The Elkano Foundation has just published some interesting news on their blog: the latest edition of the Guinness Book of World Records has stated that Juan Sebastián Elkano (Elcano) and another five members of his crew who were the first to circumnavigate the globe were of “Basque nationality”.
The English-language website of the registry of this record now explicitly states the Basque origin of this Getaria-born sailor, even going so far as to spell his name with a K, in the Basque style, as well as the Basque origin of pilot Juan de Acurio, seaman Juan de Arratia, page Juan de Zubileta, seaman-turned-steward Pedro de Tolosa, and page Pedro de Chindarza.
The Elkano Foundation is really working hard to promote this Basque sailor, and one area we’d like to highlight is a series of articles written to dispel the huge number of falsehoods that have piled up around Elkano over time.
The matter of assigning Basque nationality to these sailors is not a “trifling matter”, nor an eccentricity driven by politics. This has been (and to understand it, we again recommend reading those articles, which can be found at the end of this entry) the stubbornness of turning this Basque sailor into either a figure bordering on indignity, or of a hero of the Spanish nation created throughout the nineteenth century and which sought to create a story that would make him a perennial or at least predestined reality.
The Random House dictionary clearly explains what a nation is, and therefore what it means to assign nationality to a person:
na•tion (nā′shən),USA pronunciation n.
- Government: a large body of people, associated with a particular territory, that is sufficiently conscious of its unity to seek or to possess a government peculiarly its own:The president spoke to the nation about the new tax.
- Government: the territory or country itself:the nations of Central America.
- Anthropology: a member tribe of an American Indian confederation.
- an aggregation of persons of the same ethnic family, often speaking the same language or cognate languages.
That idea of projecting a current political reality onto the past makes no sense. At the beginning of the 16th century, there was no such thing as a “Spanish nation”, at least not the way it’s conceived today. No Basques on either side of the Pyrenees were “Spanish” in a political sense. They were Basques and were recognized as such. What’s more, they even began emigrating to the colonies of the King of Castile in the New World, where a very strong sense of belonging to the same national community arose among them. This can easily be seen at its peak starting at the beginning of the 17th century, as a network of guilds and fraternities was created under the patronage of Our Lady of Aranzazu by Basques throughout the New World colonies to provide mutual aid and support.
As we never tire of repeating, the parts of history where Basques have had leading roles are always “kidnapped” under the tags “Spanish history” or “French history”, except, of course, when the story is negative, when it becomes perfectly acceptable to define them as Basque.
We would warn the Irish to be prepared for an onslaught of attacks from those Spaniards who wish to ensure Elkano be remembered as Spanish.
And regarding the Elkano’s feats and the influence of the Basques on the Molucca Islands, just about three years ago, in October 2017, we wrote a very interesting article: The king of an island in the Moluccas who, in the 16th century, spoke Lingua Bizcainha.
This is without a doubt a great work by the Elkano 500 Foundation. Now all that’s left is for all this information to be updated on the Guinness World Records website!
Fundación Elkano – 13/10/2020 – Euskadi
El Guinness World Records reconoce la aportación vasca a la primera vuelta al mundo y amplía la relación de los primeros circunnavegantes
Guinness World Records ha actualizado la información referente a la primera cincunnavegación a la Tierra reconociendo el origen vasco del capitán Juan Sebastián Elkano y otros cinco marinos que dieron la primera vuelta al mundo. Asimismo, ha incorporado a la relación de los primeros circunnavegantes a los doce hombres que quedaron presos en Cabo Verde, ampliando de dieciocho a treinta y uno el número de marinos que completaron la primera vuelta al mundo. Esta actualización de contenidos, recogida en la web de la organización y la edición impresa de 2021, ha sido posible gracias a la colaboración de la Fundación Elkano.
Elkano, a brief list of the evolution and motivations of a historiographic catastrophe