This is the story of the Spinner from Deba. I happened across this story at a viewpoint on the way to Deba in Northern Spain. It actually has very little to do with spinning, but does involve a spinner and shows some pictures of her spinning.
The ancient Basque culture is rich in traditions, myths and legends. One of the most popular legends is that of ‘The Spinner’ a beautiful and dramatic story of love. Possibly somewhere between reality and fiction.
The story takes place in Deba around the year 1500, and gets its name from the excessive affection for the old craft of spinning of one of the lead characters, Andra Madalen, lady of the historic Zubelzu house.
They say that the kind lady lived with her daughter Katalintxu. Her husband and the majority of the males of the house had died in the bloody and prolonged war that the sailors of the Basque ports waged against the French.
Despite so much suffering, the face of this woman was considered the most beautiful in the country, she continued to maintain her beauty from her youth, a beauty that had been inherited by the young Katalintxu.
One day day when mother and daughter were walking on the beach, they witnessed a big turmoil, over the sand, a young, shipwrecked man lay unconscious. Faced with the evidence of his French citizenship, a crowd discussed ways of taking vengeance and finishing him off. The dispute was whether it should be by hanging, bonfire or firing squad.
The lady intervened, and using her prestige and the high regard in which people held her, she managed, not without some effort, to save the life of the young man and transfer him to her house where he could recover.
The young, shipwrecked man, called Gastón de Chatelnauday, was the son of Viscount of Aprefort, who died two years before, a character that, besides his noble title, he had been most ostentatious and the most hated on the coast.
Of the two titles, by luck, Gaston had inherited just the first, the nobility, in addition to the command of a French war ship.
The recklessness of his youth had brought him to show his worth in a risky venture, a tragic adventure that threw him on the sands of Deba.
During his convalescence in the house, a great sympathy arose between him and the two women, a sympathy that changed to love between the young Frenchman and the young Katalintxu.
Time passed and a servant of Gastón’s mother arrived, who had been warned by Andra Madalen of the developments of her son.
The servant brought a message that demanded the return of the young Viscount as soon as he recovered.
And with the arrival of the message the feelings of the young couple started to turn to grief, a pain as big as the love that united them.
One day an English ship was anchored in the bay. The countermasters disembarked, carrying a message addressed to the young viscount.
The message, signed by his mother, argued for him to return under penalty of being considered a traitor and being disowned.
Gastón asked Andra Madalen for advice, who recommended that he leave for his country. Wishing to avoid separating, the young man proposed that the two women leave with him, but Andra Madalen declined.
Before the inevitable separation, Katalintxu and Gastón promised to reunite even if after death.
After parting from her love, Katalintxu could not cope with it and fell gravely ill. Months passed, and although she improved slightly, Katalintxu’s health was still fragile.
Her mother, seeing that the cause of her daughter’s illness was love, the best medicine would be to reunite with the person that she loved so much. She decided to leave together shortly and go to France.
But in a few days the same ship that had taken Gastón returned. This time the countermaster brought the tragic news of his death in battle and gave Katalintxu a crucifix stained with blood.
The next three pictures were taken at the viewpoint.
This is the unique shoreline with the rock striations that give it protected status:
This is the view towards Deba:
This is the view towards Zaraultz:
We are a group who enjoy learning and improving our skills and are genuinely interested in sharing these skills with each other and any one who would like to join us.