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Olivares (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-11-21 by ivan sache
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Flag of Olivares - Image from the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 30 May 2014

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Presentation of Olivares

The municipality of Olivares (9,568 inhabitants in 2013; 10,253 ha; municipal website; tourism website) is located 15 km west of Seville.

Olivares was established in the Roman times in the region of Estercolines / Estercolinas, named for Turculus, the soldier who had conquered the area from the Iberians. The Cerro de la Cabeza hill is the site of the ruins of the town of Laelia, an important town that minted eight different types of coins and operated a busy port on river Menoba (Guadiamar). The territory was also crossed by the aqueduct that brought water from Tejada to Italica.
The St. Anthony tower, named for the estate that surrounds it, was erected by the Moors in the 12th century. Conquered in 1248 by King Ferdinand III the Saint, the tower was granted to the king's brother, Alfonso de Molina, Infante of Castile and León. The Order of Alcántara was transferred the tower in 1261 but had to offer it in 1277 to the Council of Seville by order of Alfonso X the Wise.

Pedro Pérez de Guzmán y Zúñiga, the second son of the 3rd Duke of Medina Sidonia, was made the 1st Count of Olivares on 12 October 1535 in Palermo by Charles V. He was succeeded by his son, Enrique de Guzmán y Ribera (1540-1607), 2nd Count of Olivares, also the Main Treasurer of Castile, Commander of the Seville Alcázar, Ambassador in France and Rome (1582-1591), and Vice -Roy of Sicily (1591-1595) and Naples (1595-1599). He was allowed in 1590 by Pope Gregory XIII to build a chapel dedicated to the Virgin of the Snows.

His son, Gaspar de Guzmán y Pimentel Ribera y Velasco de Tovar (1587-1645), 3rd Count of Olivares, is best known as the Count-Duke of Olivares."Valido" (Favourite, that is, Minister with full powers) of Philip IV from 1622 to 1643. In spite of innovative reforms aimed at reorganizing the regime and improving the finance management, Olivares could not prevent the bankrupt of the state in 1627 and the decline of the Spanish military power. Several towns were lost to the United Provinces in Flanders, while Portugal restored its independence and Catalonia seceded. Plots led by the Duke of Medina Sidonia and the Marquis of Ayamonte eventually forced Olivares to resign and exile, first to Loeches, and eventually Toro, where he died. Nobody appears to have missed him, because of its authoritarism and his failed commitment to war, which he saw as the single means to maintain the Empire.
In 1607, the Count-Duke of Olivares hired the Milan-based architect Vermondo Resta, also Chief Architect of the Seville Alcázar, to rebuiid the town of Olivares. The chapel, which was erected a collegiate church in 1623 by Urban VIII, contains the relics of St. Ursula and of the 11,000 Virgins, of St. Stephen, St. Roch and several other saints, authenticated and offered to María de Pimentel, the wife of the 2nd Count, by Gregory XIII, Sixtus V and Gregory XIV between 1582 and 1591. Under the main alter of the church lies the crypt of the Counts of Olivares. The 1st Count and his wife, Francisca de Ribera, the 2nd Count and his wife, María de Pimentel, as well as the brothers of the Count-Duke, Pedro Martín de Guzmán and Jerónimo de Guzmán, are buried there. The Palace of the Count-Duke and the Grain Barn were built at the same period on the main square of the town, close to the collegiate church.

Ivan Sache, 30 May 2014

Symbols of Olivares

The flag of Olivares, adopted on 20 March 2001 by the Municipal Council and validated on 2 October 2001 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba,, is prescribed by Decree No. 260, adopted on 26 December 2001 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 9 February 2002 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 17, pp. 2,072-2,073 (text). This was confirmed by a Decree adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The flag is prescribed as follows:

Flag: Quadrangular, in proportions 3:2, quartered per saltire with the quarters counterchanged. The hoist and fly panels, reseda yellow. The top and bottom panels, Prussian blue. The division of the fields, charged with four branches of olive tree in natural size, which start from the flag's angle and converge to its center, without touching it. The leaves are olive green when placed on the yellow field and pearl gray or silver when placed on the blue field.

The design is explained in the Preamble of the Decree as follows. The blue and golden colours are those traditionally used as the emblem of the town. The chromatic areas are displayed in a particular manner for the sake of differentiation from other flags using the same colours. The quartering per saltire is an historical reference to the coat of arms of Gaspar de Guzmán, Count-Duke of Olivares, as displayed on the main arch of the collegiate church of Our Lady of the Snows, therefore familiar to the inhabitants of the town. The four branches of olive recall the proper toponymy of Olivares [making the arms canting]; their colours - dark olive green and silver gray - evoke the flag of Al-Andalus since the Ummayad domination and the reverse of the olive leaves, respectively.

The coat of arms of Olivares (municipal website) is "Per pale, 1. Azure two caldrons checky or and gules in pale hilted with seven snake's heads vert on each side a bordure compony of castlse or on gules and lions gules on argent, 2. Or three olive trees in pale. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed."

A first coat of arms was approved on 30 June 1952 by the Municipal Council, as follows: "The village of Olivares, as a tribute to its legendary founder, the powerful Count-Duke Pedro Pérez de Guzmán, Minister of King Philip IV and direct descendant of the house of Medina Sidonia, shall modify its coat of arms, substituting it for the arms of its glorious founders, characterized by the classical cauldrons of Guzmán, which are still in use in the town. The Council unanimously decided to drop the coat of arms used on the municipal seal [featuring the national arms] and to replace it by the arms designed by the noble founders of the settlement, in use today by the house of Berwick y Alba, their legitimate successors. The substitution shall be implemented on 18 July of this year, anniversary of the glorious National Uprising."

Juan José Antequera Luengo submitted on 14 February 1991 a corrected version of the arms, which was approved on 15 April 1991. Since 1952, the municipality had indeed been using the arms of the Marquis of Villena, from the Pacheco lineage: "Argent two caldrons checky or and sable hilted on each side with seven snake's tails and heads vert langued gules affronty three dexter and three sinister. A bordure checky or and sable of three orders (indeed two)". This first use of the arms of the Marquis of Villena appears to originate in an interpretation proposed in the beginning of the 20th century by the heraldist Manuel S. Lao, from Madrid. Soon the arms of the Dukes of Medina Sidonia were used, "Azure two caldrons a bordure compony of castles and lions. The shield surmounted by a Ducal coronet", instead of the arms of the Count-Duke, quartered per saltire with ermine spots and cauldrons, The arms of Medina were sculpted on the lintel of the gate of the Palace of the Count-Duke. The coronet of the old arms did not include the accurate number of points, nine, but either five or seven. In the last decades, the bordure was replaced with a bordure chacky or and azure of three orders.
[Juan José Antequera Luengo. Heráldica oficial de la provincia de Sevilla]

The Royal Academy of History rejected the proposed arms, which associate the arms of the Count-Duke of Olivares and charges making the arms canting. The design is basically suitable, fully expressing the identity of the place. The first quarter features a version of the arms of the Guzmán family with two caldrons and a bordure compony of Castile and León. However, there is no doubt that the Count-Duke and all his successors used the version of the arms quartered per saltire, with the caldrons and the ermine spots of the Froílaz family, with the aforementioned bordure, orled by a collar of circles and letters. It is clearly not recommendable to use such complicated arms on a shield that already features other charges. Accordingly, the Count-Duke should be represented, as proposed here, by a simpler version of the arms. The Academy proposed to represent the Count-Duke only by caldrons; there are several options of association of the caldron with the olive trees: three olive trees and a bordure charged with caldrons, al olive tree surrounded by two caldrons...
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia, 1992, 189, 3:514-515]

The process of adoption of the coat of arms was declared null and void by a Decree adopted on 11 October 1996 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 5 November 1996 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 124, p. 14,244 (text), since the municipality had failed to propose a corrected design in due time.

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 30 May 2014