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Caleruega (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-01-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Caleruega - Image by Ivan Sache, 13 February 2015

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Presentation of Caleruega

The municipality of Caleruega (491 inhabitants in 2010; 4,763 ha; municipal website) is located in the south of the Province of Burgos, 75 km of Burgos.

Caleruega was founded in the 10th century, as part of the alfoz (group of villages) of Clunia; these villages, grouped around a tower and protected by a wall, formed a defence line watching river Duero, which was also the cradle of the County of Castile subsequently set up by Fernán González. Caleruega is named for caleras ("lime earth", from cal, "lime"); the early village was most probably of Basque resettlement.

Caleruega was ruled by the Guzmán family, whose most famous member is St. Dominic de uzmán (1170-1121), who was born in Caleruega and spent his youth in the village. After having founded the Friar Preachers (Dominican Order), Dominic came back once to his birth village, in 1218.
Following the canonization of Dominic (1234), his brother Manés prompted the building of a church in Caleruega (1237); in 1266, King Alfonso X the Wise transformed the uzmán family manor in Caleruega into a monastery, to which the Dominican monks from the San Esteban de Gormaz were transferred, being also granted the rule over the village. The original church was replaced in the 16th century by a new one, funded by the Mexican Dominicans, incorporating the Gothical choir of the original church. In 1952, a new monastery was built, incorporating the old uzmán tower and aimed at being a main Dominican reference site in the world (website).

Ivan Sache, 12 March 2011

Symbols of Caleruega

The flag and arms of Caleruega, adopted on 11 July 2000 by the Municipal Council, are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 11 October 2000 by the Burgos Provincial Government, signed on 19 October 2000 by the President of the Government, and published on 8 November 2000 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 216, pp. 13,659-13,660 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Quadrangular flag, with proportions 1:1. White field charged with a red stripe and a green stripe of 2/10 in height placed at 1/10 of the upper and lower edges of the flag. In the middle of the flag is placed the municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1a. Gules four swords argent counterpointed, 1b. Argent a dog spotty with a torch inflamed in the mouth and a paw on an orb in chief a six-pointed star gules, 2. Vert a tower embattled or masoned sable surrounded with three spikes or and a bunch of grapes sable fimbriated or, in base four waves argent and azure charged with a crawfish proper. The shield surmounted with a Royal crown closed.

The flag in use (photo, Town Hall) is in proportions 2:3 instead of the prescribed 1:1.

Ángel Torralba explains the coat of arms as follows (document):
- the Royal crown recalls the title of "Villa Real" granted in 1270 by King Alfonso X the Wise [which is not fully correct, since the crown closed is the modern Spanish crown usually found on the modern municipal coat of arms];
- in the first quarter, the red field recalls the blood shed during the Christian Reconquest, while the swords are taken from the coat of arms of the Aza family, Blessed Juana de Aza being St. Dominic's mother;
- in the second quarter, the black and white colors are those of the Friar Preachers; the dog symbolizes St. Dominic enlightening the world;
- in the third quarter, the tower represents the medieval Guzmán tower; the waves represent river Gromejón, known for ages for crawfish. Wheat and grape are the traditional crops in Caleruega.

The Royal Academy of History pointed out discrepancies between the submitted drawing and description of the arms: the dog is placed in a different position, the described star is not represented... Accordingly, the Academy assumed that the Municipal Council had validated the written description.
The design is based on municipal arms used in the modern period, featuring fours swords arranged in a cross pattern. As correctly supposed by the author of the memoir, this design is, most probably, an erroneous interpretation of the cross of the Dominican Order. There is no reason to further propagate the error, and a correct representation of the cross should be used instead. On the proposed arms, the cross is associated with the well-known hieroglyphic emblem of the Order, the dog enlightening the world. and other emblems of little specific significance here (tower, water, wheat spikes, grapes...). It is recommended to drop all these emblems that add unnecessary complication to the design; at least, the unfortunate crawfish, invisible on small-sized coats of arms, should be suppressed. The flag would be acceptable, provided the coat of arms is amended as recommended. The white frame with the caption "Caleruega" introduces asymmetry and should be suppressed.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 2002, 199, 2: 289]

Ivan Sache, 13 February 2015