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Bertan > The Basque language > Jalgi hadi mundura! (Go forth to the world)
Bertan 24

Jalgi hadi mundura! (Go forth to the world)


At the beginning of the seventeenth century, various factors, including the dominion of Castile over all of the Basque-speaking territories south of the Pyrenees, led to the progressive dismantling of the social structure that had kept the Basque language in use. Excluded from public usage by the requirement to know Spanish throughout the Hapsburg kingdom, and even persecuted as the devil's tongue, it was gradually relegated to the illiterate population, outside of the centres of power. In Iparralde (the Northern, or French Basque Country), however, the economic and cultural milieu of the seventeenth century meant that Basque was able to develop as a written, commercial and literary language, used beyond its natural borders.

107. Henry III of Navarre (Henry IV of France). 108. In 1572, Henry III, son of Jeanne D'Albret succeeded to the throne of Navarre, and was later crowned Henry IV of France. He retained the Navarrese Court in Pau. His contemporary William, Shakespeare expressed his admiration for the Basques by setting his play Love's Labour's Lost (1594) in the court. 109. Pau. Palace of the Navarrese monarchy. 110. Shakespeare, (1564-1616). 111. Modern performance of Shakespeare's play, Love's Labour's Lost by the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London . 112. The Basques voyaged to the Labrador coast, Newfoundland and the St Lawrence as far as the city of Québec. There they hunted for whales, fished for cod and traded beaver, bear, wolf, fox, otter and sable fur with the native peoples. Traces of Basque can still be found in coastal place names: Barachois, Etxaldeportu, Pointe Navarre, Port Aux Basques, L'Île aux Basques. The Innu, Huron and Mik'Maq, who had dealings with the Basques, developed a trading language of their own, a sort of pidgin Algonquin-Basque, of which there are well documented references. Apaizac hobeto! (the priests, better!), answered the natives when the Basque seafarers greeted them with a Nola zaude? (How are you?). 113. Today in Québec, moose are known as orignal, from oreina (deer in Basque), a term which has been passed down over the centuries by local people. Sign warning of orignal on a road in Québec. 114. Fur trading post. Jesuit Mission in Tadoussac, on the St Lawrence river. 115. Beaver. 116. Basque-language literary output was particularly important in Labourd in the seventeenth century. Trade with the Americas and whaling brought prosperity to coastal populations in the area. A new wealthy Basque bourgeoisie became literate in Basque, using it as a language of communication. Where previously it had been entirely oral, Basque now required the written word: commercial and private letters, dictionaries and books on veterinary science and navigation, such as Ixasoco nabigacionecoa (Bayonne, 1677), written in the Labourdin dialect by the sea captain and cartographer Detxebe rri Dorre. The first Bas-que-French-Spanish phrasebook Tresora hirour lenguaietaqua (1620), by Voltoire, was also published. 117. Whaling by the Basques. 118. 118. Axular. Pedro Agerre Azpilkueta (Urdazubi 1556-1644), the parish priest of Sara, wrote Gero (1643), a classic of Basque Literature with a rich and lively lexicon. Axular was one of many priests to form part of the important literary school of Sara (Sare): Etxeberri, Materre, Aranburu, Harizmendi, Argiñaratz, Pouvreau and Hirigoiti. Although his books were written for the popular dissemination of Catholicism and to counter the spread of Protestantism, he contributed decisively to the literary development and standardisation of the Basque language at the beginning of the seventeenth century. 119. The early seventeenth century marked a high point in the persecution of heresy and witchcraft in Europe. Pierre de Lancre was appointed judge in Labourd. He tried 3,000 local people and ordered over 600 to be burned at the stake. In 1609, the Spanish Inquisition set up in Logroño and began a brutal persecution of Basque "witchcraft", with thousands of people charged and tried. An ignorance of —and aversion towards— the Basque language allowed accusations to be falsified and testimonies manipulated. They speak a strange tongue that not even the devil has been capable of learning, wrote De Lancre. Some of the Basque terms used in the accusations –holding "akelarres" (covens), worshipping "akerbeltz" (Satan) – have since passed into other languages. 120. Seventeenth century ship. 121. Basque corsairs roamed the Atlantic, amongst them Joannes Suhigaraitxipi from Bayonne and Etienne Pellot from Hendaye, who was killed in 1694 protecting a whaling expedition on its way back from Newfoundland. 122. In the Basque Country, only one of the children of a deceased individual inherited. As a result, many people fled poverty to seek their fortune in the Americas 123. Sister Juana Inés de la Cruz (Neplanta, Mexico 1651-1695), writer and daughter of the officer Pedro Manuel Asbaje, from Bergara, is considered to be one of the finest Mexican poets. Intelligent and well-educated, her work includes references to her Basque roots and verses in Basque. 124. From the Middle Ages on, the kingdom of Castile extended its control over the political life of the province of Gipuzkoa, the Lordship of Biscay and the County of Alava. Use of the Castilian language (modern-day Spanish) was made compulsory in all areas of administration and the law, in certain trades and as a prerequisite for holding public office, as a council member in Biscay (1613) and a mayor in Gipuzkoa (1571). 125. Arnaud Oihenart, (Maule 1592-1667), one of the few lay writers in Basque of the period, was a jurist, politician, historian, essayist, poet and literary critic. He wanted to adapt Basque poetry to the academic norms of his time. His work in Latin, French and Basque includes Notitia utriusque Vasconiæ, tum ibericæ, tum aquitanicæ (Paris, 1638), an attempt to write the history of all the Basques; O'ren gastaroa neurthitzetan, a collection of love poems; Atsotitzen urrhenkina, a compilation of proverbs and L'Art poétique, a review of Basque written literature.
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