nation When considering the historical background of the Basque people, in relation to that of other ethnic groups in Spain and France, it is possible to observe that the objective elements that inspire the deeply felt nationalism within the Basque community are