ARBOLEAS PAST AND PRESENT


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Arboleas is centred on the Pueblo on the bank of the Almanzora River, with many barriadas in the surrounding countryside.


There are the traditional barriadas taking their names from their location or historical significance, such as Alqueria, Molino Nuevo, Casablanca, La Perla, El Prado, La Judea, El Campillo, La Cueva, San Roque, Los Higuerales, Limaria, Arroyo Aceituno, German, El Rincon, La Cinta, Las Torres.


Other barriadas are named after the families of the new settlers from other parts of Spain after the Morisco expulsion, such as Los Huevanillas, Los Gilabertes, Los Cojos, Los Chopos, Las Vincentes, Las Peraltas, Los Garcias.


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KINGDOM OF GRANADA


After the fall of the Moorish Caliphate of Al Andalus in 1236, Arboleas along with much of eastern Andalucia became part of the Moorish Kingdom of Granada. In his description of the Kingdom of Granada, Aben Aljalib called this town Arboreas, and in his dictionary “Voces Mozarabes” he tells us of an Arab writer born in Arboleas in the 14th century called Abu Ben Abdalacis Al Arbuli, who wrote a treatis about food. His statue stands beneath the palm trees in front of the Town Hall, and there is an annual gastronomic festival in his name.


Arboleas passed into the hands of the Christians in 1488, along with other towns of the Almanzora Valley. Its first church was built in 1492 by the Archbishop of Toledo. It was situated to the west of the town, on a cliff with very difficult access from the river. It was built of stones and brick, 21 metres long, 8 metres wide and 21 metres high. Until recent times the silhouette of its ruins could be seen above the steep escarpment.


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ALMANZORA UNDER THE MARQUIS OF LOS VELEZ

 

Following the defeat of the Muslim Kingdom of Granada, the Christian Monarchs rewarded those who had assisted in this victory with land in this region, bringing rise to a new nobility.


In 1495 the Fajardo family from Murcia purchased the towns of Albox, Arboleas, Albanchez and Benitagla from the Duke of Najera for 800,000 maravedis (about 6000 pesetas), and in 1516 they bought Partaloa and Cantoria from the Duke of Infantado for 2,500,000 maravedis (about 18,000 pesetas).


On 12th September 1507 Queen Juana (‘la loca’) granted Pedro Farjado Chacon the title of Marquis of Los Velez. For the next 300 years this area was governed by the Marquis of Los Velez as a mini state, collecting taxes, appointing local administrators, and dispensing justice.

 


The Morisco rebellion of 1568 resulted in the expulsion of many of the local Moriscos, and the confiscation of 550 acres of irrigated land, 450 acres of non irrigated land, along with 700 olive and mulberry trees. There was a subsequent re-population by 30 old Christian families from other parts of Spain.


During this uprising, on 2nd November 1569, the Battle of the Corral of Arboleas took place between local Moriscos, aided by Moriscos from Cantoria, and a Christian army from Lorca, led by the Marquis of Velez.


It was an agricultural area growing cereal, maize, beans, vegetables, legumes, olives, vines, fruit and grass.


There were 5 flour mills, 1 olive press, 5 bread ovens, 6 looms, 1 soap factory and a saltpetre factory (registered to Felipe de Fuentes Martinez).


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BATTLE OF THE CORRAL

 

During the Morisco uprising of 1568 Arboleas, along with the other towns of the valley, was plunged into a bitter civil war. Among the recorded historical events of this time is the Battle of the Corral of Arboleas, between the people of Lorca and the Moriscos of Almanzora.

 


This is the account of the battle written by Marmol y Carvajal shortly after.


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The Marquis of Velez, after escaping from a morisco ambush at Bocas de Oria, asked the city of Lorca for help. The troops from Lorca marched to Oria, and once they had secured the town, they marched towards Cantoria with the intention of capturing it, because they knew that the Moriscos had a gunpowder factory there.


The battle lasted from 7 in the morning until 2 in the afternoon. The troops of Lorca broke through the first gates, inside which the Moriscos had secured their cattle and the munitions store. They set fire to the saltpetre refinery and the powder factory but were unable to enter the inner fortress because they had no ladders or artillery. They retreated with 2300 head of small livestock and 900 cattle.

 


Martin de Molina, at the head of 30 cavalry and 300 infantry encountered a band of Moriscos near Arboleas who had come to help Cantoria. The Christian forces retreated into the huerta (irrigated fields), pursued by the Moriscos. It was a difficult path because of the many thickets of poplar and the irrigation ditches.


 

The Moriscos gathered above an Inn known as Bena Romana, from where they started to fire their pistols at the troops from Lorca. The Christians advanced half a league further, to a muddy area known as the Corral, and the battle started. After using their pistols, they attacked each other with great ferocity, cavalry and infantry in hand to hand fighting. They killed some Turks that came in the vanguard, putting them to flight, and captured 5 flags from Cobdar, Lijar, Albanchez, Seron, Purchena, Tabernas and Benitagla.



Luis de Marmol y Cavajal, who described the events of this battle, also wrote –


 

“There fought that day a moro, who carried one of the flags, admirably; being struck by two blows from a lance, and being run through by the lance of the second lieutenant of the cavalry, he gripped the lance with one hand and the flag with the other, struggling for a long time, until the Alcalde mayor told a knight to hurry with his horse, but although he had fallen to the ground he would not release the flag even though he was breathing his last.”


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The town of Lorca celebrated this victory, which took place on 2nd November, as the fiesta of San Millán, with a procession with the flags captured from the moriscos.


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From the end of the 16th century there was a slow influx of people into the area, continuing more rapidly through to the middle of the 17th century.


 


In the middle of the 18th century a census organised by the Alcaldes Gines Martinez and Andres de Gilabert recorded 250 families in 190 houses, growing wheat, barley, rye, flax, hemp, olives, grapevines, fig trees, apple trees, pomegranates, pears, plums, apricots, almonds and mulberry bushes.


There were 3 water mills for grinding corn between stones, and one olive press.


 


Between 1753 and 1769 there was an infestation of locusts, earthquakes and poor harvests.


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END OF NOBILITY


 

After the War of Independence against Napoleon a series of reforms slowly removed the privileges of the nobility, and by 1833 the powers of the Marquis had been handed over to Ayuntamientos, and tax collection powers taken over by the Monarchy.


Having lost their tax income, many of the castles and palaces fell into decline, and in 1903 the Fajardo family sold many of the most valuable possessions. The gallery and patio of the Castle of Velez Blanco is now in the Metropolitan Museum of New York.

 


In 1836 the confiscation of Church lands had little effect in Arboleas, although 14 farms, 24 acres of irrigated land and 30 acres of dry land were acquired by Antonio Gilabert Martinez for 68,640 reales de vellon (about 17,000 pesetas).


 

In 1850 the national census recorded 594 families in Arboleas, living in 400 houses, plus a Town Hall, prison, grain store, inn, 2 junior schools, church, sanctuary and cemetery.


It was an agricultural area growing cereal, maize, beans, vegetables, legumes, olives, vines, fruit and grass.


There were 5 flour mills, 1 olive press, 5 bread ovens, 6 looms, 1 soap factory and a saltpetre factory (registered to Felipe de Fuentes Martinez).

 


There were cholera epidemics in 1855, 1860 and 1885, a mining crisis, and between 1877 and 1879 a severe drought causing food shortages.


 

At the beginning of the 19th century there was an increase in population due to the discovery of silver in the barranco de Jaroso in Cuevas de Almanzora.

 


In 1850 the national census recorded 594 families in Arboleas, living in 400 houses, plus a Town Hall, prison, grain store, inn, 2 junior schools, church, sanctuary and cemetery.


It was an agricultural area growing cereal, maize, vegetables, legumes, olives, vines, fruit and grass.


There were 5 flour mills, 1 olive press, 5 bread ovens, 6 looms, 1 soap factory, and a saltpeter factory (registered to Felipe de Fuentes Martinez).



There were cholera epidemics in 1855, 1860 and 1885, a mining crisis, and between 1877 and 1879 a severe drought causing food shortages.


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POPULATION CHANGES


During the 19th and 20th centuries there was much short term emigration affecting most families. Most famous was Pedro Gilabert who, along with his brothers, left his village of Huevanillas seeking work in Argentina.


 


From a population of 600 in 1850, Arboleas experienced a large emigration in the first half of the 20th century, mainly to the countries of South America, principally Argentina.


From the 1950’s and 1960’s there was another great wave of emigration, this time to other parts of Europe, mainly Germany.


This emigration left the area almost without men of working age, leaving behind women, children and the elderly, who were left to work the fields to provide sustenance.


From the 1990’s, with a period of economic growth as result of Spain’s entry into the European Union, the population started to increase.


However at the end of the 20th century the population of Arboleas was around 1600, and many houses were left empty in the villages, their owners having left for employment in the rest of Spain and beyond.


The end of the 20th century saw the start of a rapid rise in population.


New houses and apartments have been built in the urban centre for local people, thanks to the improved prosperity of the region. This has created an environment in which local young people are able to remain in the town, and has encouraged young families from other towns to move into the area.


It is from around 2002 that the population showed its greatest increase, as a result of private housing mainly for people from Britain.


In all the villages of Arboleas new houses have sprung up.


In 2002 the population was 1973, in 2005 it was 3457, and in 2007 it was 4455.


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