On August 7, 1592, Arnaut Oihenart, Basque historian and poet, was born in Maule (Zuberoa), in the Northern Basque Country. His father, Arnaut, was the King’s attorney in the province and his mother, Jeanne d’Echart, daughter of a notary public. The young Arnaut studied law at the University of Bordeaux (France) to graduate in 1612. Oihenart would come to prominence as one of the first non-ecclesiastical Basque writers. His main historiographical work, written in Latin, is titled Notitia utriusque Vasconiae tum Ibericae tum Aquitanicae (News of the two Vasconias, both in Iberia and Aquitaine), which was first published in 1638 in Paris. In this history of “Vasconia,” Oihenart pointed out Basque constitutional origins in Navarre. It provided a legal legitimacy of the Basque Country being constitutionally rooted in the Kingdom of Navarre, by explaining the historical development of medieval law. It gave a unitary meaning to the Basque history, encompassing both sides of the border. This achievement alone makes Oihenart’s work fundamental to the comprehension of the history of the Basque Country. 

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Notitia utriusque Vasconiae cover page

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View of Maule (Zuberoa) in the early Twentieth Century


To read a selection from Notitia utriusque Vasconiae translated into English, as well as commentary on Oihenart’s life and work, see Juan Madariaga Orbea’s Anthology of Apologists and Detractors of the Basque Language.

Every Friday we look into our Basque archives for interesting historic events that happened on the same day