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Coins of Arsaos, Navarre, 150–100 BC, showing Rome's stylistic influence
During the Roman Empire, the Vascones, a pre-Roman tribe who populated the southern slopes of the Pyrenees occupied the area which would ultimately become Navarre. In the mountainous north, the Vascones escaped large-scale Roman settlement, but not so in the flatter areas to the south, which were amenable to large-scale Roman farming.
After Sancho III died, the Kingdom of Navarre was divided between his sons. It never fully recovered its political power, although its commercial importance increased as the traders and pilgrims traversed the Camino de Santiago, which crossed the kingdom. Navarre fought beside other Christian Spanish kingdoms in the decisive battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, after which the Muslim conquests in the Iberian Peninsula were slowly reduced to the small territory of Granada in 1252. Because of its strategic location, Navarre often fought to maintain its integrity against the stronger kingdoms to its east (Aragon) and west (Castille). Its royal family intermarried with French nobles, but the Navarrese kept their strong town-based democratic traditions, which not only kept the roads maintained, but also limited aristocratic power. In 1469, the marriage of Queen Isabella of Castile-León and King Ferdinand of Aragon-Catalonia unified those kingdoms into what became the kingdom of Spain. While their military attentions remained focused on the remaining Muslim kingdom in the south, Navarre's days too seemed numbered. Efforts to merge the mountain kingdom into the newly formed Kingdom of Spain by marriage ultimately failed.
In 1515, after the War of the League of Cambrai, the bulk of Navarre south of the Pyrenees (Upper Navarre) was at last absorbed into Spain, but retained some autonomy. Navarre's royal family fled into the small portion of Navarre lying north of the Pyrenees (Lower Navarre), and their military attempts to regain their kingdom failed. Queen Jeanne d'Albret became a famous Huguenot and her son became King Henry IV of France, founder of the House of Bourbon dynasty, a branch of which much later came to rule Spain. With the declaration of the French Republic and execution of Louis XVI, the last King of France and Navarre, the kingdom was merged into a unitary French state.
The community ceremonies, education, and social services, together with housing, urban development, and environment protection policies are under the responsibility of its own institutions.
Unlike most other autonomous communities of Spain (but like the Basque Country), Navarre has almost full responsibility for collecting and administering taxes which must follow the overall guidelines established by the Spanish government but may have some minor differences.
During the Reconquista, Navarre gained little ground at the expense of the Muslims, since its southern boundary had already been established by the time of the Battle of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212. Starting in the 11th century, the Way of Saint James grew in importance. It brought pilgrims, traders and Christian soldiers from the North. Gascons and Occitanians from beyond the Pyrenees (called Franks) received self-government and other privileges to foster settlement in Navarrese towns, and they brought their crafts, culture and Romance languages.
Jews and Muslims were persecuted both north and south of Navarre, expelled for the most part during the late 15th century to the early 16th century. The kingdom struggled to maintain its separate identity in 14th and 15th centuries, and after King Fernando forcibly annexed Navarre after the death of his wife Queen Isabella, he extended the Castilian expulsion and forcible integration orders applicable to conversos and mudejars of 1492 to the former kingdom. Therefore, Tudela in particular could no longer serve as a refuge after the Inquisitors were allowed.
Politics in Navarre is marked by exclusive institutional dynamics and a sustained political crisis since its current status quo was established after Franco's dictatorship in 1978. Navarre has been labelled by Spanish officials as a state affair during this period, with the reactionary UPN and the Socialist PSN alternating in regional office ever since—both parties refused to call a referendum on the precise status of Navarre in 1980, as demanded by Basque nationalist parties and minority progressive forces.
Between 2012 and 2014, a series of corruption scandals broke out involving regional president Yolanda Barcina and other regional government officials that included influence peddling, embezzlement, misappropriation of funds and mismanagement leading to the bankruptcy of CAN, or ideological profiling of public school instructors (billed as "ETA supporting teachers"). By November 2012, the PSN—UPN's standing ally in Navarre up to that point—backed down on its support of UPN's Barcina, but refused to impeach her or search new political alliances, leaving a deadlocked government.
The defiant regional president, widely questioned in Navarre as of 2012 and relying only on the Conservative central government's backup and a number of media outlets in Madrid, went on to urge the Constitutional Tribunal to challenge several decisions made by the Parliament of Navarre. After the latest scandal and corruption allegations affecting a secretary of her cabinet (Lourdes Goicoechea, regional public finance secretary) in February 2014, the Spanish home office secretary Jorge Fernández Díaz—one refusing any dialogue or political moves in the Basque conflict—stepped in warning leading members of PSN that "Navarre is strategic for Spain", and asserting that any other political alliance means "supporting ETA". The Justice secretary in Madrid Alberto Ruiz Gallardón in turn stated that "the worst political error is not corruption" but getting along with Bildu.
This article is outdated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(June 2012)
Navarre leads Europe in its use of renewable energy technology and was planning to reach 100% renewable electricity generation by 2010. By 2004, 61% of the region's electricity was generated by renewable sources consisting of 43.6% from 28 wind farms, 12% from over 100 small-scale water turbines, and 5.3% from 2 biomass and 2 biogas plants. In addition, the region had what was then Spain's largest photovoltaic power plant at Montes de Cierzo de Tudela (1.2 MWp capacity) plus several hundred smaller photovoltaic installations.
Developments since 2004 have included further photovoltaic plants at Larrión (0.25 MWp) and another at Castejón (2.44 MWp), also once the largest in Spain.
Map showing density of Basque speakers, including second-language speakers
Spanish is the official language throughout Navarre. Basque also has official status in the Basque-speaking area. The northwestern part of the community is largely Basque-speaking, while the southern part is entirely Spanish-speaking. The capital, Pamplona, is in the mixed region. Navarre is divided into three parts linguistically: regions where Basque is widespread and official (the Basque-speaking area), regions where Basque is present and has reduced official recognition (the mixed region), and regions where Basque is non-official. In 2006 11.1% of people in Navarre were Basque speakers, 7.6% were passive speakers and 81.3% were Spanish-speaking monolinguals, an increase from 9.5% Basque speakers in 1991. The age distribution of speakers is unequal, with the lowest percentages in the above‑35 age group, rising to 20% amongst the 16-24 age group.