Lordship of Biscay
Señorío de Vizcaya
The Lordship of Biscay and its three constituent parts
|Status||Vassal first of the Kingdom of Navarre, then of the Kingdom of Castile|
|Capital|| Bermeo (1476–1602)|
|Historical era||Middle Ages|
• Abolition of the Juntas Generales
The Lordship of Biscay (Spanish : Señorío de Vizcaya, Basque: Bizkaiko jaurerria) was a region under feudal rule in the region of Biscay in the Iberian Peninsula between c.1040 and 1876, ruled by a political figure known as the Lord of Biscay. One of the Basque señoríos, it was a territory with its own political organization, with its own naval ensign, consulate in Bruges and customs offices in Balmaseda and Urduña, from the 11th Century until 1876, when the Juntas Generales were abolished. Since 1379, when John I of Castile became the Lord of Biscay, the lordship got integrated into the Crown of Castile, and eventually the Kingdom of Spain.
Spanish or Castilian, is a Romance language that originated in the Iberian Peninsula and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in Spain and the Americas. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.
Basque (; euskara[eus̺ˈkaɾa]) is a language spoken in the Basque Country, a region that straddles the westernmost Pyrenees in adjacent parts of northern Spain and southwestern France. Linguistically, Basque is unrelated to the other languages of Europe and is a language isolate relative to any other known living language. The Basques are indigenous to, and primarily inhabit, the Basque Country. The Basque language is spoken by 28.4% (751,500) of Basques in all territories. Of these, 93.2% (700,300) are in the Spanish area of the Basque Country and the remaining 6.8% (51,200) are in the French portion.
Biscay is a province of Spain located just south of the eponymous bay. The name also refers to a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lordship of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao. It is one of the most prosperous and important provinces of Spain as a result of the massive industrialization in the last years of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Since the deep deindustrialization of the 1970s, the economy has come to rely more on the services sector.
The first explicit reference to the foundation of the Biscayan lordship is in the Livro de Linhagens, written between 1323 and 1344 by Pedro Afonso, Count of Barcelos. It is an entirely legendary account. The book narrates the arrival in Biscay of a man named Froom, a brother of the King of England, who had expelled him from his kingdom. Froom along with his son, Fortun Froes, defeat the Asturians in Busturia. Froom is killed in battle; his son was named the first Lord of Biscay. The Count of Barcelos then lists six additional mythical lords before he comes to Lope, the historical late-11th century lord, Lope Íñiguez.A notable story among these accounts, which bears some resemblance to the Melusine legend, is that of the Lady of Biscay (La Dama de Viscaya), a beautiful stranger found in the countryside by Lord Diego López. She joins him only when he agrees to certain conditions, but he later violates these and she flees into the country with their daughter. Diego López is subsequently captured by Moors, and their son Enheguez Guerra seeks out his mother for help. She gives him a horse, Pardalo, with whom he frees his father and is subsequently successful in all his battles. The later lords are said to have made sacrifices at Busturia in thanks for these events, their failure to do so resulting in attacks on the lords and townsmen by a mysterious knight.
Pedro Afonso, Count of Barcelos, was an illegitimate son of King Denis of Portugal and Grácia Frois. He was made the 3rd Count of Barcelos on 1 May 1314.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
The Kingdom of Asturias was a kingdom in the Iberian Peninsula founded in 718 by the Visigothic nobleman Pelagius. It was the first Christian political entity established after the Umayyad conquest of Visigothic Hispania in 718 or 722. That year, Pelagius defeated an Umayyad army at the Battle of Covadonga, in what is usually regarded as the beginning of the Reconquista. The Asturian kings were happy to make peace with the Muslims when it suited them, particularly if it left them free to pursue their other enemies, the Basques and rebels in Galicia. Thus Fruela killed 40,000 Muslims but also defeated the Basques and Galicians, and Silo made peace with the Muslims but not with the Galicians.
A better known but equally mythical story appears in the Bienandanzas e Fortunas of Lope García de Salazar (1454). In this story, a man named Çuria is born from the union of the god Sugaar and a Scottish (or in other versions, Irish, Danish or Frankish) princess in the village of Mundaka. Çuria was the elected chief of the Biscayans before the victorious battle of Arrigorriaga against the invading forces of the Kingdom of Asturias. Tradition holds that before the battle he saw two wolves carrying lambs in their mouths, presaging the victory; this scene is reflected in the arms of the lords of Biscay of the House of Haro. García de Salazar proceeds to give Çuria two sons by different mothers, Munso López (perhaps representing the historical Munio Velaz of the early 10th century) and Ínigo Esquira (an apparent temporally-displaced doppelgänger of the later lord of that name), who are followed by further apocryphal lords, Lope Díaz and Sancho López, before García de Salazar names a second Ínigo Esquira, this time representing the first authentic Lord of Biscay, the 11th-century Íñigo López Ezkerra. This tale of Çuria would further develop into the legend of Jaun Zuria (the White Lord) of Biscay, treated as a historical figure perhaps identical to Froom by 19th century historians.
In Basque mythology, Sugaar is the male half of a pre-Christian Basque deity associated with storms and thunder. He is normally imagined as a dragon or serpent. Unlike his female consort, Mari, there are very few remaining legends about Sugaar. The basic purpose of his existence is to periodically join with Mari in the mountains to generate the storms.
Mundaka is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of Basque Country, northern Spain. On the coast, Mundaka is internationally renowned for its surfing scene.
Arrigorriaga is a town and municipality located in the province of Bizkaia, in the autonomous community of Basque Country, northern Spain. Arrigorriaga is located 7 km south of Bilbao and is part of Bilbao's metropolitan area. Its official population at the 2010 census was 12,358 inhabitants living on a land area of 16.36 square kilometres (6.32 sq mi). It is conterminous with Bilbao and Basauri in the north, with Ugao-Miraballes and Zeberio in the south, with Zaratamo in the east and with Arrankudiaga and Alonsotegi in the west.
The 16th-century historian Gonzalo Argote de Molina tells of other legendary lords of Biscay, and in this he is followed by several 17th and 18th century historians. They name a Hudon (or Eudon), the son of a Duke of Cantabria, who became lord of Biscay and who had a son named Zeno who succeeded him in the title. Hudon and Zeno are variously placed at different dates ranging from the mid-8th century to the late 9th century, and while the precise details differ in the different accounts, they are described as being related by marriage to the King of Pamplona and to Jaun Zuria.As with Froom and Çuria, there is no historical basis for these men.
Gonzalo Argote de Molina (1548–1596) was a Spanish writer, historian and genealogist.
Jaun Zuria is the mythical first Lord, and founder, of the Lordship of Biscay, who defeated the Leonese and Asturian troops in the also mythical Battle of Padura, in which he chased off the invaders to the Malato Tree, establishing there the borders of Biscay. There are three accounts of its legend, one by the Portuguese count Pedro Barcelos and two by the chronicler Lope García de Salazar. According to the legend, Jaun Zuria had been born from a Scottish or English princess who had been visited by the Basque deity Sugaar in the village of Mundaka.
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|History of the Basques|
The first time Biscay is mentioned with that name (in Spanish, Vizcaya) is in the Chronicle of Alfonso III in the late 9th century, which tells of the regions repopulated under orders of Alfonso I, and how some territories "owned by their own", among them Biscay, were not affected by these repopulations. Biscay is mentioned again in the 10th-century Códice de Roda , which narrates the wedding between Velazquita, daughter of Sancho I of Pamplona, to Munio Velaz, Count of Álava, in Biscay. It is considered then, that Biscay was by this period controlled by the Kingdom of Navarre.
The Chronicle of Alfonso III is a chronicle composed in the early tenth century on the order of King Alfonso III of León with the goal of showing the continuity between Visigothic Spain and the later Christian medieval Spain. Intended as a continuation of Isidore of Seville's history of the Goths, it is written in a late form of Latin and outlines a history of the period from the Visigothic King Wamba through that of King Ordoño I. The Chronicle exists in two somewhat different recensions: the earlier Cronica Rotensis, and the later Cronica ad Sebastianum, which includes additional details furthering the ideological goals of the chronicle.
Alfonso I of Asturias, called the Catholic, was the third King of Asturias, reigning from 739 to his death in 757. His reign saw an extension of the Christian domain of Asturias, reconquering Galicia and León.
The Códice de Roda or Códice de Meyá is a medieval manuscript that represents a unique source for details of the 9th and early 10th century Kingdom of Navarre and neighbouring principalities. It is currently held in Madrid as Real Academia de la Historia cód. 78.
In 1076, after the assassination of Sancho IV of Navarre, Alfonso VI of León and Castile and Sancho Ramírez of Aragón fought a war over control of the Kingdom of Navarre. Count Íñigo López, lord of Biscay surrendering the fortress of Bilibio to the Leonese, which aided in their conquest of La Rioja. In exchange, the Leonese monarchs promised to support Íñigo's personal interests in Durangaldea, Gipuzkoa and Álava. Íñigo died in 1077, and his son, Lope Íñiguez became Lord of Biscay, now as vassal of the Kingdom of Castile.The lordship would be later inherited by his son, Diego López I de Haro, who served as Lord of Biscay until 1134 when he was defeated and probably killed by Alfonso the Battler, King of Aragón and Navarre. The Lordship was then reintegrated into Navarre and Ladrón Íñiguez, one of the most powerful men of the Navarrese court, was named Lord of Biscay. After his death, in 1155, his son Vela Ladrón, who at the time was also Lord of Álava and Guipúzcoa, became Lord of Biscay and ruled through the reigns of Alfonso the Battler, García Ramírez and Sancho VI. During that time, Lope Díaz I de Haro claimed the title of Lord of Biscay, though he never set foot on the land during his lifetime. In 1173 Alfonso VIII of Castile attacked the Kingdom of Navarre and, a year later with the death of Vela Ladrón, occupied Biscay and restored the House of Haro: Diego López II de Haro was named Lord of Biscay.
Alfonso VI, nicknamed the Brave or the Valiant, was king of León (1065–72) and of Galicia, and then king of the reunited Castile and León.
Sancho Ramírez was King of Aragon from 1063 until 1094 and King of Pamplona from 1076 under the name of Sancho V. He was the eldest son of Ramiro I and Ermesinda of Bigorre. His father was the first king of Aragon and an illegitimate son of Sancho III of Pamplona. He inherited the Aragonese crown from his father in 1063. Sancho Ramírez was chosen king of Pamplona by Navarrese noblemen after Sancho IV was murdered by his siblings.
The Kingdom of Navarre, originally the Kingdom of Pamplona, was a Basque-based kingdom that occupied lands on either side of the western Pyrenees, alongside the Atlantic Ocean between present-day Spain and France.
In 1176 the kingdoms of Navarre and Castile signed a declaration of peace, agreeing to arbitration by Henry II of England. New borders were delimited and ratified in 1179. Biscay was divided, with the left bank of the River Nervión becoming part of Castile, while the rest of Biscay, Durangaldea and Álava (east from the Bayas River) were retained by Navarre. Diego López II, Lord of Biscay, swore fealty to the Navarrese monarchy and he ruled Biscay until 1183. The Lords of Biscay were vassals of the Kingdom of Navarre until 1206, when the Haro family were given the title of alférez at the Castilian court, and thereafter Biscay was in the area of influence of the Castilian kingdom, though it would not be wholly integrated into it until much later.
The Lordship of Biscay was in the hands of the Haro family and their descendants through 1370, when it passed to prince Juan of Castile, a distant kinsman with a maternal descent from the earlier Lords. He would subsequently succeed to his father's Kingdom of Castile, and from that time the Lordship remained bound to the Castilian kingdom, and from the reign of Charles I, to the Spanish crown. However, the Lordship maintained a high degree of autonomy, through the Biscayan law, or fueros.
In 1874, after the abolishment of the First Spanish Republic and the beginning of the Restoration, Alfonso XII abolished the Biscayan law and Juntas Generales; putting the Lordship to an end. Since then, Biscay has been fully integrated into the Spanish crown as the province of Biscay.
Tierra Llana (literally, flatlands) refers to the territory that was not protected by stone walls, that is, mostly rural areas and farms. This territory was organized into 72 elizates , grouped in six merindades . Each elizate had a representation in the Juntas Generales.
All these regions were governed by the Biscayan law, or fuero. There were five de facto elizates, who did not belong to any merindad nor have any representation in the Juntas. Those were Alonsotegi, Arakaldo, Basauri, Zaratamo and Zollo.
There were 21 walled cities and towns, all founded during the Middle Ages. They were the towns of Balmaseda, Bermeo, Bilbao, Durango, Ermua, Gernika, Lanestosa, Lekeitio, Markina, Ondarroa, Otxandio, Portugalete, Plentzia, Mungia, Areatza, Errigoiti, Larrabetzu, Gerrikaitz, Miraballes, Elorrio and Urduña. There towns had their own municipal charter or carta puebla, with their own set of laws different from those of the fueros.
The region known as Enkarterri (Encartaciones in Spanish) is located at the west of the River Nervión and was incorporated into the Lordship in the 13th Century by the House of Haro. It was traditionally formed by 10 republics, that were united in councils, each with its own representation and government. Enkarterri had its own junta and fueros, but eventually adopted the ones from Vizcaya. Their representatives held councils in Avellaneda. A single common representative of all of them assisted the Biscayan Juntas Generales. In the 17th Century, five of the councils got their own representative in the Juntas. In 1804, the Junta of Avellaneda was dissolved and its councils incorporated into the Tierra Llana. The Enkarterri had the following councils: Karrantza, Trutzioz, Artzentales, Sopuerta, Galdames, Zalla, Güeñes, Gordexola, The Three Councils of the Somorrostro Valley (Santurtzi, Sestao and Trapagaran) and The Four Councils of the Somorrostro Valley (Muskiz, Zierbena, Abanto de Suso and Abanto de Yuso).
The region known as the County of Durango (Merindad de Durango in Spanish) and currently known as Durangaldea is a valley located along the upper river Ibaizabal and had the traditional name of Merindad of Durango. Durango and its valley were a semi-autonomous region, controlled by the Kingdom of Pamplona (later, Navarre) and had its own Foral law, and celebrated its own council mettings in Gerediaga. In 1200 it was conquered by the Kingdom of Castile, and in 1212 Alfonso VIII of Castile gives the land to Diego López II de Haro, Lord of Biscay, as a reward for his services in the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, being then incorporated into Biscay. The Merindad of Durango comprised the following elizates: Abadiño, Berriz, Mallabia, Mañaria, Iurreta, Garai, Zaldibar, Arratzola, Axpe, Atxondo, Izurtza and Elorrio.
The Biscayan Juntas Generales were the maximum governing body of the Lordship; in the Juntas were represented all the Biscayan territories. There were in total 72 representatives; each elizate had one, the towns and cities had one each.
The Regimiento General (General Regiment) was established in 1500 and had the function of governing the territory when the Juntas were not meeting. It was formed by 12 regidores that were named by the Juntas and one corregidor . The regiment meet three times each year, and eventually got the name of Universal government of the Lordship.
The Regimiento Particular (Particular Regiment) was established in 1570 and had the function of governing in the General Regiment's absence. It was formed by all the regidores that lived in Bilbao.
It served as the fundamental political institution of the Lordship during the 18th Century. In 1645 the Particular Regiment changed its name to Diputación General and were granted autonomy from the General Regiment. It was formed by seven members; six general members and one president, who was the corregidor . Its function was to govern the Juntas Generales, the Diputación had competences in military and financial issues, as well as the maintenance of the roads and charities.
The Lord of Biscay is the title that was granted to those who controlled the Biscayan territory.
House of Haro
House of Vela
House of Haro (restored)
House of Burgundy
House of Lara
House of Burgundy/Trastamara
With the succession of John I as King of Castile in 1379, the Lordship of Biscay was united with the Crown of Castile. Subsequent Castilian monarchs as well as their successors who ruled all Spain have continued to claim the title of Lord of Biscay, down to the present king and current holder of the title, Felipe VI of Spain.
|Tree of Lords of Biscay|
Álava or Araba, officially Araba/Álava, is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lordship of Álava, former medieval Catholic bishopric and now Latin titular see.
Lope Íñiguez succeeded his father Íñigo López to become the second Lord of Biscay in 1076.
Ladrón Íñiguez, also known as Ladrón Navarro, was a leading nobleman of the Kingdom of Navarre during the reign of García Ramírez (1134–50), whose accession he was instrumental in bringing about. He is regularly titled count (comes), the highest rank in the kingdom, after 1135. He is recorded in contemporary documents with the title princeps Navarrorum. Between 1124 and his death he was the effective ruler of the Basque country (Euskadi).
Íñigo López was the first Lord of Biscay. Although the date is not known precisely, Íñigo's government of Biscay began between 1040 and 1043 at the latest. He was appointed of the king, García Sánchez III of Navarre, and did not govern Biscay by hereditary right. At some point during the 1040s he received or inherited the rank of count. Around the end of his life he began using the style "by the grace of God", recorded for the first time written in legal documents after 1072. This style indicated a new claim to govern Biscay through the agency of God and not merely at the king's will.
Diego López I de Haro was the third Lord of Biscay, and also the ruler of Álava, Buradón, Grañón, Nájera, Haro, and perhaps Guipúzcoa: the most powerful Castilian magnate in the Basque Country and the Rioja during the first quarter of the twelfth century. He was a loyal supporter of Queen Urraca and he fought the invading armies of her estranged husband Alfonso the Battler on two, or perhaps three, occasions.
Lope Díaz I de Haro was the fourth Lord of Biscay. He was an important magnate in Castile during the reign of the Emperor Alfonso VII and in the kingdom of his son and grandson. Between 1147 and 1168 he is recorded as governing Old Castile on behalf of the crown.
Lope Díaz II de Haro "Cabeza Brava" was a Spanish noble of the House of Haro, the sixth Lord of Biscay, and founder of the municipality of Plentzia. He was the eldest son of Diego López II de Haro and his wife, María Manrique. Lope was also a member of the Order of Santiago.
Diego López III de Haro. Was the eldest son of Lope Díaz II de Haro and of Urraca Alfonso de León, the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso IX of León. Diego succeeded his father as the Lord of Biscay between the years 1236 and 1254.
Lope Díaz III de Haro was a Spanish noble and head of the House of Haro. He was the 8th Lord of Biscay, a post which he gained by hereditary means after the death of his father. He held that title from 1254 until his own death in 1288 where he died attempting to assassinate the King of Castile.
Diego López IV de Haro was a Spanish noble and the Lord of Biscay from 1288 to his death in 1289.
Diego López V de Haro, nicknamed el Intruso, was a Spanish noble of the House of Haro and held the title of the Lord of Biscay which he took from the pretender to the title, John of Castile.
Teresa Díaz II de Haro was a Spanish noble woman and a lady of Biscay, and one of five children of Diego López III de Haro, the Lord of Biscay, and Constanza de Bearne. Her maternal grandparents were the viscount Guillermo II de Bearne and his wife, Garsenda de Provenza. Her paternal grandparents were Lope Díaz II de Haro, also Lord of Biscay, and of Urraca Alfonso de León, the illegitimate daughter of King Alfonso IX of León. Amongst her siblings were Diego Lopez V de Haro and Maria II Diaz de Haro.
Juan Núñez III de Lara, Lord of Lara and Vizcaya, son of Ferdinand de la Cerda (1275–1322) and Juana Núñez de Lara the Little Dove. Despite belonging to the House de la Cerda and aspiring to the Castilian-Leonese throne during the reigns of Sancho IV of Castile, Ferdinand IV of Castile and Alfonso XI of Castile, he carried the family name of his mother which corresponded to the name of his lordship.
María Díaz I de Harothe Good was a Spanish noblewoman of the House of Haro. She was the daughter of Lope Díaz III de Haro who was assassinated by order of the king at Alfaro, La Rioja. She is best known for being the Lady of Biscay and for her lifelong battle against her uncle, Diego López V de Haro for the title of the lordship of Biscay.
Lope Díaz de Haro was a Spanish noble of the House of Haro, the traditional Lords of Biscay. He was the firstborn son of Diego Lopez V de Haro, Lord of Biscay. Whilst he did not inherit his father's title of Lordship over Biscay, he is best known for being the lord of Orduña-Urduña and of Balmaseda. He further served as Alférez to King Ferdinand IV of Castile.
Juan Núñez I de Lara y León, also known as "el Gordo" or "the Fat", was a Spanish noble. He was the head of the House of Lara, Lord of Lerma, Amaya, Dueñas, Palenzuela, Tordehumos, Torrelobatón, and la Mota. He was further known as Señor de Albarracín through his first marriage with Teresa Álvarez de Azagra.
María Díaz II de Haro was a Spanish noble of the House of Haro. She was the daughter of Juan de Castilla y Haro and his wife, Isabel of Portugal and was Lady of Biscay from 1334 until her death in 1348.
The County of Durango, also known as Land of Durango and Merindad of Durango, was the ancient political administration of the territory that is now known as Durangaldea, in the Basque region of Biscay. This political administration included all the towns and elizates that existed within its territory. The elizates were all governed by the Foral law, while the towns had their own law. The county of Durango was a vassal state of the Kingdom of Pamplona, and in the 13th Century it became a constituent part of the Lordship of Biscay. It has been part of the territory of Biscay since then. Its capital city was the town of Durango.
Íñigo López de Mendoza was a Basque nobleman, 4th Lord of Llodio.
Vela Ladrón or Latrónez was a Spanish nobleman who ruled the Basque counties of Álava, Biscay (Vizcaya) and Guipúzcoa. He succeeded his father as count of Álava in 1155 or 1156. He acquired Biscay around 1160 and Guipúzcoa around 1162. He was effectively an independent prince able to divide his allegiance between the kings of Castile and Navarre.