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Location of the tribe of the Vascones.
·Red: pre-Indoeuropean tribes
·Blue: Celtic tribes
A coin with BARSCUNES in Iberian script. It has been proposed that the word is related to Vascones.
Coins of King Arsaos, Navarre, 150-100 BCE, showing Roman stylistic influence. British Museum.

The Vascones (Latin, singular vasco[1][2]) were an ancient people who, at the arrival of the Romans, inhabited the region of present day Navarre, Lower La Rioja and north-western Aragon. It is likely that they are ancestors of the present-day Basques, to whom they left their name.

Contents

Roman period

Unlike the Aquitanians or Cantabrians, the Vascones seemed to have negotiated their status in the Roman Empire. In the Sertorian War, Pompey established his headquarters in their territory, founding Pompaelo. Romanization was rather intense in the area known as Ager Vasconum (the Ebro valley) but limited in the mountainous Saltus, where evidence of Roman civilization appears only in mining places, like Oiasso. The territory was also important for Romans as a communication knot between northern Hispania and southwestern Gallia.

The Vasconian area presents indications of upheaval (burnt villas, an abundance of mints to pay the garrisons) during the 4th and 5th centuries that have been linked by many historians to the Bagaudae rebellions against feudalization. By this time, it was already impossible to differentiate between the tribal Vascones and the rest of the Basque-speaking peoples, collectively called Vascones.

Early Middle Ages

In the year 407, Vascon troops fought on the orders of Roman commanders Didimus and Verinianus, repelling an attack by Vandals, Alans and Suebi. In 409, the passage of the Germans and Sarmatians toward Hispania went unhindered. The Roman reaction to this invasion and Vascon unrest was to give Aquitania and Tarraconensis to the Visigoths, in return for their services as allies by treaty (foederati). The Visigoths soon managed to expel the Vandals to Africa.

In the seventh and eighth century the island of Oléron, along with , formed the Vacetae Insulae or Vacetian Islands, according to the Cosmographia.[3] The Vaceti were the Vasconese by another name.

The independent Vascones stabilised their first polity under the Merovingian Franks: the Duchy of Vasconia, whose borders to the south remained unclear. This duchy would eventually become Gascony. After the Muslim invasions and the re-incorporation of Gascony to the Frankish Kingdom under Charles Martel, the territory south of the Pyrenees was reorganized around Pamplona. When Charlemagne destroyed the walls of this city after a failed attempt to conquest Zaragoza, the Vascons annihilated his rearguard in the Battle of Roncevaux Pass (778). Some decades later the Kingdom of Pamplona was founded.

Notes

  1. ^ Gascon in the Online Etymology Dictionary.
  2. ^ Vasco - Historia in the Spanish-language Auñamendi Encyclopedia.
  3. ^ Collins, 214.

References

  • Collins, Roger. "The Vaccaei, the Vaceti, and the rise of Vasconia." Studia Historica VI. Salamanca, 1988. Reprinted in Roger Collins, Law, Culture and Regionalism in Early Medieval Spain. Variorum, 1992. ISBN 0 86078 308 1.
  • Sorauren, Mikel. Historia de Navarra, el Estado Vasco. Pamiela Ed., 1998. ISBN 84-7681-299-X.

See also

External links

  • Vascones in the Auñamendi Encyclopedia, by Bernardo Estornés Lasa.
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