The War of Navarrería in Pamplona

On the grounds adjacent to the current Calle de la Navarrería in Pamplona took place the biggest massacre in the history of Navarra. In 1274, when Enrique III de Navarra (and also the count of Champaña and Brie, which made it vassal to the then king of France) died, he left a three-year-old daughter in the care of his French widow. Pamplona, the original nucleus of the Navarrería, situated next to the cathedral of Santa María and populated by nobles and indigenous peasants, had been surrounded by new settlements of French traders, who were attracted by the power of the French dynasty and the traffic from the pilgrimage of the Camino de Santiago. This not only contributed a very dynamic population to the strength of the boroughs of San Cernín and San Nicolás, but it also meant that these inhabitants fell under the advantageous jurisdiction of Jaca, which exempted them from the taxes that the neighboring people of the Navarrería had to pay to the bishop.

The differences in customs between the French and Navarros, in addition to the fiscal disadvantages of the natives compared to the immigrants, created an ever-increasing tension in a context of encroachment by Aragón and Castilla. The sympathy of the Navarran inhabitants towards the Castellanos and Aragonese was upheld by the promise of the kings Jaime I of Aragón and Alfonso X to fully respect the customs of the French leaders of the Campaña dynasty who were infringing. This atmosphere was the beginning of the Guerra de la Navarrería.

Before the possibility of her daughter becoming supplanted by one of the other neighboring kings, the queen, the widow Blanca de Artois, asked for help from her cousin, king Felipe III. He offered to marry his second son to the childqueen Juana as soon as she reached the minimum age. Until then, the French king would serve as protector to the girl, and she would be educated in his court. Without consulting the realms, Blanca accepted the offer and sent her daughter to Paris. The representatives of the kingdom had no choice but to resign, but the people of the Navarrería responded by fortifying their perimeter and that of the neighboring borough of San Miguel (which they had acquired).

In January of 1276, the governor named by the king of France arrived with his troops. The governor was the knight Beaumarchais, who was famous for having rid his country of bandits. The governor tried to negotiate the dismantling of the fortifications, but the population of the Navarrería refused, arguing that they were under ecclesiastical jurisdiction and that the governor had no power there at all.

The growing tensions between the supporters and opponents of the girl queen are what started the Navarrería War. Conspiracy and violent confrontations followed, until the governor requested emergency aid. To buy time while the army was gathering, the French king sent various French military and religious leaders to try to negotiate a truce. They managed to throw doubt upon the previous governor, Pedro Sánchez de Monteagudo, who negotiated the changing of sides. But knowing this, he and his followers were killed by the followers of García Almoravid (the other military leader of the Navarrería). The bishop of Pamplona took advantage of the truce and fled to Castilla in order to request a dispatch of the army. However, a large French army arrived before the Castilian army sent by Alfonso X, who were forced to retreat. As the French approached the city, the clergy left the church carrying an image of the Virgen Mary and tried to bar the army from entering the city, but they were just harassed by the soldiers and pushed aside.

La Guerra de la Navarrería en Pamplona
Ilustración de La Guerra de la Navarrería en Pamplona


Since it would have been nearly impossible to enter through the gates, the French assaulted the boroughs annexed to the Navarrería, using siege machines. The inhabitants of the city destroyed these machines on raids that they carried out at night. In the end of September in 1276, it became evident that the Navarrans could not resist the attacks for much longer, so some of the nobles who led the resistance conspired to flee from the Navarrería War. Their neighbors found out about their plan, so they tried to block their doors so that they were trapped. However, the leader García Almoravid and his followers managed to escape and cross the river Arga by the Magdalena bridge. Without nobles to lead them, the village sent a messenger to surrender to the governor, allowing the attackers to enter unopposed.

The French soldiers proceeded to sack the city, violating the women and setting fire to the buildings, and those who sought shelter in the cathedral were also assassinated. In their path of destruction, the soldiers even tore apart the metal tomb of the fallen king Enrique de Champaña (the father of the girl queen Juana) because they confused it with gold. The neighbors who took prisoners in the nearby castle of Tiebas hanged and impaled them. The only building of the Navarrería that was not burned to the ground was the cathedral of Santa María. However, they did destroy the annexed boroughs of San Miguel and the Jewish quarter.

In the following weeks, the French army conquered all of Navarra and seized the assets of the wealthy who had undoubtedly been collaborators. The knight García Almoravid, one of the main Navarran leaders, was captured, and he died in a French prison. All of the important assets were taken over by the French in the last days of the Navarrería War.

After only 60 years, the reconstruction of the devastated land was authorized. The same jurisdiction of Jaca, which also covered the towns occupied by the French, was granted to the new town. This legally unified all the boroughs of Pamplona.

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