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Lordship of Biscay

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Title: Lordship of Biscay  
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Lordship of Biscay

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Lord of Biscay (Basque: Bizkaiko Jauna, Spanish: Señor de Vizcaya) is a historical title of the head of state of the autonomous territory of Biscay, Basque Country.


The first known Lord of Biscay (11th century), Íñigo López "Ezkerra" was a lieutenant of the Kingdom of Pamplona (later known as Navarre); this feudal relationship was intermittently held to by his successors until the definitive Castilian conquest of Gipuzkoa in 1200. The relations of the lords with the kings of Castille made them the landlords of Haro, La Rioja because they had favored the Castilian interests in the conflicts with Pamplona/Navarre.

The Lords had limited powers and had, like the Navarrese monarchs before them, to give oath at Gernika of respecting the fuero (Basque: forua), which in this context means a compilation of laws, when inheriting the honor.

After the Lordship was inherited by the Castilian dynasty in 1370, the Kings of Castile (and later, of Spain) still had to give oath in equal manner and so they did, until the Biscayan fueros were unilaterally supplanted at the end of 19th century, as a retaliatory measure from the government of Madrid for the support of the provinces to the Carlist pretender to the Crown.[1] They haven't done it since the second restoration of Alfonso XII

List of Lords of Biscay


  • Jaun Zuria (the White Lord): supposedly born from the union of god Sugaar and a Scottish (or Irish, or Danish, or Frankish) princess in the village of Mundaka. Legend says that Jaun Zuria was the elected chief of the Biscayans in the victorious battle of Arrigorriaga against the invading forces of the Kingdom of Asturias; tradition holds that before the battle he saw two wolves carrying lambs in their mouths, presaging the victory; this scene is reflected in the arms of the lords of Biscay of the House of Haro.


  • Iñigo (Eneko) López (1033/43–78)
  • Lope Iñíguez (1078–93), son, count also of Álava (1085–90) and Gipuzkoa (1080?–1093)
  • Diego López de Haro I (1073–1124), son, count of Álava (1114–23) and Gipuzkoa (1093–1124)
  • Lope Díaz de Haro I (1124–34) (first time), son, count of Alava (1136–43)
  • Ladrón Íñiguez (c. 1134–50)
  • Lope Díaz de Haro I (second time) (1150–70)
  • Diego López de Haro II (1170–1214), son, count of Álava and Gipuzkoa (1200–1214)
  • Lope Díaz II de Haro (1214–36), son, count of Álava
  • Diego López de Haro III (1236–54), son, count of Álava (1246–54)
  • Lope Díaz de Haro III (1254–88), son, count of Álava (1273–88)
  • Diego López de Haro IV (1288–89), son
  • María II Díaz de Haro the Good (1289–94), daughter
  • Infante Henry of Castile (1294–95)
  • Diego López de Haro V the Intruder (1295–1310), son of Diego López de Haro III, founder of Bilbao
  • María II Díaz de Haro (1310–1322) (recovered title)
  • Juan Yáñez de Castilla y Haro the One-eyed (1322–26), son of María
  • María II Díaz de Haro (third time) (1326–34)
  • Alfonso X of Castile (1334)
  • María Díaz II de Haro (1334–49), daughter of Juan de Haro, married with Juan Núñez III de Lara
  • Nuño de Lara (eu) (1350–52), son
  • Juana de Lara (eu) (1352–58), sister of Nuño
  • King Peter of Castile (1358–66)
  • Tello (Teilo) (1366–69), husband of Juana de Lara and bastard brother of the king Pedro.
  • Juana Manuel (1369–70), wife of king Enrique II of Castile (another bastard brother)
  • Juan (1370–90), son, who became king of Castile in 1370

After 1379, the Lords of Biscay have been the Kings of Castile and, later, Spain. The rival Carlist dynasty of pretenders to the Spanish throne took the oath but were not recognized as kings by most of Spain. The periods without a Lord were the Second Spanish Republic and the dictatorship of Francisco Franco, when the fuero of Biscay was abolished.

The current Lord of Biscay is the Spanish King Juan Carlos I.

Linking to the Biscayan tradition, the Presidents of the Basque Government take a different oath under the Guernica oak in their inauguration.

See also

Bibliographical sources

  • Historia de Navarra, el estado vasco, Mikel Sorauren, 1998.


External links

  • Señores de Vizcaya
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