The origin of the name of this beautiful and picturesque Alentejo land is linked to several legendary stories that are told from generation to generation.
As a matter of fact, as is well known, from sources well known to the History of Portugal, Campo Maior was certainly a Roman settlement, later dominated by the Moors and, finally, conquered by the Perez de Badajoz, being then Bishop of Badajoz D. Frei Pedro Perez.
Only after the Peace established with the Treaty of Alcanizes (1297), Campo Maior came to belong to the Portuguese Crown, together with Ouguela and Olivença (the Saudosa). But, after all, where does your name really come from?
Here are two of the most popular versions that are told by the olders in the region.
It has been said, since ancient times, that in the Kingdom of D. Diniz, when those Lands came into possession of Portugal, the monarch ordered them to build a castle, right there, to defend and dominate the borders. So a group of gentlemen, in charge of choosing the ideal location, ended up finding a vast plot of land, which seemed to them to be excellent, in all aspects, for the construction of the castle. And one of the nobles exclaimed, pointing around him: ? -See! How wonderful! It is the Campo Maior that exists in these surroundings. There is no other more suitable for this purpose. Will El-Rei choose our choice !? And so it happened, in fact, as the old legend says. Did D. Diniz have a powerful castle erected there and started to call Povoação? The Land of Campo Maior.
Another legendary story, also widely disseminated among friends, refers to the fact that this region is the victim of many attacks by the Moors, even after being conquered by Christians. As a result, families in the region were going through terrible trials of terror and often suffered serious and fatal attacks. For this reason, they resolved to meet in a large place, where everyone could stay, according to the old saying that unity is strength. And, of all those who embarked on the adventure of choosing the desired site, one of them was happier, discovering a magnificent terrain, due to the grandeur and natural and scenic aspect. Then he called for others: ” Companions! Here will be our Campo Maior! In it we can fit at will and make a stronghold of it against our enemies! ” The acceptance of the remaining families was unanimous. And so the name of Campo Maior was born for the land found and populated (which soon began to develop).
Tradition says that a woman from the village was washing clothes in the river, accompanied by a young daughter. At a certain step, the child went away to play, and shortly afterwards he returned with a gold earring that he said had been offered to play by a very beautiful lady.
The mother accompanied the child to the place where she said the Lady was, and there she found the image of Nossa Senhora on a round stone that is still found in the chapel today. The news of the finding spread, the population massively ran and devotedly transports the Image to the village, deciding to build a chapel on the right bank of the river, halfway between the aforementioned stone and the village. However, every morning the image disappeared and reappeared on the stone on which it had originally been seen. They then concluded that this was the place chosen to build the Chapel there.
In addition to the legend that is linked to the construction of the Chapel of Nossa Senhora da Enxara, there is another one related to the same Saint that concerns the round stone on which the Holy image is based, inside the Chapel.
The people say that when there was no water or rain, a ceremony was performed, a ritual in which the habitants poured the stone into the river, for prayers, so that Nossa Senhora might rain. This happened, proceeding then to the inverse ritual that consisted of removing the stone from the river, placing it again in the Chapel and replacing the image on it.
In the military field, it is said that, being Ouguela surrounded during a war, it is not known which one, and since there is no possibility of contacting Campo Maior to request reinforcements, a child went down the fig tree that is still attached to the castle wall, carrying the Flag and a written message. The child who used to play with a small drum, managed to cross enemy lines without raising suspicion and ran to Campo Maior where he delivered the message at the hospital. This legend is now known by the legend of “Tamborzinho” and it is believed to have its origin in a real fact, not being able to establish the time when the same will have happened.
The story goes that in the 1475 era, Ouguela was taken over by the Castilians, and a famous battle was fought between Portugal and Castile, the battle of Toro that allowed the return to the Portuguese Crown of the Village.
This battle took place in the place of Ouguela, between João da Silva, chief chamberlain of prince D. João II and João Fernandes Galindo, chief major of Albuquerque, in Spain.
Both of them died, João Fernandes Galindo soon, and João da Silva twenty-eight days later, without any more blood spilling from both parties.
Diogo da Silva, great-grandson of João da Silva, passing by Ouguela, ordered that Cross to be made in the 1551 Era, which is currently in the Elvas museum.