Tag: Medieval History

Flashback Friday: A Young Man’s Fight In An Old Man’s War

On December 4, 1270, Theobald II, King of Navarre, died at the age of thirty-two as a consequence of the plague while he was taking part in a religious military campaign in Tunisia, North Africa. In 1238, he was born of Theobald I and Marguerite de Bourbon. In 1253, after the death of his father, Theobald II was crowned when he was only fourteen years old. Since he was regarded as too young to govern the kingdom, at first his mother assumed these duties. In November 1253, in the context of Navarre-Castile warfare, the “Young,” as he was nicknamed, swore an oath to preserve all the statutes, rights, and privileges of the entire territory of Navarre and its people. Soon after, Theobald II moved with his mother to Champagne, France, with the aim of gaining  the support of and an alliance with Louis IX against Castile. This alliance was strengthened through the marriage of Theobald II to Isabella, Louis IX’s daughter. As soon as they got the French support, Theobald II returned to the Basque Country to resume his title as King of Navarre.  In 1267, due to his alliance with Louis IX of France, Theobald II swore an oath to fight a holy war against Tunisia. In 1270, a military incursion into this African territory was launched that turned out to be a fatal disaster. After his death, Theobald was embalmed and his body was placed in a sarcophagus inside a mausoleum in the French town of Provins, located in the vicinity of Paris. This was destroyed some centuries later during the French Revolution (1789-1799).


Portrait of Theobald II


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


Flashback Friday: Condemned to Hang

On November 20, 1775, Josefa Arostegui Gaztambide from Bera, Navarre, was hanged by the neck until dead. Arostegui became the first Basque woman condemned to hang. She was condemned for killing her husband and her sentence was death by hanging. Because of the brutality of the gibbet, the defense asked for her to be put to death by the garrote, which surprisingly enough, was considered a less cruel execution than hanging. Despite the opposition of prominent religious figures, Josefa was eventually executed by hanging. In the late eighteenth century, a large number of statutes specified death as the penalty for violations and crimes.


Drawing of a hangman

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


Flashback Friday: The Resistance

On October 30, 1512, during the conquest of Navarre, troops loyal to the Navarrese King Juan de Labrit surrendered to the forces of the Spanish King Ferdinand II of Aragon in Lizarra (Navarre). Some months earlier, on July 25, after the Spaniards occupied a large part of the territory of Navarre,  the Lizarra nobility had rejected the authority of the new Spanish monarch and legitimized Juan de Labrit’s power. Indeed, only the Navarre noblesse of Lizarra and Tutera, as well as that of the Erronkari, Zaraitzu, and other valleys, did not recognize Ferdinands’ authority. These so-called Navarre legitimists organized themselves to overthrow Ferdinand’s rule. Thus, on October 5, they rose in rebellion to take over the city of Lizarra. Some days later, Ferdinand’s army, for its part, counterattacked the rebellion. The resistance persisted during the whole month of October.  On the 30th day, eventually, the Navarrese defenders of Labrit surrendered, after they signed the agreement to lay down their arms.


Portrayal of Lizarra

On the history of Navarre, see Navarra: The Durable Kingdom, by Rachel Bard.

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



Flashback Friday: Against the King’s Will

On July 17, 1134, Alfonso I, King of Navarre and Aragon, known as “the Battler,” escaped from Fraga (Huesca), where the Moorish military forces had defeated the Christian army. Despite a series of successful military campaigns in the central Ebro Valley in the years before, Alfonso’s troops had encountered a stronger Almoravid resistance that they had expected in Fraga. Two months after the defeat of Fraga, Alfonso passed away. The succession to the throne resulted in quarrels between different aspirants, which undermined royal government power and weakened its military presence at frontier lines. In turn, the Muslims, although only momentarily, took advantage of this situation to gain back lost territory. Finally, the deceased King’s brother, Ramiro I, became King of Aragon and García Ramírez was crowned King of Navarre. After Alfonso’s death, then, the Kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre were separated.

alfonso battalador

Portrait of Alfonso I

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