Noble Ancestor

The Sanat Maria

The Santa Maria



What is nobility?

What went wrong

Why did he do it?



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This is a short story of the Lariz Family


Lariz is a very old Basque name which can be traced to the 11th century A.D. in Vizcaya a major region of Euskal Herria, the Basque county where my ancestors lived and many of my relatives live today. It is said that in family stories that a Lariz ship builder helped to build the Nina and the Santa Maria, and that yet another Lariz sailed with Columbus in 1492. While the records do not show anyone named Lariz on the Columbus ships it may have been a cousin or other closely related person. I suppose we will never know for sure. In 1525 Don Amador de Lariz a Spanish nobleman and colonizer founded el Hato de Lariz later to be know as del Pueblo de Lares in Puerto Rico.  Much could be told about the family but that is for another time.  This work will deal with the life of one of my most notable ancestors named "Dionisio de Lariz", and his quest to prove his nobility.


In order for the reader to understand what poor Dionisio went through you must first understand a little bit about life in Vizcaya during the middle ages. 

What is nobility?

First of all Basques find it insulting to be thought of as anything but noble.  They have always from time immemorial thought of themselves as noble.  A noble as defined by the Basque is a person who owned property, was as important as anyone else, and was perfectly capable of governing himself without help from some supposed "divine right" ruler, or king. The levels of Spanish nobility have various titles: 1) Infanzon 2) Caballero, and 3) Hidalgo. None of the three is any greater than the others but different privileges go along with each.  Also status in each of these was granted in different ways.

An Infanzon was a hereditary nobleman by right, Caballeros and Hijos Daigo were also Infanzones, but Infanzones were not necessarily one of the other two.  All Vizcainos, by decree of King Fernando and reaffirmation by succeeding monarchs, were infanzones. It was a nobility handed down from generation to generation.

A Caballero was a privilege granted by the king, or Lord of Vizcaya, to whom he chose. A prerequisite was owning a horse.  Since few Vizcainos owned horses, few became Caballeros.

Hidalgo or Hijo Dalgo is derived from Hijo de Algo or "son of something". The something was property. An Hijo Dalgo was guaranteed the right to own property in Vizcaya, exemption from taxes on maritime activities, free to engage in commerce, and a right to due process in all legal proceedings.  Hijos Dalgo also had access to both religious and secular administrative positions denied to others.

It was the Royal Provision of 1526 that set down the criteria for "Hidalguia" or nobility in the Basque Country as a reward for their loyalty to Spain.

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Lariz Crest

The Lariz Escudo

Our Escudo or coat of arms, is very old and features the famous basque oak tree the "Tree of Gernika" with a crown at the top.  Also depicted are wolves symbolizing family, a heated caldron symbolizing home, and the male wolf features an erect penis, symboizing fertility.

Lariz Crest

The complete coat of arms of Don Amador de Lariz, circa 1525.

©2005, Mondy Lariz, All Rights Reserved

This page was updated on September 16, 2009