Brief history of Baeza
The first settlers who settled in Baeza did so during the 5th millennium BC. and in the first half of IV. Its existence was based on hunting and gathering. During the 4th millennium BC It is the Neolithic communities that live in small seasonal settlements in the open air. The latter are the ones that introduced agricultural activity in the area, accompanied by important technological advances such as ceramics and stone polishing.
But it will not be until the middle of the third millennium BC. (Copper Age) when the first urban centers appear. Most of them consisted of walled towns, their economy was based on agriculture and livestock, and the materials used were stone and bone, although at this stage the first metal elements appeared.
In Iberian times, the 7th century BC.
The Cerro del Alcázar is considered an Iberian town and in the 4th century BC. already appears consolidated.
During the Roman Empire, 2nd and 1st centuries BC, Baeza was known by the name of Vivatia or Biatia. At that time it became an important administrative and exchange center, since it was an obligatory step on the Cástulo-Málaga trade route, which allowed the exit of the silver extracted in the mines of Sierra Morena and the Linares-Bailén depression towards the east coast.
As of 550 is when the Gothic aristocracy imposes its authority in Baeza. The character of an administrative center was maintained and Baeza became the most important urban nucleus in the area. The peasantry, made up mostly of Hispano-Romans, was the largest social class. Merchants and entrepreneurs were few, free, and largely Jewish. The Hispano-Roman ruling class, which at first ceded its privileges to the Visigothic aristocracy, ended up merging with it.
The economy underwent a change as minerals ran out. However, agriculture continued to be the predominant sector. Livestock, especially equine, experienced a notable growth and commerce benefited from Baeza’s strategic position and from its nature as an administrative center that made it the most important urban nucleus in the area.
The territory of Biatia was occupied in the second decade of the 8th century by Muslim troops, making the economic power of the Church disappear. The population converts, for the most part, to Islam.
At this time the city is known as Bayyasa. In the first half of the 9th century, Abd-Al-Rahman II tends to promote public buildings. At the end of this century, the Emirate promoted a process of “nationalization” that harmed the privileges and interests of the powerful Arab families and the great Muladí lords, who started insurrections and revolts. On the death of Abd Allah he was succeeded by his grandson Abd-al-Rahman III, who ended the insurrection and normalized the situation. In 929 he proclaims himself Caliph and begins a period of peace and prosperity.
Almoravid and Almohad times
At the beginning of the 11th century, the civil war began, which led to the dismemberment of the Caliphate and the formation of the Taifa. In 1091 it was conquered by the Almoravids and later by the Almohads, who held power until the beginning of the 13th century.
During the 12th century the city reached its greatest splendor, which made Bayyasa a strategic place among its peninsular possessions. Not only did the fortification improve, but public buildings such as mosques and markets multiplied.
Its location between Castile and Andalusia gave it great strategic importance throughout the Middle Ages.
In 1212, Alfonso VIII occupies it after the famous battle of Las Navas de Tolosa, but it will not be conquered until 1227 by Fernando III “the Saint”. In this way, Baeza became the first city taken in Andalusia and became the civil and religious capital of the
Alto Guadalquivir until the conquest of Jaén. The important role he played in the conquest of Al-Andalus, made him deserve numerous privileges and the Fuero de Cuenca.
For its part, the Catholic Church establishes the episcopal see in Baeza. Therefore, the most important religious and conventual orders had a presence in the city.
It is in the 16th century, when Baeza reaches its maximum architectural and cultural splendor, with the founding of the University among other buildings. In addition, its agricultural wealth and commercial and industrial strength favored rapid population growth.
The civil and religious power settled in the center, the Cathedral was built around the Jabalquinto Palace and the Seminary. Also, at the end of the 16th century the Council was installed.
However, the panorama was overshadowed by the clashes between the factions of the local aristocracy (Benavides and Carvajales), which led to the demolition of the walls by order of Queen Isabel la Católica.
The constructive process of convents would continue throughout the seventeenth century and that is why the Conciliar Seminary was founded, but from these years a decline began, motivated, among others, by the Confiscation of Mendizábal, which brought I get the disappearance of convents, closure of parishes, hermitages and foundations.
At the end of the reign of Felipe II, the symptoms of economic depression began to be appreciated, which would become evident with his successors throughout the seventeenth century.
The root of the crisis must be found in the insane foreign policy of the Minor Habsburgs –Felipe III, Felipe IV and Carlos II– who, embarked on an endless war, that of 30 years, and in different uprisings, were forced to exert a savage fiscal pressure, which ruined the farmers, made the artisans emigrate and put the councils into debt.
With the enthronement of the Bourbons, and especially during the reign of Carlos III, a new concept of the State was established, although in Baeza this change was hardly noticed. However, some improvement attempts were initiated, although without success, encouraged by the Royal Economic Society of True Patricians of Baeza.
During the reign of Carlos IV (late 18th and early 19th centuries), Baeza suffered heavy human and economic losses, due to the War of Independence and the demands, reprisals and contributions of liberals and absolutists. Fact that forced the closure of parishes, hermitages and foundations, as well as that of the Old University.
However, the economy, mainly agricultural, reflects an increase in production and a selection of crops, considerably increasing the area devoted to olive groves.
The beginning of the 20th century was marked by an exacerbation of the crisis. The failure of the Restoration, the loss of the colonies and the caciquismo exacerbate social and political tension. On the other hand, the workerist political tendencies are consolidating, especially the anarcho-syndicalists and socialists.
The economic structures returned to the state in 1931, but the situation of the peasantry worsened. The 1940s, with their bad harvests and their policy of “adjustments”, were particularly hard. For its part, the crisis of the 1970s contributed largely to the
process of demographic decline. The decade of the 80s marked a turning point in the negative trend that was dragging on, caused by the favorable economic situation. Despite everything, the city continues to be eminently agricultural.
At the same time, an important urban development emerged throughout the 20th century. In 1996 it was declared “Historic-Artistic Complex” and “Exemplary City of the Renaissance”, by the Council of Europe, in 1975.
In recent years, there has been an important and quality take-off in tourist services, largely increased by the Declaration of Baeza together with Úbeda as a World Heritage Site (July 3, 2003). These services are mainly based on inland, cultural and monumental tourism, as well as educational, since its university tradition is being recovered with the Antonio Machado headquarters of the International University of Andalusia.