This municipality was part of the old valley of Valdeprado. Those villages within this area appear quoted in some mediaeval documentation, although some like Dollayo, near Lerones, Horres in Lomeña, Armada near Vendejo, and Cariezo, before arriving at the village of Cueva, have disappeared.
The population entities existing today are the following: Pesaguero, Avellanedo, Cueva, Barreda, Lomeña, Valdeprado, Lerones, Vendejo and Caloca, with their corresponding districts.
The history and dependence of these places´ inhabitants is intimately linked to the history of the monastery of Santa María de Piasca, which, from the XII century, passed to be dependant on the monastery of Sahagún. During the XIV century, there were still some villages, like Pesaguero and Obargo, who kept some kind of linkage with the monastery of Sahagún.
The Ordinances from the old valley of Valdeprado regulated the neighbours´ life and customs in the different villages. This way, in a village like Avellanedo every neighbour was obliged to sow three quarters of wheat, and any person arriving to the village and wanting to settle, had to pay three wine large pitchers, a wheat grain measure and a two year old ram. It was also forbidden to welcome foreign people in the village and put them up for more than a night, call a council without ordering it, and a livestock shepherd had to be respected by every neighbour.
According to the "Catastro" from the Marquis de la Ensenada, in the XVIII century, the villages in the valley of Valdeprado were of dominion and belonged to the House of the Infantado, to whom they paid for the "alcabalas" rights. Since 1822, the valley´s villages began to be part of the municipality of Pesaguero.
We are now going to know the villages in the municipality, their history, traditions and customs. For this we´ll take the road leading to the mountain pass of Piedras Luengas, we first pass next to the old Venta de la Viñona, a "must" stop on the way, deviating us to the right along a road arriving at the villages of Basieda and Lomeña.
Basieda appears first documented in 932, on a vineyard exchange, and Lomeña is quoted in the book; Becerro de las Behetrías, from the XIV century, as the origin place of Don Tello; lord of Liébana.
Written documentation and oral tradition both tell us there used to be a primitive population nucleus called Horres, between Basieda and Lomeña, above the current parochial church and on the road leading to the Collada del Salce. Ceramics, tiles and some remains of other types of vessels can be appreciated on the place where the village used to be, which must have been important during Mediaeval Times. Horres is appointed in 966, when Fernando Rodríguez was count of Liébana. The last document is dated in 1153, on a donation made by the king Alfonso VII to the monastery of Santa María de Piasca, by means of the monastery of Sahagún and their abbot Domingo. In such documents the king makes delivery of his royal land properties, in Horres, Ubriezo and Yebas, and the jurisdiction of the Wall of Piasca is marked out to the north. Legend says that in the well-known place, the Joyal de la Rasa, near Horres, there was a convent were an important treasure of gold and money was hidden, reaching the sum of 980,000 pesetas (that is in old notes).
In the council of Lomeña Don Santiago González Encinas was born in 1836; a prestigious surgeon who enjoyed great popularity in Madrid. He was a Deputy to Courts and wrote some interesting books.
Between Lomeña and Basieda, on a hill, is the parochial church. Around the church some mediaeval tombstones have appeared. The church has a nave with a wooden roof, except for the main chapel, which presents a pointed arch over the entrance door and is covered by a crossed vault of eight "plementos". Inside there´s a magnificent Romanesque baptismal pile from 1238, according to a carved inscription.
We then return to La Viñona and two hundred meters up another road we will arrive at the villages of Dos Amantes, Barreda, Obargo and Lerones.
Lerones was already quoted in 831 on a donation made to the church of Santa María de Baró, in which the existence of the church of Santa María de Lerones is mentioned. In the XIV century it belonged to Don Tello and the abbey of Lebanza. Near Lerones used to be the village of Dollayo, documented in 1137 and also in 1352. Due to the remains found in the area; carved and burnt stones, it seems that it could have disappear in a fire. Above Lerones there´s an oak wood dominating the village called El Castro, where there was an ancient Cantabrian fort hill with still some remains.
The current church of Lerones was built in 1866, making good use of the Romanesque remains from the previous church. Today, the overcoats on the bell holes and an impost following the span long-wise are kept, as well as every window in the church and portico. Also noticeable are the eroded bases over which the shafts where placed, conforming the entrance arch of the main door. In the viccinity of the church a medieval necropolis appeared.
As a curiosity and anecdotal fact we can mention that on the upper part of the church´s north wall we can see a skull and two crossed tibias which, according to the village neighbours, correspond to the parish priest who took the initiative of building the new church.
In Lerones there was a bread oven of big dimensions where the wheat was kept with the aid of a guarantor. When the cereal was scarce, the needy neighbour took out a grain measure which he would put back again when recollection time came, as well as a "maquila" as an interest rate. In the main road to Piedras Luengas, below Lerones, an old medieval bridge can be seen on the place of Peña Corvel.
Near Lerones are the villages of Dos Amantes, Barreda and Obargo, belonging to the old Alfoz de Biembibre, quoted in 1041. Equally there´s evidence of the existence of two population nuclei to the north west of Barreda, where there used to be a church under the name of San Martín. Some remains of tiles, bones and stones have been found near Obargo, in the place of Santa Olalla, where there was a church under this name, and a medieval necropolis has appeared.
Barreda and Dos Amantes are already mentioned in 1041. In 1352 Obargo belonged to Don Tello, the same as Barreda, who also had a vassal from the abbot of Sahagún. In 1753 the council was a dominion of the Duchess of the Infantado and counted with four flour mills.
The current parochial church is located on a hill between the villages of Barreda and Obargo. Its construction is very old with many repairs on the bell tower which took place in 1882. A group of rustic "canecillos" (*1) (end of the beams sticking out of the building) supports the roof stone eaves in the sacristy. On one of the buttresses on the main chapel´s outside there´s a brocken stone with the remains of a difficult - to - read inscription.
We continue our route through the remaining villages in the valley. Again on the main road we arrive at Pesaguero, capital of the municipality, with its district La Parte.
Pesaguero is intimately linked to the history of the monastery of San Félix, which appears documented in 1199 in the "Cartulario" (*2) of Piasca. This village was in its fourth part of "abadengo" (*3), belonging to the abbot of Sahagún and three parts "solariego" (*4) dominated by a lord) of Don Tello and Pedro González Orejón, in 1352. In 1571 the monks in the monastery of Piasca wanted to know all the lands and possession they had and ordered the practice of some shores in each of the valley villages. In Pesaguero, the prior of Piasca had the possession, right and habit of, to the benefit of the church of San Pedro, choosing a tithe man and later, making two parts of the remaining tithes: One was taken by the prior and the other, by the council priest. Every year this prior gifted the neighbours in the council of Pesaguero with six large pitchers and half a liquid measure of wine on the previous Sunday to the festivity of Santo Toribio.
The parochial church of Pesaguero, under the name of San Pedro, is placed on a north west hill to the village. The church has an only nave with a very old main chapel; original from the primitive construction. Outside it presents an eaves with flagstones sustained by Romanesque style "canecillos" (*1). Inside we can highlight the ancient Romanesque arch with columns and capitals on its bases, giving access to the main chapel. In the district of La Parte, to the other side of the Bullón river, there´s a very interesting small hermitage, on the same style as the parochial church, which could have been built at the same time as the old church of San Felix. It has a Romanesque inside arch of similar characteristics to that of the parochial church, and on the floor some mediaeval sepulchres appeared when it was repaired some years ago.
From Pesaguero we are going to know the villages of Vendejo and Caloca, both with an important history. Vendejo appears mentioned very early in the old monkish "cartularios". The first mention it from January the 13th, 950. There´s a document dated on the year 946 where the church of San Miguel is mentioned, which could correspond with the church of Vendejo, as this last one preserves some "canecillos" of great antiquity outside. Between Vendejo and Caloca was the village of Armada. According to a Leones parochial document from the XIII century, San Martín de Armada was the patron of the village and in the XII century the church of San Martín figures there. Today, the hermitage of San Roque is in such place and near it we can find a very ancient bridge called La Reana. In Armada there used to be a Megalithic settlement, as we can appreciate from the wall and enclosure remains on the ground. To the hermitage of San Roque the neighbors of Caloca and Vendejo used to come some years ago; the youth from Vendejo took up the Virgin of El Rosario, carrying her on their shoulders and adorned with apples, pears and biscuits.
Vendejo has been a village where some Indianos left to go abroad in search of a fortune. One who left a print was Manuel Pérez de la Vega, well-known as the "indianón" of Vendejo. Manuel was captain to some distinguished patriots from Mexico, gentleman of the Holy Sepulchre and a member of some literature and art institutions. On the entrance to his house he had the following inscription sculpted: "Aquí vive Don Manuel Pérez de la Vega, que de las cuatro partes del mundo llega y dice a todos desde Vendejo, su lugar, que las anduvo por tierra y mar, y mandó cerrar esta heredad para legar su nombre a la posterioridad". This means: Here lives Don Manuel Pérez de la Vega, who from the four parts of the world arrives, and tells everybody from Vendejo, his place, that he travelled through them by air and sea, and had this inherited house closed to leave his name to posterity.
In Vendejo there are some ancient houses with their coats of arms speaking about an important past; the arms of Lamadrid, Linares and de la Lama, and, near the parochial church, the Tower, built in 1607 with the coat of arms of Verdeja and Cossío. In the vicinity of Vendejo a cruel battle took place during the First Carlist War.
Further up from Vendejo is the village of Caloca, the highest in Liébana, at 1,108 metres altitude. The history of this beautiful village in Liébana is linked to the Romanesque church of La Asunción, located on a hill, which shelters the village on the west, called Andilejas. The first written document about it is from 1353, when the book "Becerro de las Behetrías" says this place belonged to Don Tello.
People in Caloca remember how, after of hay harvesting time, when autumn arrived, they used to start manufacturing different farming tools with the purpose of transporting them by cart, along hard and long trips to the villages of Castilla to exchange them, mainly for wheat, which was a scarce product and one of the most valuable.
Inside the village of Caloca there´s a hermitage under the name of La Inmaculada, with a wooden ceiling, except for the main chapel which has a crossed vault of eight "plementos". In Caloca people remembers their old ones speaking about the "nevaona", an impressive snowfall which occurred in 1888, reaching three metres high in many points of the village. There´s a magnificent house in the village with an arcade; old rectory with an inscription on the facade saying: "This house was made by Miguel López de Lamadrid, priest of this place. Year 1628". A coat of arms on the facade with the arms of Lamadrid and two, on a corridor in the back of the house, with the arms of Verdeja and Cuevas, which talk about a nobility past.
We then return again to the main road in order to know the history of Avellanedo. Although the first written news about the village are from the XIV century, the truth is that the parochial church under the name of Santa Eulalia was appointment on the "Cartulario" in Santo Toribio. It is from 831 and writes about the churches and estates in the old valley of Valdeprado; so it seems very possible that it is refering to the church on a hill, where medieval sepulchres have appeared. The current church is to the south of the village, surrounded by trees, where walnuts proliferate. In has a single nave with a narrower chapel. On the building corners there are buttresses and rough "canecillos" supporting the eaves. To its feet a slender bell tower stands up, made up of five bodies, with three spans and two bells. It is of a Romanesque style and great antiquity, possibly from the X century. The church entrance is facing north and has a rough Romanesque style, surrounded by voussoirs, the same as the span on the steeple.
Above Avellanedo, we find the village of Cueva. Near the Bullón river, in the vicinities of Cueva, was the village of Cariezo, already disappeared, quoted in 1231, and the church of San Vitores, on whose cemetery used to be buried those neighbours from: Valdeprado, Cariezo and Cueva. In Cariezo some tombstones have appeared.
The first document where Cueva is quoted is from 1498 and consisted in the donation of a piece of land. It is located on the base of the beech wood called La Hoyona, presided by Peña Brez, with 807 meters altitude. The parochial church, under the name of San Esteban was built over the ruins of the old hermitage, mentioned in 1571. Near the church there is, on the house´s wall, a carved stone shaped as a saw, of a Romanesque style, which could have been brought from the ruins of San Vitores old church.
The last village before arriving to Piedras Luengas is Valdeprado. The most reliable date we know people lived in this village is in the "Becerro de las Behetrías" book, in 1353, when Santa María de Valdeprado is quoted. It also says it belonged to Don Tello. People here remember the long cart trips they used to make to those villages on the border with Palencia, where they took wheels and railings, "albarcas" and "escarpines" (typical feet wear), in order to return loaded with potatoes, wine and flour, as an exchange. The Castilian villages of Cervera, Aguilar and Mave were the most visited.
In Valdeprado we can still contemplate the popular architecture from Liébana: The impressive large houses with big arcades, old corridors and stone stairways, as well as the firewood ovens to cook bread, or the "hórreo", which is in La Fuentuca, next to the spring, and even a large house with two coats of arms from the Salceda and Torre families, near the church. This last one has a Latin crossed plant and was built in 1797. There used to be an older church located between the current tavern, the road and the old school, next to the road leading to Cueva.
Finally, after passing next the Venta Pepín, we arrive to the mountain pass of Piedras Luengas to contemplate the beauty of the whole valley of Liébana from its wooden observation area as well as the Picos de Europa Massif.
THE CARLIST WARS
The first Carlist war started in Spain, when the king Fernando VII died. This happened at the end of 1833. The fight for the throne between Don Carlos, brother of the dead king, and his daughter Isabel, under the regency of María Cristina de Borbón, was going to generate a civil conflict which lasted seven years.
During the first days of March in 1838, Don Carlos came out of Courts and established in Estella (Navarra), as well as the count Negri, at the front of 6,000 men with 200 horses and various artillery pieces.
In Aguilar de Campoo, he maintained an interview with the priest Merino, who was the head of the Castellan Carlistas, and then went into Liébana through Sierras Albas. The liberal general, Latre, with 10,000 men, a chivalry squadron, and various artillery crews, followed Negri´s steps.
On the morning of the 21st of May, the first Carlistas arrived at the village of Vendejo, in Liébana. Very near the place there was a small field located between Pesaguero and Vendejo, called Ruvendejo, crossed by a mediaeval bridge, where the general Negri, watching the troops of Latre getting close, placed his own troops occupying this narrow pass. Latre´s men came down through the woods of Vendejo and forced the chivalry backwards. Then it started snowing and many casualties were produced in both bands. The Carlists fell back to the holm oak wood of Sierra Lobera, and Latre ordered his artillery to be placed on the streets of Vendejo. During the combat he was hurt on a hand.
The battle went on until night. Chronicles say that there were more than 750 men dead. The village of Vendejo had to make a campaign hospital and its neighbours gave them food, clothes, and animals. Count Negri´s Carlist troops, defeated, retired towards Piedras Luengas. This is one the most bloody episodes remembered in the wars which happened in the region of Liébana.
||1. Canecillos: end of the
beams sticking out of the building.
2. Cartulario: old documentatio index.
3. Abadengo: dominated by an abbey.
4. Solariego: dominated by a lord.
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