Risk of Fire
An historical look
The past of the lands is longer than the taken road to reach them.
Oleiros, the village that survives since medieval times, is witness of a past that still matters to reconstitute, to document, to delimit its exact length, to remember the granted charters and the efforts placed in restored attempts gleaned in old diplomas that arrive up to the Venturoso King.
North region surrounded, by Rasca and Alvelos Mountains, in the south by the high mountains of Lontreira or Isna and Cabeço da Rainha, natural viewpoints of the rural beauty, Oleiros emerges from the large valley by the riverside pressed between the belongings Estreito, Oleiros and Sertã, with its white houses blending through the schist colour. By the river, blossoms the cultivation fields and the vast refreshing tree shadows, daring the summer rigors, but also to remember the iciness winters.
Headquarters of region, composed by twelve sub-regions, mainly agricultural combines in the Centre zone and the sub-zone of Pinhal Maior Sul, occupying approximately an area of 471 km2, with 6677 inhabitants, according to the census of 2001, having as capital district the city of Castelo Branco. It crosses its territory in the north limit, one of the greatest Portuguese fluvial ways - river Zêzere.
Etymologically the term Oleiros seems to derive from the latin word ollarium , the adobe pan maker or trader, although there aren’t any traces of workshops, exists however abundance of “clay”. Some people also say that the word derives from Olleiros, Olheiros (Portuguese for eyes of water or natural water arises), because there are some natural fountains in the village.
By Regal Letter of 13th of June 1194, D. Sancho I, his wife Queen D. Dulce and the respective infants, donated to D. Afonso Pelágio, Prior of the hospitables, and to all the brothers of this Order, a land to which it was given the name of Belueer ( Belver), beyond a vast territory in the two edges of the river Tejo, where Oleiros is situated. After years, such territories were integrated in Hospital Order Grão-Priorado, with headquarter in the Crato village.
In the 6th of December 1232, someone by the name of D. Mendo Gonçalves Crato´s Prior, gives statutory to Oleiros Village, centuries later, D.Manuel I, renews that statutory at 20th of October 1513, becoming then an autonomous land, extensible action in the neighbour region of Alvaro, an integrant area of todays Oleiros region.
Like Pimentel says in “Oleiros Village Memories” of 1762, at the time of the Spanish invasions among others lootings, it was stolen the biggest tower bell from Oleiros Church. Short afterwards the bronze that was so coveted by the Spanish was pealing again from the church tower like it was say to the people of Oleiros to rest because the Spanish had gone.
In 1791 was created an Orderlies Corp in Oleiros, being nominated Captain Mor Francisco Rebelo D’Albuquerque Pinto Maldonado, by D. João VI from the same village in patent letter dated 31st of May . The region of Oleiros belonged to the Tamar’s purveyor’s office.
In the 2nd of February of 1811, the passage of the French troops occurred through Oleiros Village, in sequence to the 3rd invasion of the French troops which began in 1810. One of the reinforcements groups followed the new road that had been open by the mountain ranges in between Fundão and Abrantes villages to be united to the Torres Vedras army. As soon as it was known that this division was to go through this road, Oleiros population started to run away in order to leave the houses entirely empty. The population left in direction of the left edges of Zezere River, outflanking the French division, directing themselves to places of Abitureira, Rouco and Cambas.
With the arrival of the French soldiers also came lots of ammunition supply for cannons and rifles. The officers had chosen for storeroom the safest and the more easy monitored places. One of the places that seem ideal would have been Saint Margarida´s Chapel given its high location. The chapel was filled with explosives until the French decided to leave. But while leaving they left some gunpowder barrels and caught fire to the chapel. In the deflagration the image of the Saint Margarida “was taken by the air", which was later found strangely intact in a place where today is named as”Saint Garden”. People from Oleiros considered the fact as a new miracle. This new miracle succeeded into another which has been told for centuries from generation to generation. In times the entire region was devastated by a terrible plague of grasshoppers, the people started to make constant pilgrimages to the Saint Margarida begging for a combat they couldn’t win. The Saint took care of it as some time later great lines of grasshoppers started to direct themselves to the river where they died by drowning. Not even one escaped, leaving Oleiros free of such a prague.
After 1834, the territory of Oleiros was increasing considerably, but not obstructive the Government extinguished the region, annexing its sub-regions to others like Orvalho, Vilar Barroco to the region of Fundão, Sarnadas de S. Simão to the region of Castelo Branco, Cambas to the region of Pampilhosa, Isna to the region of Proença-a-Nova, and all the others to the region of Sertã. However this decision was canceled in 1869, establishing again Oleiros as region, just like it was in the 700 previous years.
Oleiros village had a pillory in the main square. In 1824 the Civic Hall president ordered to recover it by making a new base with two circular stairs. In the top it was placed an elegant golden cock with a cross of Malta. This pillory was sold in the XIX century 1880), just like the pillory of Alvaro village, independent region of Oleiros (1540).
ILLUSTRIOUS PEOPLE THAT GAVE NAME TO OLEIROS