Thursday, June 12, 2008

Wikipedia : Kingdom of Navarre (Episode I)

Here you have the second delivery of Nafarroa's history at Wikipedia. This information will provide the reader with a better grip of who the Basques are and their right to their self determination.

Enjoy it:


Earliest historic period

Garcia Sanchez's son, Sancho II Garces, nicknamed Abarca, ruled as king of Pamplona from 970 to 994. The valley of Aragon he had inherited from his mother. The Historia General de Navarra by Jaime del Burgo says that on the occasion of the donation of the villa of Alastue by the king of Pamplona to the monastery of San Juan de la Peña in 987, he styled himself "King of Navarre", the first time that title had been used. In many places he appears as the first King of Navarre and in others the third; however, he was at least the seventh king of Pamplona.

Under Sancho and his immediate successors, Pamplona reached the height of its power and extent. Sancho III the Great (reigned 1000–35) married the heiress of the county of Castile. The realm reached its zenith under him: he ruled over Pamplona, Castile and Aragon, exerting protectorate also over Leon and Gascony, and conquered Ribagorza and Sobrarbe. Under the sway of Sancho el Mayor, the country attained the greatest prosperity in its history. He seized the country of the Pisuerga and the Cea, which belonged to the Kingdom of Leon, subjected Castile to vassalage, and marched armies to the heart of Leon, ruling the north of Iberia from the boundaries of Galicia to those of the count of Barcelona.

Division of Sancho's domains

At its greatest extent the Kingdom of Navarre included all the modern Spanish province; the northern slope of the western Pyrenees called by the Spaniards the ultra puertos ("country beyond the mountain passes") or French Navarre; the Basque provinces of Spain and France; the Bureba, the valley between the Basque mountains and the Montes de Oca to the north of Burgos; the Rioja and Tarazona in the upper valley of the Ebro. On his death, Sancho divided his possessions among his four sons. Sancho the Great's realm was never again united (until Ferdinand the Catholic): Castile was permanently joined to Leon, whereas Aragon enlarged its territory, joining Catalonia through a marriage.

Of Sancho's sons, Garcia of Najera inherited the Kingdom of Pamplona, from the proximity of Burgos and Santander to the border with Aragon; Castile and the lands between the Pisuerga and the Cea went to the eldest, Fernando; to Gonzalo were given Sobrarbe and Ribagorza; Lands in Aragon were allotted to the bastard son Ramiro. The realm was divided thus once more, into Navarre, Aragón, and Castile.

Younger son Ferdinand I was given Castile as count, but after acquiring the Kingdom of Leon, he used the title of King of Castile as well, and he enlarged his realm by various means (see Kingdom of Castile).

The bastard son of Sancho III, Ramiro de Aragon, founded the Navarrese line of Aragon.

García, the eldest legitimate son, was to be feudal overlord of his brothers, but he was soon challenged by his brothers, leading to the first partition of the kingdom after his death in the Battle of Atapuerca, in 1054.

Ecclesiastical affairs

In this period of independence, the ecclesiastical affairs of the country reached a high state of development. Sancho the Great was brought up at Leyra, which was also for a short time the capital of the Diocese of Pamplona. Beside this see, there existed the Bishopric of Oca, which was united in 1079 to the Diocese of Burgos. In 1035 Sancho the Great re-established the See of Palencia, which had been laid waste at the time of the Moorish invasion. When, in 1045, the city of Calahorra was wrested from the Moors, under whose dominion it had been for more than three hundred years, a see was also founded here, which in the same year absorbed the Diocese of Najera and, in 1088, the Diocese of Alava, the jurisdiction of which covered about the same ground as that of the present Diocese of Vitoria. To Sancho the Great, also, the See of Pamplona owed its re-establishment, the king having, for this purpose, convoked a synod at Leyra in 1022 and one at Pamplona in 1023. These synods likewise instituted a reform of ecclesiastical life with the above-named convent, as a centre.

Navarre's dismemberment

First partition

García Sánchez III (1035–54) soon found himself struggling against his brothers, specially ambitious Ferdinand of Castile. He died fighting against him in Atapuerca, near Burgos, then the border of Pamplona.

He was succeeded by Sancho IV (1054–76) of Peñalén, who was murdered by his brothers. This crime caused a dynastic crisis that the Castilian and Aragonese monarchs used to their benefit.

The royal title was transferred to the Aragonese line but Castile swiftly annexed two thirds of the realm from the historical border of the Atapuerca-Santander line to a vague partition-line at the Ega valley, near Estella.

It is in this period of Aragonese domination that the name of Navarre first appears historically, referring initially to a county that comprised only the central part of modern Navarre.

The three Aragonese rulers, Sancho Ramirez (1076–94) and his son Pedro Sanchez (1094–1104) conquered Huesca; Alfonso "the Fighter", 1104–34, brother of Pedro Sanchez, secured for the country its greatest territorial expansion. He wrested Tudela from the Moors (1114), re-conquered the entire country of Bureba, which Navarre had lost in 1042, and advanced into the current Province of Burgos; in addition, Roja, Najera, Logroño, Calahorra, and Alfaro were subject to him. He also annexed Labourd, with its strategic port of Bayonne, but lost its coastal half to the English soon after. The remainder was since then part of Navarre and eventually came to be known as Lower Navarre.


This status quo stood for two decades until Alfonso the Battler, dying without heirs, decided to give his realm away to the military orders, particularly the Templars. This decision was rejected by the courts (parliaments) of both Aragon and Navarre, who then chose separate kings.

García Ramírez, known as the Restorer, is the first King of Navarre to use such a title. He was Lord of Monzon, a grandson of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, El Cid, and a descendant by illegitimate line of Garcia V of Navarre, a son of Sancho the Great. He and his son Sancho the Wise fought bitterly against Castile (and sometimes also against Aragon) for the recovery of the historic Pamplonese territory.

In 1177, the dispute was submitted to arbitration by the English King Henry II. The Navarrese based their claims on the proven will of the locals and history, the Castilians on their merits as crusaders. The English decision was Solomonic, giving to each side what they actually controlled militarily at the time: to Navarre: Alava, Biscay and Guipuscoa. To Castile: La Rioja and the other western lands.

Although the arbitration decision was ignored for two years, in 1179 the contending kings finally agreed to a peace on the same terms.

Sancho Garcia, known as Sancho VI "the Wise" (1150–94), a patron of learning, as well as an accomplished statesman, fortified Navarre within and without, granted charters (fueros) to a number of towns, and was never defeated in battle.

The rich dowry of Berengaria, the daughter of Sancho VI the Wise and Blanche of Castile, made her a desirable catch for Richard I of England. His aged mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, crossed the Pyrenean passes to escort Berengaria to Sicily, eventually to wed Richard in Cyprus, May 12, 1191. She is the only Queen of England who never set foot in England.

The reign of Sancho the Wise's successor, the last king of the male line of Sancho the Great and of kings of Pamplona, king Sancho VII the Strong (Sancho el Fuerte) (1194–1234), was more troubled. He appropriated the revenues of churches and convents, granting them instead important privileges; in 1198 he presented to the See of Pamplona his palaces and possessions in that city, this gift being confirmed by Pope Innocent III on 29 January 1199.

Second partition

However, in 1199 Alfonso VIII of Castile, determined to own coastal Navarre, a strategic region that would allow Castile much easier access to European wool markets and would isolate Navarre as well, launched a massive expedition, while Sancho the Strong was on an international diplomatic voyage to Tlemcen (modern Algeria).

The cities of Vitoria and Treviño resisted the Castilian assault but the Bishop of Pamplona was sent to inform them that no reinforcements would arrive. Vitoria then surrendered but Treviño did not, having to be conquered by force of arms.

By 1200 the conquest of Western Navarre was complete. Castile granted to the fragments of this territory (exceptions: Treviño, Oñati, directly ruled from Castile) the right of self-rule, based on their traditional customs (Navarrese right), that came to be known as fueros. Alava was made a county, Biscay lordship and Guipuscoa just provinces.

The late reign of Sancho the Strong

The greatest glory of Sancho el Fuerte was the part he took in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212), where, through his valour, the victory of the allied Christians over the Calif En-Nasir was made decisive. He retired and died in el Encerrado. His elder sister Berengaria, Queen of England, had died some years earlier childless. His deceased younger sister Blanca, countess of Champagne, had left a son, Theobald IV of Champagne.

Thus the Kingdom of Navarre, though the crown yet was claimed by the kings of Aragon, passed by marriage to the House of Champagne, firstly to the heirs of Blanca, who simultaneously were counts of Champagne and Brie, with the support of the Navarrese Parliament (Cortes).

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