VII. The lands and peoples along the Camino de Santiago.
Camino de Santiago route along the Toulouse road
brings you across the Garonne River into Gascony,
then over the Somport Pass into Aragon. From there
you come into the province of Navarre, which stretches
as far as Puente la Reina and beyond.
route is over the Pass of Cize; you go from Tours
to Poitou, which has the best countryside on the
Camino. The Poitouians are brave warriors, experts
with bows and arrows and spears who won’t take a
backward step in battle. They’re athletic, good
looking men who know how to dress well, to speak
astutely, and to be generous and hospitable.
there you come to Saintonge, and on across a stretch
of sea and the River Garonne into Bordeaux, famous
for having the finest wine and fish in the world,
but remember – the local dialect of French is not
easy to understand, even more tricky than the version
they speak back in Saintonge.
this stage you’ll be tired, but must face into three
more days walking across the ‘Landes’ – a desolate
region without supplies of bread, wine, meat, fish,
or water, even springs. Villages are rare, although
there is honey, grain and wild boar. If you are
crossing it in summer, protect your face from the
huge flies that infest the place (insects which
the locals call ‘guespe’ and ‘tavones’). And unless
you watch your step, you’ll sink to your knees in
the quicksand that is everywhere.
you’ve crossed this place, you come to Gascony,
with its white bread and the best and reddest wine,
and plenty of forests, streams, meadows and healthy
fountains. And the people? Fast-talking, obnoxious,
and sex-crazed, they are overfed, poorly-dressed
drunks. They’ve two good characteristics: they are
skilled warriors, and they give good hospitality
to the poor.
all sit around the fire rather than eating at a
table, and drink from one cup. They eat and drink
too much and dress in rags, then, unbelievably,
the whole household sprawls out together on a little
this country, if you’re on the road to Santiago,
you should meet the village of Saint-Jean-de-Sorde.
The village is near two rivers, one flowing to the
right which the locals call ‘the brook’ and the
other on the left which they call ‘the river’. You
cannot cross either without a raft. The boatmen
are trouble – big trouble.
the fact both streams are narrow, they’ll extort
money for their services, whether you can afford
it or not. If you have a horse, they’ll get angry
and forcefully demand four coins. Be careful here.
The boat is small, made from a singe tree, not suitable
for horses, and you can easily end up in the water.
The best option is to take the horse by the bridle
and let it swim behind the boat. Whatever you do,
don’t get into an overloaded boat, which can suddenly
capsize. These boatmen have been known to collect
the fares and pile the boat full of pilgrims, so
that the boat capsizes and the pilgrims are drowned.
Then the evil scoundrels delight in stealing the
possessions of the dead.
the Pass of Cize is the Basque country, with the
city of Bayonne on the north coast. The language
spoken here is incomprehensible. The terrain is
woody and mountainous with a serious shortage of
bread wine and other food supplies, except for plenty
of apples and cider and milk.
region – near the Cize Pass and the towns of Ostabat
and Saint-Jean and Saint-Michel-Pied-de-Port – has
some truly vicious toll collectors. They come at
pilgrims with weapons, and demand an exorbitant
fee. If you refuse to pay, they’ll beat you up and
take the money, even intrusively frisking you to
get it. These people are forest savages. Their hard
faces and strange language strike terror into the
rules allow them to charge merchants, and nobody
else, but they seize money from pilgrims and anyone
else passing through. Even with the commercial tax,
when they’re supposed to charge four or six coins,
they grab double.
involved in this racket must stop: the toll-gatherers
themselves, but also the king of Aragon and other
rich men, and their fellow conspirators, namely
Raymond de Soule, Vivien d’Aigremont and the Vicomte
de Saint-Michel, and the boatmen already mentioned
and Armand de la Guigne and the other lords of the
rivers, who receive money obtained by the ferrymen.
Then there are the priests who know exactly what’s
going on but who still give the Eucharist and confession,
and pray for them and welcome them to church. Until
these men publicly make good their crimes and start
taking only fair tolls, they should be excommunicated
in such a way that it’s heard not only in their
local churches, but also in the basilica of Santiago
itself, with the pilgrims listening.
if any bishop decides to pardon them, either because
he feels it’s his Christian duty or because he’s
been paid off, he should be kicked out of the church.
needs to be clear that the toll-gatherers cannot
take money from pilgrims, and that the ferrymen
can charge only one obal to take two men, provided
the travellers can afford it. The charge for a horse
needs to be simply one coin, and nothing whatsoever
for a poor man. Finally, the boats need to be big
enough to take both men and their horses.
Basque Country has the highest mountain on the Camino.
It's called the Pass of Cize and is both a gateway
to Spain, and a commercial route where important
goods are carried from one country to another.
mountain is eight miles up, and eight miles down
the other side, and seems to touch the sky. Climb
it and you'll feel you could push the sky with your
view from the summit takes in the Sea of Brittany,
the Atlantic Ocean, and three territories: Castille,
Aragon and France.
summit is called Charlemagne's Cross, because here
Charlemagne, setting out with his armies for Spain,
made a track with axes, picks and other digging
tools. He first raised a cross and then knelt facing
Galicia and poured out prayers to God and St James.
so it's traditional for pilgrims to knell here facing
St. James' homeland and to plant their own crosses
might find a thousand crosses here, the first station
of prayer on the Camino de Santiago.
that mountain, before Spain was Christian, the pagan
Navarrese and Basques would not only rob pilgrims
to Santiago, but mount them like donkeys and then
the mountain, to the north, is the valley where
it is said Charlemagne was a guest with his army
after his soldiers had been killed at Roncevalles.
This route is taken by many pilgrims who don't want
to climb the mountain.
down from the summit, you'll come to the hostel
and church with the rock that the great hero Roland
split with a triple stroke. Next up is the town
of Roncevalles, where the battle took place in which
King Marsile, Roland, Oliver and another 40,000
Christian and Saracen soldiers were killed.
this valley you come to the province of Navarre,
which has plenty of bread, wine, milk and cattle.
The Navarrese and the Basques have similar food,
clothes and language, although the Basques have
The Navarrese wear black outfits down as far as
their knees, like the Scots. They tie untreated
leather scrips around their feet, leaving bare everything
except their soles. They have dark, elbow-length
woollen cloaks, fringed like a traveller's cape,
which they call 'sayas'. Their clothing is visibly
eating and drinking habits are disgusting. The entire
family - servant, master, maid, mistress - feed
with their hands from one pot in which all the food
is mixed together, and swill from one cup, like
pigs or dogs. And when they speak, their language
sounds so raw, it's like hearing a dog bark.
call God 'Urcia’, the Mother of God 'Andrea Maria',
bread 'orgui', wine 'ardum', meat 'aragui', fish
'araign', home 'echea', the head of household 'iaona',
the mistress 'andrea', church 'elicera', priest
'belaterra' which means 'good earth', corn 'gari',
water 'uric', the king 'ereguia', and St James 'Jaona
are an undeveloped people, with different customs
and characteristics than other races. They're malicious,
dark, hostile-looking types, crooked, perverse,
treacherous, corrupt and untrustworthy, obsessed
with sex and booze, steeped in violence, wild, savage,
condemned and rejected, sour, horrible, and squabbling.
They are badness and nastiness personified, utterly
lacking in any good qualities. They're as bad as
the Getes and the Saracens, and they despise us
French. If they could, a Basque or Navarrese would
kill a Frenchman for a cent.
some places, like Vizcaya and Alava, when they get
warmed up, the men and women show off their private
parts to each other. The Navarrese also have sex
with their farm animals. And it's said that they
put a lock on the backsides of their mules and horses
so that nobody except themselves can have at them.
they kiss lasciviously the vaginas of women and
with sense slams the Navarrese. However, they're
good in war, although not so effective in a siege.
They pay their church taxes and present their offerings
to the altar; every day a Navarrese goes to church,
he makes an offering to God of bread, wine, corn
or something else suitable.
a Navarrese or a Basque goes, he has a hunter’s
horn around his neck, and carries two or three spears,
which they call ‘auconas’. When he comes to his
home he gives a whistle, like a bird. When they’re
lying in ambush and want to call companions quietly,
they hoot like an owl, or howl like a wolf. Tradition
has it that they’re descended from the Scots, because
they have such similar customs.
is said that Julius Caesar brought three tribes
to conquer the Spaniards who refused to pay him
taxes: the Nubians, the Scots and men with tails
from Cornwall. He ordered them to kill all the Spanish
men, and to keep alive only the women.
invaders came across the sea and, with their ships
having been destroyed, devastated the country with
sword and fire, from the city of Barcelona all the
way to Saragossa, and from Bayonne to the mountains
didn’t get further because the Castilians united,
defeated them in battle, and drove them back.
fled and settled in the mountains at the coast which
are between Najera and Pamplona and Bayonne, towards
the sea in Biscay and Alava. They built many forts
and killed all the local men. Then they raped the
women and had children with them, who afterwards
were called Navarrese. This comes from ‘non verus’
(not true), because the children didn’t come from
a true family.
well as that, the Navarrese may first have taken
their name from the city of Naddaver in Ethiopia,
where they originally came from. The apostle and
gospel writer Matthew converted their city with
Navarre, the Camino crosses the forest of Oca and
continues through the Spanish territory of Castile
and Campos towards Burgos. This country is full
of royal treasure, of gold and silver, fabrics and
the strongest horses, and flush with bread, wine,
fish, milk and honey. It is however lacking in firewood
and the people are evil and vicious.
is Galicia, which you enter after crossing Leon
and the mountains at Irago and Cebrero. Galicia
is well -wooded, with rivers, meadows, and orchards,
and the deepest clearest springs, but with few towns,
farmsteads or wheat fields.
is difficult to get wheat-bread and wine. However
with plenty of rye bread and cider, livestock and
workhorses, milk and honey and enormous seafish,
there is little lacking. And there is gold and silver,
fabrics and furs from the forests and other riches,
as well as Saracen treasure.
Galicians are more like us French people than other
Spanish savages, but nevertheless they can be hottempered
à Codex. Guide
at wanadoo.fr - 01/01/2013