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Peñalsordo (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-10-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Peñalsordo - Image by Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020

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Presentation of Peñalsordo

The municipality of Peñalsordo (918 inhabitants in 2019 vs. 4,610 in 1940; 4,733 ha; municipal website) is located on the borders with Castilla-La Mancha (Province of Ciudad Real) and Andalusia (Province of Córdoba), 219 km east of Badajoz and 50 km east of Castuera.

Peñalsordo was already settled in the Paleolithic, as evidenced by rock paintings in schematic style studied by Henri Breuil in 1916. Funerary steles decorated with carts drawn by quadrupedes, swords and spikes, remains of Celtiberian and Roman villages indicate early permanent settlement of the area.
Peñalsordo was established after the definitive Christian reconquest of the area, in 1228. King Ferdinand III the Saint offered the area to the Order of the Temple in 1236, creating the Commandery of Capilla, as a reward for the contribution of the Order to the seizure of the fortresses of Capilla, Garlitos and Almorchón. After the suppression of the Order in 1307 by Pope Clement V, the domain was retroceded to the Crown of Castile, then ruled by Ferdinand IV. In 1309, the Commandery of Capilla was transferred to the Order of Alcántara, which retroceded in 1320 to Alfonso XI.
Alfonso Fernández Coronel was granted the domain in 1340. An enemy of King Peter I the Cruel, Fernández was killed during the assault of his fortress in Aguilar. Peter offerred the Commandery to his daughter Beatrix; his bastard brother, Henry III, eventually killed him and transferred "the town of Capilla with its castle and hamlets", La Peña de Sordo included, to his Justicia Mayor, Juan Núñez de Villazán. Separated from Almorchón, the Commandery was acquired in 1382 by Diego López de Zúniga. His nephew, Álvaro de Zúniga, lord of La Peña de Sordo, was erected in 1485 Duke of Béjar by the Catholic Monarch. The dukes of Béjar would rule Peñalsordo until 1777, when JoaquĆ­n de Zúniga y Sotomayor, 12th Duke of Béjar, died without heirs.

Peñar el Sordo was granted the status of villa on 22 July 1631 by Philip IV, separating from Capilla.
Peñalsordo and its domain, composed of Capilla, Garlitos, Risco, Baterno and Zarza Capilla, was inherited by María Josefa Alfonso-Pimentel Téllez-Girón, of the Zúniga lineage, 15th Countess and 12th Duchess of Benavente, married since 1771 with Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y Pacheco, 9th Duke of Osuna. She ruled the domain until her death in 1834, being succeeded by her nephew, Pedro de Alcántara Téllez-Girón y Beaufort, 11th Duke of Osuna, who died in 1844. His younger brother, Mariano Téllez-Girón y Beaufort, lost the lineage's huge fortune in a dissolute life that ended in 1884.

Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020

Flag of Peñalsordo

The flag and arms of Peñalsordo, adopted on 28 January and 27 July 1995 by the Municipal Council and validated on 17 May and 17 October 1995 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order adopted on 23 February 1996 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 14 March 1996 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 31, pp. 1,100-1,101 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Composed of three horizontal stripes, the central white and twice wider than the other, which are blue. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms in full colors.
Coat of arms: Per fess, 1a. Argent a mount sable ensigned by a buck saltant gules horned sable, 1b. Argent a bend sable orled by a chain or with eight links, 2. Azure a monstrance or surrounded by a sword argent and a lance argent and gules. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The first quarter recalls the origin of the village, allegedly founded by a goat-keeper named Pedro Peña and nicknamed Peña el Sordo (the Deaf), and rams used by the Christians to deceive the Muslims.
The second quarter features the arms of the Zúniga lineage; the chain recalls the Navarrese origin of the Zúniga.

The third quarter represents the main festival celebrated in the village, the Corpus Christi Eigth (Day), considered as the day of the reconquest of the fortress of Capilla from the Moors - although Corpus Christi Eight is celebrated the Wednesday following the Trinity's Sunday, therefore not every year the same day.
The legend reports that the Christians, led by General Cachafrem and adjudant Palenque, whose names are shared by a brook and a mountain, respectively, attempted several times to seize the fortress, to no avail. On the Corpus Christi's eve, the general promised to establish a brotherhood would he win the battle. The next day, he ordered to gather rams, to remove their bells and to place flares on their horns. Believing that the lights belonged to a big army, the Muslim defenders of the castle fled away. When entering the fortress, the founder found a grandfather, a grandmother with child Rafaelito, and two cows.
As promised, the general established a brotherhood next day. A sargeant riding a horse and holding a sword went to the soldiers and asked them to praise the Blessed Sacrament. The brotherhhod was allowed by Bull Mierva signed by Pope Paul III and granted several indulgencies. The legendary record indeed recalls the first performance of the ritual.
The festival is managed by the Brotherhood of the Soldiers of the Most Holy Sacrament, exclusively composed of inhabitants of Peñalsordo. The board of the brotherhood is composed of the Majordomo (Main Brother, life elected), the Captain, the Alférez, the Sargeant, the Grandfather (life elected), the Grandmother (life elected), the Secretary and another six members selected among the brothers to organize the festival. During the Corpus Christi Eight procession through the village's streets, the Sargeant, riding a horse, holds the brotherhood's sword (locally called "halberd"), the Alférez (lit., standard bearer) its flag, and the Captain its jineta (a small lance onve used as the emblem of a cavalry captain). During the festival, the lance is wrapped in spirals of red and white fabric. The lances are topped with artificial flowers.
Blue is the color of the botherhood.
[Antonia Castro. 2010. El Corpus Christi y su octava en Peñalsordo, entre la fiesta y la religión. Gazeta de Antropología, 26: 33

Ivan Sache, 16 March 2020