The Town Community of Lea Ibarra - Munitibar - Aulesti - Gizaburuaga - Amoroto - Mendexa

Caves in Amoroto
Formerly Munitibar Town
A Forge

Munitibar - History


Ancient documents mention the names Munditibar, Monitibar and Munitibar, and according to them, Munitibar was situated in Gerrikaitz. In Bizkaia, on the period when the local counts were called Lords, 21 cities were created, and Munitibar was one of them. Don Tello, the XXIIth Lord of Bizkaia, founded Munitibar in 1366; it was the seventeenth city, and had the sixteenth vote and chair in the General Meetings of Gernika.

Arbatzegi, in turn, was the twentieighth parochial district. The parish of San Bizente the martyr was the first parish of this district. It was built on the Xth century by the farmers subject to the lords of Bizkaia, in a hill called Arbatzegi. This parish was under the rule of the Collegiate Church of Ziortza, and to undermine its power, the Lord of Munitibar decided to move it to Munitibar in 1550, with the help of the Aldaka, Totorika and Berreño neighbourhoods.

When the saint was taken down, there was a crude fight against Arbatzegi, Uriona and Gerrika, because these neighbourhoods did not agree with the decision. The chapel was renamed San Migel's chapel in 1554. It is well known that the Canon and the Collegiate Church of Ziortza exerted great power over Oiz mountain and its surroundings. The Church owned many fields and lands in the hill, and the properties were divided into three groups. The lands in the Oiz area were all in the same group, which included Markina, Mallabia, Ziortza and Munitibar.

Gaztiburu was the second group, and it included Gerrikaitz and Aulesti. The third group included Amallo. Documents dating from the year 1553 state that Diego Irusta, the famed abbot superior of the Collegiate Church, told the scribes of Gerrikaitz that only the horses belonging to the Collegiate Church could live and graze in Oiz mountain. The Church was said to have over two hundred horses in the area. This order provoked many conflicts and disputes for years.

Since it became a city, Gerrikaitz had the right to build fortified walls and gates, as most cities. Gerrikaitz apparently had three or four gates. On the XIXth century, as a result of the seizure law of the napoleonic period, the city of Gerrikaitz and the parochial district of Arbatzegi suffered various consequences. Each town had, as we know, its own parish, and in 1851, the number of priests for every parish was limited. On that year the parish of Andra Mari in Gerrikaitz had 220 souls and two priests. San Bizente's parish in Arbatzegi had 370 souls and three priests.

Arbatzegi and Gerrikaitz, close to unity:

The Royal order of 1867 had a crucial effect in the relationship between the towns of Gerrikaitz and Arbatzegi. According to the order, a town with less than 200 inhabitants had to join another town of the area, and form a single town. Arbaitzegi then had 157 inhabitants, and Gerrikaitz 72. Consequently, the two towns joined and thus had 229 villagers.

Seemingly, when Arbatzegi and Gerrikaitz were two separate towns often had small conflicts with each other. Nevertheless, more often there were tasks which they could not carry out on their own, and so they needed the other town's cooperation. On these occasions, both towns met on Zubialde bridge, the border between them. It was the best place to show that one was as good as the other.

Something similar happened in around 1882. These meetings required a preparation, there was no improvisation. Both towns were on that period very affected by the debts and the consequences of the war, and many others were in the same situation. The Regional Council itself was more willing to take money from the towns than to give it to them. By then small villages had started to organise schools for their children, and they could not afford to pay the teachers. This hardship brought Arbatzegi and Gerrikaitz closer, till they finally decided to become one.

They first asked the Civilian Government for permission, and once it was granted both towns held a meeting in Zubialdea. The mares stated that they were in a very difficult situation, and that neither Arbatzegi nor Gerrikaitz could afford to maintain the schools. There were also the elderly, the poor and the sick, and they could not give them an appropriate health care or pay the doctors either. They concluded that it would be easier to carry out these tasks together, because between the two they would be able to do what each individually could not.

After analysing each town's problems, they held the first official meeting as one, at the noon of April the 1st 1883.

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