History Files

European Kingdoms



Kingdom of Pamplona / Navarre / Nafarroa
AD 840 - 1512

While helping the Visigothic would-be usurper, Froila, the Basques were able to expand their territory towards the south-west of the Pyrenees to occupy Navarre and the eastern half of the northern coast of Iberia, territory which until no later than 658 had belonged to the Visigothic kingdom.

A pocket kingdom, Navarre was founded no later than AD 737 as a Frankish march county up alongside the western Pyrenees. It was isolated from early contact with the Islamic invaders, especially after the Umyadd governor of Pamplona was kicked out around 740, and was less involved with the Reconquista than other states. Initially under the domination of the Franks, it was also open to influence by the native Basque (Euskeran) peoples who were largely embodied by the Vascones. It was essentially, a Basque kingdom in pre-Spanish Iberia (hence the Basque name, Nafarroa).

Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza states: '...the Basques once inhabited a much larger territory than today... During the last Palaeolithic period in Europe the Basque region extended over almost the entire area [in which] ancient cave paintings have been found. There are some [clues to show] that Basque descends from a language [which was] spoken 35,000 to 40,000 years ago, during the first occupation of [modern] France by [Homo sapiens]... The artists [in] these caves would have spoken a language of the first, pre-agricultural Europeans, from which modern Basque is derived'.

The Vascones had been a large and powerful tribe of the Aquitani. By the first century BC they were one of the more dominant Aquitani tribes, being based in what is now north-eastern Spain, in the region around the Upper Ebro, just south of the Pyrenees. Their territory today comprises the province of Navarra, north-eastern Rioja, and western Aragon. Their tribal capital had been the city of Iruña (today's Pamplona from the Roman renaming of Pompaleo).

The term Navarre is first used only in 1087, but historians commonly apply this term to the early kingdom which had evolved from the small state which had gained Pamplona around 740.

(Additional information by Trish Wilson, from Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia, 1985 Edition (Revised 1993), from La Ciudadela de Barcelona: Cataluña vindicada, Lluís Cutchet, from Genes, Peoples, and Languages, Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza (University of California Press, 2000, pp120-121), and from External Links: Encyclopaedia.com, and Lleida Tourism, and Enciclopèdia Catalana, SAU, and Representació de SE Copríncep Francès (in French and Catalan), and History Extra, and National Geographic History (in Spanish).)

c.737 - 840

Navarre is a Frankish march county in the face of the Islamic control of most of the rest of Iberia. The inhabitants of Pamplona, which is part of Umayyad Al-Andalus, expel their Arab governor around 740. It is not clear how Basque the city of Pamplona may be, because what little historical evidence exists indicates that the area is geographically tiny, limited to Alava and the Rioja Alta. Basques in modern south-western France are part of the Frankish kingdom.

Navarre funerary belt clasp
The Vascones port city of Oiasso (today's Irún) have revealed a surprising selection of grave goods from the period between the ending of Roman controls and the beginnings of the Basque kingdom of Navarre in the eighth century AD


After Louis I, king of Aquitaine, suppresses a revolt in Pamplona, he creates the marcher county of Aragon in the valley of the River Aragon and as the first count he selects the Basque noble, Asnar Galíndez, the dominant commander of the Aragonese.


Before his death, Louis 'the Pious', who is also duke of Alemannia, promulgates the Ordinatio Imperii in 817, proclaiming, despite the ancient Frankish custom of dividing territory between surviving sons, that his eldest son, Lothar, will be sole beneficiary of the imperial dignity and sole inheritor of the empire.

By means of this he hopes to avoid the fragmentation of territory which so weakened the Merovingians. The new idea proves too much, provoking rebellions and rivalries between all four of Louis' sons which last until after the king's death.

One of the sons, Pepin of Aquitaine, has already predeceased his father, while Enneco (Inigo) Arista takes the opportunity to found the independent kingdom of Pamplona.

840 - c.851

Enneco / Eneko / Inigo Arista

First king.

c.851 - c.880

Garcia I Iniguez

c.880 - 905

Fortuno / Fortun Garcés

905 - 925

Sancho I Garcés

925 - 970

(Jimeno) Garcia II Sanchez I

Acquired the county of Aragon, formerly in Francia.

970 - 994

Sancho II Garcés II Abarca

Count of Aragon (948-994).

994 - 1000

Garcia III Sanchez II

1000 - 1035

Sancho III the Great


The boundaries are drawn between Navarre and the county of Castile. What is to become the Basque Country now falls within Navarre. The twelfth century reign of Sancho VII 'the Strong' will be the last in four hundred years of Basque monarchies which had begun with that of Eneko de Aritza of Pamplona in 840.

1029 - 1035

Overlordship of the county of Portugal falls to Navarre. With the death of Sancho III in 1035, the county of Aragon is detached as a separate kingdom and Portugal goes to Castile.

1035 - 1054

Garcia IV

1054 - 1076

Sancho IV

1076 - 1134

Ruled by Aragon.

1134 - 1150

Garcia V Ramirez

1150 - 1194

Sancho VI the Wise


Fresh from freeing his sister from the clutches of Tancred on Sicily, King Richard of England arrives on Cyprus to free his intended bride from the clutches of Isaac Komnenos. The ship carrying Princess Berengaria of Navarre had been forced to put in during a storm, on its way to join Richard's forces in the Third Crusade. Isaac has already seized and plundered two wrecked crusader ships, but this time he has picked the wrong adversary. Richard storms and takes Limassol, marries Berengaria in the chapel of St George, and proceeds to conquer the entire island with the help of Guy de Lusignan shortly after the latter's arrival on the island from Jerusalem.

1194 - 1234

Sancho VII the Strong

Last Basque king.


Guipuzcoa, Alava, and Vizcaya break away from the kingdom of Navarre amid a difficult political situation and, according to personal treaties with the king of Castile, become incorporated into Castile.


Caliph Muhammad suffers a devastating defeat by the Christian Iberians of Aragon, Castile, Navarre, and Portugal at Los Navos de Tolosa. Humiliated, they are forced to give way, and their army never fully recovers from the disaster. In the east, the empire fades as local tribes begin to rebel against Almohad rule and control over more territory is gradually lost, along with domination of the western Mediterranean Sea.

Battle of Los Navos de Tolosa
Ongoing battles between the Almohads and the Iberian Christians would end up in North African defeat at the Battle of Los Navos de Tolosa in 1212

1234 - 1253

Teobaldo I of Champagne / Theobald

Count of Champagne.

1253 - 1270

Teobaldo II


Ferry III of Lorraine marries Margaret, daughter of Theobald I, count of Champagne. The union spells the start of a process of increasing Gallification in Lorraine, but this results in tension between the duchy's French and German influences.

1270 - 1274

Henry I

1274 - 1305

Juana / Jeanne I

m Philip IV of France.

1305 - 1316

Luis the Stubborn / Ludovico

Louis X of France.

1316 - 1322

Philip the Tall

Brother. Philip V of France.

1322 - 1328

Charles I

Brother. Charles IV of France.

1328 - 1349

Juana / Jeanne II

Dau. Disqualified from French throne by Salic Law.

1349 - 1387

Charles II the Bad


The death of Pedro of Castile triggers a fight for the throne. Charles is among the competitors, as are the kings of Aragon, Portugal, and John of Gaunt, English duke of Lancaster. In the end it is Pedro's illegitimate brother who gains the throne, and all parties seek peace talks from Pope Gregory XI.

1387 - 1425

Charles III the Noble


1425 - 1479

Blanca / Blanche

Dau. m John II.

1425 - 1479

John II

Joint rule. King of Aragon (1459-1479).

1471 - 1472

Louis XI of France refuses to recognise the rights of the Foix (co-princes of Andorra) in Navarre, and Gaston IV of Foix and Andorra teams up with his new son-in-law, Francis II of Brittany (who has just married Princess Margarita of Foix in the same year), and also Charles the Bold of Burgundy, and revolts. However, he quickly dissolves the alliance and flees to Navarre where he heads the supporters of his wife, Eleanore. He dies at Roncesvalles in 1472.


Eleanore is the daughter of Blanca and John II, king of Aragon, and since 1472 has been the widow of Gaston IV of Foix and Andorra. Now their grandson, Francis Phoebus, succeeds as king of Navarre, and has already served as the count of Foix and co-prince of Andorra since 1472. (His own father, Gaston of Foix, son of Gaston IV, had predeceased his father in 1470.)


Leonor / Eleanore

Daughter. Died after 24 days.

1479 - 1481

Francis Febo / Francis Phoebus

Grandson. Also count of Foix & co-prince of Andorra. Poisoned?

1479 - 1481

Magdalena Orleans

Mother and regent.

1481 - 1512

Catalina / Catherine

Sister of Francis. m John III of Navarre.

1483 - 1512

John III

Husband and co-ruler.


Germaine of Foix marries Ferdinand II, king of Aragon, Navarre and Sicily, and soon to be the regent of Castile, thereby bringing the lordship of Andorra under Spanish rule.


Most of the kingdom is seized by Aragon and then Castile under Ferdinand of Navarre and then his son, Charles I of a united Spain. Pamplona is occupied, Upper Navarre is annexed, and the title of viscount of Castellbò is confiscated. For a brief period Ferdinand also holds authority over Andorra, but Catherine and John hold onto French Navarre.

French Navarre

Following the seizure of most of Navarre (Upper Navarre) by Aragon in 1512, the remainder of the kingdom, known as Lower Navarre or French Navarre, was located in a tiny fragment of territory based at Pau in the French Department of Bearn. The rulers of French Navarre were also co-princes of Andorra, counts of Foix and Bigorra, and viscounts of Bearn and Marsan.

1512 - 1517

Catalina / Catherine

Former queen of all Navarre. Co-princess of Andorra.

1512 - 1516

John II

Husband and co-ruler. Co-prince of Andorra.

1516 - 1517

Henry II

Son and co-ruler following the death of his father.

1517 - 1555

Henry II

Became sole ruler. Co-prince of Andorra.

1555 - 1572

Jeanne III d'Albret

Dau. m Anthony. Co-princess of Andorra.

1555 - 1562

Anthony / Antoine de Bourbon

Husband and co-ruler. Duke of Vendome.

1562 - 1565

A massacre of Protestants by Catholics near Paris in 1562 ignites the first of eight French Wars of Religion. Jeanne and Anthony have already introduced reforms in Navarre and Bearn in line with Jeanne's Calvinist beliefs. Anthony's own brother, Louis I Bourbon, prince of Condé, had already been arrested and sentenced to death (in 1560) for supporting the Protestant cause. As the conflict begins, Anthony is in Rouen, where he is harried and where he dies on 10 November 1562.

French Navarre
The poor lands of French Navarre were filled with small farms abutting the jagged hills of the Pyrenees, with most of the working population having Basque ancestry - linking them directly to the earliest hunter-gatherer settlers in Europe

1562 - 1572

Henry III

Son and co-ruler following his father's death.

1568 - 1571

The French king, Charles IX, orders the confiscation of the lands of his Protestant opponents. The Catholics of Bearn, part of the holdings of Jeanne III of French Navarre, led by Terride, rebel and take power as royal troops do elsewhere. The peace of Longjumeau of 23 March 1568, ends the Second French War of Religion but almost immediately the third begins in September 1568. The Battle of Jarnac on 12 March 1569 kills the prince of Condé, the Protestant leader, and Henry of Navarre is appointed the new political leader while military leadership is in the hands of Gaspard de Coligny.

In August 1569, Jeanne III regains her estates with the arrival of the forces of Duke Francis de Montmorency. On 8 August of 1570 the Peace of Saint-Germain-en-Laye is signed. In 1571 the status of Calvinism is formalised in Bearn and Navarre as the state religion, and shortly afterwards Jeanne negotiates a union between her son, Henry of Navarre, with Marguerite de Valois, sister of Charles IX of France, although she does not live to see the union effected.

1572 - 1589

Henry II

Now sole ruler. Co-prince of Andorra. King of France (1589-1610).


Henry III, king of France, recognises the Protestant Henry III, duc de Bourbon, king of French Navarre, count of Foix, and co-prince of Andorra as his successor. The League of Cambrai and the duc de Guise are far from happy about this, but Henry has the duke of Guise assassinated at Blois. King Henry himself is stabbed to death on 2 August 1589 by the Dominican Jacques Clément. Henry of Navarre succeeds him as King Henry IV of France. French Navarre now becomes part of France proper.

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