Monday, June 22, 2015

People are still upset about a battle from 1521

The regional differences in the United States have nothing on those in Spain. People have really long memories here.

Today I was reading an advertisement in the local paper, the Daily News (Diario de Noticias) of Navarra, advertising a book called "The Battle of Noain," described as "the unfortunate episode of 1521".

Navarra, in dark green, is on the southwest border of France.
The ad describes how the powerful Castilians (read "Spanish") defeated the local forces and "invaded our town" (Pamplona), which had been part of the French kingdom of Navarre.

For just 6.95 euros, the ad reads, you too can read this story of how "our forefathers struggled and spilled their blood" in a desperate battle that led to "the loss of idependence of Navarra".

The Castilians "devastated a kingdom that was ahead of its time in every sense".

Add this volume of 128 pages to your collection of the History of Navarra, says the ad.

Which made me wonder: Do the residents of Navarra want to be part of France? I don't think so.

Navarra is today one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain (see map), which have much more independence than our states in the U.S. Within each community there are other traditional borders and regions based on culture, dialect, customs.

And there is another layer of complexity. Much of the ancient Kingdom of Navarre (French spelling) was inhabited by Basques. Hemingway depicted Pamplona as a Basque community in the 1920s, both in his journalism and his novel "The Sun Also Rises."

Today the majority of residents of Pamplona and Navarra are not Basque and generally don't want to be part of the Basque Country, the autonomous community immediately to their west (yellow-green on the map; Navarra is the dark green patch next to it on the southwest border of France).

In recent local elections, candidates who identified themselves as "Navaríssimo" or "Pure Navarra" were saying, in code, "We are not Basque," because the Basque minority's candidates were pushing hard to take over city halls and local councils. And the Basques and populists did win a large share of positions.

The overlapping histories of battles won and lost, or border disputes still unresolved, of language and dialect differences (signs in Navarra are in Basque and Spanish), play out in the news every day.

In the same paper, an article described a 12-hour endurance footrace up and down some local mountains. The participants were raising money for the families of Basque prisoners (482 at last count) who were convicted of treason or violence against the state as part of a separatist movement. They have been dispersed far from the Basque Country to prevent them from communicating with each other, which makes it hard on the families to visit them.

There is a movement, no longer violent, to create a Basque state that includes Navarra and the Basque territory in the southwest of France.

The movement resembles those in Northern Ireland, the Balkan states, the former Soviet republics, regions of China, the Middle East....the beat goes on.


Barcelona's art and architecture make it a favorite
Cordoba's main attraction: mix of Jewish, Moorish, Christian cultures
Basque language has mysterious origins
Andalusia has different flavor from rest of Spain
Tapas or pinchos are our favorite foods in Spain 
Pilgrims still come to honor St. James in Santiago de Compostela
We didn't run into a lot of Americans in Spain

No comments:

Post a Comment