Turismo en Pedro Muñoz; Cuna del Mayo Manchego

Pedro Muñoz is a village of the province of Ciudad Real which belongs to the region of “La Mancha”, limiting with the provinces of Cuenca and Toledo. Its population is approximately of 8.000 dwellers and possess the title of “Villa y Corte del Mayo Manchego”, together with a huge cultural, natural and industrial heritage

HISTORY OF THE VILLAGE

FIRST DWELLERS

Pedro Muñoz is located in “La Mancha Húmeda”, also called “La Mancha Alta”, limiting with the north of the Guadiana River and where its affluent Záncara River can be found. The earliest documented finds of the settlement in Pedro Muñoz date back to the Lower Paleolithic and the Middle Paleolithic. The natural environment of the endorheic lagoons and the Záncara River has been favored by the early appearance of these types of populations in the area. The remains found near “La Laguna del Pueblo” are characterized by the elements of the lithic industry ascribed to the culture of the Final Achelense and the Musteriense, highlighting the bifaces, “raderas” and “tiedros”, which can be seen in the historical museum of Juan Mayordomo. Furthermore, the way of living during this era was based on the water resources with a habitat of caves and shelters that were taking advance of the resources of the area. The increase of the presence during this period in the region was caused by better weather conditions.

During the Upper Palaeolithic there were also a number of settlements next to the lagoons and the Záncara River, as it is documented by the remains found in these places as well as in the nearby villages such as Campo de Criptana, El Toboso, Mota del Cuervo, Socuéllamos y Tomelloso. These hunters gatherers used to have a nomadic habitat, living in seasonal camps that were constantly moving depending on the level of hunting. Apart from the hunting, in our town it was also very important the seasonal nature of the lagoons and the high presence of salt in them, since the salt was an important element as it was the first example of exchange between nearby villages. The first dwellers of our village used to live in cabins made of vegetable materials and covered with skins, which were easy to dismantle and move to other new places. Its economy was practically based on the hunting and the gathering of products that could be obtained during each season of the year. Due to the nomadic character of these populations is very difficult to document their existence. By studying the presence of the lithic industry of the area it could be affirmed that the region was exhaustively exploited by these dwellers from the Palaeolithic, moving through the territory, creating different settlements, taking advantage of the zone, developing the first routes of movement and a complex road network of vital importance during the Prehistory in the zone.

From the Neolithic Age we just know some isolated findings characterised of this period. Therefore, it was during the Chalcolithic Age that the definitive repopulation of the region was taking place. In this age, we have a wide typology of settlement from the small villages in hills with strategic value of control of communication routes; small villages in plain and open areas with permanent water, near river basins or lagoons areas, known as “Fondos de Cabaña” or “Campo de Hoyos” being the antecedents of the “Cultura de las Motillas”.

WARRIORS. THE BRONZE AGE

The antecedents of settlements of the region of the Bronze Age are villages near to channels of rivers, lagoons, flood zones and points of water, next to roads of communication, as well as the control of fords located in plains. These dwellers would be groups that have reoccupied the territory basing themselves on economic questions that were supported by agricultural and cattle resources, giving preference to the cattle ranch. They were aware of the strategic geographical position and the use and benefits of the ancient communication routes in all directions, which allowed a complex system of exchanges with the North, the South and the Mediterranean. During the Bronze Age, following the writing sources and the last investigations such as the Archaeological Charts, in the region of La Mancha there is a huge number of deposits that follow the same pattern of settlement between them; however, it is remarkable the variety of typology and dimensions. In this stage, Pedro Muñoz, was elected as a place of settlement due to its situation next to important roads of that time, producing nowadays an increment of communication channels, places of extraction of marketable raw materials and the emergence of a new social class more powerful than the others. The whole territory and what mainly affects Pedro Muñoz during this period would be provoked by important prehistoric cattle roads as “La Cañada de Andalucía”, “La Vereda de los Serranos”, pre-roman roads; through these roads there is an abundance of water which will provide good pastures, salt from the salty lagoons and strategic roads, normally occupied by cattle. According to the characteristics of the ground, with small hills, fords of rivers, lagoons and seasonal rivers it is provoked determined settlements and a typology where the control of water prevail.

The types of settlements more distinguished in the region are plain, forming the well-known artificial tells or “Motillas” in plain lands, next to lake areas or riverbeds, in fords... or the entitled “Campos de Hoyos”. The mainly settlement of Pedro Muñoz, existing similar events of lower wingspan is the one in “el Cerro de las Nieves”; in this period it was not a “motilla” but an artificial tell which will have continuity in the next period. Its situation is very strategically since it was located between a lagoon an a road that leads to Pedro Muñoz and Las Mesas, having an excellent visual contact of “El Cerro de la Virgen de Criptana” and “El Cerro de Santa Ana” in El Toboso. Besides, it is also located between more important villages of the period such as El Toboso, Vejezate, Campo de Criptana, Villajos or Tomelloso.

During this time, the appearance of the village of El Cerro de las Nieves, after studying other examples, would be a settlement formed by houses of circular floors in some cases and rectangular in others without an urban planning and constructed with materials of the area but, at the same time, fortified in order to protect one of the main resources they had, water. It was a society mainly cattle and commercial with an important road network, as the society of the warriors, that begins to have a greater social consideration when there is a scarcity of water and they have to defend it from other near villages that cannot have access to this resource. Due to the type of remains found in Pedro Muñoz, it could be said that at that time and because of its geographical situation and the control of water and other resources, it began to position itself as one of the main settlements of the area, which is confirmed in the subsequent stage.

THE CARPETANS: EL CERRO DE LAS NIEVES

Due to the geographical situation of Cerro de las Nieves, during the pre-Roman times it is difficult to determine which village was the one that occupied this area. The doubt arises whether we are in the territory of “La Oretania”, of “La Celtibería” or of “La Carpetania”. It is difficult to determine the boundaries of both “La Carpetania” and “La Celtibería”; in the case of “La Oretania” is simpler since the classic sources are located in the Guadiana. If we observe the different deposits of the North of the Guadiana that coincides with our region, we can see that we are in a area of cultural border where “carpetanos” and “celtíberos” could be mixed, receiving the cultural influences of both villages, although it would be predominated by the “carpetanos”. Besides, we can find the Iberian transformation of the material culture with Iberian influences, so it is not a pure zone but a cultural crossbreeding. Therefore, we would be in a border between the Carpetania and the Celtiberia, leaving to the south the Oretania.

El Cerro de las Nieves during the 80s had a series of archaeological interventions that helped us to understand how it was its functioning in the Iron Age II. After these excavations it was verified the importance of this settlement due to its valuable strategic situation, since it was point of transition from the zone of Levante towards the Meseta. Moreover, its physical appearance would be a village with a structure “amesetada” forming artificial tells. It was a walled enclosure that housed inside the citadel formed by dwelling, artisan and public areas. During the Iron Age I the houses floor were circular with stone base and adobe walls, vegetal roof, as fort. However, during the Iron Age II the floor of the house changes to rectangular with a home in the center and square basins in the corners as a place of storage, as well as benches into the plastered walls. The floors were made of clay or paved according to the importance of the living place. The remains found made it possible to establish that the economy of the village would be based on goat and sheep grazing, with transhumant cattle being predominant as well as trade, as shown by the foreign ceramics found in these excavations. The life of the town is durable, since it could be said that it is the origin of the population of Pedro Muñoz, finding evidences from the Middle Paleolithic until the Middle Ages inclusive.

ROMAN PRESSENCE IN PEDRO MUÑOZ

Although it seems that the Cerro was abandoned in the Roman Age, it was not, as we can proved by the evidenced of the remains of ceramic TSHT and the infantile burial of the first century accompanied by a small bronze fibula trousseau with the burial.

In addition to these documented findings in the Cerro de las Nieves from the Roman times with a chronology adapted between the first and second century to the fourth. It is important to emphasize that the Záncara River is covered by a Roman bridge, which is formed by three arches of half point and constructed with great blocks of stone. Moreover, by this bride and by the east side of the village, it crosses the Roman road that went from Complutum (Alcalá de Henares) to Cartago Nova (Cartagena), an important mean of communication during the Roman Age since it communicated the peninsular center and the Mediterranean; in fact, to this day we can observe some remains of the road.

From the sixth century, the territory would be in hands of new settlers of the land, the Visigoths; being their presence unknown in Pedro Muñoz, but it was known around the region, for instance in Vejezate (Socuéllamos) or Campo de Criptana. Later on, it would be an important Muslim location, due to its strategic situation.

ORDER OF SANTIAGO AND PEDRO MUÑOZ

During the Middle Ages, the reconquest of these lands from Muslims was carried out by the work of military orders, leaving the region of La Mancha under the control of the Order of Santiago, based in Uclés (Cuenca). The first settlements, during the medieval times that regrouped the colonists coming from Castilla, were located near the Záncara River and the Cerro de las Nieves (that would be extended until la Plaza de España, where, nowadays, we can find the historical center of Pedro Muñoz).

Although the exact date of foundation of Pedro Muñoz cannot be precisely known; the first news about the village are from 1234, when Fernando III attributed 10 acres of houses of Pedro Muñoz to the Order of Santiago in order to join the Cortijo de Alcázar. The next important date, where we can see the name of our village, is 1237 since it was a property of Campo de Criptana.

According to the first news about our village, it seems that Pedro Muñoz was already formed since 1223. The following news that we know are from 1324, when Alfonso XI gave us the Privilege of Villa, in Mérida; besides, the same year the council of the town, that was given the management of the house-tower of the village, received a letter of privilege attributed by the Military Order of Santiago. Moreover, in the XIV century, around the 1353, it was formed the “Común de la Mancha”; from 1387 to 1409 the master of the Order of Santiago, Lorenzo Suaréz de Figero, granted the Privilege of exemption of payment of Portazgo Real.

During this period, the village begins to form the urban framework that we have today. The whole urban center is placed around the square (“la plaza”), a fortification and the church. However, there is a significant change in the towns of the region of La Mancha which are fortified and located in the main roads, apart from the creation of houses fortress for the collection of tolls and taxes from the Order, the Crown and the Church.

In 1410, our village is abandoned by the disease of malaria that caused the drying up of lagoons, which provoked the disappearing of the population and the Council of the town. Even though this was not a complete abandonment it was very significant, since the surrounding populations such as El Toboso, Campo de Criptana, Socuéllamos and Mota del Cuervo were taken advantage of the circumstances. Furthermore, it is important to say that the occupation of lands lasted more than a hundred years.

JUAN MAYORDOMO AND THE MODERN AGE

Facing the situation and the disagreement of the Order of Santiago of not being able to collect all the taxes, it was sent a cattleman that came from the Encomienda de Villamayor de Santiago (Cuena) in order to organize the new legal repopulation of Pedro Muñoz and the expulsion of the usurpers of lands and houses. He arrived to Pedro Muñoz with Asensio Garcia, Juan Ortiz, Pedro Delgado, Alonso Galán, among others coming from the Encomienda de Villamayor de Santiago. Therefore, in 1524, with the arrival of Juan Mayordomo to Pedro Muñoz it begins the journey of repopulation and new formation of Pedro Muñoz in a new village. In 1531, Doña Isabel (Carlos I’s wife), attributed back the privilege of Villa to Pedro Muñoz, turning it into “Dos Veces Villa”. From the XVI century it was formed the town as we know it today, along with the creation of an Inn-Inn, a butcher, a pharmacy and the construction of windmills, as the ones we can see throughout the entire region. The importance of Juan Mayordomo was well recognized since he was the first documented mayor of Pedro Muñoz.

During the reign of Felipe II, and after an administrative reorganization of the territory, the villages were deprived of their own jurisdiction Thus, from 1566, Pedro Muñoz was under the jurisdiction of Quintanar de la Orden, although it will keep his title of town that took so long to recover. On the bright side, criminal and civil jurisdiction returned in 1578.

THE XIX CENTURY AND THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE REGION OF LA MANCHA AND PEDRO MUÑOZ

In 1820, the province of La Mancha was divided into Mancha Alta and Mancha Baja. It was not until the territorial reform of Javier de Burgos in 1833 that the current territorial division was made, so that included Pedro Muñoz in the Party of Alcazár de San Juan.

The main phenomenon that had an impact on the demography of the province was the cholera epidemic between 1854 and 1855. In these localities the main economic activity was the agriculture and the wool cattle. In 1967 and 1868, there was a serious crisis of subsistence that was included in the major cyclical crisis caused by poor harvests, the lack of agricultural reserves and speculation of these products.

One of the most important aspects of the XIX century in our country was the disentitling decrees that brought great transformations in the form of land ownership. Hence, with the confiscation of Madoz in Pedro Muñoz there were disentailed a total of 702 hectares, 65 areas and 91 centiarees, or 2.1% of the term.

In the province of Ciudad Real there is the cultivation of cereal of extensive character and during the end of the century the vine grows reaches more importance. The economic growth is produced by the breakdown of new lands, which consequently deteriorates the woody forest mass. The lands are sold at auctions, maintaining large properties.

Due to these transformations, the lands were concentrated in few hands; among the great costumers of lands highlighted Ramon Cañas from Pedro Muñoz. During this time in the village predominated the agricultural properties of small and medium extension, and that was the reason why the majority of the population would be dedicated to its own agricultural exploitation.

Another of the most important economic aspects to emphasize during this century is the extension of the railroad. At first, the authorities preferred that the railway did not cross the town, possibly because they were afraid of possible fires or outrages. Finally, it was decided that the route of the train would be located by the station of Záncara. The establishment of this train station caused the development of this area near Pedro Muñoz. Moreover, at this time it was built the flour factory of “la Cubeta”, a hotel and the road that connects Pedro Muñoz with Tomelloso, heading to Tarragona. These improvements facilitated the rise of this area, increasing the number of buildings, since they built houses, warehouses and even a church.

At the end of the century, Pedro Muñoz's main economic activity, as in the whole region, was agriculture and fundamentally the cultivation of the vine. This type of crop facilitates the small and medium property; nevertheless, the obtained production went destined to great owners with warehouses for the transformation