Did you know…?

Interesting facts about Basque Whalers/Sailors that I learned from Christine Echeverria Bender during a presentation she gave at Jaialdi:

  • The first recorded transaction involving Basque sailors selling whale oil was in the year 670. The customer was a French abbey.
  • The contracts of Basque sailors stipulated that they would receive a specific amount, 2-3 liters, of sagardoa — Basque hard cider — each day.
  • euskal-etxeak-whalers-1In addition, all of the people on the ship, including the cabin boys, were paid, at least in part, with oil.
    • This model was unique in Europe.
    • It provided a greater incentive for success.
  • The churches in the Basque Country taxed each ship returning to port, wanting the tongue of the whale and some percent of the oil.
    • Many churches were financed by Basque whale oil.
  • Often, cabin boys were left behind on foreign shores, such as Newfoundland, to learn the local languages.
  • Some times, local populations fought each other for the right to trade with the Basques.

Images were found in this issue of Euskal Etxeak.

4 thoughts on “Did you know…?”

  1. WOW!! this is amazing!!! You probably know, of course, that cider in southern Europe has a little kick–it contains alcohol unlike the cider in America. Por la fiesta de la Candelaria, I invite my embroiderers friends for crepes and cider but I spike the cider, just a bit, with Calvados which is apple brandy from Normandie.

    Now, putting on my archivist hat (now retired but still interested)–in my opinion, the article about the Basques in Newfoundland has a place, at least, in the vertical file in the reference section of a library or center for research. The place I have in mind is the Center for Southwest Research (CSWR) at UNM. Alb. NM.

    My question and concern are: what are the legal rights? ie, copyright, intellectual right, of printing, forwarding, etc? If I were to give you, Buber, the e mail of a former colleague could you send it to her by e mail?

    Thanks a bunch!!

    1. Hi Monique,

      Yep, the cider made in the Basque Country is fermented. If you’ve never been to a ciderhouse there, it is an experience not to be missed

      Regarding the article, if you mean the PDF from the magazine Euskal Etxea, I’m not sure what the rights are. That is a magazine published by the Basque Government. I’m not sure how one gets an official copy for archiving.


      1. Ok. thank you. Regarding the PDF article, it is the responsibility of the user to obtain the permission of the publisher/author to use the published material. In case of the internet, I am not up with this new legal aspect. I will tell my friend to look at your blog and take it from there. There is a 10% or a certain umber of words based on the percentage of words in the article that can be quoted.

        Once a year, one of my Basque uncle would give us a long discourse about the virtue of fermented cider.

        Your blog brings back memories, some good and some not so good–such is life.


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