Last modified: 2019-09-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: navas de estena |
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Flag of Navas de Estena - Image by Ivan Sache, 29 May 2019
The municipality of Navas de Estena (223 inhabitants in 2018; 14,654 ha)
is located on the border with the Province of Toledo, 100 km north-west of Ciudad Real, 100 km south-west of Toledo, and 90 km south-east of Talavera de la Reina.
Navas de Estena is the entrance gate to the Cabañeros National Park, which covers 75% of the municipal territory, and to its most striking site, a narrow gorge known as Boquerón del Estena. The site was described by Miguel Ángel de San José Lancha, as a tribute to its first exploration performed one century earlier by Joaquín Gómez de Llarena y Pou.
[Miguel Ángel de San José. 2014. Geología y paisaje del Parque Nacional de Cabañeros: excursión al Boquerón del Estena (Navas de Estena, Ciudad Real). De Re Metallica 23, 55-68]
The Boquerón del Estena trail (return total length and time: 6 km, 2.5 hrs), is an outstanding river section located about 10 km SW of the El
Chorro waterfall, and developed along the Estena River gorge and the
Chorrillo Stream valley. There, the local Cambrian and Ordovician
succession shows a very continuous outcrop, only split by the Toledanian
Unconformity, in its best viewpoint of SW Europe. The contact is clearly
angular, and demonstrates that the diastrophism started in preOrdovician
times. The trail also leads through beautiful places of tectonic and
sedimentary interest (fault breccias, slaty cleavage, megafolds,
ripples, tempestites, gravitational fluxes linked to earthquakes, etc.),
as well as a number of remarkable trace-fossil sites, such as the Lower
Cambrian sea-anemone anchoring traces and the huge development of the
Lower Ordovician typical ichnofacies of Skolithos and Cruziana. Two of
these occurrences constitute outstanding places for international
geological heritage, like the lined burrows made by giant worms (still
unnamed and under study) or some extense Cruziana beds, indicative of
the gregarious behavior of their tracemakers during collective molting
[Gutiérrez-Marco, J.C., García-Bellido, D.C., Rábano, I., Baeza Chico, E., Sá, A.A., Sarmiento, G.N. 2011. Geotouristic trails in the Cabañeros National Park (central Spain)]
Navas de Estena is located on the left bank of river Estena, in the hearts of the Toledo Mounts. The Romans already settled the fertile bank of the river and its tributaties and exploited the local mines. A small necropolis, remains of dwellings and silver coins were found in Cerro Tajo.
After the Christian reconquest of Toledo in 1085, the area reamined
deserted in spite of limited attempts of colonization in the 12th
century. The document delimiting the territory managed from the castle of
Milagro, issued on 1222 by Rodrigo Jiménez de la Rada, Archbishop of
Toledo, mentions river Estran as the western limit of the re-settled
territory; Navas de Estena is not listed among the inhabited places.
At the time, the Toledo Mounts were a den of rascals, known as golfines. A record dated 1282 present them as "Castilians, Galicians, and other, who have left home because of game debt and withdrew into the mountains, where they ambush Christians and Moors, capture and rob them". The rascals scoured a wide border area stretching over Castile, Extremadura and Andalusia. Extremadura. Mostly Christian or Muslim desertors, they set up a criminal organization that threatened the re-settlement plan and north-south communications through the Toledo Mounts and the Sierra Morena.
The colonists of the Toledo Mounts, mostly bee-keepers and shepherds, soon organized their defense. In 1220, King Ferdinand III the Saint granted the inhabitants of the Toledo Mounts and the hunters from Toleldo the right of hunting, confirming the charters and privileges granted by this grand father, Alfonso VIII. The main hunting weapon was the cross-bow, which could also be used for self-defense. The bee-keepers, the shepherds and the crossbowmen formed a guild (hermandad) dedicated to their protection against the rascals. The militia was organized in groups of cuadrilleros watching a territory called cuadrilla. The cuadrilleros patrolled an assigned area, where they could also summunly kill the rascals they encountered; this form of people's justice was based on the medieval right to self-defense. The first documented hermandad (12th century) in Toledo was composed of 104 men and women. In 1246, the Council of Toledo purchased from Ferdinand III the Toledo Mounts and officially organized the Toledo hermandad; similar militia appeared in Talavera and Villa Real (Ciudad Real).
On 13 November 1300, the Toledo and Talavera hermandad met in Aliseada
del Estena; they signed a concord establishing a federation, aimed at a
better control of the rascals, and issued ordinances prescribing an
annual meeting (lliga) in the very same place; the original parchment
is kept in the Municipal Archives of Talavera. Villa Real joined them in
the 1032 lliga. The concord was confirmed in 1312 by Ferdinand IV, who
ratified all the privileges and ordered the union of the hermandad was
On 4 September 1335, the lliga was organized in Navas del Estena, where the subsequent lligas were to be celebrated. Initially a camp made of several tents erected, Navas del Estena emerged as a permanent settlement with the building of stores, stables, shops required to accommodate a crowd for four days.
In the Toledo Mounts, the "hermandad was organized in seven cuadrillas, headquartered in Milagro, Estena, Arroba, Las Ventas, San Pablo, Herrera and El Molinillo.
The hermandad system was confirmed by Alfonso XI, Peter I and Peter
II. In 1476, the Catholic Monarchs organized a nation-wide system called
Santa Hermandad. The Toledo, Talavera and Ciudad Real Santa Hermandades
were eventually disbanded on 7 May 1835 by Isabel II.
Respected and feared, the Santa Hermandad also had a very bad fame because of its expedite exercise of justice. The 16th century Ordinances list the following punishments:
- for stealing 500 maravedíes, 100 whiplashes and the ears cut;
- for stealing 500 to 5,000 maravedíes, a foot cut and prohibition to ride a horse on penalty of death;
- for stealing 5,000 maravedíes or more, immediate execution by 13 crossbow bolts.
After complaints by the Archbishop of Toledo, Charles I ordered in 1532 that "nobody should be shot alive by crossbowmen if not previously garrotted".
[Leyenda de Toledo, 20 March 2018]
In his errance through the deserted areas of La Mancha, the local hero
Don Quijote, could have met the Santa Hermandad. Roberto González
Echevarría has pointed out "the clash betwwen the feats that Don Quijote
thinks he is accomplishing and the criminal acts he is really
committing. [...] The disparity between the justice he plans to dispense
and the series of injuries, torts and damages hat he causes is crucial
to understanding Part I of the Quijote because the knight's criminal
record contributes to the novel's shape - a record that could be written
by setting specific instzances of misbehavior under each of the
categories of offencse that he plans to correct."
The Santa Hermandad is a constant and menacing presence in Part I of the Quijote; the squire Sancho Panzas warns his master in two instances:
"I do know that the Santa Hermandad commonmy looks after those who quarrel and fight up and down the country" (I, 10).
"I give you notice, that all your errance will stand you in little stead against the Santa Hermandad, who don't value all the knights-errant in the universe three fartings; and, in faith, this minute I think I hear their arrows buzzing about my ears" (I, 23).
[R. González Echevarría. 2010. The knight as fugitive from justice: The Quijote, Part I. Pp. 69-90, in Bloom's modern critical interpretations: Don Quixote - New edition. H. Bloom (Ed.)]
Navas del Estena is the birth place of Bernardo Moraleda (1852-1936)),
known as "the last brigand of the Toledo Mounts". Together with other
brigand groups, Moraleda was involved in the attack and looting of the
village of Fuente el Fresno (21 February 1880), and of a train in the station of Venta de Cárdenas in Villacañas (13 October 1880). During
the latter event, three main brigand leaders, Casimiro Navarro Clemente
and his brother Ambrosio, known as the Purgación brothers, and Juan
García-Quilón Lopez-Simancas, known as Juanillón, were arrested,
sentenced to death by a Military Court, and executed on 13 March 1882.
Moraleda and Felipe Juanillón fled to Portugal with the booty they had accumulated for years and became honorable merchants, until identified
and arrested in March 1882 in Portoalegre. El Nuevo Ateneo, a review
of Toledo, reported the arrest on 26 March 1882, with the following
description of Moraledo:
"Withdrew in the sierra aged 15, after he had murdered someone, and joined a band of brigands. Married aged 18 and killed his wife four days after the wedding ceremony. Took part to three kidnappings, more than 30 robberies and committed more than 20 murders."
The two brigands were extradited, provided they would not be executed. They were sentenced in Toledo to 104 years, 8 months and 1 day in prison. Jailed in Ceuta, then in Santoña, Moraledo was released in 1923 and went beck to the Toledo Mounts.
Ivan Sache, 29 May 2019
The flag of Navas de Estena is prescribed by an Order issued on 20
November 2000 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 5
December 2000 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 122, p.
The flag is described as follows:
Flag: Rectangular, one and a half longer than wide, horizontally divided, the upper part, green, and the lower part, red, with a white triangle running from the hoist to the flag's center.
The coat of arms of Navas de Estena is prescribed by an Order issued on
20 November 2000 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published
on 5 December 2000 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No.
122, p. 11,873 (text)).
The coat of arms is described as follows:
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1. Argent a tent gules, 2. Vert three crossbows handled argent 2 and 1. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.
The coat of arms is a straightforward reference to the lliga organized every year in Navas del Estena by the three hermandades of Toledo, Talavera and Ciudad Real. The tents represents the temporary camp originally set up for the meeting. The crossbow represents the weapon used by the troopers.
Ivan Sache, 27 May 2019