The Basque Fueros and the Carlist Wars

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The Foral Regime

Fueros were the old laws of Basque people at the beginning were oral, but then became to be written. Even though Basque Fueros were not the only ones, they lasted more than the others, until 1876. In addition, it must be said that each Basque territory had its own Fueros: Guipozcoa, Alava, Viscay, Lapurdi, Zuberoa and Navarre. This implied that each territory has its own government as well.


  • The institutions were the following ones:

    • Town Councils: there were the essential units of political organization. Citizens chose their mayors. Moreover, each council used to send its representative to the General Juntas.

    • General Juntas: their main work was to make the laws (legislative power) and tok protect the fueros. As the Foral Pass showed, the laws were made by the King but needed the approval of the General Juntas.

    • County Council: the execution of the laws was in the hands of the County Council. They were in charge of collecting taxes and spending them on the things that General Juntas decided.

    • Corregidor: he was the representative of the king and he assured that the Juntas did not create any law contrary to the king. He was over all the institutions.

  • Justice:

    Even the last decision was in the King’s hands, they should judge on the basis of the local law.

  • Foral Laws:

    • Foral Pass: it allowed the own decision of the Basque to obey the central law or not.

    • Special Tributary System: Basque people were exempt of paying taxes, they could contribute but not necessarily.

    • Military Service: Basque did not do the military service, and in case they did they should receive their wages.

    • Interior Customs: this was favourable to import materials by the sea.

  • Economy:

    • Cereals were the main food of the time but there was a deficit in the coast. That’s why they maintained the customs in the interior, that way people living near the coast could obtain food without paying tariffs.

    • Basque people were involved in several activities:

      • Iron manufacture (and then export the product)

      • Ship building (especially in the coast)

      • Fishing

  • Society:

    The main characteristic was the universal nobility. All Basque  people were considered nobles as they did not have to pay taxes. But that does not mean they were not social differences. In general, the way of living was quite humble.

    Basque were proud of their race and wanted to keep their pure blood. The pureness of blood made possible the access to jobs in administration. That’s why it is said that it was a xenophobic society.

Discussions about the Fueros were frequent and this was because of the several Carlist Wars.

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