Velasco the Basque

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Velasco the Basque (Arabic: بلشك الجلشقي‎, Balask al-Galaski)[1] was the Basque ruler of Pamplona in the early 9th century.[2]

Velasco may have come to power in 799 in the uprising that overthrew the Umayyad rule in Pamplona,[3][4] when Muṭarrif ibn Mūsa, probably of the Banu Qasi, was assassinated there.[2]

The contemporary Annales Regni Francorum record that "the Navarri and the Pamplonans, who had defected to the Saracens in recent years, were received back into allegiance" in 806. Velasco must be seen as a pro-Frankish leader, perhaps even a Frankish appointee.[2]

According to the 11th-century Muqtabis of Ibn Ḥayyān, in the year 816 (AH 200) the Córdoban ḥājib ʿAbd al-Karīm led an expedition against Velasco, whom he describes as the "lord of Pamplona" (Arabic: صاحب بنبلونة‎, ṣāḥib) and the "enemy of God". There is no record of Velasco receiving any assistance from his Frankish allies. In fact, the Umayyad governor of Zaragoza, the future ʿAbd al-Raḥmān II, even sent an embassy to the Frankish emperor Louis the Pious that year, perhaps to forestall just such a Frankish reaction.[2]

Velasco did receive assistance from the neighbouring Kingdom of Asturias. The Asturian contingent included some Basques from the region of Álava. After thirteen days of fighting "without truce" along the river Arum, Velasco was defeated and the Álavan leader, García López (Garsiya ibn Lubb), was killed. This García was a cousin of King Alfonso II of Asturias, who was himself half-Basque.[2] The "best knight of Pamplona", Sancho, and a certain Ṣaltān, leader of the majūs (idolaters), were also among those killed. Following their defeat, the Basques blocked the rivers and mountain passes, frustrating any further Umayyad advance.[5] Ṣaltān was probably the leader of a faction of pagan Basques.[6]

Nothing is heard of Velasco after his defeat in 816, but he was no longer lord of Pamplona by 824, when Íñigo Arista was ruling there.[2]



  1. ^ This is the Romanization of Collins 2012; Lévi-Provençal & García Gómez 1954 use Balašk al-Ŷalašqi; and Cañada Juste 1976 uses Balashk al-Chalashqí.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Collins 2012, pp. 207–08.
  3. ^ Pérez de Úrbel 1954, p. 4.
  4. ^ Collins 1990, p. 124.
  5. ^ Lévi-Provençal & García Gómez 1954, pp. 296–97.
  6. ^ Martínez Díez 2005, pp. 217–18.


  • Cañada Juste, Alberto (1976). La campaña musulmana de Pamplona: año 924. Pamplona: Diputación Foral de Navarra, Institución Príncipe de Viana, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas.
  • Collins, Roger (1990). The Basques. London: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 9780631175650.
  • Collins, Roger (2012). Caliphs and Kings: Spain, 796–1031. London: Wiley Blackwell. ISBN 978-1-118-73001-0.
  • Lévi-Provençal, Évariste; García Gómez, Emilio (1954). "Textos inéditos del Muqtabis de Ibn Hayyan sobre los orígenes del reino de Pamplona". Al-Andalus. 19 (2): 295–315.
  • Martínez Díez, Gonzalo (2005). El Condado de Castilla (711–1038): la historia frente a la leyenda. Vol. 1. Valladolid: Marcial Pons Historia.
  • Pérez de Úrbel, Justo (1954). "Lo viejo y lo nuevo sobre el origen del reino de Pamplona". Al-Andalus. 19 (1): 1–42.