Navarre, a medieval kingdom in the western Pyrenees of Europe. Much of its area is now covered by Navarre Province of Spain and Basses-Pyrénées Department of France. The early inhabitants, the Vascofes (ancestors of the Basques), had their capital at Pamplona. The Pamplona area was conquered by the Romans in the first century B.C., overrun by the Visigoths in the fifth century A.D., and taken by the Moors in 718. Charlemagne, king of the Franks, captured the city in 778 during a campaign to expel the Moors. His rear guard, however, was attacked and defeated by the Vascones at the Pass of Roncesvalles.
In the ninth century the Vascones founded three Christian kingdoms—Pamplona, Castile to the west, and Aragon to the east. Under Sancho (I) Garcés (ruled 905–25), Pamplona became the kingdom of Navarre. The Christian kingdoms were constantly at war against the Moors or against each other. Navarre was at its height of power under Sancho (III) the Great (ruled 1000–35), who held the entire area.
Navarre passed by marriage to a French count in 1235, and to the royal house of Capet in 1305. It regained independence in 1328. In 1512 Ferdinand II of Aragon conquered Spanish Navarre. French Navarre passed to the house of Bourbon in 1572 and was united with France in 1589 upon accession of Henry IV to the French throne.