Category Archives: History

Basque Fact of the Week: The Hand of Irulegi, the Oldest Text in Euskara

On Monday, my feeds blew up. A new discovery – a bronze relic dating back some 2100 years – shook the Basque world. This relic – of a hand, likely an amulet of good fortune – had words written on it in (an ancestor to) Basque in a unique runic script. This discovery – the […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Early History of Baiona

Baiona, or Bayonne as it is known in French and English, is one of the jewels of the coast of Iparralde. A historically important port, it was a thriving economic center during various phases of its history. It has also changed hands many times, being part of the Kingdom of Pamplona, England, and France over […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Great Basque Anthropologist, Ethnologist, and Historian Julio Caro Baroja

It hasn’t been all that long that Basque studies started delving into Basque prehistory and the myths and legends that shaped the Basque world view. José Miguel de Barandiaran Ayerbe was a pioneer in these efforts, but he didn’t work alone and his student, Julio Caro Baroja – the nephew of one of the greatest […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Basques and Costa Rica

At the end of June, my wife, my daughter, and I did an ecotour of Costa Rica. We did and saw lots of awesome things, from wildlife (the goal was to find frogs and we saw a lot of them, as well as bats, tapir, monkeys, and crocodiles), whitewater rafting, ziplining, waterfalls, cocoa and coffee […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Luis de Unzaga, the Basque Who Coined the Phrase “United States of America”

History is full of characters that, while not always highlighted in our text books, made seminal contributions that certainly impacted the course of events. In the early days of what would eventually become the United States of America, numerous Basque were behind the scenes, working in official capacities for France and Spain, aiding the American […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Zazpiak Bat, the Basque Coat of Arms

The phrase Zazpiak Bat – the seven [are] one – signifies the unity of the seven Basque provinces – four in Spain and three in France. It is also the nickname of the Basque coat of arms – the Euskal Harmarriak. But wait, there are only six panels in the coat of arms! Hold on… […]

Basque Fact of the Week: Fire and Flame in Basque Culture

Perhaps one of the most defining things that separate humans from the rest of the animal world is our command of fire. Fire is essential to who we are and how we have developed as a species. Indeed, it has been suggested that our taming of fire, and our development of cooking, is what let […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The House of Haro and the Lords of Bizkaia

I have to admit that, whenever I look into the medieval history of the Basque Country, I quickly get lost. There are simply so many players, so many changing alliances, and so many intermarriages that it is hard for me to keep track – theoretical physics is easier! However, one thing is clear: the importance […]

Basque Fact of the Week: The Agotes, Outcasts of the Western Pyrenees

All over the world, people have a tendency to demonize others, to view others as different, as inferior, as outcasts. In Japan, there are the Burakumin; in India, the Dalit. Sometimes there is an ethnic or religious component to this marginalization, but not always. In Europe, there is a group of people who have been […]

Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country

I just stumbled on to the Ethnographic Atlas of the Basque Country, which intends “to provide an overview of popular culture and lifestyles of the Basques throughout the 20th century up to the present day.” It covers a range of every day activities and aspects of every day life, from “House and Family” to “Diet” […]