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Bertan 24

A new era


The invasion of the Kingdom of Navarre by the armies of Castile and Aragon, begun in 1512, culminated in 1530 when the last pockets of resistance were defeated at the battles of Noain and Maya/Amaiur. It was a turning point for the Basque language, as the last independent Basque-speaking territory on the peninsula fell in battle. At the beginning of the sixteenth century, the impact of the cultural renaissance being experienced elsewhere in Europe reached the Basque lands. In the era of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Bosch and Luther, winds of cultural change were felt at the Navarrese court in Pau and the Basque territories of Labourd (Lapurdi) and Soule (Zuberoa). These developments were also expressed in the Basque language; the Lazarraga manuscript, for example, is an example of European Renaissance literature. During this period too, the first texts were printed in Basque, marking the beginning of its life as a written language.

89. Francis Xavier (1506-1552). Francis Xavier served as a Jesuit missionary in the East Indies under the King of Portugal. After his death he was canonised. The son of a noble family which had defended the legitimacy of the Kingdom of Navarre, St. Francis Xavier was a Basque speaker and in his honour, International Basque Language Day is celebrated on his feast day, 3rd December. His original name was Françesc de Jaxu, but he is known as de Xavier because he was born in the castle of Xabier, a name which evolved from Etxeberria (New House) to Etxaberri, Xaberri, Xabierre and finally Xabier. 90. Castle of Xabier. 91. At this time, Basque was the majority language in Navarre. Although pressure from Castilian Spanish relegated it to the rural and family sphere, of 536 towns surveyed in Navarre in 1587, 453 were Basque-speaking. 92. Abaurrepea, Aezkoa Valley. 93. The Palace of Jauregizarrea in Arraiotz, Baztan has remained unchanged in 1522, when it was altered after the battle of Amaiur. 94. At the Protestant court of Navarre in Pau. Jeanne d'Albret, daughter of Henry II of Navarre and niece of King Francis I of France, reigned as Queen Jeanne III of Navarre from 1555 to 1572. She protected Navarrese independent from the French and Spanish crowns and her court became a refuge for humanists and Reformers. It was here that the first printed texts in Basque appeared. She professed the Calvinist faith, which defended teaching in vernacular languages, and under her reign schooling and religious teaching in Basque were encouraged. 95. Iesus Christ Gvre Iavnaren Testamentv Berria, is the Basque translation of the New Testament by Joanes Leizarraga, commissioned by Queen Jeanne III of Navarre. Like his queen, this priest (Beskoitze, 1506-1601) embraced Protestantism. He also wrote ABC edo Christinoen instructionea and Kalendrera. The three books were printed in La Rochelle in 1571. 96. Basques began to emigrate to the Americas from a very early stage. As a result elements of Basque in local place names can be traced back to the sixteenth century. The explorer Francisco de Ibarra (Eibar, 1539 - Sinaloa, 1575) called a large area of Mexico Nueva Vizcaya (New Biscay) and founded the town of Durango, today the capital of the Mexican state of the same name. 97.Castle of Maule. 98. Linguae Vasconium Primitiae (Bordeaux, 1545) was the first book printed in Basque. Its author was Bernart Etxepare, the parish priest of Eiheralarre. The book contains a prose introduction and sixteen poems on religious, political, romantic and autobiographic themes and in praise of the Basque language. The author, who had ties to the early humanists, kicked off a new era for Basque literature, with the printing of a non-Romance vernacular tongue which had previously had no scholarly tradition. 99. Basque began to acquire status and prestige. With works appearing in print, the written language had to be properly developed. And because it was also necessary to translate to and from Basque, borrowing from the resources and modisms of other languages: learned expressions, Latinisms and neologisms also helped mark different tiers among Basque speakers. For the first time there was an awareness of the need for common spelling rules. 100. Manuscript by Lazarraga. The author, Juan Pérez de Lazarraga, Lord of the Tower of Larrea (Barrundia, Alava), probably studied at the University of Oñati, and wrote the text between 1564 and 1567. Most of the text is in verse, and the rest is in the most common genre of the period, the Renaissance pastoral novel. Found in 2004, its discovery has sparked a reinterpretation of Basque literary history, overturning the idea that Basque literature was essentially isolated until the Modern Age. Lazarraga's language contains antiquated forms, some which have since been lost, and it is written in the now extinct dialect of North East Alava. Scholars have remarked on the innovative use of prose and the first mention of the terms Euskal Herria (Basque Country) and Araba (the province of Araba/Alava). Today, the manuscript is the property of the Provincial Government of Gipuzkoa. 101.Lazarraga's signature. 102. The Basques struck up friendly relations with the native Americans, fostering collaboration and exchange and developing trading relations that were later taken up by the French, English and Dutch. 103. Innu from the St Lawrence/Saguenay area. 104. The Basques were pioneer shipbuilders in the fifteenth century and Basques travelled to Newfoundland, Labrador and the estuary of the St Lawrence river in search of whales and cod. 105. Cod fisherman with his gear. 106. Cod.
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