Navarre, officially the Chartered Community of Navarre (Spanish: Comunidad Foral de Navarra ; Basque: Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea ; ), is an autonomous community in northern Spain, bordering the Basque Country, La Rioja, and Aragon in Spain and Aquitaine in France. The capital city is Pamplona (or Iruña in Basque).
During the Roman Empire, the Vascones, a pre-Roman tribe who populated the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, included the area which would ultimately become Navarre. In the mountainous north, the Vascones escaped large-scale Roman settlement, except for coastal areas—Oiasso (Gipuzkoa nowadays). Not so the flatter areas to the south, which were amenable to large-scale Roman farming—vineyards, olives, and wheat crops.
Kingdom of Navarre
Neither the Visigoths nor the Franks ever completely subjugated the area. The Vascones (to become the Basques) included neighbouring tribes as of the 7th century. In AD 778, the Basques defeated a Frankish army at the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. Two generations later, in 824, the Basque chieftain Iñigo Arista was elected King of Pamplona supported by the muwallad Banu Qasi of Tudela, so establishing a Basque kingdom that developed and was later called Navarre. That kingdom reached its zenith during the reign of King Sancho III, comprising most of the Christian realms to the south of the Pyrenees, and even a short overlordship of Gascony (early 11th century).
When Sancho III died in 1035, the Kingdom of Navarre was divided between his sons. It never fully recovered its political power, while its commercial importance increased as traders and pilgrims (the Francs) poured into the kingdom throughout the Way of Saint James. In 1200, Navarre lost the key western Basque districts to Alphonse VIII of Castile, leaving the kingdom landlocked. Navarre then contributed with a small but symbolic force of 200 knights to the decisive Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212 against the Almohads.
The native line of kings came to an end in 1234; their heirs intermarried with French dynasties. However, the Navarrese kept most of their strong laws and institutions. The death of Queen Blanche I (1441) inaugurated a civil war period between the Beaumont and Agramont confederacies with the intervention of the Castilian-Aragonese House of Trastámara in Navarre's internal affairs. In 1512, Navarre was invaded by Ferdinand the Catholic's troops, with Queen Catherine and King John III withdrawing to the north of the Pyrenees, and establishing a Kingdom of Navarre-Bearn, led by Queen Joan III as of 1555.
To the south of the Pyrenees, Navarre was annexed to the Crown of Castile (1515), but keeping a separate ambiguous status, and a shaky balance up to 1610—King Henry III ready to march over Spanish Navarre. A Chartered Government was established (the Diputación), and the kingdom managed to keep home rule. Tensions with the Spanish Government came to a head as of 1794, when Spanish premier Manuel Godoy attempted to suppress Navarrese and Basque self-government altogether, with the end of the First Carlist War definitely bringing the kingdom and its home rule (fueros) to an end (1839-1841).
Province of Spain
Loss of home rule
After the 1839 Convention of Bergara, the Compromise Act (Ley Paccionada) was signed with representatives of the Chartered Government of Navarre in 1841, and the kingdom was made into a province in exchange for keeping a reduced version of home rule (fueros). The end of the Third Carlist War saw a renewed wave of Spanish centralization directly affecting Navarre. Amid instability in Spain, Carlists took over in Navarre and the rest of the Basque provinces. An actual Basque state was established during the Third Carlist War with Estella as its capital (1872-1876), but King Alfonso XII's restoration in the throne of Spain and a counterattack prompted the Carlist defeat.
In 1893-1894 the Gamazada popular uprising took place centred in Pamplona against Madrid's governmental decisions breaching the 1841 chartered provisions, as well as fiscal guarantees set out in 1876. Except for a small faction (the so-called Alfonsinos), all parties in Navarre agreed on the need for a new political framework based on home rule within the Laurak Bat, the Basque districts in Spain. Among these, the Carlists stood out, who politically dominated the province, and resented an increased string of rulings and laws passed by Madrid, as well as left leaning influences. The relocation of customs from the Ebro river to the Pyrenees in 1841 prompted the collapse of Navarre’s customary cross-Pyrenean trade and the rise of smuggling. Unlike Biscay or Gipuzkoa, Navarre did not develop manufacturing during this period, remaining a basically rural economy.
Republic and military uprising
In 1932, a Basque Country's separate statute failed to take off over disagreements on the centrality of Catholicism, a scene of political radicalization ensued dividing the leftist and rightist forces during the 2nd Spanish Republic (1931-1939). Thousands of landless labourers occupied properties of wealthy landowners in October 1933, leaving the latter eager for revenge. The most reactionary and clerical Carlists came to prominence, ideologues such as Víctor Pradera, and an understanding with General Mola paved the way to the Spanish Nationalist uprising in Pamplona (18 July 1936). The triumphant military revolt was followed by a terror campaign in the rearguard against blacklisted individuals considered to be progressive ("reds"), mildly republicans, or just inconvenient. The purge especially affected southern Navarre along the Ebro banks, and counted on the active complicity of the clergy, who adopted the fascist salute and even involved in murderous tasks. The killing took a death toll of at least 2,857, plus a further 305 dying in prisons (ill-treatment, malnutrition). The dead were buried in mass graves or discarded into chasms abounding on the central hilly areas (Urbasa, etc.). Basque nationalists were also chased to a lesser extent, e.g. Fortunato Aguirre, a Basque nationalist and mayor of Estella (and co-founder of Osasuna Football Club), was executed in September 1936. Humiliation and silence ensued for the survivors. Pamplona became the rebel launching point against the Republic during the War in the North.
As a reward for its support in the Spanish Civil War (Navarre sided for the most part with the military uprising), Franco allowed Navarre, as it happened with Álava, to maintain during his dictatorship a number of prerogatives reminiscent of the ancient Navarrese liberties. The bleak post-war years were shaken by shortage, famine, and smuggling, with the economy relying on agriculture (wheat, vineyards, olive, barley), and a negative migration balance. The winners of war came to cluster around two main factions, Carlists and Falangists, while the totalitarian ultra-Catholic environment provided fertile grounds for another religious group, the Opus Dei, to found their University of Navarre (1952), ever more influential in Pamplona. The coming of the society of consumption and incipient economic liberalization saw also the establishment of factories and workshops during the early 60’s (automobile manufacturing and accessories, etc.), especially around the overgrown capital. It was followed by labour and political unrest. In the run-up to Spanish democracy (Constitution ratified in 1978), Navarre plunged into a climate of violence practised by ETA, police forces, and state-sponsored paramilitary groups, extending during the 1980s, and beyond.
Tension during the Spanish transition
Officials and figures with good connections to the regional government of Navarre went on to join the Adolfo Suarez’s UCD, later splitting into the party UPN led by Jaime Ignacio Del Burgo and Jesús Aizpún Tuero (1979), refusing to join a democratic constitutional process on the grounds that Navarre’s charters (or fueros) remained in place. They also refused to join the Basque process to become an autonomous community, where recently legalized Basque nationalist and leftist parties held a majority. A continuation of the institutional framework inherited from the dictatorship and its accommodation into the Spanish democracy was guaranteed by the Betterment (“Amejoramiento”), a Navarre-only solution considered ‘an upgrade’ of its former status issued from the (remains of the) charters. In a 3 year span, the Spanish Socialists in Navarre veered in their position, quit the Basque process, and joined the arrangement adopted for Navarre (Chartered Community of Navarre, 1982). The reform was not ratified by referendum, as demanded by Basque nationalist and minority progressive forces.