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Peñafiel (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-02-11 by ivan sache
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Flag of Peñafiel - Image by Ivan Sache, 19 February 2014


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Presentation of Peñafiel

The municipality of Peñafiel (5,628 inhabitants in 2012; 7,599 ha; municipal website) is located in the east of Valladolid Province, 60 km from Valladolid.

Peñafiel was located in the tierra de nadie, a deserted area that served of buffer zone between the Christian and Moorish states. Ruíz Laínez started in 947 the re-settlement of the region. The castle, then known as Penna Fidele, was used to protect the northern territories from Al-Mansur's raids. Al-Mansur invaded the region in 995 but was expelled in 1008 by Sancho García, who granted a charter in 1013 to Peñafiel (therefore the town celebrated its millennium in 2013), subsequently one of the most important fortresses watching the border. Alvar Fáñez de Minaya, the most famous brother-in-arms of El Cid Campeador, was appointed lord of Peñafiel as a reward for his support in the struggle against the "pagans".
The castle of Peñafiel was inhabited for more or less long periods by royalties, such as Queen Urraca and Kings Ferdinand III and Alfonso X the Wise. Charles, Prince of Viana (1421-1461), Infant of Aragón and Navarre, was born in the castle. However, the most famous inhabitant of the castle was Infante Juan Manuel, made Duke of Peñafiel in 1292, author of El Conde de Lucanor (Tales of Count Lucanor, 1335), one of the earliest works of prose in Castilian language.

In 1448, Prince Henry granted Peñafiel to Pedro Girón (1423-1466), 28th Master of the Order of Calatrava. Girón, his elder brother Juan Pacheco (1419-1474) and his uncle Alfonso Carrillo de Acuña (1410-1482), Archbishop of Toledo in 1446, were the most influent nobles in the court of Castile and León during the reign of Henry IV (1425-1474, crowned in 1454). Girón was a main member of the noble's leagues that challenged Henry IV after he had appointed Beltrán de la Cueva in the King's Council (1461). Pedro Girón's eldest natural son, Alfonso Téllez-Girón, was made the 1st Count of Ureña on 25 May 1464 by Henry IV.
Pedro Téllez-Girón (1537-1590), the 5th Count of Ureña, was made the 1st Duke of Osuna on 5 February 1562 by King Philip II. The Girón family ruled Peñafiel until the suppression of the feudal system in the 19th century.

The castle of Peñafiel, considered as one of the best preserved medieval fortresses in Spain, was registered an historical monument in 1917. It houses the Valladolid Provincial Wine Museum, inaugurated in 1999 and presenting the four protected designations of the province: Cigales, Ribera del Duero (incl. Peñafiel), Rueda and Toro.

Alvar Fáñez (1047-1114) was a relative of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid), who called him "mi anai" (Old Castilan, "my brother"), therefore his nickname of Minaya. Presented in the Cantar as El Cid's alter ego and best brother in arms, Fáñez was in the real life the most loyal captain of King of Castile Alfonso VI, who defended the Tagus border and prevented the Almoravids to reconqueer Toledo. El Cid and Fáñez were both named Knights of the Order of St. James in the church of Zamora; they contributed to the success of Sancho II, King of Castile, in the battles of Llantada (1068) and Golpejara (1072), fought against his brother Alfonso, King of León. Fáñez ednured the Leonese attack that resulted in the capture of Sancho, while El Cid counter-attacked, liberated his king and captured Alfonso, who was exiled to Toledo, then ruled by Almamun. After the murder of Sancho in Zamora in 1072, Alfonso VI reunited the kingdoms of Castile and León and seized Toeldo from the Moors in 1085, with the support of Fáñez. The fall of Toledo prompted the Almoravids to invade Al Andalus; Fáñez was commissioned to defend the Tagus border. His cavalry included the fierce "dawair" Moslims, who had taken the Christian party after the Almoravid conquest. Following the disaster of Uclés (1108) and the death of Alfonso's unique son, Sancho, aged 12, and of the seven Castilian counts, Fáñez crossed the Sierre de Altomira and headed to Zorita. He resumed resistance to the Moors' advance, seizing Cuenca, soon lost, but resisted in Toledo to the assault by Emir Ben Yusuf Tasufin.
After decades of fighting against the Muslims, Fáñez was killed in April 1114 in Segovia by partisans of Alfonso I the Battler, King of Aragón, who was in struggle with his wife Urraca, Alfonso VI's daughter.
[ABC, 2 July 2018]

Ivan Sache, 6 September 2019


Symbols of Peñafiel

The flag (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) of Peñafiel is crimson red with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

The coat of arms of Peñafiel is "Azure a tower or masoned sable ports and windows gules ensigned sinister by a bird argent on a terrace vert. A bordure argent inscribed with the town's motto 'Esta será la peña más fiel de Castilla'".
The canting motto of the town, which reads "This will be the rock [peña] the most faithful [fiel] in Castile", is credited to founder Sancho García.
The flag in use shows a version of the coat of arms slightly different from the official version (image).

Ivan Sache, 19 February 2014