1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Mancha, La

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MANCHA, LA (Arabic, Al Mansha, “the dry land” or “wilderness”), a name which when employed in its widest sense denotes the bare and monotonous elevated plateau of central Spain that stretches between the mountains of Toledo and the western spurs of the hills of Cuenca, being bounded on the S. by the Sierra Morena and on the N. by the Alcarria region. It thus comprises portions of the modern provinces of Toledo, Albacete and Cuenca, and the greater part of Ciudad Real. Down to the 16th century the eastern portion was known as La Mancha de Montearagon or de Aragon, and the western simply as La Mancha; afterwards the north-eastern and south-western sections respectively were distinguished by the epithets Alta and Baja (upper and lower). La Mancha is famous as the scene of Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote; in appearance, with its multitude of windmills and vast tracts of arid land, it remains almost exactly as Cervantes described it. Many villages, such as El Toboso and Argamasilla de Alba, both near Alcázar de San Juan, are connected by tradition with episodes in Don Quixote.