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Puebla de Alcocer (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-10-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Puebla de Alcocer - Image by Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020

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Presentation of Puebla de Alcocer

The municipality of Puebla de Alcocer (1,184 inhabitants in 2018; 29,670 ha; municipal website) is located 180 km east of Badajoz and 50 km south-west of Herrera del Duque.

Puebla de Alcocer was already settled in the Neolithic, as evidenced by two axes found on the municipal territory. The remains of the Old Castle, of Cathaginian origin, led historians to identify the place with the town of Akra-Leukra. During the Roman times the place, known as Lacimurga Constantia Iulia, peaked in the 2nd century.
The name of the town is formed on Puebla, the medieval word for "settlement", and the Arab word "al-quysayr", "a fortified place".
After the Christian reconquest, a re-settlement charter was gratend on 2 February 1288 by the Council of Toledo. Due to the quick increase of the town, King Alfonso XI allowed in 1326 the establishment of two yearly fairs. Puebla de Alcocer was granted the status of villa in 1441 and offerred on 7 April 1445 to Gutierre de Sotomayor (1400-1453), Grand Master of the Order of Alcántara. The town was incorporated to the County of Belalcázar.
The castle of Puebla de Alcocer, erected in the 12-13th centuries, was completely revamped by Gutierre de Sotomayor, with permission of King John II. The castle is built around a cylindrical keep decorated on top with the coat of arms of the Zúñiga and Sotomayor lineages.

Friar Juan de la Puebla (1453-1495) was born, as Gutierre II de Sotomayor, in the palace of the Dukes of Osuna (today, the House of Culture) as the elder son of Alonso de Sotomayor, 1st Count of Belalcázar and Elvira Manrique de Zúñiga. Aged 18, he retired in the Hieronymite monastery of Guadalupe and subsequently joined the Franciscan Order, which he reformed, founding a great number of convents.
Alonso Diego López de Zúñiga Sotomayor y Guzmán (1578–1619), 10th Count of Belalcázar and 10th Viscount of Puebla de Alcocer, was the patron of Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1615), who acknowledged his support in the frontispiece of the first edition of the first part of El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (1605): "Dedicated to the Duke of Béjar: Marquess of Gibraleón, Count of Benalcaçar, Viscount of la Puebla de Alcozer, Lord of the towns of Capilla, Curiel and Burguillos”. The baroque poet Luis de Góngora (1561-1627) was also patroned by the Duke of Béjar, to whom he dedicated the Soledades (Solitudes, 1613).
Friar Fernando de Moraga (1580-1619, born in Puebla de Alcocer, preached all over the world in the service of the Spanish crown and the Roman Catholic religion. Known as the "second Marco Polo", he died in a wreckage off the coasts of Portugal while returning back to Spain.

The jurist and politician Antonio Hernández Gil (1915-1994), born in Puebla de Alcocer, presided the Cortes and the Kingdom Council (1977-1978), the State Council (1982-1985), the Supreme Court (1985-1990), and the General Council of the Judiciary (1095-1990). He was a main contributor to the redaction of the Spanish Constitution of 1978.
Pueblo del Alcocer has a museum dedicated to Agustín Luengo Capilla (1849-1875). Known as the Giant of Extremadura, Agustín was one of the tallest men ever, and, probably, the tallest man of his time (2.35 m). Working in a circus, he was able to conceal "a one-kilogram bread in each hand" and to carry "a jar of olive oil". He was resented on 3 October 1875 to young King Alfonso XIII; ill for two months, the giant signed a weird contract with Dr. Pedro González de Velasco, Professor of Anatomy at the San Carlos Faculty in Madrid. Velasco offerred him 2.50 pesetas per day until his death, provided his body would be kept at the faculty museum inaugurated on 19 April 1975 by Alfonso XII. After Agustín's death from bone tuberculosis, Velasco performed a detailed autopsy and a gypsum mold, mounted the skeleton and prepared the body, clad as the giant was when alive. This was presented to the scientific community in 1878 during the Paris International Exhibition.

Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020

Flag of Puebla de Alcocer

The flag and arms of Puebla de Alcocer, adopted on 28 January 1994 by the Municipal Council and validated on 17 May and 7 July 1994 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order adopted on 1 August 1994 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 6 August 1995 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 91, p. 2,998 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Three horizontal stripes, the central, yellow and twice higher than the other ones, which are red on top and black on bottom. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms in full colors.
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1. Gules the castle of Puebla de Alcocer or on a base sable, 2a. Azure an Imperial crown or, 2b. Argent a bend sable orled by a chain or with eight links. Grafted in base, Or a Mudéjar window gules masoned sable. A bordure argent three fesses checky gules and or charged with a belt sable. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The coat of arms is indeed composed of the arms of Sotomayor, superimposed with an escutcheon featuring the castle of Puebla de Alcocer and another two, smaller escutcheons, sinister the arms of the Zúñiga family.

Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020