Tag: philippe veyrin

May 8, 1660: French court arrives in Donibane Lohizune for celebration of Louis XIV’s wedding

May 8, 1660 marked the arrival in Donibane Lohizune (Saint-Jean-de-Luz), Lapurdi, of the whole French court to begin celebrations for the forthcoming wedding of Louis XIV, King of France and Navarre, the Sun King, to Maria Theresa of Spain (held on June 9 that same year). The marriage had been agreed the previous year at the signing of the Treaty of the Pyrenees on Konpantzia, the Iles de Faisans or Pheasant Island, an islet in the Bidasoa River between Lapurdi and Gipuzkoa; and the location in which Basque delegates from both sides of the river, in the service of their respective crowns, had met traditionally to conclude commercial treaties.


Maria Theresa is handed over to the French and her husband by proxy, Louis XIV, on the Ile des Faisans (Konpantzia) in 1659. Painting by Jacques Laumosnier. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

As Philippe Veyrin comments in The Basques of Lapurdi, Zuberoa, and Lower Navarre: Their History and Their Traditions (p. 185), “it was mainly Donibane Lohizune that, for a few weeks, had the eyes of the whole of Europe on it.” Veyrin continues (p. 186):

From May 8, when the royal entry had, in the fashion of the country, been enlivened by the leaps and bounds of Basque dancers (called carscabilayres in allusion to the little bells sewn into their clothes [kaskabilo is a small bell —ed.]), until June 15, when Their Majesties finally left the region, there was a deafening commotion.

This was just one more example, then, of how the Basque Country has been the setting for a key event in European history as a whole.

By way of an anecdote, it has been contended that Louis XIV was so taken by the Basque dancers he witnessed during his stay in Lapurdi that he took a group of them back with him to Paris to create the first Royal Dance Academy, founded in 1661.

Surprising sightings of the lauburu


A classic representation of the lauburu, via Wikimedia Commons

Many of you reading this will be familiar with the lauburu (literally meaning “four heads” but a term that could also be interpreted as four ends or tips) and its special significance in Basque culture. Its origins are a matter of some dispute (see the Wikipedia article here) and it is clearly not particular to the Basque Country alone, with similar symbols found all over the world and an especially strong connection to Celtic culture . Yet it has an undeniable resonance in Basque culture today. Check out, for example, just how many people like the lauburu enough to get a tattoo of it here in the photo album at Buber’s Basque Page.

What you may not know, though, is that a lauburu appears in a painting by Francisco Goya (1746-1828), who was of Basque ancestry on his father’s side. The painting in question is “Retrato de la Marquesa de Santa Cruz” (1805).


“Retrato de la Marquesa de Santa Cruz” (1805) by Francisco Goya, via Wikimedia Commons.

Even more unusual–or perhaps not–is a petroglyph or rock engraving on Woodhouse Crag, Ikley Moor, in West Yorkshire, England, which seems to resemble a lauburu. Also the cause of much speculation, as this Wikipedia article notes here, we’ll leave it up to you to be judge.



“Ilkley Moor Swastika Stone” by T.J. Blackwell – Own work. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Do you know of any other unlikely or unusual sightings of the lauburu?

Santiago de Pablo, author of the CBS publication The Basque Nation On-Screen: Cinema, Nationalism, and Political Violence,  has an interesting article (in Spanish) on the cultural and political significance of the lauburu, available free to download here.

The lauburu is also discussed in The Basques of Lapurdi, Zuberoa, and Lower Navarre:  Their History and Their Traditions, by Philippe Veyrin, with an introduction by Sandra Ott.  Veyrin actually describes the lauburu, rather poetically, as a “Basque rose.”