The abrupt orography and nature favor the defense and military control of the land and the passes that crown the mountains and cross the Despeñaperros gorge from a dominant position. What is added to the wealth of silver and lead to turn this Northern Region of Jaén into the scene of great and decisive battles in the history of Spain and Europe, such as the Second Punic Wars (218-201 BC), Navas de Tolosa (1212) and Bailen (1808).
BATTLE OF NAVAS DE TOLOSA
In May 1212, Alfonso VIII, King of Castile, had managed to gather a large army in Toledo thanks to the diplomatic skill of Archbishop Jiménez de Rada, who obtained the declaration of a Crusade by Pope Innocent III against the Islamic threat of the Almohads launched by Al Nasir. Together with the hosts of Pedro II of Aragon and several ultramontane contingents from the South of France, Templars and the Archbishop of Narbonne, the crusade begins, joined by Sancho VII of Navarre and a few Leonese and Portuguese (at war with Castile) . On Friday, July 13 of that year, they managed to take the Puerto del Muradal and the castle of Castro Ferral, standing up for the first time to the superior army of the Miramamolín (Prince of the Believers). At a clear disadvantage, they have to face some well-positioned troops in the highlands and passes of the mountains, so the instructions of a local shepherd will be providential to set up camp and wage battle. What will take place on Monday, July 16, being an epic victory for Christian arms, a key point in the Reconquest and a milestone in History. In the following days Tolosa and the rest of the rocky castles were taken, including the squares of Vilches, Úbeda and Baeza.