Friday, June 13, 2008

Wikipedia : Kingdom of Navarre (Episode II)

By now the reader should have a clear picture about how the Basques are a people with an national identity of their own and that the Basque drive for independence and sovereignty is nothing new.

Well, time to read about how hard they fought against Castille and France in an effort to remain independent.

Here is what Wikipedia says about it:

Navarre in the High Middle Ages

Thibault, as Teobaldo I, from 1234 to 1253, made of his Court a centre where the poetry of the Troubadours that had developed at the court of the counts of Champagne was welcomed and fostered; his reign was peaceful. His son, Theobald II of Navarre (1253–70), married Isabel, the second daughter of Louis IX of France and accompanied his saintly father-in-law upon his crusade to Tunis. On the homeward journey, he died at Trapani in Sicily, and was succeeded by his brother, Henry I of Navarre, who had already assumed the reins of government during his absence, but reigned only three years (1271–74). His daughter Joanna I of Navarre not yet being of age, the country was once more invaded from all sides, and the queen mother, Blanca, with her daughter sought refuge at the court of Philip the Bold of France, whose son, Philip the Fair, had become engaged to the daughter and married Joanna in 1284. In 1276, at the time of the negotiations for this marriage, Navarre effectively passed into French control.

In 1305, Navarre passed to the guardianship of King Philip IV of France. It stayed with the French crown until the death of Charles IV of France at 1328. As Charles died without male issue, when Philip of Valois became king of France, the Navarrese declared themselves independent and called to the throne Joanna II, daughter of Louis Hutin and senior niece of Charles, and her husband Philip of Evreux (reigned 1328–43), called Philip the Wise. Joanna waived all claim to the throne of France and accepted as compensation for the counties of Champagne and Brie those of Angoulême, Longueville, and Mortain.

King-consort Philip III devoted himself to the improvement of the laws of the country, and joined King Alfonso XI of Castile in battle against the Moors of 1343. After the death of his mother (1349), Charles II of Navarre assumed the reins of government (1349–87). He played an important part in the Hundred Years' War and in the French civil unrest of the time, and on account of his deceit and cruelty he received the surname of the Wicked. He gained and lost possessions in Normandy and, later in his reign, the Navarrese Company acquired island possessions in Greece.

His eldest son, on the other hand, Charles III of Navarre, surnamed the Noble, gave the land once more a peaceful and happy government (1387-1425), exerted his strength to the utmost to lift the country from its degenerate condition, reformed the government, built canals, and made navigable the tributaries of the Ebro flowing through Navarre. As he outlived his legitimate sons, he was succeeded by his daughter Blanca (1425–42) and her husband John of Penafiel (1397–1479), son of king Ferdinand I of Aragon.

As king-consort John II ruled Aragon in the name of his brother, Alfonso V of Aragon. He left his son, Don Carlos (Charles) of Viana, in Navarre, only with the rank of governor, whereas Blanca had designed that Charles of Viana should be king. In 1450, John II himself regained to Navarre, and, urged on by his ambitious second wife, Juana Enriquez of the illegitimate Castilian line, endeavoured to obtain the succession for their son Fernando (the future Ferdinand the Catholic). As a result a violent civil war broke out, in which the powerful party of the Agramontes supported the king and queen, and the party of the Beaumonts -- called after their leader, the chancellor, John of Beaumont -- espoused the cause of Charles; the highlands were on the side of the prince, the plains on that of the king. The unhappy prince was defeated by his father at Aybar, in 1451, and held a prisoner for two years, during which he wrote his famous Chronicle of Navarre, the source of our present knowledge of this subject. After his release, he sought in vain the assistance of King Charles VII of France and of his uncle Alfonso V (who resided in Naples). In 1460 he was again imprisoned at the instigation of his stepmother, but the Catalonians rose in revolt at this injustice, and he was again liberated and named governor of Catalonia. He died in 1461, without having been able to reconquer his kingdom of Navarre; he named as his heir his next sister Blanca, who was, however, immediately imprisoned by John II, and died in 1464.

Her right was inherited by her sister Eleanor I of Navarre (Leonor), Countess of Foix and Béarn, who had been an ally of her father. After her death, which occurred very soon after that of John II, the claim to the throne of Navarre passed to her grandson, Francis Phoebus of Foix (who reigned over Navarre 1479–83). His sister Catherine I of Navarre, who, as a minor, remained under the guardianship of her mother, Madeleine of France, was sought by Ferdinand the Catholic as a bride for his eldest son; but she gave her hand in 1494 to the Jean d'Albret, count of Perigord, a man of vast possessions in the south of France, brother-in-law of Cesare Borgia.

Castilian conquest

Nevertheless, Ferdinand of Aragon did not relinquish his long-cherished designs on Navarre, and married secondly Germana (Germaine of Foix), the daughter of Catherine's uncle who had attempted to claim Navarre over his deceased elder brother's under-age children.

When Navarre refused to join one of many Holy Leagues against France and declared itself neutral, Ferdinand asked the Pope to excommunicate Albret, which would have legitimised his attack. When the Pope refused, Ferdinand fabricated a false bull and sent his general Don Fabrique de Toledo to invade Navarre in 1512.

Unable to face the powerful Castilian-Aragonese army, Jean d'Albret fled to Pau, and Pamplona, Estella, Olite, Sanguesa, and Tudela were captured. Some months later the legitimate King returned with an army recruited north of the Pyrenees and attacked Pamplona without success.

After this failure, the Navarrese Cortes (Parliament) had to accept annexation to Castile, which agreed to keep Navarrese autonomy and identity. In 1513, the first Castilian viceroy took an oath to respect Navarrese law (fueros).

Nevertheless, the Castilian occupation forces carried out a severe repression that forced many Navarrese into exile or even death. Most unfortunate were the formerly buoyant Jewish community of Navarre and also the Moriscos (Muslims) of Tudela, who became the main victims of the Spanish Inquisition.

There were two more attempts at liberation in 1516 and 1521, both supported by popular rebellion, especially the second one. It was in 1521 that the Navarrese came closest to regaining their independence. As the liberation army commanded by General Asparros approached Pamplona, the citizens revolted and besieged the military governor, Iñigo de Loyola, in his newly built castle. Tudela and other cities also declared their loyalty to the House of Albret. The Navarrese-Bearnese army did manage to liberate all the Kingdom. But Asparros, overconfident, let the infantry get out of control and besieged Logroño, being finally defeated in the Battle of Noain, June 30 of 1521, by a much superior army.

Nevertheless, in 1522, two hundred Navarrese revolted at Amaiur castle, Baztan, where a monolith now commemorates their heroism. That same year, an army of one thousand Navarrese took Hondarribia for some days.

Navarre was a thalassocracy in its later existence and was involved in whaling, fishing, and beaver trapping in and around Newfoundland. Basque coastal exploration of the northern Atlantic coast of North America was extensive and outposts were present on the Newfoundland coast around or before the time of the New World arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. They continued to operate there as agents of the Spanish and French after losing their independence until France's 1762 loss of Newfoundland to the British in the French and Indian War.

Independent Navarre north of the Pyrenees

A small portion of Navarre north of the Pyrenees, Lower Navarre, along with the neighbouring Principality of Béarn survived as an independent kingdom which passed by inheritance. Navarre received from Henry II of Navarre, the son of Jean d'Albret, a representative assembly, the clergy being represented by the bishops of Bayonne and Dax, their vicars-general, the parish priest of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and the priors of Saint-Palais, d'Utziat and Haramples. The area north of the Pyrenees (Lower Navarre) remained an independent kingdom with large additional French estates until 1620.

Queen Jeanne III converted to Calvinism in 1556 and, consequently, promoted a translation of the Bible into Basque language, which is one of the first books published in this language. She and specially her son, Henry III of Navarre, led the Huguenot party in the French Wars of Religion. In 1589, Henry became the sole rightful claimant to the crown of France, though he was not recognized as such by many of his subjects until his conversion to Catholicism four years later.

When Labourd and High Navarre were shaken by the Basque witch trials in 1609 and 1610, many sought refuge in Lower Navarre. Only in 1620 was Navarre fully incorporated to France.

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