Brieba Family History
Brieba Surname History
This page is dedicated to a detailed history of the Brieba surname, Brieba origins, and stories of Brieba ancestors. Brieba family history has a rich and complex origin of which the particulars are beginning to be understood by Brieba family researchers. The Brieba family is an old lineage that has migrated all across the world for many generations, and as the name Brieba has migrated, it has evolved making its etymology challenging to unearth.
Brieba's family Coat of Arms is of Logroño, La Rioja, Spain where in Asturias, a small northwestern Catholic Iberian kingdom, initiated the Reconquista (the "reconquest") soon after the Islamic conquest in the 8th century.
Brieba's are historically linked to Alfonso I (1073/1074 – 8 September 1134), the Battler or the Warrior, king of Aragon and Navarre, grandiose Emperor of Spain, who was a passionate fighting-man who fought twenty-nine battles against Christians and Moors, earning their sobriquet in the Reconquista with military successes in the middle Ebro, where they conquered Zaragoza in 1118 and took Ejea, Tudela, Calatayud, Borja, Tarazona, Daroca, and Monreal del Campo. Alfonso the Battler died after an unsuccessful battle with the Muslims at the Battle of Fraga.
Brieba's maintain the nobility title "Grande" of the Iberian high aristocracy; literally "Great, Grand", used by Spanish nobility by extension of land owning, long-time resident in an area, freedom from taxation, immunity from arrest—as they were the major justice officers in their regions, and in certain cases, the right to renounce their allegiance and to make war on the king. Being a grandee formerly implied certain privileges, notably that of the ancient uses of remaining covered or seated in the presence of royalty.
The Grandes de España (Grandees of Spain) are divided into three classes:
Brieba's remained those who spoke to the king and received his reply with their heads covered. Addressed by the king as mi Primo (my cousin). Grandees are entitled to the style of 'Most Excellent Lord' or 'His Excellency'.
Brieba country of origin
The last name Brieba is from the Basque region of Spain and France. Brieba is a misspelling which first occurred on 5/15/1895 when Eduard Brieba, who along with 68 passengers on board the ship, Seguranca, enroute to Mexico had stopped by Ellis Island where custom officials misspelled the actual name which is Brieva, mispronouncing the 'v' as 'b'.
Brieva is a municipality located in the province of Segovia, Castile and León, Spain. According to the 2004 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 71 inhabitants. These are among the most isolated of Basques which had defeated and chased the Moors out of Spain to Jerez de la Frontera across the Rock of Gibraltar back to the african continent, during the Reconquista 'Reconquest'. The Recapturing, is a centuries-long period in the Middle Ages in which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in conquering the Iberian Peninsula from the Islamic kingdoms collectively known as Al-Andalus.
Today.. the Sovereign Military Order of Teutonic Knights Templar of Gibraltar is based on this movement.
Meaning of the last name Brieba
The name Brieva can be divided in two to understand it's meaning.
The Spanish word "va" = "IS GOING (to)
The Battle of Brienne was fought on January 29, 1814, and resulted in the victory of Emperor Napoleon I's French forces over the Russian and Prussian forces commanded by the Prussian Generalfeldmarschall Prince von Blücher.
The battle followed on the heels of reverses suffered by the French in both 1812, which had gutted the strength of the French, and 1813, where they fought against the Sixth Coalition. The Sixth Coalition had intentions of deposing Napoleon, dissolving the First French Empire and restoring the Bourbon monarchy to France.
It was in this battle that an unknown contingent of Basques fought and secured Napolean's victory in return to be left alone.
Brienne is of French origin and means "strong, honorable"
The Basque race is of unknown origin inhabiting the Basque provinces and other parts of Spain in the neighborhood of the Pyrenees, and part of the department of Basses-Pyrénées, France. The language of the Basques is suppose to represent the tongue of the ancient Iberians, the primitive inhabitants of Spain. No connection between it and any other language has as yet been made out. Like the tongues of America, it is highly polysynthetic. It is supposed to represent the tongue of a race existing in southwestern Europe before the immigration of the Indo-European tribes, therefore, to understand the true meaning of the name Brieva is not possible.
- Lorenzo Brieba 1
- Hortensia C Brieba 1919 - 1990
- Jose Brieba 1915 - 1987
- Lorenzo Brieba 1917 - 1991
- Barbara Brieba 1918 - 1998
- lorenzo brieba
- Amanda Brieba
- Lorenzo Brieba II 1917 - 1991
Brieba Family Tree
Famous people named Brieba
Brieba's role in history has gone nearly unrecorded, yet, their incredible capacity to endure hardship and solitude based on the Basque system, places them as one of the great many enterprising personalities of Basque origin sent out into the world including direct descendants like Juan Sebastian Elcano, the Spanish Conquistador, who were the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean into the Pacific and to circumnavigate the earth.
Their ancestors fended off the Iberian Visigoth kingdom, Muslim rule south of Jerez De La Frontera, and the Frankish push on the north when Charles the Great also known as Charlemagne (Charles 'The Hammer' Martel's grandson) undertook a campaign in northern Spain under which a rear guard unit of Franks under the command of Charlemagne's nephew, Roland, was ambushed and slaughtered by the Basques who opposed Arabs, Goths, and Franks with equal vigor.
Their notoriety inspired Robert Laxalt's National Geographic magazine Issue June 1966 'Articles on Basques' describing Basques as: Descendants of an ancient race whose origins and language still remain a mystery, the Basque urged here by the same restless spirit that lured their forebears around the world as sailors with Magellan and to South America as soldiers with the conquistadors.
Another National Geographic Article by Robert Laxalt appeared in the August 1969 titled "Land of the Ancient Basques" confirmed 'Isolation-Key to Basque Identity': In the baffling search for the origins of the Basques, theories range from the fantastic - that Basque are the survivors of Atlantis; and possible-that they are the only vestige left of Cro-Magnum man; to the probable-that they are descended from the mysterious Iberians who once peopled Spain.
Nationality and Ethnicity of Brieba
Basque is not related to any other language in the world; it is a linguistic isolate. There have been attempts to connect Basque languages to others, specifically japanese.
So where did Basque come from? A common assumption is that Basque is the autochthonous speech of the Iberian peninsula, perhaps related to the pre-Latin dialects extent to the south and east of the peninsula (the Romans arrived on the scene at a time when Spain was also partially dominated by Celtic tribes). Many go further and assert that the Basques are the pure descendants of the first modern humans to arrive on the European continent, heirs of the Cro-Magnums.
In terms of historical genetics these assumptions result in the Basque population be used as a “reference” for the indigenous component of the European ancestry which reaches back to the Last Glacial Maximum, and expanded from the Iberian refugium after the ice retreated.
One of reasons for the assumption of Basque antiquity & purity are genetic peculiarities of the Basques. Foremost among them is that the Basque seem to have the highest frequency of Rh- in the world, primarily because of the high frequency of the null allele within the population (it is a recessively expressed trait). Rh- is very rare outside of Europe, but its frequency exhibits a west-east gradient even within the continent. It has been suggested that the mixing of Rh- and Rh+ blood groups reflects the mixing of hunter-gatherers and farmers in after the Ice Age. The Basque region was cordoned off. The blood group was widely collected in the early 20th century. Because of the early knowledge of this heritable trait you have a lot of weird anthropological theories which hinge around blood group genetics having emerged in the early 20th century.
Basques are a cultural isolate, and, according to mainly allele frequencies of classical polymorphisms, also a genetic isolate. Basque-vs-non-Basque differences, as well as the European HGDP sample. They limited it to 109 SNPs which were the most informative out of the hundreds of thousands on the chip. There is no real difference between Basques and non-Basques. One thing to remember is that it’s rather well attested that the Basque dialects were more widespread in the early historical period than they are today, so there are many Spanish speaking residents of Navarre and French Gascons who are almost certainly descendants of Basque speakers. Nonetheless, there’s a sharp bifurcation that you’d expect from the total national samples which might point to a cryptic Basque & non-Basque genetic chasm.
Because of ancient DNA extraction the historical genetic history of Europe is in flux right now. Uniparental haplogroups which in the early aughts were presumed to be relics of the hunter-gatherer substrate may not be that at all. The new research on R1b suggesting that it originated in Anatolia, and its high frequency in the Basques also puts into doubt the idea that the Basques are pure descendants of Paleolithic Europeans.
Why did people think that the Basque were so special?
Mostly because their language is special. It is non-Indo-European. It seems that at the time of the Roman conquest much of Spain, especially away from the coastal Mediterranean fringe, was undergoing a process of Celticization. Eventually Indo-Europeanization was completed by the Romans through the spread of Latin. But, the loci of Roman cultural expansion were colonies which were concentrated along the coastal regions of the Mediterranean. Iberia which faced the ocean was a marginal frontier where Latinization seems to have proceeded rather slowly and fitfully until the Western Empire collapsed. With the re-barbarization of inland and Atlantic Iberia the Basques managed to carve out a niche for themselves as forceful actors (they famously harried the troops of Charlemagne as they returned to France after their expedition in northern Iberia).
Behind mountains on the fringes of Europe and against the ocean the Basques evaded Indo-Europeanization. There are plenty of candidates for non-Indo-European languages across Europe, generally known from isolated inscriptions, but whatever the truth of it is seems that in the few thousand years before Christ Indo-European dialects spread across most of the continent. Only in Iberia did the process occur late enough so we catch glimmers of it in the textual record. It may be that the Finnic people of northeast Europe are also pre-Indo-European, preserved by the peculiar ecology of their region (the other model is that the Finns are themselves newcomers who pushed along the Arctic fringe from the Urals)
American Basques are very proud of their distinctive heritage. It is notable that none of them identify as Latino or Hispanic, or claim Spanish heritage. They are most definitely Basque, which are different. Latinos or Hispanics can be Whites, Asians, Blacks , Natives, Middle Eastern, Pacific Islanders or of mixed heritages thanks to massive immigrations from many countries. The countries in Latin America have similar backgrounds because they were colonies of Spain (except Brazil), but every one of them has a distinct history that makes the different cultures unique. The argument about “what is a hispanic” is kind of moronic since the group was pretty much invented by the racist us census in 1970, but it can, or can’t, include people whose origins are from Espana. The only question is where the third branch of the Uralic family, the Samoyedic languages, sits: just outside Finno-Ugric (the current mainstream view) or just inside (in which case the term is redundant with Uralic). The current reconstructions of Proto-Finno-Ugric and of Proto-Uralic are very similar, which makes some linguists wonder. Writing is about 5000 years old, and history depends on writing, so before about 3-4000 BC was all prehistory, and prehistory extends to much more recent times in much of the work. Cave paintings are unquestionably human, and they go back 30,000 years. So that means that since then we have 5,000 years of history and 25,000 years of prehistory, 5x as much. It is often assumed that illiterate peoples (without history) also were without history in the sense of change (static, timeless, etc.) There’s no reason for this. It’s just an opportunistic methodological assumption made to keep people from wasting time thinking about things there’s no evidence for. It has little or no empirical content. We know that the Bantus, the Malays, the Turks, and the Western Europeans have moved long distances in historical times. Maybe the Basques did too, in prehistory. All we really know is that they were there before the Celts. Picking it up from the other end, besides the Basques., the Lapps, the Sardinians, and the Icelanders as the most genetically distinct European peoples. The Basques seem to be an ancient survival, the Lapps are either a survival or migrants from a nearby area, the Sardinians are a combination of an ancient survival and the island effect. But the unique Icelandic gene pool was created by processes we know of historically (island effect and founder effect) during a period of only 1000 years. Is it so hard to see where the Basques are from? Basques could be culturally isolated and genetically integrated at the same time. The recent studies that say the Irish and the British are – genetically – one people. How does that work? Geographic proximity means intermarriages will happen, but the culture has some reinforcing effects which quiet the influence of outsider parents. That leaves the question of their origins still wide open. A PCA graph showing a clean separation between French and Spanish Basques is very counter-intuitive. Basque people straddle the Pyrenees mountains. In linguistics there has been so much speculation about the Basques that it’s become a standing joke. There’s probably been some decent work done, but most of it is haphazard and amateurish. The latest proof that the Basque is related to Iberian / Etruscan / Pictish / Sumerian / Minoan / Tibetan / Isthmus Zapotec / Martia and discovery that Basque is the secret key to understanding the Ogam inscriptions / the Phaistos disc / the Easter Island carvings / the Egyptian Book of the Dead / the Qabbala / the prophecies of Nostradamus are comical. The Basque is the ancestral language of all humankind, a remnant of the speech of lost Atlantis, the language of the vanished civilization of Antarctica, evidence of visitors from Proxima Centauri. 109 “highly informative” SNPs out of hundreds of thousands is combining some genuinely different ones with others that are just the tail of random statistical noise in a small sample. The geographic distribution of Celtic cultures in the NW corner of Spain, NW France, W/N in UK shows that previous cultures survival is more likely when defended by mountains and the sea.
More about the name Brieba
Fun facts about the Brieba family
- "Despite persistent theories about where the Basques came from (everything from a lost tribe of Israel to refugees from Atlantis), there is NO evidence that the Basques of ancient times lived anywhere OTHER than where they are now, in the PYRENEES MOUNTAINS of NORTHERN SPAIN and SOUTHERN FRANCE. The evidence available suggests that the Basques are the descendents of prehistoric man dating from the Lower Palaeolithic. Evolving from the Cro-Magnon man, the Basques developed as a distinct group sometime between 40,000 BC and 7,000 BC.
The Basques are known to have had their distinctive language as early as 7,000 BC, and they have the LAST remaining NON-IndoEuropean language in the area.
Their language, EUSKARA, is the OLDEST surviving language in all of Europe; many of their words for tools still incorporate the word for stone. From about the 6th century BC, the Indo-European cultures wiped out ALL of the pre-Indo-European languages in Europe EXCEPT for Basque. Attempts to link the Basque language with others, such as the Berbers of northern Africa, the Mayans and Old Sanscrit have NOT worked out. Basque has NOT been shown to be related to ANY other language on earth. Those used to European languages found Basque VERY difficult to learn. There was an old story that the devil spent seven years among the Basques to learn their language, but only managed to learn three words; when he crossed a bridge to leave the land of the Basques, he forgot those.
Despite having the OLDEST language in Europe, NO writing was known among the Basques until the Romans, when attempts were made to write Basque in Latin; however, it wasn't until the Christian missionaries arrived en masse in the 10th century that someone developed a phonetic form of writing to represent the language itself. Some of the oldest tombstones of the Basques were said to contain some kind of writing, but the Christian missionaries destroyed them.
The Basques live on the western end of the Pyrenees Mountains on the Iberian Peninsula, down to the Bay of Biscay. For as long as anyone can remember, they have had seven provinces; the oldest is called Gipuzkoa (Gu-iz-puzk-ko-ak), which means 'we whose language was broken.'
Those in the mountains raised sheep, while those along the water were fishermen and traders. Every Basque meal was accompanied by bread (ogi) and cider (sagardo), and cider-houses were common in the countryside. Basques are normally dark-haired, small to medium statue, with broad chests (developed from living in the thin air on mountains). Most Basques have type O blood, with a high incidence of RH negative.
The Basques worshipped Djaun-Giokkoak (Janicot), the All-Father All-Mother who created the three forms of light: Egia (truth), the light of the soul, Begia (eye), the light of the body and Etchia (sun), the light of the earthly day. The divine light manifested on Earth as three powers: Erditze (the Fruitful), of the high pastures, Beigorri (the Passionate), of the red earth and Alherbeltze (the Crusher), of the black rocks. Alherbeltze (later shortened to Bel) ruled the stone circles erected throughout what is modern day France and Spain by the Basques, and the three manifestations of divine light in human affairs celebrated therein: birth, marriage and death. The stones were often carved with representations of the fact that here the veil between the physical and spiritual worlds was thin: two circles connected by concentric circles, representing Bel, ruler of the bright world, and Leheren Suge (three-horned dragon), ruler of the dark world . The two worlds are inhabited equally by men and are therefore equal themselves. Bel's reign was celebrated on May 1 (usually with a Maypole Dance), while Leheren's reign was celebrated November 1; of course, in the days before mechanical clocks, each day started at sunset the day before. The 3X3 manifestations of the divine were represented by the Circle of Nine, a circle with nine stones; sometimes the ninth stone was horizontal, with two uprights flanking.
Both the Greeks and the Basques of ancient times believed that the first people were centaurs. The very word centaur is derived from the Basque word Zalzaval (horse-man). When a group of Basques settled in Britain between 9,000 and 5,000 BC, they took with them the worship of Bel, his Holy Day of May 1, and the building of stone circles. Later, the Beaker People arrived and mixed with the Basques, bringing their innovations, such as working silver and gold. When the Greek geographer Pytheas sailed around Britain in 325 BC, he called them the Pretanic Isles because the inhabitants called themselves the Priteni. This evolved into Prytani (Prytaini, Prydaini), and later became Britanni."
Genetically, the Basques are quite different from most other Europeans, who have mixed ancestry from the Turkey-Israel area, where agriculture began about 10,000 years ago. The Basques are one of the purest remnants of Europeans; most other Eurpeans have a mixture with the Middle Eastern farmers.
The Basques are typified by the mtDNA Haplotype V; some part of them moved into the Northern Scandinavia region and are called Saami (Lapps).
These 2 diverse groups are tied together not only through their DNA, but also their language; all other areas in Europe (West as well as East) have languages tied into the peoples of India (Indo-European languages).
The Basque Myth
The Basques share with the Celts the privilege of indulging in unrivaled extravagance on the subject of themselves. —Miguel de Unamuno quoting Ampère, HISTORY OF FRENCH LITERATURE BEFORE THE TWELFTH CENTURY, 1884
The Basques seem to be a mythical people, almost an imagined people. Their ancient culture is filled with undated legends and customs. Their land itself, a world of red-roofed, whitewashed towns, tough green mountains, rocky crests, a cobalt sea that turns charcoal in stormy weather, a strange language, and big berets, exists on no maps except their own.
Basqueland begins at the Adour River with its mouth at Bayonne-the river that separates the Basques from the French pine forest swampland of Landes-and ends at the Ebro River, whose rich valley separates the dry red Spanish earth of Rioja from Basqueland. Basqueland looks too green to be Spain and too rugged to be France. The entire area is only 8,218 square miles, which is slightly smaller than New Hampshire.
Within this small space are seven Basque provinces. Four provinces are in Spain and have Basque and Spanish names: Nafaroa or Navarra, Gipuzkoa or Guipúzcoa, Bizkaia or Vizcaya, and Araba or Alava. Three are in France and have Basque and French names: Lapurdi or Labourd, Benafaroa or Basse Navarre, and Zuberoa or Soule. An old form of Basque nationalist graffiti is "4 + 3 = 1."
As with most everything pertaining to Basques, the provinces are defined by language. There are seven dialects of the Basque language, though there are sub-dialects within some of the provinces.
In the Basque language, which is called Euskera, there is no word for Basque. The only word to identify a member of their group is Eushaldun-Euskera speaker. Their land is called Euskal Herria-the land of Euskera speakers. It is language that defines a Basque.
The Central Mystery Is: Who are the Basques? The early Basques left no written records, and the first accounts of them, two centuries after the Romans arrived in 218 B.C., give the impression that they were already an ancient-or at least not a new-people. Artifacts predating this time that have been found in the area-a few tools, drawings in caves, and the rudiments of ruins-cannot be proved to have been made by Basques, though it is supposed that at least some of them were.
Ample evidence exists that the Basques are a physically distinct group. There is a Basque type with a long straight nose, thick eyebrows, strong chin, and long earlobes. Even today, sitting in a bar in a mountainous river valley town like Tolosa, watching men play mus, the popular card game, one can see a similarity in the faces, despite considerable intermarriage. Personalities, of course, carve very different visages, but over and over again, from behind a hand of cards, the same eyebrows, chin, and nose can be seen. The identical dark navy wool berets so many men wear-each in a slightly different manner-seem to showcase the long Basque ears sticking out on the sides. In past eras, when Spaniards and French were typically fairly small people, Basque men were characteristically larger, thick chested, broad shouldered, and burly. Because these were also characteristics of Cro-Magnons, Basques are often thought to be direct descendants of this man who lived 40,000 years ago.
Less subjective physical evidence of an ancient and distinct group has also surfaced. In the beginning of the twentieth century, it was discovered that all blood was one of three types: A, B, or O. Basques have the highest concentration of type O in the world-more than 50 percent of the population-with an even higher percentage in remote areas where the language is best preserved, such as Soule. Most of the rest are type A. Type B is extremely rare among Basques. With the finding that Irish, Scots, Corsicans, and Cretans also have an unusually high incidence of type O, speculation ran wild that these peoples were somehow related to Basques. But then, in 1937, came the discovery of the rhesus factor, more commonly known as Rh positive or Rh negative. Basques were found to have the highest incidence of Rh negative blood of any people in the world, significantly higher than the rest of Europe, even significantly higher than neighboring regions of France and Spain. Cro-Magnon theorists point out that other places known to have been occupied by Cro-Magnon man, such as the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and the Canary Islands, also have been found to have a high incidence of Rh negative.
Twenty-seven percent of Basques have O Rh negative blood. Rh negative blood in a pregnant woman can fatally poison a fetus that has positive blood. Since World War II, intervention techniques to save the fetus have been developed, but it is probable that throughout history, the rate of miscarriage and stillborn births among the Basques was extremely high, which may be one of the reasons they remained a small population on a limited amount of land while other populations, especially in Iberia, grew rapidly.
Before Basque blood was studied as a key to their origins, several attempts were made to analyze the structure of Basque skulls. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, a researcher reported, "Someone gave me a Basque body and I dissected it and I assert that the head was not built like that of other men."
Studies of Basque skulls in the nineteenth century concluded, depending on whose study is believed, that Basques were either Turks, Tartars, Magyars, Germans, Laplanders, or the descendants of Cro-Magnon man either originating in Basqueland or coming from the Berbers of North Africa.
Or do clothes hold the secret to Basque origins? A twelfth-century writer, Aimeric de Picaud, considered not skulls but skirts, concluding after seeing Basque men in short ones that they were clearly descendants of Scots.
The most useful artifact left behind by the ancient Basques is their language. Linguists find that while the language has adopted foreign words, the grammar has proved resistant to change, so that modern Euskera is thought to be far closer to its ancient form than modern Greek is to ancient Greek. Euskera has extremely complex verbs and twelve cases, few forms of politeness, a limited number of abstractions, a rich vocabulary for natural phenomena, and no prepositions or articles.
Etxea is the word for a house or home. "At home" is etxean. "To the house" is etxera. "From home" is etxetik. Concepts are formed by adding more and more suffixes, which is what is known as an agglutinating language. This agglutinating language only has about 200,000 words, but its vocabulary is greatly extended by almost 200 standard suffixes. In contrast, the Oxford English Dictionary was compiled from a data base of 60 million words, but English is a language with an unusually large vocabulary. It is sometimes said that Euskera includes just nouns, verbs, and suffixes, but relatively simple concepts can become words of formidable size. Iparsortalderatu is a verb meaning "to head in a northeasterly direction."
Euskera has often been dismissed as an impossible language. Arturo Campión, a nineteenth-century Basque writer from Navarra, complained that the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy defined Euskera as "the Basque language, so confusing and obscure that it can hardly be understood." It is obscure but not especially confusing. The language seems more difficult than it is because it is so unfamiliar, so different from other languages. Its profusion of ks and xs looks intimidating on the page, but the language is largely phonetic with some minor pitfalls, such as a very soft b and an aspirated h as in English, which is difficult for French and Spanish speakers to pronounce. The x is pronounced "ch." Etxea is pronounced "et-CHAY-a." For centuries Spanish speakers made Euskera seem friendlier to them by changing xs to chs as in echea, and ks, which do not exist in Latin languages, to cs, as in Euscera. To English speakers, Basque spellings are often more phonetic than Spanish equivalents. The town the Spanish call Guernica is pronounced the way the Basques write it-Gernika.
The structure of the language-roots and suffixes-offers important clues about Basque origins. The modern words aitzur, meaning "hoe," aizkora, meaning "axe," aizto, meaning "knife," plus various words for digging and cutting, all come from the word haitz or the older aitz, which means "stone." Such etymology seems to indicate a very old language, indeed from the Stone Age. Even though the language has acquired newer words, notably Latin from the Romans and the Church, and Spanish, such words are used in a manner unique to this ancestral language. Ezpata, like the Spanish word espada, means "sword." But ezpatakada means "the blow from a sword," ezpatajoka means "fencing," and espatadantzari is a "sword dancer."
Though numerous attempts have been made, no one has ever found a linguistic relative of Euskera. It is an orphan language that does not even belong to the Indo-European family of languages. This is a remarkable fact because once the Indo-Europeans began their Bronze Age sweep from the Asian subcontinent across Europe, virtually no group, no matter how isolated, was left untouched. Even Celtic is Indo-European. Finnish, Estonian, and Hungarian are the only other living European languages that are not related to the Indo-European group. Inevitably there have been theories linking Finnish and Euskera or Hungarian and Euskera. Did the Basques immigrate from Lapland? Hungarian, it has been pointed out, is also an agglutinating language. But no other connection has been found between the Basque language and its fellow agglutinators.
A brief attempt to tie the Basques to the Picts, ancient occupants of Britain who spoke a language thought to be pre-Indo-European, fell apart when it was discovered the Picts weren't non-Indo-European at all, but were Celtic.
If, as appears to be the case, the Basque language predates the Indo-European invasion, if it is an early or even pre-Bronze Age tongue, it is very likely the oldest living European language.
If Euskera is the oldest living European language, are Basques the oldest European culture? For centuries that question has driven both Basques and non-Basques on the quest to find the Basque origin. Miguel de Unamuno, one of the best-known Basque writers, devoted his earliest work, written in 1884 when he was still a student, to the question. "I am Basque," he began, "and so I arrive with suspicion and caution at this little and poorly garnered subject."
As Unamuno pointed out, and this is still true today, many researchers have not hesitated to employ a liberal dose of imagination. One theory not only has Adam and Eve speaking Euskera but has the language predating their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. The name Eve, according to this theory, comes from ezbai, "no-yes" in Euskera. The walls of Jericho crumbled, it was also discovered, when trumpets blasted a Basque hymn.
The vagaries of fact and fiction were encouraged by the fact that the Basques were so late to document their language. The first book entirely in Euskera was not published until 1545. No Basques had attempted to study their own history or origins until the sixteenth-century Guipúzcoan Esteban de Garibay. Spanish historians of the time had already claimed that Iberia was populated by descendants of Tubal, Noah's grandson, who went to Iberia thirty-five years after the Flood subsided. Garibay observed that Basque place-names bore a resemblance to those in Armenia where the ark landed, and therefore it was specifically the Basques who descended from Tubal. Was not Mount Gorbeya in southern Vizcaya named after Mount Gordeya in Armenia? Garibay traced Euskera to the Tower of Babel.
In 1729, when Manuel de Larramendi wrote the first book of Basque grammar ever published, he asserted that Euskera was one of seventy-five languages to have developed out of the confusion at the Tower of Babel. According to Juan Bautista de Erro, whose The Primitive World or a Philosophical Examination of Antiquity and Culture of the Basque Nation was published in Madrid in 1815, Euskera is the world's oldest language, having been devised by God as the language of Adam's Paradise, preserved in the Tower of Babel, surviving the Flood because Noah spoke the language, and brought to present-day Basque country by Tubal.
In one popular legend, the first Basque was Aïtor, one of a few remarkable men who survived the Flood without Noah's ark, by leaping from stone to stone. However, Aïtor, still recognized by some as the father of all Basques, was invented in 1848 by the French Basque writer Augustin Chaho. After Chaho's article on Aïtor was translated into Spanish in 1878, the legend grew and became a mainstay of Basque culture. Some who said Aïtor was mere fiction went on to hypothesize that the real father of all Basques was Tubal.
Since then, links have been conjectured with languages of the Caucasus, Africa, Siberia, and Japan. One nineteenth-century researcher concluded that Basques were a Celtic tribe, another that they were Etruscans. And inevitably it has been discovered that the Basques, like so many other peoples, were actually the lost thirteenth tribe of Israel. Just as inescapably, others have concluded that the Basques are, in reality, the survivors of Atlantis.
A case for the Basques really being Jews was carefully made by a French clergyman, the abbot J. Espagnolle, in a 1900 book titled L'Origine des Basques (The Origin of the Basques). For this theory to work, the reader first had to realize that the people of ancient Sparta were Jewish. To support this claim, Espagnolle quotes a historian of ancient Greece who wrote, "Love of money is a Spartan characteristic." If this was not proof enough, he also argues that Sparta, like Judea, had a lack of artisans. The wearing of hats and respect for elders were among further evidence offered. From there, it was simply a matter of asserting, as ancient Greek historians had, he said, that the Spartans colonized northern Spain. And of course these Spartan colonists who later became Basques were Jewish.
With issues of nationhood at stake, such seemingly desperate hypotheses may not be devoid of political motives. "Indigenous" is a powerful notion to both the French and Spanish states. Both define their history as the struggle of their people, the rightful indigenous occupants, to defend their land against the Moors, invaders from another place, of another race, and of another religion. In Europe, this heroic struggle has long been an essential underpinning of both nationalism and racism. The idea that Basques were in their European mountains, speaking their own indigenous European language, long before the French and the Spanish, is disturbing to French and Spanish nationalists. Unless the Basques can be shown to be from somewhere else, the Spanish and French are transformed into the Moorish role-outside invaders imposing an alien culture. From the sixteenth century on, historians receiving government salaries in Madrid wrote histories that deliberately minimized the possibility of indigenous Basques.
But the Basques like the idea, which most evidence supports, that they are the original Europeans, predating all others. If true, it must have been an isolating experience, belonging to this ancient people whose culture had little in common with any of its neighbors. It was written over and over in the records of those who observed the Basques that they spoke a strange language that kept them apart from others. But it is also what kept them together as a people, uniting them to withstand Europe's great invasions.
Since it opened in the fall of 1997, the Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao, a gleaming curvilinear ship of titanium, limestone and glass, has drawn a steady flow of tourists to this Basque seaport on the northern coast of Spain. But among the throngs of visitors encountered an American journey had nothing to do with Frank Gehry’s futuristic design that thrusts into the Nervion River. One simply returns to his boyhood home to arrange the details of his late father’s estate... the last of his family to be born in the Basque. They are Jews.
Basque is the cultural capital of Spain; the Basque people are more educated than the rest of the population; and the Basque have the biggest concentration of universities in all of Europe.
There have been Jews in the Basque all along. They never achieved the prominence Jews enjoyed in other parts of medieval Spain, but they suffered little direct anti-Semitism. The region was more of a refuge, a place the Inquisition never reached. At one time there were 60,000 Jews in the Basque. Right now, there are about 10,000. They might not publicize the fact, but they know who they are. Plain door synagogues have always been around, but you have to know where they are. No one is going to tell you.
The Basque people are immensely Catholic but they didn’t agree with the Inquisition. There is a Basque saying: ‘We know who the Jews are because we used to be Jews.’ They know Christianity comes from Judaism. There is another Basque saying: ‘The Jews will get us the money and put us to work.’ They believed the shipping and ship-building industries and the fishing trades were controlled by Jews, that the Jews wrapped up the sardines."
The story of the Jews of the Basque adds yet another layer of mystery to this starkly beautiful and also prosperous mountainous region where high-tech and automotive industries, agriculture and scenic splendors amicably co-exist. Everything about the Basque is different. We don’t know where they came from. Their language is one of the oldest in the world, is different from any other language. They don’t look like other Spaniards. Did you notice how big and heavy the Basque people are? Bigger noses, wider faces. They can be in any part of Spain, people will see them and say, ‘That’s a Basque.’
Noisy is the rest of Spain? Not in Basque country. You walk into a Basque bar, it’s ‘May I help you?’ People say if they raise their voices, someone will die. They are quiet and polite. That was how they maintained their Jewishness — they kept quiet about it. Always told ‘Don’t push it.’”
Post-war of being Jewish was that it was something to be hidden. Public schools were taught by Jesuits. In order to register, you needed a certificate of baptism, and of course Jews didn’t have one. That was the tip-off. But in the Basque, they did nothing about it. The attitude was ‘OK, move on.’ There were some innuendos, but they never suffered any indignities, except for being put in the last line. By the time one was old enough to care about such things, they were already living in America. No pictures of Jesus in the house, never wore a crucifix. No Christian symbols around. Will not enter a cathedral. Connection to Jewish life was limited. Don’t know kosher food existed until New York. There is no Jewish cemetery in Bilbao, but Jewish tombstones in the Catholic cemetery near the airport, they have never been defiled. Jewish burial ground in Vitoria-Gasteiz. Strategically located along the routes to France, Castille, and Navarre, Vitoria-Gasteiz has been a major commercial center since the Middle Ages, which perhaps explains why this city, unlike the rest of the Basque, had a thriving Jewish community of merchants, traders, craftsmen, and doctors up to the expulsion of 1492.Prior to the expulsion, it was Vitoria-Gasteiz’s Jewish cemetery. When they left in 1492, the Jews extracted a promise from city leaders that their sacred burial ground would not be violated. This was a promise that was kept. Although tombstones deteriorated and disappeared over the years, the land was kept intact. All proposals for construction on the site — from houses to markets to stables to parking lots — were met with the same response: it is forbidden. Four hundred and fifty years later, a delegation of descendants of the Vitoria-Gasteiz exiles came to the city from Bayonne, France and presented officials with a formal release from the centuries-old vow. But their offer was declined. Instead city officials elected to commemorate the place in perpetuity by erecting the tall, narrow monument inscribed with a Star of David that stands in the park’s center and informs passersby of the special nature of the place. This was 1952, sixteen years before the Edict of Expulsion was finally revoked, twenty six years before freedom of religion was finally guaranteed to all Spaniards, forty years before the 500th anniversary of the Expulsion was remembered with attendant publicity showered on Jewish landmarks throughout Spain.
The story of the burial ground in Vitoria-Gasteiz is little known outside of the city. The story of a post-exile Jewish population in the Basque is nearly a secret. Perhaps now that the new Guggenheim has made not only Bilbao, but all the Basque an international spot, this modest but more humane chapter of the Spanish-Jewish connection will at last emerge for all the world to see.
MEDITERRANEANS VIRTUALLY EXTINCT
It is worth stating again, as it is of great significance in more ways than one, that there are very few of these original Mediterranean racial types left in the world today. They were known as the "Old Europeans" and inhabited large parts of Europe, Egypt, the Middle and Near East and Egypt at the dawn of history.
These Mediterranean types bear almost no resemblance to the present day inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin: the original Old Europeans have been absorbed almost completely into either the Nordic/Alpine stock in Europe itself, or the African/Semitic/Asian stock of North Africa, the Nearand Middle East.
The only place in Europe where occasional glimpses of this original Mediterranean sub racial grouping can still be seen, is in the Celtic fringes of Britain, most notably in Wales and Devonshire, and in the Basque territory of Spain. In these regions there exists a short dark strain - remnants of the original inhabitants of Europe.
Pure examples of this Mediterranean type are however still fairly rare, as even they have for the largest degree had some Nordic or Alpine admixture over the years.
Anyone whose ancestors had miscegenated with the Moors or Jews were suspicious of secretly practicing Islam or Judaism, so were often particularly monitored by the Inquisition. The claim to universal hidalguía (lowest nobility) of the Basques was justified by erudites like Manuel de Larramendi (1690–1766) because the Arab invasion had not reached the Basque territories, so it was believed that Basques had maintained their original purity, while the rest of Spain was suspect of miscegenation. In fact, the Arab invasion also reached the Basque country and there had been a significant Jewish minority in Navarre, but the hidalguía helped many Basques to official positions in the administration. In December 2008, an important genetic study revealed that the religious conversions of Jews and Muslims have had a profound impact on the population of the Iberian Peninsula. This study indicated a Sephardic Jewish mean admixture of about 20% and a North African admixture of about 11%.
One of the original Old European peoples to have remained largely unaffected by the racial comings and goings were the Basques in the north. Surrounded by mountains, the Basques avoided the integration process and their language represents one of the few surviving examples of the original Old European tongue. The Basques also retain to a certain degree the "dark" racial look of the Old European population.
"The history of the Germans in Spain...is the history of strong men who proved and overproved their courage and endurance, their resistance to pessimism and despair. It is the story of men who died or were broken physically in doing this. They brought to the International Brigades an offensive spirit, a bitter desperate courage at rare intervals in war priceless, essential, but always costly. They set an early example of what shock troops could be like. They tried to do the impossible, and paid for it. And during the early days in Aragon, in the futile fighting around Huesca, at Tardienta, the Germans, in countless bayonet charges against fortified positions, took their objectives, buried their dead, and waited with a caged restlessness for the next day's orders."
"...the finest people in some ways I have ever met. In a way they have lost everything, have been through enough to break most people, and remain strong and cheerful and humorous. If anything is revolutionary it is these comrades."
Brieba spelling variations
The true spelling of the Brieba name is Brieva. Brieba was a misspelling due to the language barrier encountered on Ellis Island in 1895 when an Anglo or irish-American custom official misunderstood the letter 'v' for a 'b' because of their limitation in understanding the latin/basque language.