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Moguer (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: moguer | mazagón |
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Flag of Moguer - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 1 September 2016

See also:

Presentation of Moguer

The municipality of Moguer (21,383 inhabitants in 2015; 20,350 ha; municipal website) is located 20 km east of Huelva and 80 km of Seville. The municipality is made of the town of Moguer, located inland on river Tinto, of part of the beach town of Mazagón (3,357 inh.) and of the villages of Las Madres del Avitor (57 inh.) and Poblado Forestal (10 inh.).

Moguer was originally established as a Roman villa watched by a tower, subsequently transformed into a Muslim alquería. Reconquered in 1239-1240 by the Order of Saint James, Moguer was incorporated to Castile. The municipal territory of Moguer was delimited in 1264. Incorporated for a short period into the County of Niebla, Moguer was granted on 3 October 1333 by King Alfonso XI to his Great Admiral of the Sea, Alonso Jofre Tenorio (1292-1340), whose daughter, María Tenorio, married Martín Fernández Portocarrero (d. 1370), lord of Villanueva del Fresno. Their son, Alonso Fernández Portocarrero (d. 1395), 3rd lord of Moguer, was the stem of the subsequent lords of the town.
The lords of Moguer made of the town one of the most famous in Andalusia; at the end of the 15th century, the urban structure of the town was fixed, arranged around emblematic buildings: the main church, the castle, the St. Francis convent, and the St. Clare monastery.

In 1439, the Catholic Monarchs offered a safe-conduct to all ships sailing from Europe, the Canary Islands and Africa to the river port of Moguer. When organizing Columbus' expeditions, the Monarchs commissioned Admiral Juan de Peñalosa to enforce the Royal Decree signed in Santa Fe on 14 April 1492: Moguer had to supply the expeditions with three caravels, equipment and crew included. Moguer eventually offered only one ship, named Santa Clara, as a tribute to the abbess of the St. Clare monastery, a member of the Royal family who had supported the expedition. The ship was soon better known by her nickname, La Niña, coined for the shipyard owned by the Niño family, where she had been built. Several members of the Niño family were members of the different expeditions set up by Colombus.
Several natives from Moguer enrolled in the colonial navy and army and developed maritime trade in the 16th-17th century, increasing the wealth of the town. Cristóbal García del Castillo (b. c. 1400-1539) contributed to the conquest of Gran Canaria and founded the town of Telde in 1483. The "brave pilot", Bartolomé Ruiz de Estrada (1482-1532), guided the Famous Thirteen's expedition led by Francisco Pizarro, being in 1527 the first Spanish to spot the coast of Ecuador. Diego García de Moguer (1848-1544), serving the King of Portugal, discovered in 1524 the Chagos Islands (Indian Ocean); whether the Diego García island was named for him is still a matter of controversy, though. The pilot Juan Ladrillero (c. 1490-1559) was in 1558-1559 the first to navigate the Strait of Magellan from its western entrance to its eastern and back again. The Franciscan friar Antonio de San Buenaventura y Olivares (1630-1722) celebrated the first mass in Texas and contributed to the establishment of the town of San Antonio.
Moguer was granted in 1642 the title of ciudad by Philip IV.

Grapevine cultivation boomed in Moguer in the 17th century; the river port allowed wine exportation to northern Europe. This induced the emergence of rich wine merchants and coopers, who built wealthy houses decorated by the best artists of the time. The phylloxera crisis and the silting up of river Tinto, which remained navigable only to smaller boats, caused the decline of Moguer in the beginning of the 20th century.
Moguer re-emerged as a main agricultural center at the end of the 20th century. Strawberries are intensively grown on 2,500 ha, producing every year 110,000 t of fruit, that is, 30% of the total production of the Province of Huelva.

Moguer is the birth town of the poet Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881-1958), who was awarded in 1956 the Nobel Prize in Literature. Jiméne wrote and published poems for more than 50 years, from 1900 (Ninfeas y Almas de Violeta) to 1957 (Tercera Antolojía Poética). A supporter of the Spanish Republic, Jiméne exiled to the Americas in 1936; he definitively settled in 1951 in Puerto Rico, rejecting several official invitations to come back to Spain and to seat at the Royal Spanish Academy.
The poet never recovered from exile and leaving Moguer without any hope of return, suffering at the end of his life of severe depression. His last words where "Moguer ... Mother ... Moguer". He nicknamed Moguer "The White Marvel", considering the town as his "immortal" source of inspiration. Mostly recognized by erudites as a poet, Jiméne is indeed mostly known to the general public for the child book Platero y yo. Elegía andaluza (Platero and I. An Andalusian elegia), which he published in 1914.
Made of 135 short chapters that could equally be read separately, as prose poems, the book relates one year in the life of a child (the narrator) and his donkey, Platero. The narration allows the author to highlight different aspects of the everyday's life in Moguer at the end of the 19th century, describing the town, the rural landscapes, bull-fighting, processions... Not only intended to children, "Platero" was subsequently compared to "The Little Prince", published in 1943 by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. Platero, indeed a generic representation of the Andalusian grey donkeys, known as plateros (from plata, silver), appears both as a double of the reader and a mirror of the narrator. Scholars have pointed out the use of the humble donkey as a metaphor of the human condition and the loyal fellow of Jesus, Sancho Panza, or Robert Louis Stevenson. Jiménez' care for animal condition was shared by two French writers of the time, who probably influenced him, Francis Jammes (1868-1938; J'aime l'âne) and Colette (1873-1954; Dialogue de bêtes)
[Foundation Zenobia - Juan Ramón Jiménez]

Ivan Sache, 1 September 2016

Symbols of Moguer

The flag (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) and arms of Moguer, adopted on 22 November 1995 by the Municipal Council and validated on 9 May 1996 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, which required minor modifications implemented on 24 July 1996 by the Municipal Council, are prescribed by Decree No. 470, adopted on 15 October 1996 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 5 November 1996 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 127, p. 14,224 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 11 x 18, chequy of eight yellow pieces and seven blue pieces arranged 3 x 5. Charged in the center with the local coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Chequy of 15 or and azure. A bordure compony Castile and León. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The first flag of Moguer, adopted on 15 March 1978 by the Municipal Council, was half divided blue and yellow, the colours being taken from the arms of the Portocarrero. Since other Spanish municipalities used the same design, Juan José Antequera submitted on 19 March 1995 two proposals:
- a rectangular flag, in proportions 11 x 18, made of three parallel stripes perpendicular to the hoist, equal in width (1/3 of the flag's width) the first, blue, the second, yellow, and the third, purple. Charged in the center with the local coat of arms.
- the chequy design eventually adopted.

The municipality also adopted a banner (pendón), which does not seem to have been officially registered yet, described as follows:

Banner: Rounded at fly, in proportions 11 x 18, chequy of 15 pieces, eight yellow pieces and seven blue pieces arranged 3 x 5. A bordure compony Castile and León.

The design is based on the hypothetic use of a banner of the arms of Portecarrero by the local militia, for instance during the seizure of Villanueva del Fresno from the Portuguese, led by Francisco Portocarrero, 16th lord of Moguer.

Moguer has been using as the municipal seal the arms of the Portocarrero lineage since 1642, when granted the status of ciudad. These arms are attributed to Jofre Tenorio in Tomás López' Relaciones (last third of the 18th century).
In the Atlante Español (1781), Espinalt y García presents a vista meridional de la ciudad de Moguer (southern view of the town of Moguer), decorated with a coat of arms, "Chequy of 30 pieces, 15 or and 15 azure. A bordure charged with four castles and four lions in turn, the castles in the cantons and the lions in the flanks, chief and base. The shield surmounted by a Marquis' coronet and placed on a parchment gyronny in base and surrounded by a palm and a branch of laurel." The municipality used this design in 1903.
The arms used until 1995 were designed in 1905 by Manuel S. Lao, from Madrid. The original design was "Chequy of 54 pieces, 27 or and 27 azure. A bordure gules charged with six towers and six lions all or. The shield surmounted by a Marquis coronet, placed on lambresquins and surrounded by a palm and a branch of laurel." The arms in actual use were slightly different, made of a shield in Carlist shape, of incorrect proportions, "Chequy of 31 pieces, 16 or and 15 sable. A bordure gules charged with four towers and four lions passant in turn. The shield surmounted by a Marquis' coronet. The shield surrounded dexter by a palm and sinister by a branch of laurel the two proper crossed and tied beneath the shield." The lack of proper specifications generated as many variants as painters commissioned to draw the arms.

The "rehabilitation" of the arms required the use of a shield in Spanish shape, of correct proportions, the suppression of the outer ornaments, the substitution of the Royal crown closed to the Marquis' coronet (here, representing the Marquis of Villanueva del Fresno), the inclusion of the charges of the bordure in the relevant pieces (castle - instead of towers - or port and windows azure on gules, and lions rampant purpure on argent, representing Castile and León, the geographical origin of the Portocarrero, Marquis of Villanueva del Fresno and of Barcarrota). The number of chequy pieces has to be 15, eight or and seven azure, as used by the Portocarrero (see, for instance, Atienza's Nobilario Español).
Juan José Antequera submitted on 19 March 1995 two proposals:
- a shield per pale Portocarrero and Castile
- a shield made of the arms of Portocarrero only.
The two proposals were rejected by the Municipal Council, and a third design, also proposed by Juan José Antequera was eventually adopted.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

Ivan Sache, 1 September 2016



Flag of Mazagón - Image by Ivan Sache, 9 September 2016

The beach town of Mazagón (4,101 inhabitants in 2012), located on the coast 20 km south of Moguer, is administratively split between Moguer (3,357 inh.) and Palos de la Frontera (744 inh.).
The Asociación de Vecinos de Mazagón (AVEMA - Association of the Inhabitants of Mazagón; blog) was registered in 1993, with the aim of obtaining the erection of the town as an independent municipality.

The unofficial symbols of Mazagón were "symbolically" presented on 27 May 2008 in Huelva during a meeting supporting the request of municipal independence of Mazagón.
The flag, designed by Justo Juan Guerra, is horizontally divided green-orange-blue (1:2:1).
[ Huelva Información, 28 May 2008]

Ivan Sache, 9 September 2016