Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País
The Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country (in Basque Euskalerriaren Adiskideen Elkartea and in Spanish Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País), also known as La Bascongada or Bascongada Society, was founded in the mid-18th century to encourage the scientific, cultural and economic development of the Basque Country.
The founding members were the Knights of Azcoitia or the Triumvirate of Azcoitia, under the encouragement of Xavier María de Munibe e Idiáquez, count of Peñaflorida, José María de Eguía, marquis of Narros, and the encyclopedist and Enlightenment scholar Manuel Ignacio de Altuna. The blueprint for its constitution was drafted in 1763 in Vergara and approved in 1765. Its inception is inextricably linked to the economic momentum spurred by the activity of the Guipuzcoana Company.
Importance for the arts, culture, and the territory
The establishment of the society was followed by the founding of the Seminar of Vergara a decade later (1776), the first higher education institution to operate in Basque territory. Research carried out by Fausto Elhuyar and brother Juan Jose in the seminar led to their isolating of the chemical element tungsten, and Ignacio de Zavala came up with the procedure to obtain cast steel. In music the Society sponsored the work of composer José de Larrañaga. Literary activity was conducted by Félix María de Samaniego and others.
The Society was the first institution in Modern Age to ever regroup any Basque districts into a sole cluster out of common concerns—they operated on their own up to that point. It was also the first society of its kind in the Basque Country and Spain, with societies cut out after its pattern spreading soon afterwards all over Spain, and the New World.
Historical members or "friends"
- Pablo de Olavide (1725–1803), politician, lawyer and writer born in Perú.
- José de Larrañaga (1728–1806), Franciscan monk and composer.
- Félix María de Samaniego (1745–1801), neoclassical fabulist.
- Valentin de Foronda y González de Echávarri (1751–1821), Spanish General Consul in Philadelphia from 1801 to 1807 and Spanish Plenipotentiary Minister in the U.S.A. from 1807 to 1809.
- Fausto Elhuyar (1755–1833), chemist, and the joint discoverer of tungsten with his brother Juan José Elhuyar in 1783.
- Diego de Borica, governor of Las Californias (1794-1800)
- Director: – José María Urkia Etxabe, teacher of history of medicine at the University of the Basque Country
- President of the commission of Alava: – Fernando Salazar Rodríguez de Mendarózqueta, lawyer
- President of the commission of Biscay: – Xabier Orue-Etxebarria Urkitza, professor of Geology at the University of the Basque Country
- President of the commission of Gipuzkoa: – José María Urkia Etxabe
- President of the delegation in the courts: – Iñigo Yrizar Velasco
- President of the delegation in Mexico: – Jose Maria Basagoiti
- Old web of the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country. History section Archived 23 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- Cameron Watson Modern Basque history: eighteenth century to the present 2003 p64 "Basque Society of Friends of the Country) in Azkoitia, Gipuzkoa. – The Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country originated in a series of meetings between Basque nobles, clerics, and military and commercial leaders,
- Robert Jones Shafer The economic societies in the Spanish world, 1763–1821 1958 CHAPTER TWO Basque Society of Friends of the Country (1763–1800)
- Marciano R. De Borja Basques in the Philippines 2005 p68 "By this time the concept had been broadened to include the three Basque provinces of Araba, Gipuzkoa, and Bizkaia. The new organization was called the Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country."
- Mark Kurlansky The Basque history of the world 1999, p. 124 "In 1766, Xabier María de Munibe, the son of one of the founders of the Royal Guipúzcoan Company, founded the Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País, the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country,"
- Fernando Cabo Aseguinolaza, Anxo Abuín Gonzalez, César Domínguez A Comparative History of Literatures in the Iberian Peninsula 2010 p224 "Astarloa “went further than any of his predecessors in the defense of the Basque language when he maintained that Basque ... founders of the Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País (Royal Basque society of friends of the country), ..."
- Gorka Aulestia, Linda White The Basque poetic tradition 2000 p188 " The eighteenth century is of great importance for Basque literature because of two genres that appeared concurrently ... del Pais (the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country) was important for its influence on popular theater,"
- Mari Jose Olaziregi Waking the hedgehog: the literary universe of Bernardo Atxaga 2005 p12 " In 1765, the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country (La Real Sociedad Vascongada de Amigos del Pais) and the Royal Seminary of Bergara were founded. Under the influence of ideas from the so called Enlightenment Period "
- Web of the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country. History section (XVIII century)
- José Manuel Azcona Pastor Possible paradises: Basque emigration to Latin America 2004 p121 "The Royal Basque Society's expansion through the viceroyalty of Peru occurred much later than in Nueva Espafia"
- Gloria Pilar Totoricagüena Basque diaspora: migration and transnational identity 2005 p137 "These Basques also asked for membership from Basques living in the American colonies. The Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del Pais, the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country, is another example of Basque ethnic ties ..."
- Web of the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country: “Entre los Socios figuraron, tanto en este siglo como en el futuro, algunos de los más importantes reformistas de la época (Foronda, Villahermosa, Olavide, Azara, Meléndez Valdés, Samaniego (...) Se convirtió así el Seminario en un centro cultural de primera importancia en Europa, en el que se contó con profesores extraordinarios procedentes algunos de toda Europa, entre los que merece citarse a Proust, Chavaneaux, Brisseau, así como otros científicos de primera fila como los hermanos Elhuyar, Erro, Mas, Samaniego, Santibáñez, Foronda y otros muchos que contribuyeron a que los estudios de Vergara llegaran a conocerse y valorarse en toda Europa. Así, en el Seminario se hizo por vez primera la fundición de la platina y se trabajaron los aceros y la mejora de las técnicas de ferrerías. Uno de los éxitos obtenidos en este laboratorio fue el aislamiento del wolframio”.