Tag: basque explorers in the pacific ocean

Book Review: Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, by William A. Douglass

We’d like to share a recent review of William A. Douglass’s new book Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean. Published in CritCom: A forum on research and commentary on Europe, Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, a PhD candidate in Human Rights at the University of Deusto,  outlines the structure and content of the book, pointing out interesting aspects of Douglass’s new research endeavors.

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Here’s just a sample of the review:

“Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, by William Douglass introduces the reader to how Basques from a tiny territory once pivotal for the whole Iberian Peninsula (comprising the Kingdom of Navarra, later absorbed by Spain, as well as Bizkaia, Guipuzkoa and Araba regions) became an important part of the Spanish colonial empire as administrators and merchants, as well as ship-builders, ship captains, and sailors.

Basque explorers took an active part in Spanish expeditions and explorations on the Pacific region (and elsewhere in the world). From the early Spanish expeditions overseas, Basques were among those who helped establish and sustain the Spanish Empire. They played integral roles, whether as ship captains and crew members, or the leaders of successful trade companies and rulers as Spanish proxies in colonial administrations.

Douglass’s Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean is an interesting and detailed lesson of the period’s history, despite some moments of digression over royal intrigues, which condense into a single book the dispersed knowledge on the role of the Basques in the Pacific, serving as a good guide for future discussions.

Going further from the general choosing of describing an explorer’s life, or an expedition’s fate and accomplishments, Douglass seeks to insert different explorers and explorations in a unique context, relating at least two centuries of Spanish naval explorations (and Portuguese) with the formation of the Spanish Empire and its subsequent decline.

The book, one can conclude, broadens the knowledge of the participation of Basques in the making of the Spanish maritime empire that would last for centuries.”

We encourage you to read the entire piece at the following website: http://councilforeuropeanstudies.org/critcom/basque-explorers-in-the-pacific-ocean-2/

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To learn more about Raphael Tsavkko Garcia, visit his Academia page, which includes links to some of his research papers: https://deusto.academia.edu/RaphaelTsavkkoGarcia

Last but not least, check out Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean:

Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean

 

September 26, 1565: Basque-run ship completes historic voyage

On September 26, 1565, a Basque-run ship, the San Pedro, docked in the vicinity of California’s Cape Mendocino after having sailed 11,160 miles cross the Pacific Ocean without a landfall—the longest continuous oceanic voyage to that date in the age of European exploration. This remarkable crossing is yet another in a long line of significant Basque maritime exploits – all described in fascinating detail by Bill Douglass in Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean (pp. 118-22).

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Andrés de Urdaneta (1498-1568). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As part of an initial plan to bring the Philippines within Spain’s orbit on the orders of King Philip II, a Basque-dominated expedition, led by two Gipuzkoans, Andrés de Urdaneta from Ordizia and  Miguel López de Legazpi from Zumarraga, reached Samar in February 1565. Thereafter, a permanent settlement was established in Cebu, which in the words of Douglass, was “the initial outpost of Spanish hegemony in the islands and one that would endure for more than three and a half centuries.”

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Miguel López de Legazpi (c. 1502-1572). Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As well as establishing an imperial outpost there, however, Legazpi was also charged with finding the elusive easterly return route from the Philippines to Nueva España (present-day Mexico). The Portuguese held the monopoly over the westward sea lane between Asia and Europe, making it impossible to establish trade with the Philippines, let alone a settled Spanish colonial presence there, without violating the Treaty of Zaragoza; hence the importance of discovering this easterly route. Douglass continues:

Urdaneta’s previous experience in the Moluccas had sensitized him to the seasonal shift in the region’s prevailing winds. Furthermore, his relationship with Gerónimo de Sanesteban in Mexico City doubtless gave Urdaneta detailed knowledge of the Villalobos expedition’s two failed attempts to return to Nueva España from the Moluccas via a southern route. On June 1, 1565, Urdaneta left the Philippines in the San Pedro, which was under the command of Legazpi’s young (sixteen-year-old) grandson, Felipe de Salcedo. It seems likely that Urdaneta was the actual commander. Other Basques on the vessel included Friar Andrés de Aguirre; the boatswain, Francisco de Astigarribia; the ship’s mate, Martín de Ibarra (all Bizkaians); and the scribe, Asensio de Aguirre. About one-third of the crew were Gipuzkoans.

Once in the northern latitudes, the San Pedro picked up the summer months’ prevailing northeasterlies and reached the American mainland on September 26 that same year.

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“Urdaneta’s Route” across the Pacific. Image by Jrockley, United States Army. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Basques have a reasonable claim, then, to yet another significant maritime historical record, besides being in charge of both the first (Elkano) and second (Urdaneta) global circumnavigations.

 

Center Books Take Stage at Tabakalera

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Left to right: Daniel Montero, Argitxu Camus-Etxecopar, Aizpea Goenaga, Bill Douglass, Mari Jose Olaziregi, and Koldo San Sebastián

Five of the Center’s books on the Basque diaspora in the United States were presented at the brand new and ultra hip Tabakalera Cultural Center in Donostia-San Sebastián yesterday. Myself, along with researchers Koldo San Sebastián and Argitxu Camus-Etxecopar, author (and all-around Mr. Basque) Bill Douglass, and with co-sponsors of the event the Etxepare Basque Institute represented by director Aizpea Goenaga and director of the diffusion of Basque Mari Jose Olaziregi, presented five books that treat the Basque diaspora in the United States from a variety of perspectives: the 2 volumes of Basques in the United States, led by Koldo San Sebastián and Argitxu Camus-Etxecopar but also representing a network of reseachers looking at Basque immigration through time and space, Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean by Bill Douglass, Zelestina Urza in Outer Space by David Romtvedt, and Garmendia and the Black Rider by Kirmen Uribe and illustrated by Mikel Valverde. We chose these books to present on the diaspora because of the variety of perspective, viewpoints and voices that they bring to writing about the presence of Basques in the United States.

The event received wide coverage in the Basque press, including an important story in El Diario Vasco.

As readers of this blog will surely know, Basques in the United Statesrepresents a giant undertaking that has already been the product of many years of research and that will certainly result in many more. Now containing names and bibliographic information for nearly 10,000 Basque immigrants, we hope in forthcoming editions to grow this into as a complete and comprehensive as possible encyclopedia of all first-generation Basque immigrants to the United States. We hope to do this with the continuing diligence of researchers like Koldo and Argitxu (and too many others to name here), but also with your help, that is why we’ve set up basquesintheus.blogs.unr.edu where we hope that interested people will also help us continue this important historical work.

Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean is a different kind of work altogether, one of the most recent publications by one of the most important Basque researchers and anthropologists of all-time, it takes readers on an exciting journey along with the galleons and caravels of the “Spanish” empire when Basque mariners formed an essential corpus in the empires exploration of this tremendous area which was known for more than 200 years as the “Spanish lake.”

Zelestina Urza in Outer Space provides yet a different aspect on Basque immigration, telling the story of young Zelestina Urza, who is just 16 years old when she arrives in Wolf, Wyoming from the green hills of Arnegi, throuhg her story, and her friendship with another young Native America woman, not only is the Basque diaspora explored, but also are the whole idea of the “winning” of the west and what it really meant in human terms.

Finally, Garmendia and the Black Rider takes maybe the most exotic take on the Basque diaspora of all of the books presented. Written by acclaimed Basque poet and novelist Kirmen Uribe, it treats the subject of the Basque immigrant from the perspective of modern Basque culture, and, as a children’s book, also with an eye that brings the Western experience to life in a completely different way that what we are usually presented with.

In addition to the presentation of the book, there was also other exciting news at the presentation. The Etxepare Institute has organized, in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, the creation of a William A. Douglass chair in Anthropology, which will help us continue to build strong academic links that promote Basque Studies throughout the United States and the world!

What an exciting day for Basque culture in the diaspora and everywhere!

Flashback Friday: The Return of Urdaneta

On June 26, 1536, Andres de Urdaneta (1508-1568), a Basque explorer from Ordizia (Gipuzkoa), dropped anchor at the port of Lisbon, Portugal, after a long transoceanic voyage. Eleven years before, in 1525, the Spanish Emperor Carlos V had sent this expedition headed by García Jofre de Loaísa to colonize the Maluku Islands or Moluccas (in present-day Indonesia) against his rival, the Crown of Portugal. The expedition included seven vessels. Urdaneta took to sea at an early age on the ship Sancti Spiritus under the command of Juan Sebastian Elkano. Most of the men in this expedition, including Elkano, died. Only one vessel reached the Moluccas. Among the survivors was Urdaneta himself who, after arriving in those archipelagos, lived there for nine years side-by-side the native people and Portuguese settlers, later returning to the old world. Andres de Urdaneta’s story illustrates the dynamics of Basque explorers and their place in early modern transoceanic imperialism.

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Iconic portrait of Andres de Urdaneta

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A map of the Moluccas, 1640

Check out anthropologist William Douglass’ new book Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, which will give you the whole picture of this and other stories.

Iceland Conference Digs Deep into Whaling and Basque-Icelandic Cross-Cultural Exchange, Seeks to Heal Some Very Old Wounds

In September 1615, a group of 31 Basque whalers who had been stranded on the coast of Iceland after their ships were destroyed in a gale, and who had then clashed with local Icelanders, were slaughtered. This year is the 400th anniversary of what became known as the “Spanish Massacre” and in commemoration the Center, various institutions of Basque government including the Extepare Institute and the provincial government of Gipuzkoa, the University of Iceland, the Icelandic government, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the AIB, the Association of Icelandic Friendship in the Basque Country. The conference features, as reported by the Icelandic media outlet mbl.is a “symbolic act of reconciliation” that will feature the Center’s own Xabier Irujo, a descendant of one of the Basques who died, and Mag­nús Rafns­son, a descendant of one the per­pe­tra­tors of the “Span­ish mas­sacre.”

According to Wikipedia (in an uncited article), this was the last documented massacre in Icelandic history. The conference marking its commemoration will delve well beyond the massacre however, bringing in researchers from around the world to discuss the rich Basque-Icelandic cross-cultural exchange. In addition to the global scholars, dignitaries including  Martín Gar­i­tano, Deputy-Gen­eral of Gipuzkoa and Il­lugi Gun­nars­son, Icelandic Min­is­ter for Cul­ture will be in attendance. Among the many events, the conference will also hold an event to celebrate the publication of William Douglass’s new book, Basque Explorers in the Pacific Ocean, available now!

Click here to see a program of events for the full conference and here to see more Extepare Institute information (in Spanish). In addition to the academic and commemorative events, there will also be, on April 22, a concert featuring Basque musical group Oreka TX and Icelandic musicians.

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A view of early seventeenth-century whaling.