Last modified: 2017-06-19 by ivan sache
Keywords: huéscar |
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Flag of Huéscar - Image by Antonio Ros Marín, 19 April 2017
The municipality of Huéscar (7,609 inhabitants in 2016; 47,346 ha), located 160 km north-east of Granada on the border with the Province of Jaén and Albacete (Castilla-La Mancha), is the northernmost municipality in the Province of Granada. The municipality is made of the town of Huéscar and of the villages of Barrio Nuevo (aka Barrio de San Isidro, 866 inh.), Barrio Nuevo de San Clemente (344 inh.), La Parra (33 inh.), Duda (aka Puente Duda, 35 inh.), and Canal de San Clemente (aka San Clemente or El Canal, 254 inh.).
Huéscar was already settled in the Prehistoric times; the natural shelter of Piedra del Letrero, decorated with rock paintings in schematic style, discovered in 1915 by Henri Breuil, was the first of that kind discovered in the Province of Granada.
Several Roman remains were found in Huéscar, especially the engraved stones reused to build the Muslim citadel.
In the Middle Ages, the area was mostly rural; in the 9th century, the geographer Al-Jacubi described "densely populated estates adjacent to each other, and pastures, valleys, rivers, sources and cropped fields". The area was urbanized in the 13th century, when becoming a buffer zone between the Christian and Muslim states. On 15 February 1243, Huéscar, Galera and Orce were granted to the Order of Saint James by a privilege signed in Toledo. Muhammad I, the Nasrid king of Granada, was forced to recognize in 1246 the Christian suzerainty on the border. The recognition was purely formal since the places were of strategic significance for the kingdom; in 1252, king Alhamar raised the Moors living on the border and seized the castles of Cúllar, Orce, Galera and Huéscar. Reconquerred in 1271 by the Christians, Huéscar was abandoned in 1325 to Ismail I, together with Orce and Galera. Reconquerred once again in 1434 by Rodrigo Manrique, Huéscar was lost again in 1447.
Huéscar was eventually incorporated to the Crown of Castile in 1488 only. The Marquis of Cádiz relates that the commander of the fortress, together with Moorish notables, surrendered to the Christians without fighting; honoured, Ferdinand the Catholic accepted the submission and appointed Rodrigo Manrique as the governor, as a tribute to his relative who had seized the town five decades earlier. Ferdinand granted Capitulations, a document stating that Huéscar would be for ever a Royal town and that the Muslims would be for ever respected and free to follow their religion and customs.
The Catholic Monarchs cancelled the Capitulations in 1495, granting Huéscar to the Count of Lerún, Constable of Navarre, made Marquis of Huéscar. Reestablished after the death of the marquis in 1508, the Capitulations were eventually suppressed in 1513 when Queen Joan the Mad granted Huéscar to Fadrique de Toledo, Duke of Alba.
Fernando Alvarez de Toledo y Pimentel, 2nd Duke of Alba and 2nd lord of Huéscar, was made Duke of Huéscar in 1563 by Philip II.
In 1809, 29,000 Spanish solders were stationed in Denmark to defend the country against English attacks, as prescribed by the Treaty of San Ildefonso. Denmark refused to allow 5,000 Spanish soldiers to embark to France, than at war against Spain and England. As a consequence, Spain declared war to Denmark on 11 November 1809. The same day, the municipal government of Huéscar signed a declaration of war to Denmark. Peace was signed in 1814 between Spain and Denmark and the Huéscar declaration was forgotten for the next 172 years. In 1981, the historian Vicente González Barberán pointed out that Huéscar was still at war with Denmark. The peace was eventually signed on 11 November 1981 in the presence of the Danish ambassador; the Danish flag was hoisted on the balcony of the town hall to celebrate the restored peace, and has been placed since then in the Council Room. Huéscar is since then self-styled the Capital of Peace.
[El Rincon de Huéscar]
Ivan Sache, 19 April 2017
The flag and arms of of Huéscar were adopted on 4 April 2017 by the Municipal Council. The memoirs supporting the symbols (flag, coat of arms) were submitted on 20 March 2017 by Antonio Ros Marín, the municipal archivist.
Flag: Rectangular panel, one and a half longer than wide, white surrounded all around by a border vert (green). In the panel's center, the municipal coat of arms in full colours.
White is the colour of the cloak of the Order of Saint James. According to the Marquis of Avilés, white is the heraldic symbol of virtues, humility, innocence, felicity, purity, moderation and truth, and of noble qualities, beauty, frankness, whiteness, limpidity, integrity, eloquence and triumph over enemies without shedding blood, of elements, water, and of birds and dove.
White is a symbol of peace, recalling Huéscar os the Town of Peace.
Green is the colour of the Province of Granada, as a reference to its historical past and to the unmistakable colour of the soil, used traditionally and rehabilitated during the Constitutional period.
The border is a symbol of protection, favour and reward.
Green is the colour of the olive tree that produced miraculous oil near the chapel erected in the Sierra de la Sagra by Leonor de Aragón, the wife of the Count of Lerín, to honour the town's patron saints, Alodía and Nunilón, which is still a main place of pilgrimage.
Green recalls that the Count of Lerín offered in 1504 to the town the Horcajón pasture, and that Queen Joana granted in 1509 to the town the jurisdiction over all pastures, meadows, waters and places located on its territory.
Coat of arms: Azure a castle or port and windows gules surmounted by the patron saints, Alodía and Nunilón, argent surrounded in chief by the letters "F" and "Y" for Ferdinand and Isabel crowned or and in base by the letters "FRAN.CA" or. The tower superimposed to a civil baton or and a sword of the same crossed in saltire. In base a closed helmet facing sinister argent. The shield surmounted by a Royal Bourbon crown - closed. Over all two flags gules crossed in saltire charged dexter with a cross argent and sinister with a Muslim crescent of the same bordered of the same. The shield surrounded by a phylactery inscribed with the title "Muy noble y leal Ciudad de Huéscar".
The shield in oval shape, known as a shield of ecclesiastic type.
Vicente González Barberán (El escudo de Huéscar. Memoria-proyecto sobre escudo heráldico de la ciudad de Huéscar, published in 1973 in the program of the town's festival) explains that the coat of arms is connected with an aborted proposal of establishing a Province of Huéscar. The "notable proposal", published by F. Aguilar y Biosca in El Consultor Administrativo (the original, unfortunately could not have been retrieved) would be the merger of the judicial parties of Cazorla (Jaén), Yeste (Albacete), Vélez-Rubio (Almería), Baza (Granada) and Huéscar (Granada). The poet and scholar Juan María Guerrero de la Plaza, Secretary of the municipality, informed the Municipal Council of the proposal on 12 September 1887. Aguilar y Biosca proposed to push the project to the Representatives and Senators, provided additional information, especially on the "celebrities" of Huéscar, is provided.
Juan María Guerrero de la Plaza soon pointed out that the new province would need a proper coat of arms. First featured on a document dated 2 January 1888, the coat of arms was quickly adopted by the municipality to stamp official documents in purple ink. Vicente González Barberán describes the arms, "a 19th century extravagance of patriotic, local and religious ardor", as follows:
Azure a castle or port and windows gules surmounted by the patron saints, Alodía and Nunilón, argent surrounded in chief by the letters "F" and "Y" for Ferdinand and Isabel crowned or and in base by the letters "FRAN-CA" [Free] or - alluding to the tax exemption granted by John II, ... but religiously paid to Lerín and the dukes for century. The tower superimposed to a civil baton or and a sword of the same crossed in saltire. In base a closed helmet facing sinister - like for illegitimate children, preferring, against the heraldic norms, the viewer's right - argent. Over all two flags gules crossed in saltire charged dexter with a cross argent and sinister with a Muslim crescent of the same bordered of the same. The shield surrounded by a phylactery inscribed with the title "Muy noble y leal Ciudad de Huéscar". The phylactery was subsequently added to the original version of the arms; although there is no doubt on the nobleness and loyalty of the town, which shed its blood for centuries to prove its loyalty to the crown, there is not the least evidence that this title was ever granted to Huéscar.
When applied to facades, canopies, liveries and documents, the arms were commonly decorated with outer orles, borders and lambrequins, had the "F" and the "Y" moved from the chief to the flanks, while the shield was oval. This shape, inappropriate for municipal arms and specific to ecclesiastic arms, is, however, used in the Royal arms and the arms of some lineages. This is the case of the most prominently displayed coat of arms in Huéscar, which probably inspired the designer of the new arms, a polychromous representation of the arms of the Serrano lineage (16th century), represented in the today's St. Joseph chapel of the St. Mary collegiate church. and in the big house of Las Angustias street.
With time, the new arms, designed from scratch in 1887, were considered as of "immemorial use" although there is no historical source describing them, and have been used until now as the town's arms.
A local legend credits the design of the arms to the unforgettable scholar Marceliano Portillo.
Updating and completing Vicente González Barberán's report, Antonio Ros Marín adds that the arms were used with minor variations, for instance the replacement of the Royal crown by a mural crown [most probably, during the Second Republic] or different representations of the helmet.
The municipal archivist found out that a similar coat of arms, lacking the "FRAN.CA" writing and the two flags, was used in 1871 on the seal of the Huéscar Irrigation Syndicate, whose original bronze matrix is still preserved. Originally represented in Spanish style, the arms were redesigned in ecclesiastic style in 1904. The two versions were both used until the 1940s, when the oval shield was fixed, with various outer ornamentation. The phylactery with the apocryphal title was added in 1968; the title is erroneous, "Muy noble y leal" instead of "Muy noble y muy leal".
Accordingly, Antonio Ros Marín proposed to "rehabilitate" the original coat of arms without correcting its heraldic flaws, probably for the sake of historicity.
Ivan Sache, 19 April 20179