Undoubtedly, another of the moments that have deeply marked the history of Maestrazgo were the Carlist wars of the nineteenth century. The events that took place in this territory brought him to the front page of the national press.
The First Carlist War broke out in 1833. It pitted the supporters of the pretender Don Carlos, defenders of absolutism, against the government of Queen Maria Cristina. After the first moments, the main centers of Carlist resistance in the country were the Basque Country and Maestrazgo. Here the rebel parties had arrived fleeing from the liberal columns. Seeking the shelter of the mountains, and demanding food and information in the villages that, defenseless, abandoned any hope of resistance.
As soon as Ramón Cabrera took command of the Carlist troops, he began to reorganize the army. Soon after, he felt strong enough to settle in a town and make it his capital. He chose Cantavieja, and there he set up everything necessary for the administration of his army: he established food stores, a prisoner depot and began to publish a newspaper.
When in 1837 the Carlist army arrived from the North, with the pretender Charles V at its head, it was a culminating moment in which Cabrera demonstrated the solidity of his power in Maestrazgo. From there he will fortify many towns and extend control towards the Ebro valley and even the Valencian huerta. In Mirambel a Carlist Junta will be installed that supported Ramón Cabrera “El Tigre del Maestrazgo” in government tasks.
Only the end of the war in the North and the concentration of all the troops on the Maestrazgo under the orders of General Espartero will put an end to the Carlist domination in the area. It will be in the spring of 1840, after overcoming the resistance offered by the fortress of Cantavieja and, above all, that of Castellote.
The outbreak of the third Carlist war rekindled the war in Maestrazgo in 1872. New chiefs such as Manuel Marco y Rodrigo or Pascual Cucala linked their names to the actions developed in the area. In August 1873 Cantavieja will fall again in the hands of the Carlists and will play again the role of insurrectional capital of the area. Towards the end of the war, the prestigious General Antonio Dorregaray will take over the command, but in July 1875 Cantavieja yields to the advance of General Jovellar’s troops.
Due to the events that took place during this period in the area, Pío Baroja in his work La venta de Mirambel, described the Maestrazgo as a “country of guerrillas“.
To learn more, be sure to visit the Museum of the Carlist Wars in Cantavieja.
In Fortanete you can get to know several Carlist scenarios through different routes.