HISTORY OF ESPELÚY
Espelúy has an impressive legacy from prehistoric times. Among the numerous settlements established locally throughout time, that of Las Tiesas stands out, a town from the third millennium BC, evidenced by remains of circular huts and slags, testimony to its metallurgical activity. Another of the most outstanding sites is that of the Cerro de la Plaza de Armas in Sevilleja, which after the previous one, already shows a town with rectangular-shaped houses built on terraces, and with different types of burials. This place was repopulated in Ibero-Roman times, with a walled structure built surrounding the plateau. Remains from this period have also been located on the site of the current population.
The first mention of Espelúy in a historical document is in the General Chronicle, written in the thirteenth century. The event described is an attack on one of the castles by Fernando III “el Santo” in 1224. The population agreed to its delivery in exchange for being able to march in peace. At first it remained as a Royal villa, but in 1246 Fernando III gave 20 yugates of inheritance to the Order of Calatrava, a donation that would be confirmed by Alfonso X in 1254.
In 1321, it was handed over to Díaz Sánchez de Biedma, Lord of Estivel y Jabalquinto. In this period, the new castle was built as an expression of the power of the new Lords. In 1364, the family changed their surname to Benavides, a condition given by his cousin Juan Alonso de Benavides, to be his heirs. In 1371, Enrique II granted them the dominion of Santisteban, later Counts in 1473 and Dukes of Santisteban del Puerto from 1739.
Throughout the fifteenth century, the population was consolidated, as evidenced by the mention of a parish in the Synod of 1511. At the end of this century, Santa Teresa de Jesús was treated and helped in the castle of Espelúy after having suffered an accident when crossing the Guadalquivir River, according to what the Saint wrote in her book.
In 1775, Bernardo de Espinalt, in his work ‘The Spanish Atlas’, wrote that Espelúy consisted of 11 neighbors with an Oratory, dedicated to Santa Catalina Mártir and Patron Saint Gregorio Ostiense. In the mid-nineteenth century, according to Madoz, it had 722 inhabitants, but structurally it remained a small village. Between 1880 and 1885, the railway connection to the capital of Jaén was built along with numerous other railroads in the province, which caused a significant population increase.