History

The Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country and the Real Seminario Patriótico Bascongado of Bergara

INÉS PELLÓN GONZÁLEZ
Amiga de Número de la Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País

The Seminary of Bergara in the eighteenth century

For those who see the Seminary of Bergara for the very first time, the first impression they are struck by is, what is indisputably, an outstanding building. This perception is borne out by its splendid walls, and if these old walls could speak, they would tell tales of having housed a leading educational institution and research centre, a pioneer in scientific and technical disciplines that were taught within the confines of the Seminary. The main driving force behind this great feat was Xavier María de Munibe e Idiáquez (1729-1785), the Eighth Count of Peñaflorida, who along with other Procurator Knights founded a Society in the likeness of the Academies of Sciences that existed in Europe at that time. Formally established on 24th December 1764, when it was placed under the protection of the king, it was called the Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country. It was the first organisation of its kind that had been founded and attracted great interest among his contemporaries.

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The Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country and the Arts

 JUAN LUIS BLANCO MOZO
Amigo de Número de la Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País

From the beginnings of the Enlightenment movement, Fine Arts were very much to the fore in the Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country's education program. Of all these art forms, painting was the instrument that best fit in with the pragmatic spirit and strong leaning towards useful sciences as expressed by the founding group. Far from being seen as a mere aesthetic discipline, it was established as an essential practice for improving the mechanical arts, like a basic grammar for any profession, according to the principles expressed in the literary work Discurso sobre el fomento de la industria popular (Discourse on the promotion of popular industry) (Madrid, 1774) by Pedro Rodríguez de Campomanes. Painting was introduced into primary education by the elementary studies schools opened by the Royal Basque Society in Loyola, Bergara, Vitoria, Bilbao and San Sebastián, being a core subject for the professional development of commercial and craft activities. It also featured prominently in the curriculum of the Royal Seminary of Bergara.

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The Royal Basque Society of The Friends of The Country and the Basque Language

EMILIO MÚGICA ENECOTEGUI
Amigo de Número de la Real Sociedad Bascongada de los Amigos del País

The first Statutes (1765) of the Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country proclaimed, among the purposes of the organization, its desire to improve and cultivate the Basque language, along with the desire to compile the most significant written work in Basque and to perfect Basque poetry and to adopt the Irurac bat (three are one) symbol as a seal and motto for this new society. Student rules and regulations at the Bergara Seminary stated that language studies must start with the national languages, which are Basque and Castilian Spanish, although Latin and French were also preferred languages. The widespread existence within the Basque Country of sharply divergent formal and informal varieties of language used in different social contexts comes from the delayed emergence of the written language and the subsequent illiteracy of the Basque speakers, with the exception of the ecclesiastical state.

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The Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country, Silviculture and Botany

JORGE ASKASIBAR ZUBIZARRETA
Amigo de Número de la Real Sociedad Bascongada de Amigos del País

The aim of this brief text is to take a look at how the Royal Basque Society of the Friends of the Country has intersected with the fields of silviculture and botany throughout its long history. This brief commentary coincides with the recent digitisation of the Society's collection of documents, which represents an essential step towards understanding our history. The digitised collection consists of the Ensayo (Essay), 1768, volume I; Estatutos (Statutes), volume II; Resúmenes de Actas (Summary of Minutes), 1773 to 1781, volume III; and the extensive collection of issues of Los Extractos ('Abstracts', the Society's journal), 1771 to 1793, volumes IV to XI.

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DIRECTION OF THE ROYAL BASQUE SOCIEY OF THE FRIENDS OF THE COUNTRY

Palacio Intsausti
Aptdo. 105 – 20720 AZKOITIA
Tel. 943 285 577
E-mail: intsausti.rsbap@gmail.com

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