Essay on A Short History of the Basque Country

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A Short History of the Basque Country

Archaeological and ethnographic findings indicate that Basque [people] evolved from Cro-Magnon [...] in this area over a period dating from about 40,000 years ago until distinct features were acquired approximately 7,000 years ago. Two thousand years later the sheep, not native to these lands, was introduced and horse and cattle farming came into being, as shown by Adolf Staffe. These circumstances made it necessary for the people to travel periodically and cultural contacts were thus made. This period in the history of the Basque people can only make sense if it is studied in conjunction with the cultures of the surrounding areas, in the basin of the River
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P. Villasante says that the Basques, in calling themselves "Euskaldunak" (those who speak Basque [Euskera]) and the country "Euskalerria", i.e. Basque speaking country, are making cultural history in that it is the language that has moulded and given the Basque people a sense of unity, a sense of being a nation. Antonio Tovar comfirms this and explains the situation by saying that the Basques did not take part in the battles between Carthaginians and Romans; Silius Italicus refers to the fact that there were Basque soldiers in Hannibal's armies. The Basque only intervened to defend Sertorius, the Roman general who had shown respect for them. The relationship between Romans and Basques was cordial: Pompey founded Pompaelo, Pamplona, in the settlement that was Iruna (the city in Basque). Roman influence further north was less evident, however. This meant that the Basque language survived in its entirety, with its multiple influences.

In the third and fifth centuries the Basques defended themselves against the Barbarians who came south to the Iberian Peninsula. After fighting the Germanic Swabian tribes, they went into battle against the Visigoths. The latter gained several victories over the Basques and founded Victoriacum in the year 581 in the proximity of present day Victoria, which was in turn founded by Sancho the Wise on the site of the ancient
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