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The Iriarte de Corella family's noble title and a novel-like family story.


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Diario de Navarra

Ricardo Fernández Gracia

Chair of Heritage and Art in Navarre

The documentation of many families has arrived, for different circumstances, to unsuspected places. Such was the case with the files of an 18th century businessman, José de Iriarte y Estañán, established in Corella and with extensive commercial relations. All his inheritance and papers ended up in the Benedictine monastery of Corella, where three of his sisters had entered. When the nuns left the monastery and moved to Miralbueno (Zaragoza), the file and a large part of the community's movable heritage was moved in 1968 and, more recently, in 2022, to the monastery of Jaca. On the occasion of our study on the material and immaterial patrimony of the Navarrese female cloisters, we were able to locate, among other documents, the executoria de hidalguía that concerns us, belonging to the father of the aforementioned José de Iriarte y Estañán, Miguel de Iriarte y Erviti, in a thick volume luxuriously bound, which contains the coat of arms painted and protected by a pinkish taffeta.

The coat of arms, illuminated in full color, represents the arms that Miguel de Iriarte and his sons José, Benito and Gregorio, obtained by sentence of the Royal committee of Navarra on June 14, 1738, in which the plaintiffs were recognized as nobility of origin for all their abolitions, also proving clean blood and the right to use the coat of arms as originating from the Iriartea house in Muguiro in the valley of Larráun and from the palace armory of Erviti in Basaburúa Mayor.

This execution is added to those preserved of other Corellanos who, throughout the second half of the XVII and the following century, obtained favorable sentences to display their coat of arms, as part of a mercantile nobility that, as F. J. Alfaro and B. Domínguez observe, were fond of luxury and ostentation, under the protection of the economic power. Domínguez, were fond of luxury and ostentation, under the protection of the economic development .

Home and family

The coat of arms of the executions coincides with the coat of arms of the house issue 37 of the Main Street of Corella, for a long time unidentified and recognized and published by A. Erdozáin. The armorial stone places us in front of the house of the Iriarte family, nowadays very restored, with rich ironwork on the balconies, which follows models from the second half of the 18th century. It is a harmonious ensemble, with a large horizontal development , two floors and severe lines, which suggests a major renovation at the end of the Age of Enlightenment on the old Baroque construction.

Executoria and alabaster shield, present the same motifs in a quartered shield: first and fourth, of gold with four gules poles; second and third, also in gold, four wolves of sable walking, one on top of the other; and silver escutcheon, with a sinople tree and a wolf of sable, passing at the foot of the trunk. Border of gules, with the chains of Navarre in gold. The shield combines the wolves of the Erviti family, the wolf with the clubs of the valley of Larráun. It is one of the numerous shields conserved in the city, in spite of the disappearance of many. In this regard, let us remember that, eight decades ago, an antique dealer removed, in a single day, no less than sixteen coats of arms from as many ancestral homes.

Miguel Iriarte was born in Pamplona, son of Miguel de Iriarte y Astiz, who married Ana de Erviti, originally from the palace of Erviti, in the capital of Navarre. The paternal family came from Muguiro.

In July 1711, Miguel de Iriarte was in Corella in the service of the king, when he gave a power of attorney to marry Graciosa Istúriz, from Pamplona. If he was widowed soon, as Arrese supposes, or if the marriage was not celebrated, we do not know, what is certain is that he married María Estañán in Corella on June 25, 1713.

Miguel de Iriarte dictated his will in Corella on December 23, 1748 and died a little later, on Christmas Day. An attempt was made to bury him in the monastery of San Benito, but the bishop did not authorize it, and he was buried in the convent of La Merced. In his will he left 2,000 masses for his soul.

The lineage dies out: dying infants, religious and a marriage without offspring

Of the numerous offspring of the Iriarte-Estañán family, some died very early. Such was the case of Gregorio José, baptized on March 13, 1719, who died at the age of four; María Bernarda, baptized on April 8, 1725, who died four months later; and Juan Plácido, baptized on March 30, 1727, who barely lived ten months.

Three men embraced the religious life: Miguel, born in 1715, who was a Mercedarian friar and Benito Silvestre, baptized in 1725, who entered Benedictine in Sahagún in 1743 and became a definitor, abbot of Sahagún, general definitor and general of the Congregation of Valladolid. To these two we will add Gregorio Leandro, baptized on March 13, 1732, supposedly a natural brother of the Count of Aranda, whom we will discuss at the end of this article.

Three entered the Benedictine Sisters of Corella, namely: Ana María (1714-1786) who professed in 1723 under the name María Ana de San Benito; María Teresa (1717-1791) who did so as Sister Benita de la Purísima Concepción in 1732 and María Josefa (1722-1794) under the name María Josefa de San Fermín in 1733.

José, born in 1723, who married María Francisca Garisoain, great-granddaughter of the architect José de Iturmendi, and first-born daughter of Juan Francisco Garisoain, one of the most prosperous merchants of Navarre at the time, with a dowry of 68,000 reales, remained as son of the house to carry it afloat and continue the lineage.

José inherited his father's wealthy business, became very rich and maintained correspondence and relations with numerous people from Cádiz, Puerto de Santa María and the Madrid court. He was responsible for the gilding of the altarpiece of Santa Gertrudis and the altarpiece of San José of the Benedictine Sisters of Corella, where he had, as we have pointed out, three sisters. He died on May 11, 1803. His death certificate states that he was 81 years old and was buried in La Merced. After making some foundations, he left an heir to the aforementioned monastery, which brought about important lawsuits and disagreements with his wife's relatives. His wife, María Francisca Garisoain died a few months earlier, March 11, 1803 at the age of 71 and was also buried in the Merced, leaving several pious mandas, among them 100 ducats for the Hospital of Corella.

Gregorio, Jesuit and natural brother of the Count of Aranda

On the figure of the exclaustrated Jesuit and chantre of Tarazona, Gregorio Iriarte y Estañán (1732-1774), to whom we have referred, two monographic programs of study of Fathers Castillo (1895) and Olaechea (1964) have been published. Olaechea (1964). The latter makes an accurate and sharp study, although the data that he contributes of some of his brothers are totally erroneous. Arrese tried to investigate more in Corella, but his conclusions were not at all clear, slipping that everything could be a fantasy.

As we have seen, Gregorio was born in Corella in 1732, when two of his sisters were already professed and the third one had already taken the habit, since she professed in 1733. His baptismal certificate has the "peculiarity" that the parents who appear as such in it, also act as godparents, something not frequent. Olaechea's investigations conclude that the mother of the Count of Aranda, Doña María Josefa Pons de Mendoza, had an extramarital affair, when her husband was absent for several years and, as in the great novels, came to spend the last months of her pregnancy in Corella, where she gave birth and the neophyte was baptized as the son of those who hosted him, who had excellent relations with the Counts of Aranda, and had even rendered them other services.

At the age of 16, in 1748, he went to Valladolid to study at the elitist high school de los Ingleses. He stayed there for two years, during which he lived "with great decency, and no other mischief was known to him except his fondness for bullfighting, an inclination that his father had already tried to moderate before sending him to Valladolid". In 1750 he asked to enter the Society of Jesus, under the protection of José Estañán, provincial between 1748 and 1751 and brother of his adoptive mother. Gregorio was ordained a priest in 1758 and worked as a teacher in various schools such as La Coruña, Segovia, Valladolid and Pamplona.

At the end of January 1767, he was mysteriously summoned by the president of the Chancery of Valladolid to tell him that he should leave immediately for the Court. His companions thought the worst, that he would be subjected to the surveillance and persecution that was already hanging over the Jesuits. However, it was soon learned that none of this was founded. subject On the contrary, he was received with all the honors before arriving in the capital, being taken to the palace of the Count of Aranda, then all-powerful president of the committee of Castile, who gave him all honors and protected him, ordering that he have all subject of freedom in the Imperial high school , while asking Father Idiáquez, who had been his provincial, for a detailed report of his life and customs.

What had happened in that same month of January? Father Olaechea loses track of his real mother, Doña Josefa Pons de Mendoza, around 1760, but today we know that she died on January 16, 1767. Therefore, there is no coincidence, but rather causality, in the Count's call to his half-brother at the end of that month and Father Gregorio's arrival in Madrid at the beginning of February, when the Count, by whatever means, verified her existence, when his mother could no longer suffer any affront to her honor.

From then on, the Count would ask him either to leave with his brothers in exile or to abandon the Society and continue under his protection. Father Gregorio, who must not have been a hero, opted for the latter, asking for the resignations, although it was the Count of Aranda who was in charge of managing his departure from the Society, in some tumultuous moments, since the papers were processed when the decree of expulsion of the Jesuits was being executed.

Gregorio was immediately promoted to the chantry of the cathedral of Tarazona, with the approval of José Laplana, royalist bishop of that diocese, but not of his cathedral chapter. In September 1767 he took possession of that prebend. Several canons made him a vacuum and showed him their enmity and hostility, so that, after five years, he took refuge in his native Corella, where either by scruples of conscience or by the reputation of traitor that many Jesuits in exile attributed to him, they led him to suicide on July 18, 1774, when he was forty-two years old. His death certificate, like his birth certificate, is very suspicious, since it attributes his death to a fall, adding that "he did not receive any sacrament because he died suddenly from a fall, but that same day he went to confession and celebrated mass". However, we know from a letter sent from Corella to Father Luis Labastida, the same day of the death, that "a quarter of an hour after Don Gregorio Leandro had been seen entering his house, healthy and well, he was found dead in the corral, under the gutters of the roof, with a very large wound on his head, and his whole body disjointed and with great bruises, and that everyone assumes that this could only have happened because he had thrown himself out of the window of his room".

This tragic end would be commented by some Jesuits in exile, among them Father Luengo, with a thick and terrifying epiphoneme, interpreting what happened as a just punishment for those who had betrayed and slandered the Society of Jesus in those difficult times.