Juzcar - History

The village of Juzcar © Michelle Chaplow
The village of Juzcar.

As previously noted, the area was inhabited in the Bronze Age period and the Iberian hill fort that strides the municipal boundary (see Farajan) bears testimony to this. The Moors obviously founded the village but it was never a large community. What is of interest is that Pascual Madoz (Geographical, Historical Statistical Dictionary of Spain 1845-50) suggested that the village acted as a centre for a further six outlying communities. As the district straddles such a large area, Juzcar may have just been mentioned as a reference point.

 

 

After the Moorish invasion of 711AD, Juzcar was recognised as a Mozarabe community, a theory that is in keeping with neighbouring Pujerra and Igualeja. The Visigoths were pushed into marginal lands and had to pay high taxes if they wished to remain Christian. One such tax was the supply of soldiers and one record mentions that 269 Mozarabes took part in the campaigns in northern Spain in 863AD, on behalf of the ever expanding Arabic Empire, which for a short while pushed on into France.

Juzcar also claims to be the birthplace of Omar Ibn Hafsun in 918AD (see Parauta). His story is told in detail in that chapter, but certain indicators suggest he was associated with this neighbouring municipal district. It is agreed by both town halls that he was born in an isolated homestead called Torrichela and Juzcar claims that the present day pueblo originated from this early site. Both pueblos ignore Axarquia’s claim, based on the place name evidence of Awia lending itself to interpretation as Juzcar. Looking at a map, Torrichela does exist, situated about three kilometres north of the village in the limestone mountains. Why such a place would be a birthplace of a noble is unclear, though the place name suggests thatthis was the site of a Moorish defensive structure. It would have been one of over 5,000 similar structures that formed a link from village to village across the mountain ranges. As with the other fortifications it was deliberately destroyed after the Christian conquest. In any case, after the fall of Omar’s Christian kingdom, the remaining Christians found it harder to practice their own faith and they gradually converted to Islam. Interestingly enough, the travel writer Francis Carter wrote in his book Gibraltar to Malaga in the 18 th century that near to Juzcar stood the ruins of the tower of a mezquita. An Arabic inscription had survived, naming the place Albanileria. Was this the connection with Torrichela and Omar that is the basis of Juzcar’s claim? The only ruined tower in the area today can be found at Cerro de los Castillejos. However, this was one of over 5,000 Moorish towers in Southern Spain that linked the villages by a simple form of communication.

Even so, the Moorish economy grew and the deserted village of Moclon was almost as big as Juzcar. At the time of the reconquest in 1485, Jews lived in the village as well as Christian slaves. Two of the Jews were recorded as David and Juca Salamon Aben Elfa, who both worked in the silk industry. This line of business was similar to other pueblos in the area such as Alpandeire.

It is thought that after the Christians took control, Juzcar was one of the smaller communities selected to enslave the rural population. However, Moclon went on to grow and obtained a church, so not all of the communities were killed off in the first 80 years. What seriously effected the social structure of the area was the Morisco uprising in 1568. Resentment had begun eight years before, when the inquisition paid a visit to Juzcar. Two Moriscos were found guilty of carrying out the old traditions, one was fined and the other was imprisoned in Granada. This pattern is repeated throughout the region and when the flame of discontent was lit in Istan, it ignited the whole area.

After the ethnic cleansing and another visit by the inquisition in 1582, outsiders were enticed to the region and brought with them surnames such as Fernandez, Corbacho and del Rio. This was an attempt to stimulate growth in an area that had been severely depopulated by war. Many of the surviving Moroccan children became slaves and Moorish features can still be spotted in these mountain people. What is of interested is that ghost village of Moclon has left more of a history than Juzcar.

Industry thrived in the area such as the Finca de Fabrica in the 18 th century as the reddish mountains yielded ores and wood from the forests, the latter essential for smelting the former. A lack of trees and more profitable mines in other regions of Spain killed off this industry. With the passing of the metals industry, the area went into a decline typical of the pueblos.