Hurdes - Culture - History
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Six municipalities and more than forty farmsteads constitute Las Hurdes. Its long historical development through time has not always been very comfortable as regards the spatial, juridical, administrative, social and economic aspects.

In our opinion, the end of the Middle Ages constitutes a meaningful date as regards this process. It is exactly in the last third of the fifteenth century when the region becomes a part of the Community of the villa and land of Granadilla. It was a part of the juridical, administrative and economic domain of the House of Alba. From that moment, the influence of the ducal administration began to disappear. As in other places of Extremadura, the inclusion to a late - middle age.

It can be stated that the late Middle Ages mark the beginning of a change in Las Hurdes. Thus, the ducal administration introduces a juridical administrative system, an economic realignment and social intervention. Granadilla, the main villa of the domain, was an instrument for the above-mentioned intervention.

However, the last decades of the fifteenth century and the beginning of the sixteenth century are also a period for many deep economic and demographic changes. Having overcome the fourteenth century crisis in the territory of the Castilian Crown, it is time for reconstruction.

In this context, the first objective is to achieve the necessary information about the lordly territory. The second one is to streamline the administration of the community of villa and land in order to further the lordly income.The late medieval domain had its own scheme of territorial arrangement, distribution, use of material resources and assignment of functions.

Although the new omnipresent, rigid, lordly domain was reduced by the terms of the Community of villa and land of Granada and its seventeen places at the end of the seventeenth century, the ducal House still had some important territorial privileges.

To make use of the uncultivated land freely and the use of the agricultural advantages are among these ancient territorial privileges. At that time, there were some uncultivated lands in the community of villa and land, such as those in Monfrontín, La Granja or San Miguel. The duke transferred them to its inhabitants by means of census.

In this sense, a long time ago, the territory of "Lo Franqueado", in "The Low Hurdes", was considered as a region that belonged to the proper of the council of Granada. The inhabitants from Robledillo rented the agricultural area in return for an annual income. However, the inhabitants were not obliged to pay the land of all the community of villa to the Duke.

On the other hand, the "pasture of jurde", in the high Hurdes, had the condition of "pasture of council" during the fifteenth century. The inhabitants from La Alberca paid a rent for this land. So, both the Low and High Hurdes, took part of a superior scheme. The domain and the direct administration of the villa of Granada gave them in. The low medieval domain directed this organisation. Despite the fact that the population in the pasture of Las Hurdes was not too numerous, its juridical and territorial statutes did not change.

However, when the increase of population became important during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the needs also increased. This situation caused more and more serious tenseness among the inhabitants from Las Hurdes and the councils of Granada and La Alberca.

So, the respective Censuses of "Lo Franqueado" and Granada on one hand and "the pasture of Jurde" and "La Alberca" on the other hand, were established. The censuses were an instrument to recognise and normalise the territorial and administrative situation in Las Hurdes. The inhabitants from this region had been developing and reinforcing a population that wanted a new juridical frame.

It had to be in accordance with the social and economic development from the Late Middle Ages. In this sense, the Censuses are the culmination in the spatial, economic and social structures of Las Hurdes. Having everything into account, it can be stated that the differences in the historical evolution between the High and Low Hurdes (Nuñomoral and Pinofranqueado) are closely linked to the different conditions for the entry of both territories: the "pasture of the Franqueado" belonged to the council of Granada, but they received a rent in exchange.

Meanwhile, "the pasture of jurde" was given to tha Alberca as a "pasture of council" at the end of the thirteenth century. This territory was destined to the own use of the inhabitants from La Alberca, which was based on a feudal system.

Consequently, the arguments, "controversy and contest" among the different signing parts of the censuses (as it is revealed in several documentary sources) was due to opposite confrontations of interests.Regarding history, the confrontations between La Alberca and the High Hurdes were more numerous and outstanding.

As we stated, there were many spatial, economic, social and political changes in the Low and High Hurdes. These changes also took place outside the region. In this sense, the exterior areas of the region carried out numerous interventions, such as the one in the House of Alba. It was the head of the domain on the Community of Villa and Land.

Thus, at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the duchess Mrs. Mencía supported the building of the church of Nuñomoral. It was mainly due to the preoccupation at the subject inhabitants' morality.

On the same date, two censuses took place under the protection of the ducal House. In the same process, but on a spiritual level, the monastery of the discalced Carmelites was founded in Las Batuecas in 1599.

The foundation of the monastery is related to a spiritual Renaissance. The reinforcement of the faith and the need of evangelising can be framed in the Spanish Counter-Reformation. The hard hills in Las Batuecas and Las Hurdes were the most appropriate places to feel the faith and develop the Christian testimony.That place was a spiritual "desert" that needed to be evangelised.



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Picture yield by: Maurice Legendre. "Las Jurdes: Etude de Géographie Humaine".

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