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Basque Revolt (Principia Moderni III Map Game)

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Basque Revolt
Eusko Matxinada
Revuelta Vasco

Principia Moderni III
Part of the War of the Grand Coalition
Basque Revolt Charge of Burgos

The Charge at Burgos, (1754) by Peio Jaso

Date August 24, 1738 - December 13, 1749
Location Iberian Peninsula, Bay of Biscay, Atlantic Ocean
Result Independence of Navarre
Bandera de Reino de Navarra.svg Navarre

Pavillon royal de la France France
Britannia revision 1650 Britannia

Flag of Habsburg Spain center eagle monarchs Hispanian Empire
  • Hispania
  • Flag of Hispanian italy Italy
  • Spanish Colonial Empire
Commanders and leaders
Bandera de Reino de Navarra.svg Erramun de Evreux

Bandera de Reino de Navarra.svg Alesander Etxebarria
Bandera de Reino de Navarra.svg Xabi Abaroa

Flag of Habsburg Spain center eagle monarchs Juan II De Habsburg
Flag of Habsburg Spain center eagle monarchs Alonso Vázquez †
Flag of Habsburg Spain center eagle monarchs Marcos Tapía
Bandera de Reino de Navarra.svg 50,000 Flag of Habsburg Spain center eagle monarchs 125,000
Casualties and losses
Bandera de Reino de Navarra.svg 6,540 Flag of Habsburg Spain center eagle monarchs 15,200

The Basque Revolt (Basque: Eusko Matxinada, Spanish: Revuelta Vasca) was a large-scale revolution against the falling Spanish empire. Led by the pretender to the throne of Navarre, it was a carefully calculated political risk that took place at the start of the fall of the Spanish empire.

The war lasted from the official declaration of independence issued on August 24, 1738 until the signing of the Treaty of Toledo in 1749 and saw the loss of 6,540 Navarrese lives. The largest battle of the revolt took place at Burgos in 1733; from there on, the war was mostly fought during occasional battles while Navarre focused on rebuilding.


The Kingdom of Navarre had been one of the largest and most important kingdoms of Spain during the 800s, when most of the country was still occupied by the Muslims. Eventually, Aragon, Castille, Portugal, and León became the main kingdoms on the Iberian Peninsula and managed to drive out the Muslims in the southern half of the Peninsula, gaining global prestige.

After Castille and León united, it became apparent that it was the most powerful nation in Hispania. Navarre would continue as a small, rump kingdom under Castillian, Aragonese, and French control. While Castille and Aragon fought over Navarrese influence, Aragon's Martin II eventually settled the Aragonese succession crisis by announcing that Charles III de Evreux of Navarre was to succeed him.

Thus began a union between Navarre and Aragon, but Aragon's defeat to Castille in the 1460s led to Navarre being subsumed into the Spanish Confederation. Navarre would go on to be ruled by magistrates, a mockery to many Basque leaders, until it was merged into Spain in 1521.

A number of events led to continued displeasure with the government in Madrid. For example, the central authorities in Spain conducted large-scale investigations into false witchcraft allegations in the Navarrese parts of their empire in 1606, killing many children and upsetting locals. Many Basques would leave their homelands for Hiriak (in southern Greenland) or the Nehilaw Sachemate in Borealia.

Erramun I de Evreux

Erramun I de Evreux

In the early 1700s, industrialization begun in southern France and northern Spain - including the Basque regions. As the Basques became much more wealthy and powerful, they felt increasingly neglected by the government in Madrid. The Basque population began to explode due to industrialization, and the claimant to the Navarrese (and Aragonese) thrones via Charles III de Evreux, Erramun, began to plan with Basque separatists, how to best take advantage of the shortcomings of the Hispanian state in order to attain independence.

Their opportunity arrived when, in 1737, the governments of France, Rome, Britannia, Westphalia, and many other states declared war on Spain. Erramun gathered his supporters in Pamplona, and soon a declaration of independence appeared to be coming imminently.



Erramun de Evreux, the claimant to the thrones of Navarre via Carles IV of Navarre's second son, who had been planning for the creation of an independent Navarrese state, gathered his main supporters in Pamplona during the summer. The War of the Grand Coalition had already begun the previous summer, and Erramun had sent an envoy to Brittania during the summer of 1738 in order to secure Emperor James' support.

Prise de la Bastille

Storming of the Pamplona Garrison

When word of support came back, Erramun issued a formal declaration of independence on August 28, 1738. The date was chosen for being 8-24 on western calendars, which was reminiscent of 824 AD, the original foundation of the Kingdom of Navarre. To this day, August 24 is celebrated as Independentzia Eguna, or Independence Day.

That autumn, Spanish garrisons in Pamplona and Bilbao were overthrown. The most dramatic battle of these revolts was at Pamplona's garrison, the Palacio del Magisterio. At this battle, the Hispanian general Alonso Vázquez, almost defeated the infant rebellion, but a surge of popular support led to the Palacio falling and Vázquez being forced to flee to Logroño.

In the winter, Vitoria-Gastiez had a rebellion, led by pro-Erramun forces and Xabi Abaroa. At this point, Erramun and Abaroa united to pursue Vázquez from Logroño. The Basque forces camped in Logroño, while Vázquez and Hispanian loyalists wintered in Burgos.


With the two forces facing off 130 km apart, Abaroa decided that the Basque forces should seize the initiative and take Burgos, thereby pushing the Hispanian forces far to the south and west, away from Pamplona, while France stormed in through Aragon.

August Querfurt - Schlachtenmotiv

Flee from Haro

Unfortunately, Vázquez realized the plan early enough on, and was able to move his forces from Burgos to Haro, where a battle was fought. Vázquez, reinforced by men from a contingent from Soria, managed to defeat the Basque forces, which were relatively undisciplined. At the Battle of Haro, the peasants who made up the right wing fled after a massive onslaught. With a large victory attained, Vázquez moved his troops on to Logroño, which was taken in early summer.

Meanwhile, Donostia-San Sebastián experienced a revolt akin to that in Bilbao and Pamplona in the previous year. This revolt, which was led by French instigators, didn't immediately swear support for Erramun, unlike other revolts throughout the region. Therefore, the far northern reaches of the region were, for this period in time, de facto independent. Later research suggested that France had planned to seize the important seaport following its campaign into Aragon. This was prevented, however, when in autumn, Marshal Abaroa's forces garrisoned in Bilbao after the Battle of Haro, and they went to enforce Erramun's hegemony over Donostia-San Sebastián.

As winter set in, Basque forces controlled all of the region between Vitoria-Gastiez, Bilbao, Pamplona, and Donostia-San Sebatián, while the Hispanians were poised to take Vitoria-Gastiez next spring.


As 1740 dawned, a disturbing scene was playing out in the coast of the Bay of Biscay near Bilbao. A huge fleet of frigates and ships-of-the-line, including an Admiral's flag ship, arrived near the coastal reaches of the nation. As Bilbao prepared for an attack, the Hispanian flags lowered from the top of the flagship. In its place, the Navarrese flag was raised. Soon thereafter, Admiral Alesander Extebarria was welcomed into Bilbao as a returning hero, with his whole navy of Basque loyalists supporting him.

Schlacht bei Roßbach

Battle at Vitoria-Gastiez

This distraction, however, delayed Marshall Abaroa's move south to Vitoria-Gastiez, which had been attacked by Vázquez in early April. Thinking that Abaroa would arrive quickly, Vitoria-Gastiez's partisans were fighting the well-trained and well-armed Hispanian army. Despite the odds, the partisans managed to hold Vázquez off for almost a month before Abaroa arrived and crushed the demoralised Hispanian troops.

From there, Abaroa retook Logroño and was poised to attack Burgos. Abaroa moved from Logroño in early summer, and he arrived at Burgos at about the same time as Vázquez, who had originally headed north to Santander. With neither forces controlling Burgos, it was something of a race to take the city; Abaroa and the Basques won and then managed to engage a successful sortie and break the lines of Vázquez's forces.

At the end of 1740, the Basques appeared to be holding the upper hand. Vázquez's forces had been heavily depleted due to disasters at Vitoria-Gastiez and Burgos, and the Hispanian government had summoned Vázquez's primary aide-de-camp to Madrid to see if Vázquez should be discharged and replaced.


King Juan II De Habsburg, who was a personal friend on General Alonso Vázquez, dismissed the charges against Vásquez as ridiculous. Therefore, Vázquez was renewed in his command over the Hispanian forces in the Basque Revolt.

Vázquez's troops, which had wintered in Soria, would then be called to help the Hispanian efforts to hold onto Aragon, which was undergoing a French onslaught. Abaroa would use this opportunity to seize Soria, which had once been a loyalist stronghold but its people had become disillusioned as a result of the War.

At this point in time, the Kingdom of Navarre, under Erramun, and ruling from Pamplona, had attained a decent amount of recognition from foreign powers. This was due primarily to the nations' mutual hatred for Hispania. As such, Navarre decided that it would aid the French in their invasion of loyalist Aragon.

Siege of maastricht

Siege of Huesca

France had focused on the coastline, so Vázquez was dedicated to pushing them out of Barcelona. While this was taking place, Abaroa (who had been ordered to return to Pamplona by King Erramun, who was more interested in defending the realm than expanding it) decided he would seize parts of Aragon, centered around the province of Huesca.

In a large-scale siege, the town of Huesca eventually capitulated and was placed under the command of Basque military commanders. At that point, Abaroa returned to Pamplona, as ordered by Erramun.

As winter set in, it became apparent that Hispania was (at least at the moment) willing to let Navarre continue to exist independently. The focus on maintaining the overseas empire seemed to consume Juan II De Habsburg, which ultimately led to the relative peace that had been attained over the next few years.


Between 1742 and 1747, there was very little fighting overall in, near, or around the Kingdom of Navarre. During this period, Navarre began to establish itself, creating its own currency and working to make Pamplona a modern capital city.

The notable exception to the peace during this period involved naval combat. Admiral Alesander Extebarria was deemed a traitor by the Hispanian government, and for that reason a large bounty was placed on his head. By 1742, fighting overseas has turned against the Hispanians, and many of their naval vessels returned to Hispanian proper.

Loutherbourg-La Victoire de Lord Howe-Détail 1

Basque Mutiny from the Santiago de Compostela

The first large-scale naval engagement between Navarre and Hispania took place in 1743: the Battle of the Cantabrian Sea. In this battle, Extebarria faced off against the notorious Grand Admiral Marcos Tapía, who was famous for his combat against piracy. Tapía had formerly been Extebarria's commander; therefore, this battle was highly personal. In the midst of the fighting over 100 Basque sailors abandoned the Hispanian fleet in life rafts. About 50 of those came from the Hispanian flag ship, the Santiago de Compostela.

This mutiny led to a crushing Hispanian defeat; Tapía only barely managed to escape with his life by abandoning his flagship and boarding a clipper. The spoils of this battle were great, and this bolstered the size of the Navarrese navy.

Later that decade, in 1746, the plight of Hispania had gotten much worse. Aragon had almost fallen in its entirety to the French forces. Hispania decided to conduct a series of raid against the French and Britannian coasts, and to get there they had to pass through the Bay of Biscay. In fear of an attack upon Bilbao, Extebarria mobilized his navy to meet the larger Hispanian forces. In the Battle of the Biscay, Navarre managed to inflict massive damages to the Hispanian fleet, but couldn't outlast it. Eventually, Extebarria simply called his forces back to Bilbao to defend the coast. Tapía had won a victory, albeit and extremely costly one.

In 1747, peace on land began to be threatened.


By 1748, Aragon had finally fallen to the French. With the Hispanian Empire in its dying days, it was decided that the best course of action would be to strike France directly, and to do so Hispanian strategists decided to force a path through the Kingdom of Navarre to take advantage of a pass through the Pyrenees near Donostia-San Sebatián.

As such, Hispanian General Alonso Vázquez was recalled from the French front and sent north to sneak in between Burgos and Logroño and then in between Bilbao and Vitoria-Gastiez, and finally arrive at Donostia-San Sebastián and from there head into France via Biarritz.

This attack began in Valladolid, where Vázquez was reinforced. His plan to sneak by unnoticed managed to get him past Burgos, but then word arrived to King Erramun in Pamplona, and he hastily summoned Marshall Abaroa, whose forces met to the northeast of Vitoria-Gastiez. In the subsequent Battle of Amurrio, Vázquez was mortally wounded and the vast majority of his forces repulsed out of the Kingdom of Navarre.

Realizing that they could seize the initiative further, King Erramun allowed Abaroa to pursue the faltering Hispanian troops to Santander, Cantabria. Abaroa's army marched through northern Hispania until reaching Santander. Following a brief battle outside the city's gates, the Navarrese forces had seized the city. Abaroa decided to winter over in the town, and then to join the French assault onto Madrid early the following year.


The final year of the Revolt (and of the War of the Grand Coalition) began with the Navarrese forces heading south from Santander to Burgos. From Burgos, Marshall Abaroa's army marched further south, to Madrid.

To be continued.


The Basque Revolt saw a number of important Basque leaders rise, and an important Hispanian general, Alonso Vázquez, fall. The most important individuals in this war were:

  • Erramun de Evreux - Descended from 
  • Alesander Extebarria - A Basque noble, Extebarria was an important reformer of the Hispanian navy. Due to the large size of the Hispanian Empire, Extebarria's naval reforms were well-timed, and he was promoted to Admiral, operating primarily from the island of Cuba. He encouraged many Basques to join the navy, and by the time the War of the Grand Coalition broke out in 1737, at least 15% of the navy was Basque. After news of the war came to Extebarria's fleet, he returned to the Bay of Biscay with his whole fleet and then rose the Flag of Navarre over his ships, indicating his loyalty to Erramun. Alesander's mutiny in 1740 led to a huge boost in Navarrese confidence following the Basque defeat at Burgos in 1739. Extebarria's service in the later parts of the war involved capturing much of the Hispanian navy and planning the creation of the Navarrese navy.
  • Xabi Abaroa

    Xabi Abaroa

    Xabi Abaroa - Abaroa was only a minor Spanish officer prior to the outbreak of the Basque Revolt. What gave him such an advantage when war broke out that led to him being proclaimed Marshall was his personal relationship with Erramun. Abaroa led the initial revolt in the city of Vitoria-Gastiez, the third Navarrese city to throw off the Hispanian yoke. While not as stunning as the storming of Pamplona's Palacio del Magisterio, his operation was much more efficient. Efficiency came to mark most of Abaroa's war effort. The only exception to this rule was his defeat at Burgos (the first time) and his Siege of Huesca (which was waged against the King's orders). Abaroa would become the main war hero for the Navarrese people, and after the war's conclusion in 1749, he was elected the first Lehendakari of the Navarrese Parliament. 
  • Alonso Vázquez
  • Marcos Tapía

In addition to these leaders, some other individuals who would go on to be important were involved in the Basque Revolt. Among these were:

  • Peio Jaso



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