THE RACIAL ELEMENTS OF EUROPEAN HISTORY

Chapter VI Part Two

THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE EUROPEAN RACES IN EUROPE

 

SPAIN belongs almost wholly to the Mediterranean race, and is therefore, racially, a relatively homogeneous land. The Alpine race appears in the north-western boundary mountains, in the upper districts of the Asturian-Cantabrian range, especially about Oviedo, and follows the range as far as the northern Portuguese frontier. A certain Nordic strain, however -- Ploetz8 estimates it and the Alpine strain at about 15 per cent. each -- is unmistakable, and stronger, perhaps, than would be gathered from the maps. The people of Catalonia are some of them proudly conscious of their 'Gothic' blood. Nordic blood is said to show clearly, too, in the Sierra de Bejar (north-west Spain), in Galicia (extreme north-west), and among the Maragotos in Leon, and to be noticeable in Asturias and Navarre, as also all over Spain among the upper classes; in the Castilian mountains a high proportion of blue-eyed persons has been noted. Unmistakable, too, in Spain is a slight Hither Asiatic, as also a slight Negro strain. The Hither Asiatic strain9 seems to show itself mainly along the southern coast of Spain (except Cadiz), most clearly from Motril (Granada) to Moguer (Seville). A slight but by no means negligible strain of the Oriental race stands out only faintly in the mainly Mediterranean Spain, since the Oriental is near allied to the Mediterranean race (cp. Chapter Four). This Oriental strain, however, comes out in the mentality of many Spaniards, who are gifted with that melancholy but burning earnestness characteristic of the soul of the Oriental race. And does the Hither Asiatic strain come from a prehistoric Hither Asiatic wave, from the carriers of the Bask tongue, besides coming from Morocco (Moorish dominion)?

 

The Basks about the Spanish-French frontier (numbering about half a million), who speak a language which stands quite alone among those surrounding it,10 are racially a mixed people; in France they are a part of the southern ending of the Alpine-Mediterranean region, in Spain they are mainly Mediterranean with a slight Alpine strain. They must, however, have taken up, too, a good deal of Nordic blood; fair people are not rare, especially high up the mountains, while light eyes, too, seem not to be uncommon.

 

Fig. 181 - Distribution of the colour of the eyes in various European countries (light, medium, dark)

 

Portugal would seem, like Spain, to have a predominantly Mediterranean population. There does not seem to be any Alpine blood here. There is a slight mixture of Nordic blood, mainly in the coast towns. On the other hand, the Portuguese seem to be racially distinguished from the more homogeneous Mediterranean Spaniards by a heavier strain of that Negro blood which is recognizable, too, in Spain.11 Is this Negro strain to be referred only in greater part to a mixture brought about in the Portuguese African colonies; and have we to do here also with a Negro palaeolithic remnant driven into the extreme south-west? In any case the importation of black slaves into Portugal was formerly very heavy, and the Moorish dominion brought into Portugal, as it did into Spain, much 'African' blood, mainly of the Oriental, Hither Asiatic, and Negro races.

 

Italy on the whole shows an Alpine-Dinaric northern half with a slight Nordic and Mediterranean strain, and a Mediterranean southern half with a weak Hither Asiatic and Negro strain. The Dinaric race reaches from the eastern Alps into Italy, and goes through the north-eastern coast district, and in diminishing strength through the whole of Venetia down nearly to the Romagna. The Alpine race reaches from the north and north-west in diminishing strength down to near Rome, where the predominantly Mediterranean part of Italy begins. The Lucca district, however, appears as a predominantly Mediterranean island in the brachycephalic northern half of Italy, and the whole Ligurian coast has a strong Mediterranean admixture. The Nordic race is no longer found living in continuous, unbroken areas of settlement; the Nordic strain (which is perhaps 15 per cent. of the whole people) is most evident in Piedmont, about Milan, and in Venetia, but can be seen all over the Alpine area, and in the northern Apennines, even beyond Florence. In Toscana, also, and Umbria fair features are still found; in the Perugia district, especially, blue-eyed blondes are still comparatively frequent. It is remarkable that the blondes in the northern half of Italy are more frequent above the 400-metre level; here in the south the Nordic race must have withdrawn from the lowlands, which they found too warm, or have been thinned out in these lowlands, perhaps mainly by malaria. In Italy as a whole the percentage of blue-eyed blondes is 3, in Venetia it is 5.4. The islands of Sicily, Sardinia, and Corsica (which belongs to France) belong to the predominantly Mediterranean southern half.

 

This Mediterranean south seems to be fairly homogeneous racially, although with a slight touch of Negro and Hither Asiatic blood like Spain. Hither Asiatic blood seems to show itself in southern Italy mainly in Salerno and Bari, in Sicily mainly about Syracuse and Girgenti. Sicily shows, too, a weak Oriental racial strain (from Arabian immigrants). Fair hair is still found at times in the former Lombard districts about Benevento; so, too, Malta still has 1 per cent. of blondes. In Zurrico, on Malta, rather a high number of blondes and blue eyes have even been recorded. Besides this slight touch of the Nordic one is struck by a rather strong Hither Asiatic strain in the predominantly Mediterranean population of Malta.

 

The regions of the Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Montenegrins, and Albanians make up together an area of very strong Dinaric predominance. Other racial strains, however, are also evident in these peoples: Mediterranean blood has penetrated here from the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea, East Baltic blood from Eastern Europe, Nordic blood through various waves of Nordic comers. The northern Albanian Mirdit tribe, on the one hand, and the southern Albanians on the other, would seem to have a fairly strong Nordic strain; the same strain can be seen among the Serbs and the Slovenes.12 Through Albanian settlement Dinaric blood has come into Calabria (southern Italy); while these Albanians are said, too, to show a slight Nordic strain.

 


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Footnotes for Chapter VI Part Two

 

8 Ploetz, 'Sozialanthropologie,' in the volume Anthropologie ('Kultur der Gegenwart,' Teil iii. Abt. v., 1923).

 

9 On the Hither Asiatic race, cp. Chapter Four.

 

10 Winkler (La langue basque et les langues ouralo-alta´ques, 1917) puts the Bask with the Caucasian (Alarodic) languages, which belong specifically to the Hither Asiatic race. He holds the carriers of Bask to have come from Eastern Europe or Hither Asia. On this point cp. Chapter Seven and Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes, chap. xix.

 

11 This strain is so strong in Portugal that the natives of East Africa look on the Portuguese almost as belonging to themselves, and respect them much less than other Europeans. If the Swahili, for instance, wish to designate the whole of the European nations, they say 'the Europeans and the Portuguese.'

 

12 W. Peacock, Albania, etc., 1914, noticed the Nordic strain in the Mirdits, describing them as 'English-looking with their fine blonde complexion.'