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Basque Country (Spain and France)

Last modified: 1998-10-09 by jorge candeias
Keywords: basque country | euskadi | bizkaia | ikurrina | spain | france | europe | cross | coat of arms |
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Basque Country
by Mark Sensen

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Dimensions of the flag

Originally: In a field of 500 cm by 280 cm, the crosses had a width of 20 cm. Since 1936, with the same field, the crosses were enlarged to 43 cm width, to make them more visible, in particular the green one.

Xabier Ormaetxea, 9 July 1995

Last night CBC ran a special documentary on the Basque activities. Lots of scenes of the Ikurrina. In almost every view of it, the dimensions were considerably shorter than that shown above. I would guess it was generally 2:3, not the official nearly 1:2.

Rob Raeside, 7 April 1998

State flag

On a news report a few hours ago about the Basque country (Societe Radio-Canada), there was an interview with the autonomus Basque country's (Spain) president. Behind him was the Basque flag defaced in the center with a coat of arms. Of course, the flag was around a pole, so I wasn't able to fully see them. I could well distinguish the right part of the shield (observer's, so the part in the fly), though.

The shield was surrounded by green leaves that didn't touch at the top (laurel leaves ?). The top of the right part of the shield consisted of a tree in natural colors (brown trunk and green leaves) with some other small details and the lower quarter was the Navarre arms (red with yellow chains crossed in a star-like pattern).

Does anybody know if this flag is the presidential standard ? One of our friends from the Iberian peninsula perhaps? Jaume, António, Jorge?

Luc-Vartan Baronian, 9 March 1998

My understanding is that most spanish autonomical flags come in two versions: with and without the coat of arms of the respective autonomical community. The flag without coat of arms is intended for civil use, the other one for government use. So, that flag can be considered a state flag of the basque AC.

Jorge Candeias, 9 March 1998

History of the Ikurrina

The Basque flag was created in 1894 by Sabino Arana (founder of the Basque nationalism), and the name of the flag is IKURRINA, although the meaning of this word is: flag. Actually, it is used only for the Basque flag: Basque people prefer to use the Spanish word bandera for the other flags when they are speaking in Basque.

The IKURRINA was created only for BIZKAIA ( the main region of Euskadi), but it became very popular and the rest of the Basque regions (4 regions in Spain and 3 in France) accepted it as the flag of the whole Euskadi. In the beginning only the Basque nationalist party (founded by Sabino Arana in 1895, July, 31st) used it, but during the 2nd Spanish Republic (1931-1939) all the democratic parties accepted it. In 1936 the Basque Autonomous Government (The Lehendakari (president Jose Antonio Agirre) was created, with representation of all the democratic parties, and the IKURRINA was declared by law the Basque flag. After the Spanish war, the dictatorship (1936-1977) declared the Ikurrina to be illegal, and it was totally forbidden and declared a separatist symbol. During the 2nd World War, there was a Basque brigade in the French free army, and the Ikurrina of the brigade was condecorated (because of the battle of Point de Grave, near Bordeaux). After the dictatorship and with the approval of the Basque autonomy, the Ikurrina was declared again by law as the official Basque flag. In the Basque areaas of France it has always been allowed and after the 2nd world war has been officially used in the town halls together with the French flag.

Xabier Ormaetxea, 9 August 1995

Meaning of the Ikurrina

Historicaly the flag of Bizkaia was red. When Sabino Arana created the flag, he wanted to give it the meaning: Bizkaia, independence and God, so the red color of the field means Bizkaia or Euskadi, the green St. Andrews cross means the independence of the Basque Country, and it's green because it symbolizes the Oak tree of Gernika, symbol of Basque freedom, as well. The white cross means God.

About the green St. Andrew's cross: in 867, there was a battle between the people Biscay, commanded by Lope Fortzn (first lord of Biscay) and Sancho de Estigiz (lord of Durango) and Leonese (King Ordonno II of Leon, son of Alfonso ël Magno") in a place called Padura (Arrigorriaga). This battle was on St. Andrew's day, and the stones of the place were stained of blood. Since that day, the place has been named Arrigorriaga (place of red stones). It is not clear whether this battle is historical or legendary, but the St. Andrew's cross has been used often in Basque flags, like the one of the Consulate of Bilbao, the Naval flag of Biscay, and in some Carlists flags during the Carlists wars (1836-1876).

Xabier Ormaetxea, 9 August 1995 and Ismael Barba, 6 May 1998

Centenary of Ikurrina

The Ikurrina (Basque Nation flag and Euskadi state flag) celebrated its 100th anniversary on 1994-07-14. The Ikurrina is the symbol of the Basques of Euskadi (under Spanish rule), Iparralde (under French rule), Navarra (under Spanish-French rule) and foreign residents in America, Europe and Australia (the Ikurrina is in the flag of Saint Pierre and Miquelon). The flag was hoisted for the first time for the Arana Goiri Brothers and 56 friends, in the nationalist house named "Euskeldun Batzokija" in Bilbao on 1894-07-14. This was a great event for the Basque people, who had no flag tradition.

Source: "Alderdi", no 55 (publication of the Basque Nationalist Party).