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Orgaz (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-04-04 by ivan sache
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Flag of Orgaz - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 September 2019

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Presentation of Orgaz

The municipality of Orgaz (2,624 inhabitants in 2018; 15,448 ha) is located 30 km south-east of Toledo and 100 km north of Ciudad Real.

Orgaz was settled by the nearby Visigoth court of Toledo, as evidenced, for instance, by the archeological site of Los Hitos. After the Muslim conquest, the area was allegedly depopulated, leaving only a few missionaries leaving in Agar / Agaz. Rather, the Arabs developed a big town, built around a central defensive tower and surrounded by a wall protected by four gates. The Albaicín borough, established out of the walls, was the place of a flourishing cloth-making industry.
After the Christian reconquest of Toledo in 1085, its southern outskirts were re-settled by local Mozarabs and Castilian colonists who continuously struggled with the Moors. Incorporated to the crown of Castile, Orgaz was transferred to Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid), appointed governor of the town and its fortresses. The town attracted more and more colonists, who settled in streets named for them; Caldron makers, Cloth makers, laborers, and Franks (mostly mercenaries who had foughted in 1212 in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa).

In 1230, Ferdinand III the Saint and his moter, Berenguela, met in Orgaz the Court, in the aftermath of the death of Alfonso IX. The event allowed Fedinand to officially claim the throne.
The first lord of Orgaz was Ruiz Gutiérrez de Toledo, appointed by Alfonso X, Orgaz being the oldest feudal domain established in the Toledo Mounts.
Charles I created in 1529 the title of Count of Orgaz for Álvaro Pérez de Guzmán, 10th lord of Orgaz and 7th lord of Santa Olalla, Alguacil Mayor of Seville and a descendant of the first lord of Orgaz.

Orgaz owes international fame to the painting "The Burial of the Count of Orgaz", designed in 1586 by El Greco (1541-1614). The painting, kept in the St. Thomas church in Toledo, is considered as El Greco's masterpiece, and, some say, the most beautifully crafted religious painting of all time. The Count of Orgaz died in 1312, but it took another two centuries to have the town's officials release the money the count had bequeathed to the church. Andres Nuñez, the priest who had won the lawsuit againt the town, used the money to commission El Greco. The painter remembered the mystical "events" that allegedely occurred during the burial of the count, and piously featured them. The story goes that during the ceremony, the heavens erupted spontaneously and friends and mourners witnessed a sky filled with images of Jesus, the Virgin, St. John, and several other saints and angels. Legend explains that St. Augustine and St. Stephen appeared to reward the Count for his generosity to the church by burying him with their own hands and dazzling all those present.

As said above, the County of Orgaz was created in the 16th century. The buried person is indeed Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, 2and lord of Orgaz, therefore, the title given to the painting is anachronistic, reflecting the status of the lord of Orgaz at the time of the realisation of the painting, not at the time of the represented events.

Ivan Sache, 11 September 2019

Symbols of Orgaz

The flag of Orgaz is prescribed by an Order issued on 6 October 1992 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 14 October 1992 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 78, p. 4,446 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel, in proportions 3:5, vertically divided in three equal parts, at hoist, green, in the center, white, at fly, purple.

The flag in actual use (photo, photo, photo) appears to be charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms.

The coat of arms of Orgaz, which does not appear to have been officially registered, is "Azure two caldrons chequered or and gules with snake's heads vert in pale. A bordure argent eight ermine spots sable. The shield surmounted by a Ducal coronet."

These are the well-known arms of the Guzmán lineage.
Pedro Nuñez de Guzmán, lord of Manzanedo and King Peter I's governor, was the first member of the Andalusian branch of the Guzmán lineage to bear the title of lord of Orgaz, following his marriage, around 1330, with Aldonza Fernández de Toledo, the niece of Gonzalo Ruiz de Toledo, 4th lord of Orgaz.
[Municipal website]

These are, indeed, the arms of the León branch of the Guzmán lineage. The town of Orgaz once also used the lineage's "claisscal" arms, featuring the same charges but in a different arragenement, quartered per saltire with the caldrons in the 1st and 3rd quarters and the ermine spots in the 2nd and 4th quarters, the bordure omitted. However, the maintain of the "Leonese" arms as the municipal arms is supported by "immemorial use", for instance on the lintel of the main gate of the old Town Hall, atop the local court and jailhouse, and by several foreign publications of the 18th century.
[José Luis Ruz Márquez & Ventura Leblic García. Heraldica municipal de la Provincia de Toledo. 1983]

Ivan Sache, 11 September 2019