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Lopera (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-09-16 by ivan sache
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Flag of Lopera - Image from the Símbolos de Jaén website, 2 December 2015

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Presentation of Lopera

The municipality of Lopera (3,837 inhabitants in 2014; 6,790 ha; municipal website), the westernmost municipality of the Province of Jaén, is located 60 km of Jaén, on the border with the Province of Córdoba.

Lopera was known in the Roman times as Polesi, a second-rank town part of the municipality of Obulco (Porcuna). The Roman-Visigothic site of Los Morrones has yielded remains of a Visigothic basilica. Lopera was reconquerred from the Moors by King Ferdinand III the Saint, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Order of Calatrava in 1228; the Order would rule it until the 16th century.
The town is first documented in a document signed in 1274 by Alfonso X the Wise, fixing the limits between the Council of Córdoba and the lands owned by the Order of Calatrava. Lopera was granted the status of villa on 5 December 1553 by Philip II, a privilege that was confirmed and increased in 1595.

The Monument of Lopera is the only monument in Spain erected as a tribute to the International Brigades. During the battle of Lopera, fought on 27 and 28 December 1936, the writer Ralph Winston Fox (1900-1936) and the poet Rupert John Cornford (1915-1936), members of the Writers of the Thirties Generation, were killed.

Ivan Sache, 2 December 2015

Symbols of Lopera

The flag of Lopera (photophoto, photo, photo), adopted on 30 November 2010 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 9 December 2010 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 14 December 2010 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 29 December 2010 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 253, pp. 33-34 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions three units in length on two units in width (2/3), or, one and a half longer than wide, horizontally divided in the middle in two equal parts, the upper half, old gold, and the lower half, olive green, integrally charged with the Cross of Calatrava gules, the geometrical axis of the cross fitted to the center of the flag, in height 2/3 of the flag's width.

The memoir supporting the proposed symbols was redacted by Andrés Nicás Moreno (Memoria histórica, heráldica, vexilológica y sigilográfica de Lopera (Jaén), Boletín. Instituto de Estudios Giennenses, 2013, 208,11-14).
There is no evidence of any flag, banner of vexilloid ever used in Lopera. Accordingly, the Municipal Council organized a public contest to design a brand new flag. The winning design was submitted by Marcos Corpas Ruiz. Gold yellow is the colour of the main historical buildings of the town: the parish church of the Immaculate Conception, the castle of the Order of Calatrava, the chapels, the Town Hall... Green represents agriculture, the main source of income of the population being olive, and, to a lesser extent, wine-growing.
The Cross of Calatrava is the most representative charge of the municipal coat of arms.
The colour specifications are given as follows (Pantone scale):

Old gold	AU++	 117C
Green		  V+	3295U

The coat of arms of Lopera, adopted on 28 January 2011 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 1 February 2011 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 8 February 2011 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 25 February 2011 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 40, p. 90 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per fess, 1. Or a Cross of Calatrava gules, 2a. Argent a pear vert, 2b. Argent two wolves passant sable in pale.

The coat of arms is a "rehabilitation" of the historical arms of the town. Two coats of arms are featured on the facade of the Town Hall, whose building started in 1605:
- Model A, located on the left part of the facade of the first corps. Oval field. Per fess, 1. A Cross of Calatrava, 2a. Two wolves counterpassant in pale, 2b. A pear slipped and leaved;
- Model B, located on the right of the facade of the first corps. Oval field. Per fess, 1. A Cross of Calatrava, 2a. A pear slipped and leaved, 2b. Two wolves passant in pale.
The two coats of arms share an oval field, proper to churchmen and military orders, here the Order of Calatrava. They feature the same charges, arranged in a different manner in the two lower quarters.

Santiago Haro (A vueltas con el nombre "Lopera" (Jaén). Consideraciones sobre el origen del topónimo, Boletín. Instituto de Estudios Giennenses, 1994, 151) claims that the wolves and the pears make the arms canting, based on three versions of the etymology of the name of the municipality, equally spurious:
- The wolves would have been taken from the canting arms of Lope de Haro, who was granted the place by Alfonso X; this explanation is based on the report by Argote de Molina (Nobleza de Andalucía, 1588) of the sharing of the reconquered lands made by the king in Seville in 1253: "The place known to the Moors as Bascena was renamed Lupero by the king since it was granted to Lope de Haro". There is no doubt on Argote de Molina's report; it appears, however, that the place he listed as Lopera is not the Lopera of interest to us; unnoticed, the erroneous identification was subsequently spread by several writers. Lopera, granted in 1228 to the Order of Calatrava by Ferdinand III, could not have been granted again to Lope de Haro in 1253.
- Lopera would have been named from the two Latin words lupus, "a wolf", and pera, "a pear", by "popular phonetic derivation". This hypothetical merging is not supported either by linguistic or semantic rationale. A related explanation, deriving Lopera from la pera, "the pear", is unsubstantiated, either.
- Lopera would have been named from the Latin toponym Luparia. Santiago Haro claims that the derivation Luparia - Lobera - Lopera is supported by linguistic considerations and the principles of historical phonetics. The name would mean "a place inhabited by wolves"; wolves were indeed common in the region until recently.

Argote de Molina describes the canting arms of Lope de Haro, which were granted after the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212) as a tribute to the valiance of the lineage. It is probable that the municipality of Lopera referred to in Argote de Molina's record, here again without noticing that it referred to another place named Lopera, and featured the Lope de Haro's wolves on their first coat of arms. The origin of the other quarters of the arms of Lopera is unknown. At the time, the limited knowledge in heraldry often caused the simplification of the arms of noble lineages and the arbitrary addition of quarters when designing municipal arms.

The oldest known seals of the municipality, used in July and September 1840, are clearly derived from model A of the coat of arms, with two differences: the wolves are passant and the pear's stalk point downwards. Similar seals, sometimes with the pear's stalk pointing upwards, were used; sometimes concurrently with a seal featuring the simplified arms of Spain surmounted by a Royal crown closed, until 1992. Andrés Nicás Moreno published in 1992 a short note in the program of the town's festival (El escudo de Lopera), calling for the official "rehabilitation" of the arms according to the norms of heraldry, promoting the adoption of Model B, which had been used only unofficially.
Bernardo de Espinalt (Atlante Español, 1789) described the arms of Lopera as "A three-quartered shield, in the upper quarter the Cross of Calatrava, in the dexter quarter two wolves and in the sinister quarter a pear, as shown on Plate XII, No. 14, of Volume 12". Espinalt erroneously shows the Cross of St. James instead of the Cross of Calatrava, an error which was repeated by Piferrer (Trofeo heroico, armas, emblemas y blasones de las provincias y principales ciudades y villas de España, 1860; Nobiliario de los reinos y señoríos de España, Vol. 6, 1860). Pascual Madoz (Diccionario geográfico-histórico-estadístico de España, 1845-1850) describes the arms as "divided per fess, with the Cross of Calatrava in the upper part. The lower part is divided into two quarters, in the right one two wolves, in the left one, a pear." Manuel de la Paz Mosquera y Quirós (1832-1906), the first director of the Drawing School of the Royal Economical Society of the Friends of the Jaén Country, published an artistic rendition of the arms of Lopera.
In 1941, Juan de Dios López Jiménez designed for the Provincial Council of Jaén a plate featuring the coats of arms of all the municipalities in the province. The arms of Lopera were represented as "Spanish-French shield. Per fess, 1. Or a Cross of St. James, 2a. Argent a pear proper, 2b. Argent two wolves passant sable in pale." Subsequent artists spread the erroneous cross and added an Infante's coronet lacking any historical or heraldic rationale.

The proposed arms are explained as follows.
The shield shows, in each of its quarters, charges of relevance in connection with the modern period. The first quarter features the Cross of Calatrava, in its traditional tinctures, as the proper symbol of the Order of Calatrava. The second and third quarters, whose origin is explained in the aforementioned paragraphs, became institutional with time, rooted in the immaterial culture of the town. The tinctures of those quarters have been selected in compliance with the principles of heraldry.
The colour specifications are given are as follows (Pantone scale):

Or		    Or		117C
Argent		Silver		414C
Vert		 Green		339U
Gules		   Red		192C
Sable		 Black	       Black

Ivan Sache, 2 December 2015