This article was translated by John R. Bopp
Are all mammals land dwellers? Do all mammals give birth to live young? Do all birds fly? Do all animals with lungs live on land? Do all living creatures depend on the sun for survival? Are all planets rocky? Are the Basques Spanish or French? The answer to all these very basic questions is NO.
You may be wondering where this is coming from. Well, we just came across an Italian blog, that of the Centro Studi Araldici, announcing that today, as we speak, they’re going to give a conference in Madrid with the title “Are the Basques Spanish? A historical perspective” by Juan Sánchez-Jáuregui Jiménez.
Now, we don’t want to be negative thinkers, or jump to prejudicial conclusions. But we get the impression that, unlike what logic tells us, the conclusion of the abovementioned conference is going to be “yes, they are”. And how is it possible for there to be two contradictory answers to the same question? Well, because it’s be analyzed not for a scientific standpoint, but rather a political one. And in politics, principles tend to be very lax, and easily forgotten.
For example, are the Basques from north of the Pyrenees going to speak? We imagine not. Why? Because in the view of modern Spaniards, the Basques are the residents of the Basque Provinces. Surely, those who attend this conference have never read the very plebeian (paid for by popular subscription) Monument to the ‘Fueros’ in Pamplona. Surely they also will not consider the Navarrese Basques, and even if they were, they wouldn’t consider the Navarrese from north of the Pyrenees (from the Merindad de Ultrapuertos) to be Navarrese, because those people are French, and the Navarrese, as everyone knows, “are Spanish”.
There’s a popular saying that reflects this very well, and is the perfect answer to the title of this very interesting conference: If a Basque is a subject of the Kingdom of Spain, he’s not French; if a Basque is a citizen of the Republic of France, he’s not Spanish; therefore, a Basque is neither French nor Spanish.
By the way, for the Heraldic College of Spain and the Indies, are the residents of the Indies (i.e., Latin America) Spanish? Based on the 1812 Constitution, it’s quite clear:
On the territory of the Spains [sic]
Spanish territory is comprised in the Peninsula of its possessions and adjacent islands, Aragon, Asturias, Old Castile, New Castile, Catalonia, Cordoba, Extremadura, Galicia, Granada, Jaén, León, Molina, Murcia, Navarre, the Basque Provinces, Seville, and Valencia, and the Balearic and Canary Islands, with further possessions in Africa.
In northern America, New Spain, with New Galicia and the Yucatán Peninsula, Guatemala, the internal eastern provinces, the internal western provinces, the island of Cuba with both Floridas, the Spanish part of the island of Santo Domingo, and the island of Puerto Rico, with the further adjacent islands to these and to the continent in both seas.
In southern America, New Granada, Venezuela, Peru, Chile, the provinces of the River Plate, and all the adjacent islands in the Pacific and in the Atlantic.
In Asia, the Philippine islands, and those that depend on its government.
Just like the answer we’d hear, even today, to that question, would be “yes”. We’re sure that that would come as a surprise to the residents of the many New World republics.
And all of this doesn’t take a very important, personal concept into account: what one feels they belong to. They can force you to have an identity card that says you’re part of a community, but the only thing that matters is what one feels. One can be a subject of a state and have no choice in the matter, but no one can make you feel what you don’t feel.
Centro Studi Araldici – 13/12/2011 – Italy
I baschi sono spagnoli ?
La Sociedad Heráldica Española in collaborazione con il Colegio Heráldico de España y de las Indias, promuove per domani 13 dicembre, una conferenza dal titolo: “I baschi sono spagnoli ? Una prospettiva storica”.
Relatore d’eccezione: Don Juan Sáncbez-Jáuregui Jiménez.