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The innovative spirit


The eighteenth century was marked by Bourbon centralism. Most of the texts produced on the Basque literary scene were still religious books written by the clergy, which formed the origin and initial development of Basque prose. The hub of literature in Basque moved from Labourd to Gipuzkoa, and the new awareness of the language to be found in Basque writers from Etxepare, was systematised in grammar books, dictionaries and defences of Basque. The ideas and interests of Manuel de Larramendi made him an important forerunner of the enlightenment ideas later to be manifested by the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País [Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country].

126. The splendour of the Northern Basque Country in the seventeenth century was eclipsed by the loss of Newfoundland and other overseas territories in the Treaty of Utrecht (1713), which dealt a considerable blow to the burgeoning fishing and trading industry of Labourd. Historical site of Port Royal, in today's Nova Scotia (Canada), which passed into the possession of the English crown. 127. Coat of arms of the Kingdom of Navarre at the entrance to Port Royal, the first European settlement north of Florida (1610). 128. Manuel Larramendi (1690-1766), writer, priest, philologist and historian, was a great champion of Basque language and culture during the Enlightenment. He was also the first collector of Basque folklore. In 1729 he published El imposible vencido or Arte de la Lengua Bascongada [The Impossible Overcome or the Art of the Basque Language], a grammar book written in Spanish, and his trilingual dictionary of English, Basque and Latin (1745) was used as a reference work by his contemporaries. His linguistic interests — the origin of the language, its relationship with other languages, a universal language— are typical of the intellectuals of his time. 129. Under the Nueva Planta decrees, Philip V imposed Castilian Spanish as the general tongue of the public administration. In response, there was an immediate spirited defence of the ancient liberties of the Basque Country, and Manuel de Larramendi published Sobre los fueros de Guipúzcoa (1756-1758) and his project for unification of the Basque provinces, Provincias Unidas del Pirineo. 130. Agustin de Kardaberaz, from Hernani, Sebastián de Mendiburu, from Oiartzun and Joaquin Lizarraga, from Elkano, were considered to be from the school of Larramendi. Under his influence they wrote their works in Basque and also devoted themselves to preaching. 131. In the eighteenth century, most religious books published in Basque were translations or adaptations of classics of ascetic literature. 132. It was during the eighteenth century that the "Pastoral" was developed, a theatrical genre, traditional to Soule, which has survived to the present day. Its origins can be traced back to the mystery plays of the Middle Ages which evolved into a rural theatre that told the stories of the saints, kings and emperors of the Middle Ages. Sainte Elisabeth de Portugal, written in Eskiula in 1750, is the oldest manuscript extant. 133. The concerns of physician and writer Joanes Etxeberri (Sara, 1668- 1724) about illiteracy among Basque speakers, and his defence of the Basque language are typical of the enlightenment spirit. As well as his Diccionario cuatrilingüe, he also wrote a bilingual grammar for learning Latin Euscalherriari eta Euscaldun guztiei escuarazco hatsapenac latin icasteco (1713) and two defences of the Basque language, Escuararen hatsapenac and LauUrdiri Gomendiozco Carta edo Guthuna, (1718). 134. The Count of Peñaflorida. 135. In 1764 the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País was founded in Azpeitia, bringing the ideas of the enlightenment to the Southern Basque Country. It was chaired by Francisco Xavier María de Munibe e Idiaquez, the Count of Peñaflorida, one of the "Little Knights of Azkoitia". Its aim was to develop science, and also to improve and cultivate the Basque language. Peñaflorida himself composed El borracho burlado (1764), a comic work with dialogues in Spanish and songs in Basque. His Gabon sariac (1762) and Pedro Ignacio de Barrutia's Gabonetako ikuskizuna were the first written texts in the history of Basque theatre. 136. IRURAC BAT (Three in One), the motto of the Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del Pais. 137. Eighteenth Century Poetry. The manuscript Bertso zahar eta berri zenbaiten bilduma (1798), contains compositions speaking of the dangers of the sea and the cod expeditions to Newfoundland: Partida tristea Ternuara, Itsasoco perillac and Ternuaco penac. In the north, the influence of French melodies is clear in Othoitce eta Cantica Espiritualac Çubero Herrico (1734) in Souletin, and Cantica espiritualac, (Bayonne, 1763), in Labourdin. 138. German map from 1730 by Gottfried Hensel, with the opening verses of the Lord's Prayer in the vernacular languages of the period, written in the approximate territory of each one. Gure aita cerue tan aicena... 139. In Navarre, two thirds of the towns spoke Basque in the eighteenth century and it was spoken as far south as Tafalla. 140. In 1778 the "receptores bascongados" (Basque-speaking judicial experts) from the Navarrese bishopric contested an attempt to reduce the number of Basque-speakers and increase the number of "romançados" (those who spoke Romance, or Spanish). 141. The Newfoundland coast. 142. Musketeer. 143. After the French Revolution (1789), the Basque-speaking territories of the Pays Basque were incorporated into the common French regime and the capital and organs of government moved to Pau. French became the sole language, and Basque was listed as a patois to be abolished (1794). 144. Castle of Andurain. Maule. 145. Barandiaran has shown that at the end of the eighteenth century, Basque was spoken in much of Alava, including many towns in the vicariate of Vitoria. Etxebarri.
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