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Due to its geographic position, the hilltop of Monsaraz always occupied an important place in the history of the municipality, having been occupied by different peoples since the pre-historical record. It is one of the oldest Portuguese settlements of the southern Portugal.

Monsaraz was reorganized during the Roman occupation, but later successively occupied by the Visigoths, Arabs, Mozarabs, Jews, and, after the Reconquista, Christians loyal to Afonso Henriques. In the 8th century, Monsaraz fell under the dominion of Arab forces who occupied the Iberian Peninsula, becoming known as Saris or Sharish, and following the control of the Taifa of Badajoz (one of the more prominent Arab centres at the time). The name Monsaraz originates from the word Xarez or Xerez, the Iberian transliteration of the Arabic Saris or Sharish, for the Gum Rockrose (Cistus ladanifer L.), a plant that still today prospers in poor, dry, acidic slate-based soil that surrounds Monsaraz. The Iberian words Xarez/Xerez latter evolved to the Portuguese Xaraz and to the Spanish {Castilian) Jerez (the Spanish name for the sherry wine).It is natural position, the highest hill in the area and proximity to the deep Guadiana valley, made it a location of strategic importance.

In 1167, the Castle and medina was taken by Geraldo Sem Pavor, in an expedition that came from Évora. After, Afonso Henriques' defeat in Badajoz, Monsaraz was once again taken by Muslim forces. In 1232, supported by the Knights Templar, King Sancho II definitively retook the citadel and town, placing it under the control of the Templars, and obligating them to establish a garrison that would protect the border.

In 1263 it was already an important fortress, being the head of a municipality, with large privileges. The local economy was fundamentally based on agriculture and livestock, existing some small artesnal industries producing terra cotta earthenware and hammered copper.

In 1512, King Manuel of Portugal issued a foral (charter) to the Vila de Monsaraz, reformulating the public and jurisdictional administration of the municipality.

The condition of the walled medieval city, the growth of the farm estates of Reguengos, the richness of the artesnal production and vineyards, and more importantly, the loyalty towards the Miguelist forces during the Liberal Wars were all factors that contributed to the shifting of the municipal seat from Monsaraz to Vila Nova de Reguengos in 1838, a fact that became permanent after 1851.

Devido à sua posição geográfica, a colina de Monsaraz sempre ocupou um importante lugar na história do Concelho, tendo sido ocupada por diversos povos desde a pré-história. No séc. VIII, Monsaraz cai sob domínio do Islão através das invasões muçulmanas que ocuparam grande parte da Península Ibérica. Passou a designar-se Saris ou Sarish e a pertencer ao reino de Badajoz, um dos maiores e mais importantes focos da cultura árabe.

Em1167, foi conquistada aos muçulmanos por Geraldo Sem Pavor numa expedição que partiu de Évora, também esta recém-conquistada. Após a derrota de D. Afonso Henriques em Badajoz, Monsaraz cai novamente em poder dos árabes. Em 1232, apoiado por cavaleiros templários, D. Sancho II reconquista-a em definitivo, sendo posteriormente doada à Ordem do Templo.

Após as guerras de 1383-1385, a Vila de Monsaraz é integrada na Casa de Bragança e passa a ser uma das mais preciosas fontes de rendimento da grande casa ducal portuguesa.

Em 1512, D. Manuel concede novo foral à Vila de Monsaraz, reformulando a vida pública e jurídica do Concelho. Após a Restauração de 1640, a Vila recebeu importantes acrescentos táticos, como o levantamento de uma nova cintura abaluartada, tornando-se numa poderosa “cidadela inexpugnável”, interligada com o sistema defensivo de Elvas, Juromenha, Olivença e Mourão.

A sua condição de vila medieval acastelada, o impetuoso crescimento das aldeias de Reguengos, a riqueza das actividades artesanais e vinícolas e a fidelidade da população de Monsaraz aos ideais miguelistas derrotados na guerra civil (1828-1834) foram os factores que contribuíram para a transferência da sede de Concelho de Monsaraz para Vila Nova de Reguengos em 1838, onde se estabeleceu definitivamente em 1851.

Fonte: Junta De Freguesia de Monsaraz