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La Parra (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-10-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of La Parra - Image by "Josejuandm", Wikimedia Commons, 16 March 2020

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Presentation of La Parra

The municipality of La Parra (lit., The Grapevine; 1,346 inhabitants in 2019; 7,820 ha; municipal website) is located 60 km south-east of Badajoz and 30 km north-west of Zafra.

La Parra was already settled in the Prehistoric times, as evidenced by the dolmens found near the St. Peter's chapel and elsewhere.
The St. John's chapel was most probably built on the site of an old Roman temple or of a wine-growing estate. Remains and tombs, still to be studied, are found in the neighborhood; a funerary stele excavated in 1706 is inscribed DMS (Sacred Manes deities) HELVIA CEMODESIA ANN. XXXX H.S.E.S.T.T.L. (Helvia Cemodesia, aged 40, lies here, may the ground be light to you) L.BLAIVS CALPVRNIANVS MATRI. PIENTISSIMAE POSVIT (The most pious mother of Lucius Blaius Calpurnianus, who erected it [to honor her]). Some authors claim that the estate was called Vitis Calpurniana, that is, Calpurnianus' Vineyard. The produced grapes were most probably sold to Emerita Augusta (Mérida).

La Parra might have been settled by the Visigoths, as evidenced by the baptismal font of the parish church. The village was moved to the hill slope, rich in sources, in a place known today as La Fuente (The Fountain).
In 1229, King Alfonso IX reconquered Zafra from the Moors, and, most probably, La Parra, which he abandoned a few years later. The area was eventually incorporated to Castile in 1237-1238 by the military religious orders commissioned by Ferdinand III the Saint. Details of the reconquest of La Parra, hoever, are not known. The local tradition says that La Parra was re-settled by the Knight Templars, who cound thereforecontrol the natural strait connecting Mérida to Jérez de los Caballeros.

From 1294 to 1304, La Parra belonged to Alonso Pérez de Guzmán, lord of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and a famous defender of Tarifa. Transferred to the Council of Badajoz, La Parra was offered in 1343 by Alfonso XI to Enrique Enríquez "el Mozo", lord de Villalba de los Barros, Caudillo mayor of the Diocese of Jaén and King's Justicia mayor. Acquired in 1349 by the Council of Badajoz, the town was destroyed by the Portuguese in 1385. On 26 February 1394, Henry III transferred the rebuilt town, together with Zafra and Feria, to Gómez I Suárez de Figueroa, as a reward for the support of his father, Lorenzo I Suárez de Figueroa, Master of the Order of Saint John. The Master commissioned his procurator, Alvaro Martínez de Apont, to take possession of the towns, which caused the population's wrath and an appeal tabled to the king by the Council of Badajoz. After six months of negotiation with the Council and the notables of La Parra, Alvaro Martínez took possession of the town and of its domains and dependencies on 10 September 1394.

According to the parish priest, Vicente Navarro del Castillo, 21 natives of La Parra were involved in the conquest of America. The town indeed yielded much more conquistadores: a family composed of more than 12 members settled in Venezuela in 1557 and subsequently contributed to the conquet of New Granada and Peru. Those emigrants were probably under the Inquisition's threat, since there is no official record of their exit from Spain. They original family name is unknown, while they adopted in America the name of their original town, following the use of the time. The most salient members were Jerónimo de la Parra, founder of Trujillo, and his son, Juan Ruíz de la Parra, Mayor of Barquisimeto.

Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020

Flag of La Parra

The flag (photo) and arms of La Parra, adopted on 29 July 2002 by the Municipal Council and validated on 8 May 2003 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order adopted on 12 May 2003 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 24 May 2003 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 60, pp. 7,519-7,520 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Composed of two equal horizontal stripes, the upper, white, and the lower, yellow. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms in full color.
Coat of arms: Or a mount vert ensigned by a grapevine fructed all proper. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed symbols "without inconvenience". The arms were those of the Bejarano lineage, lords of Orellana.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia. 186:3, 470. 1989]

Alvar García Bejarano, erected first lord of La Parra by King Henry II in 1375, was commissioned to re-settle the area. His father was one of thr survivors of the slaughter of the Bejarano lineage ordered in 1289 in Badajoz by Sancho IV.
The tradition says that Alvar built the castle of Orellana on the highest point of the village, close to the parish church. Partially demolished, the castle keeps a stone coat of arms of the Bejarano lineage dated form the late 16th century.
[Lista Roja de la Serena]

Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020