Wednesday, January 19

This was the annexation of Navarra to Castile by Basque soldiers that EH Bildu wants to ignore


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The new episode in the political attempts to appropriate and distort the past in a thousand unlikely positions has EH Bildu as its protagonist. Some days ago, Arnando Otegi, general coordinator of this party, used a Navarran flag at a political rally to demand the Republic of the Basque Country and, incidentally, vindicate the defense of Pamplona against the army of Carlos v in 1521.

It was worth mentioning, apart from the absurdity of linking the history of the Kingdom of Navarre with a vague designation without political bases, that it was the Basque soldiers of Castile who, in 1512, had annexed Navarre in the name of an Aragonese king and that there was a majority of Basques among those who, in 1521, helped Carlos V to recover Pamplona from French hands.

Without going any further, a Gipuzkoan captain named Íñigo López de Loyola, who remained defending the fortress of the city, was seriously injured by the cause of the King of Spain.

Navarra loses medieval importance

The Crown of Navarre became in the Middle Ages one of the most powerful kingdoms of the Peninsula and one of the first territories to present an effective defense against Muslim ambitions. Far from those who present Navarra as a subsidiary of the Basque world, the old Kingdom of Pamplona enjoyed a personality and full independence. What today are the Basque provinces, Guipúzcoa, Álava and Vizcaya, they were part, that you do not own, of this kingdom during different stages. What should not be forgotten is that the Basque territories spent even more time in the Middle Ages under the control of Castile than that of Navarre.

With the growth of Aragon, which began its journey as a kingdom in the hands of the family of the King of Pamplona, ​​Navarra was losing steam until the son threatened to eat the father. At the beginning of the Modern Age, the father of Fernando ‘El Católico’, Juan II of Aragón, married Blanca I of Navarra in order to annex this kingdom, which ended up submerged in a civil war during the sterile reign of Carlos de Viana . The Beaumontes, aligned with Enrique IV of Castile, faced the Agramonteses, supporters of Aragon, until the dynastic union of the Catholic Monarchs brought some peace to Navarre. Between 1495 and 1500, the Navarrese kings, Juan de Albret Y Catherine of Foix, they subordinated their power to the Catholic Monarchs.

The tomb of Gaston de Foix, Milan
The tomb of Gaston de Foix, Milan

The house of Foix reigned, linked to France, but it was the Catholic Monarchs who pulled the strings. The situation remained in this state until, in 1505, Fernando married his second wife, Germana, also of the Foix house. After spending a year visiting his Italian possessions, Fernando “The Catholic” returned to Castile in 1506 due to the news that reached him about the madness of his daughter Juana, who had completely lost her mind after the death of her husband, Felipe I of Castile. . His return brought little news to the kingdom that had expelled him badly in favor of a foreign sovereign, acquiring a discreet profile as Governor of Castile, except in what referred to Navarre.

But while he was chasing the soldiers who were furthest behind, Gastón de Foix insisted on dislodging a company of Spaniards from a high road that formed a hedgehog with pikes and arquebuses.

The news that served as a trigger to start the race to take over Navarra was the death of the first-born of the Foix family, pretender to the throne and brother of Germana: the dashing Gastón de Foix. Handsome, reckless and intelligent, Gastón was known by his contemporaries as ‘The Ray of Italy’ and far surpassed the rest of the French generals of the period. Without the presence of the Great Captain in Italy, Gaston led his troops to victory at the Battle of Ravenna (1512), once the war in Italy had been reactivated. Despite the resistance of the Spanish infantry, the French thundered on the united army of the Pope, Spain, and the Empire.

But while he was chasing the furthest behind soldiers, Gastón de Foix insisted on dislodging a company of Spaniards that formed a hedgehog with pikes and arquebuses from a high road. His men advised him against charging, but the Duke of Nemours scorned their voices and rushed at the Spaniards, who, well placed, dismounted the Frenchman and stabbed him. Louis XII of France mourned the death of his nephew and the bittersweet victory, still not suspecting that the benefits that Ferdinand “The Catholic” derived from his death went beyond the Italian borders.

Counterinsurgency war

Covered in a bull of Pope Julius II, Fernando convinced his young wife to claim the Navarrese throne by taking up the arguments used by the house of Foix. On July 19, 1512, the II Duke of Alba He crossed the border, at the height of Salvatierra, at the head of a Castilian army to meet with forces from the Beamontés (pro-Castilian) side, as well as some Agromontesas troops. Among the forces gathered by Castile there were about 13,000 Basques, in addition to a small force of Navarrese led by Luis de Beaumont, Count of Lerín. Aragon, meanwhile, participated in the operations with an army led by Fernando’s illegitimate son, Alfonso de Aragón, archbishop of Zaragoza. France instantly sent aid to the Navarrese kings, but could not neutralize the large Castilian army.

Hardened in the Granada War, the Duke of Alba He was an expert in what today would be called a counterinsurgency war and one of the Castilians in whom the King trusted the most. After conquering Pamplona in a quick coup, Fadrique led his Basques against Tudela. Under the watchful eye of Fernando “El Católico”, the city fell into Castilian hands with the help of the troops of the Archbishop of Zaragoza September 9. The Aragonese King agreed to restore Juan de Albret to the Navarrese throne, although the Castilian troops continued to occupy the kingdom, fearing that the entry of French forces could enchant the conflict. Meanwhile, when the King’s ambassador was about to close the agreement, it was Juan de Albret who changed his mind and arrested the Castilian envoy. Fernando, a prisoner of fury, broke the agreement and prepared himself at that time to fight against the deposed kings and French troops.

Detail of the shield of Guipúzcoa showing the cannons and that was in force from the year 1513 to 1979.
Detail of the shield of Guipúzcoa showing the cannons and that was in force from the year 1513 to 1979.

In the autumn of 1512, Juan and Catalina tried to regain their kingdom through three simultaneous offensives: one in Guipuzcoa, another in Lower Navarra, and another in the Roncal Valley. All three were going to fail. The Duke of Alba resisted three assaults in Pamplona at the hands of French troops, Navarrese, and Albanian and French mercenaries. As narrated by Fernando Martínez Laínez in his recent biography ‘Fernando the Catholic: chronicle of a reign’ (EDAF), Juan de Albret was convinced, perhaps by military inexperience, that the giant German lansquenetes that were part of his army would easily defeat the young defenders of the square, much shorter in stature. «I know better than you the effort of the Spanish youths. Do not be fooled by the large body stature of the Germans. In Ravenna, triple the number of Spaniards died, “the French chief warned him. La Palisse, veteran of the wars of Italy.

Once the attempt to take Pamplona failed, Fernando participated from Logroño in the pursuit of the French troops, who, in their flight, devastated Irún, Oyarzun, Renteria and Hernani and finally they crashed in San Sebastián. When winter arrived, the Navarrese and French troops withdrew towards Baztán, harassed by the Castilian forces under the command of Navarrese captain Charles de Góngora. Góngora captured a few hundred of the stragglers and returned to Pamplona, ​​where he dragged the flags of the vanquished. In recognition of their participation in the battle held at the beginning of December, the Crown awarded the coat of arms of Guipúzcoa twelve cannons in representation of those that the Gipuzkoans captured in those days.

When the noise of the cannon shots subsided, the King of the Crown of Aragon and Governor of Castile announced to the Castilian Cortes meeting in 1515 that Navarre would be annexed to this kingdom thereafter. It decided to integrate Navarra to the Crown of Castile, instead of to that of Aragon, due to the close economic relationship that existed between both territories and, above all, because this kingdom presented fewer legal obstacles than in the case of linking it with the Crown of Aragon. , which was formed by a network of kingdoms and noble interests that were too complex. The old monarch also did not miss that, after his reign, it was his grandson Carlos V who would inherit all of Spain.

Navarra was integrated from its own originality into the demonized as the Catholic Monarchy, preserving a good part of its own institutions and laws. France took advantage, in its pulses with Carlos V, the proximity with Catalonia and Navarre to attack at this point, from within and from the border, the territories of the King of Spain. This was the case in May 1521, when the uprising of a small part of the Navarrese population with French support took place in Pamplona just when Francisco I thought that Castile was weaker, involved as it was in the war of the Communities. However, the uprising was extinguished in a few months.

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