Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas

The Royal Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas (modern spelling variant Gipuzkoan, known also as the Guipuzcoana Company, Spanish: Real Compañia Guipuzcoana de Caracas; Basque: Caracasko Gipuzkoar Errege Konpainia) was a Spanish Basque trading company in the 18th century, operating from 1728 to 1785, which had a monopoly on Venezuelan trade. It was renamed in 1785 the Royal Philippine Company (Spanish: Real Compañia de Filipinas).

Royal Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas
Public company
SuccessorRoyal Company of the Philippines


Guipuzcoana house
The old buildings of the Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas in La Guaira
Compania Guipuzcoana Accion 2124 Madrid 1 junio 1752
Stock certificate of the Guipuzcoana Company (Madrid, 1 June 1752


The Company was founded by a group of wealthy Basques from the province of Gipuzkoa in 1728. The specific aim of the Basque Company, acting almost autonomously with tasks of military nature at their own command and expense, was to break the de facto Dutch monopoly on the cocoa trade in the Captaincy General of Venezuela.

It was initially based in San Sebastián and received its royal decree on September 25, 1728, by Philip V of Spain.[1] Its creation was part of the larger Bourbon Reforms to control unlicensed trading, especially in tobacco, which existed along the Orinoco River and mostly benefited the foreign, Dutch, English, and French traders, who were preferred by the landholders of Canary Islander descent as trade partners. The Venezuelan possessions and their managerial wealthy Creole class thus operated detached from the metropolis. The Venezuelan colonial system turned into an embarrassment and hardly productive for the Spanish-Castilian Crown in terms of revenue. Between 1700 and 1728 only five vessels set sail from Spain to Venezuela.[2]

The establishment of the Company resulted from negotiations engaged with the Basque governments in the aftermath of the bloody military campaign ordered by Philip V of Spain over the western Basque districts. The government of Gipuzkoa in particular came up with a proposal for the re-establishment of commerce with Venezuela that would suit the Basque interests and those of the Spanish king alike. The plan was approved, with the Basques getting total exclusivity on that commerce.[2]

The Guipuzcoana Company was the only body entitled to sell European goods in Venezuela (or Caracas) Province and to export Venezuelan agricultural products to Spain. Goods imported on to other Spanish territories would incur no custom duties on the Ebro river according to the treaty signed with the Spanish king Philip V, and the Company was able to trade freely throughout Europe.[1] The Company would in turn export iron commodities to Venezuela. The Guipuzcoana Company became the first shares based company in Spain, participated by Basque shareholders and the king of Spain.

Since 1743, the Company got permission to charter vessels under the French flag, which could trade directly with Venezuela.[3] The main beneficiaries of that decision were no doubt the coast of the Basque province of Labourd, and Bayonne.

Operations and effects in Venezuela

Casa Guipuzcoana Cagua
The Company's seat in Cagua

It began operating in 1730—four ships departed from San Sebastián (Donostia) taking on board a crew of 561 and 40-50 cannons. The vessels were hailed with frontal hostility by the Venezuelan Creoles, a refusal to sell cocoa to the Company, and an uprising against the newcomers and the local Spanish garrison, until control was re-established.

The Basques started to settle down in Venezuelan territory on wealthy haciendas that boosted plantations and agricultural production. However, the move was resented by other established Creoles based on the fact that it brought down prices to be sold to the Company.[4] The Basques established settlements, built dock facilities, and fortifications. The term un gran cacao became a nickname for a member of the new powerful class (and to this day the term is used jocularly in Venezuela for a VIP). It did not help smaller farmers who continued to participate in illegal trading.

The Company was instrumental in the development of large-scale cocoa production along the valleys of the coast.[5] In addition, the company promoted the exploration and settlement of frontier areas, most famously under the border expedition of 1750-1761 headed by a company agent, José de Iturriaga y Aguirre, which resulted in new settlements in the Guayana region.

The Company's control of the major ports of La Guaira and Puerto Cabello meant that it effectively monopolized the legal trade of the other Venezuelan provinces. In addition, the Company's strict control of much needed manufactured imports naturally created a lot of resentment in a region which depended on these. Several rebellions took place against the Company and the Basques in which ethnic confrontation came to a head in 1749—a variety of Creole population supported by the Dutch and English vs the powerful Basques supported by the Spanish Crown.[6] The rebellion was led by Juan Francisco de León, a Canary Islander just replaced as Corporal of War (1749), but the Spanish Crown could not shrink from protecting its own interests by supporting the Company, and quelling the uprising that very year.

Effects in Gipuzkoa

Apart from breaking the Dutch monopoly and creating significant wealth in the Basque port cities, the Company provided a fast track to job positions for many Basques. The Company's activity kept operative the gradually declining Basque forges in the face of growing competition from English industry, and fed indirectly the arms factories of Soraluze (Placencia de las Armas) and Tolosa. Another outcome was the foundation in Bergara of the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country by a group under the leadership of Xavier María de Munibe e Idiáquez, Count of Peñaflorida, in 1765. Its model expanded to the Spanish heartland prompting the establishment of the "Sociedad Económica de los Amigos del País"—a type of Enlightenment think tank.

Later years

Soraluze (Placencia de las Armas) 29
Soraluze (Placencia de las Armas), a key arms manufacturer for the Company in Gipuzkoa

While Basque involvement increased after 1749, the Spanish Crown dealt a critical blow to the Basques when it diffused the Basque grip over the Company by transferring its headquarters to Madrid, a move contested by Gipuzkoa, and imposing the requirement to include a Spaniard in a board of directors of three (1751).[7] Facing increasing hostility from English war vessels and weakened by the liberalization of commerce with Venezuela (1776), the Company's monopoly came to an end. The crown no longer saw the need for a monopolizing company to control and grow the economy, since by that time the Venezuelan economy had matured and been tightly linked with the markets of Spain and New Spain, which consumed most of its cocoa. The Spanish crown terminated the company's charter in 1784. A key effect of the Caracas Company, despite its eventual commercial failure, was that it guaranteed the place of Caracas in the Captaincy-General.[8] When the crown established a high court (Real Audiencia) in the Captaincy General of Venezuela in 1786, it was sited in Caracas.[9]

The owners of the Guipuzcoana Company transformed it into the Royal Philippine Company (1785). Instead a consulado de mercaderes (a merchants' guild) was established in Caracas in 1793. One of the most active proponents of the move was François Cabarrus, a prominent company stockholder hailing from a merchant family in Bayonne (Labourd), increasingly involved in Spanish finances and politics.

See also


  1. ^ a b Kurlansky, M. A Basque History of the World. Vintage, London, 2000.
  2. ^ a b Douglass, William A. Bilbao, J. 2005, p.87
  3. ^ Douglass, William A. Bilbao, J. 2005, p.90
  4. ^ Douglass, William A.; Douglass, Bilbao, J. (2005). Amerikanuak: Basques in the New World. Reno, NV: University of Nevada Press. ISBN 0-87417-625-5. Retrieved November 16, 2013., p. 90
  5. ^ Venezuela's chocolate revolution By Greg Morsbach Retrieved Dev 14, 2012
  6. ^ Douglass, William A. Bilbao, J. 2005, p.92
  7. ^ Douglass, William A. Bilbao, J. 2005, p.93
  8. ^ Gary M. Miller, "Caracas Company" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, 1996, vol. 1, p. 548.
  9. ^ Inés Quintero, "Audiencia of Caracas" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, 1996, vol. 1, p. 547.

Further reading

  • “Juan Francisco de León” in Diccionario multimedia de Historia de Venezuela. Caracas: Fundación Polar, 1995.
  • Amezaga y Aresti, Vicente. Hombres de la Compañía Guipuzcoana. Caracas, 1963.
  • Arcila Farias, Eduardo. Economia colonial de Venezuela. 1946.
  • Baglio, Assunta. 1996. La Guaira, puerto comercial de la Colonia. Infometro, XVIII, (150), 1996. 17-19.
  • Basterra, Ramón de. Una empresa del siglo XVIII. Los Navíos de la Ilustración. Madrid: Cultura Hispánica, 1970 [1925].
  • Efemérides venezolanas. "La Compañia Guipuzcoana". Archived from the original on February 3, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2007. (in Spanish)
  • Ferry, Robert J. The Colonial Elite of Early Caracas: Formation and Crisis, 1567-1767. 1989.
  • Hussey, Ronald Dennis, The Caracas Company, 1728-1784: A Study in the History of Spanish Monopolistic Trade. Cambridge: Harvard University Press 1934.
  • Miller, Gary M. "Caracas Company" in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture, Barbara A. Tenenbaum, ed. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996, vol. 1, p. 548.
  • Morales Padrón, Francisco. Rebelión contra la Compañía de Caracas . 1955.
  • "Comapañia Guipuzcoana". Archived from the original on February 2, 2007. Retrieved February 10, 2007. (in Spanish)
  • Ramos Pérez, Demetrio. El Tratado de límites de 1750 y la expedición de Iturriaga al Orinoco. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas; Instituto Juan Sebastián Elcano de Geografía, 1946.

External links

Media related to Compañía Guipuzcoana at Wikimedia Commons

Basque Venezuelan

Basque Venezuelans are citizens of Venezuela who are of Basque ancestry.

Basque nationalism

Basque nationalism (Basque: eusko abertzaletasuna) is a form of nationalism that asserts that Basques, an ethnic group indigenous to the western Pyrenees, are a nation, and promotes the political unity of the Basques. Since its inception in the late 19th century, Basque nationalism has included separatist movements.

Basque nationalism, spanning three different regions in two states (the Basque Autonomous Community and Navarre in Spain, and the French Basque Country in France) is "irredentist in nature" as it favors political unification of all the Basque-speaking provinces.

Battle of Roncevaux Pass

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The Basque attack was a retaliation for Charlemagne's destruction of the city walls of their capital, Pamplona. As the Franks retreated across the Pyrenees back to Francia, the rearguard of Frankish lords was cut off, stood its ground, and was wiped out.

Among those killed in the battle was a relatively obscure Frankish commander, Roland, whose death elevated him and the paladins, the foremost warriors of Charlemagne's court, into legend, becoming the quintessential role model for knights and also greatly influencing the code of chivalry in the Middle Ages. There are numerous written works about the battle, some of which change and exaggerate events. The battle is recounted in the 11th century The Song of Roland, the oldest surviving major work of French literature, and in Orlando Furioso, one of the most celebrated works of Italian literature. Modern adaptations of the battle include books, plays and works of fiction, and monuments in the Pyrenees.

Chartered company

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County of Vasconia Citerior

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After Pepin the Short's war on Aquitaine, Charlemagne started Frankish penetration into the Duchy of Vasconia (778) by taking the Church on his side and appointing Frankish and Burgundian counts loyal to him, even creating new counties on Vasconia’s lands (Fezensac), or expanding existing ones (Toulouse), so fragmenting the previous autochthonous territorial and political unity. The territory farther away from the Garonne was made into a county.

The Basque count (also cited as duke) Aznar Sanchez led the Carolingian expedition against Pamplona in 824, and was captured, but he was released years later for his kinship with the captors. The region to the north of the Pyrenees remained in a state of rebellion, and Aznar Sanchez, count of Hither Vasconia, makes a comeback opposing Pepin I, but he was killed in 836 in confusing circumstances ("died a horrible death").His brother Sancho II Sanchez (Sans Sancion) succeeded him. He opposed both Seguin's family based in the region of Bordeaux and central Frankish authority, both Pepin I and Louis the Pious, who were reluctant to acknowledge him Duke of Vasconia. Sancho supported Pepin II of Aquitaine until Sancho took over most of present-day Gascony, and eventually Charles the Bald confirmed him as duke of Vasconia (851). The county seems to have been re-incorporated to Gascony (Vasconia) with Sancho II Sanchez, but his lineage was broken soon after, and a new dynasty of Gascon Basque dukes seem to have taken over.

While records on the region of the Adour are scanty thereafter for the next 150 years, in 886 Garcia II Sanchez is cited with the title comes et marchio in limitibus oceani ("count and margrave to the limits of the ocean"). Vikings are attested during this period as raiding upstream the banks of the Adour, destroying also monasteries not heard of thereafter. The Norsemen stationed themselves at the mouth of the Adour in or next to Bayonne, and in other coastal areas, until they were definitely defeated by William II Sanchez of Gascony (982). In 1020, the County of Labourd and Bayonne emerged for the first time in the same area as a result of a treaty between Pamplona and Gascony.

Cusco School

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First Carlist War

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HMS Prince William (1780)

HMS Prince William was a 64-gun third-rate ship of the line of the Royal Navy. She had previously been the Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, but was better known as Guipuzcoano, an armed merchantmen of the Spanish Basque Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas.

Guipuzcoano was sailing as the flagship of an escort for a merchant convoy of the company, when they ran into a large British fleet under Admiral Sir George Rodney, bound for the relief of Gibraltar. In a short action Rodney captured the entirety of the convoy and all its escorts, including the Guipuscoano, which he manned and named in honour of Prince William, sending her back to Britain with some of the merchants.

The Navy approved her acquisition and after fitting out she was sent to the West Indies, where she took part in most of the battles there during the American War of Independence, including the capture of Sint Eustatius and the battles of Fort Royal, Saint Kitts and the Saintes. She returned to Britain after the end of the wars, was converted to a sheer hulk before the start of the French Revolutionary Wars, was a receiving ship by 1811 and was broken up in 1817, two years after the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Hernán Venegas Carrillo

Hernán Venegas Carrillo Manosalvas (c.1513 – 2 February 1583) was a Spanish conquistadorfor who participated in the Spanish conquest of the Muisca and Panche people in the New Kingdom of Granada, present-day Colombia. Venegas Carrillo was mayor of Santa Fe de Bogotá for two terms; in 1542 and from 1543 to 1544.

Hinchinbrooke (1780 ship)

Hinchinbrooke (or Hinchinbrook) was the Spanish ship San Carlos that Admiral Rodney's squadron captured on 8 January 1780. She was sold as a prize and in 1781 commenced a voyage as an "extra" ship of the British East India Company. During the voyage a French squadron captured her at the Battle of Porto Praya, but the British Royal Navy recaptured her within a day or so. She was lost in the Hooghly River in 1783 on her return voyage to Britain.

San Carlos: On 8 January 1800 a squadron under the command of Admiral Rodney encountered a convoy of 22 Spanish vessels some 76 leagues ENE of Cape Finisterre.

The convoy consisted of seven vessels and ships of war belonging to the Guipuzcoan Company of Caracas, and 15 merchantmen. One of the Company vessels was San Carlos, under the command of Captain Don Firmin Urtizberea. Rodney's squadron captured the entire Spanish convoy.EIC voyage and loss: San Carlos arrived in the River Thames on 27 April 1780. There she was condemned in prize.Robert Williams purchased San Carlos and renamed her Hinchinbrooke. He chartered her for a voyage to Bengal for the EIC, but first she underwent fitting and measuring by Barnard.Captain Arthur Maxwell sailed from Portsmouth for Madras and Bengal on 13 March 1781.

On 16 April 1781 a French squadron under the Bailli de Suffren attacked a British squadron under Commodore George Johnstone anchored at Porto Praya (now Praia) in the Cape Verde Islands to take on water. Both squadrons were en route to the Cape of Good Hope, the British to take it from the Dutch, the French aiming to help defend it and French possessions in the Indian Ocean. The encounter was unexpected so neither fleet was prepared to do battle. The French ship Artésien captured Hinchinbrooke, but when the French withdrew from the inconclusive battle the prize crew abandoned her and the British recaptured her. Hinchinbrooke sailed on to Bengal.

Loss: Hinchinbrooke was wrecked on 10 April 1785 on the Long Sand, River Hooghly, as she was returning to Calcutta for repairs prior to resuming her return voyage to Britain. She had reached the mouth of the Bengal river when she encountered a violent storm. As she was returning to Kedgeree to refit she wrecked and three crew members drowned. The value of her cargo, which could not be saved, was reported as three (or six or seven) Lakhs, presumably of rupees.

History of the Basques

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Lacandola Documents

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List of trading companies

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Trading companies may connect buyers and sellers, but not partake in the ownership or storage of goods, earning their revenue through sales commissions. They may also be structured to engage in commerce with foreign countries or territories. During times of colonization, some trading companies were granted a charter, giving them "rights to a specific territory within an area claimed by the authority granting the charter including legal title, a monopoly of trade, and governmental and military jurisdiction". Furthermore, trading companies may comprise a limited liability, unincorporated entity, designed to "settle and develop a land grant obtained from a legally incorporated company".

Lordship of Biscay

The Lordship of Biscay (Spanish: Señorío de Vizcaya, Basque: Bizkaiko jaurerria) was a region under feudal rule in the region of Biscay in the Iberian Peninsula between c.1040 and 1876, ruled by a political figure known as the Lord of Biscay. One of the Basque señoríos, it was a territory with its own political organization, with its own naval ensign, consulate in Bruges and customs offices in Balmaseda and Urduña, from the 11th Century until 1876, when the Juntas Generales were abolished. Since 1379, when John I of Castile became the Lord of Biscay, the lordship got integrated into the Crown of Castile, and eventually the Kingdom of Spain.

Quito School

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San Felipe Castle

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Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country of 1936

The Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country of 1936 (Spanish: Estatuto de Autonomía del País Vasco de 1936; Basque: 1936ko Euzkadiren Berjabetasun-Araudia) was the first statute of autonomy of the Basque Country. It was approved by the Cortes Generales of the Second Spanish Republic on 1 October 1936 in Valencia, in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. After the approval of the Statute, the first autonomous government was formed, led by José Antonio Aguirre (EAJ-PNV) and with the participation of the PSOE, PCE, EAE-ANV, Republican Left and Republican Union.

War of Jenkins' Ear

The War of Jenkins' Ear (known as Guerra del Asiento in Spain) was a conflict between Britain and Spain lasting from 1739 to 1748, with major operations largely ended by 1742. Its unusual name, coined by British historian Thomas Carlyle in 1858, refers to an ear severed from Robert Jenkins, a captain of a British merchant ship. There is no evidence that supports the stories that the severed ear was exhibited before the British Parliament.

The seeds of conflict began with the separation of an ear from Jenkins following the boarding of his vessel by Spanish coast guards in 1731, eight years before the war began. Popular response to the incident was tepid until several years later when opposition politicians and the British South Sea Company hoped to spur outrage against Spain, believing that a victorious war would improve Britain’s trading opportunities in the Caribbean. Also ostensibly providing the impetus to war against the Spanish Empire was a desire to pressure the Spanish not to renege on the lucrative asiento contract, which gave British slavers permission to sell slaves in Spanish America.The war resulted in heavy British casualties in North America. After 1742, the war was subsumed by the wider War of the Austrian Succession, which involved most of the powers of Europe. Peace arrived with the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748. From the British perspective, the war was notable because it was the first time that a regiment of colonial American troops (Oglethorpe's Regiment) was raised and placed "on the Establishment" – made a part of the regular British Army – and sent to fight outside North America.

Women in ETA

Women in ETA in Francoist Spain were few in numbers, and portrayed as dangerous by the media. Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (ETA) grew out of a Basque nationalist movement with roots that pre-dated the Second Spanish Republic. When Franco seized power, the new regime cracked down on Basque nationalism, imprisoned and killed many activists and made traditional women's activism difficult to continue. Women found themselves being investigated by the new regime. Basque nationalists began to stockpile weaponry following the end of World War II. ETA was created in 1952 by students in Bilbao, creating a fissure in the Basque nationalist community by the mid-1950s. Their attitude towards women was patriarchal and informed by their conservative Roman Catholicism. There would be few women in the movement in this period.

Women's involvement increased in the mid-1960s, usually as a result of male relatives like fathers, husbands or boyfriends. The media began portraying these women as being one-half of a terrorist couple. ETA affiliated women began to be arrested and sent to prison. By the 1970s, female ETA members were involved in violent acts of murder against representatives of the Spanish state. Women were also now being targeted if they were viewed as part of the state or having betrayed ETA. The death of Franco saw little change in the status of women in ETA or state actions to crack down on the terrorist organization. María Dolores Katarain had become a part of ETA leadership by the early 1980s, but was killed as a consequence of leaving. An attempt to start a peace process was underway by the mid-1980s. The creation of the 1999 ceasefire would see more women become leaders in ETA. Their presence came at the time of generational shift in organizational membership, with middle-aged male members who were willing to consider a détente with the Spanish state becoming less visible as younger members, including women, more willing to engage in violence took over. Women were involved with bombing police officer. ETA declared a permanent end to violence in 2011.

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