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Gata (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-11-14 by ivan sache
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Flag of Gata - Image from the municipal website, 10 July 2000

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Presentation of Gata

The municipality of Gata (1,447 inhabitants in 2019 vs. 2,967 in 1960; 9,418 ha) is located on the border with Castilla y León (Province of Salamanca) 110 km north of v and 40 km north of Coria.
The municipality is made of the town of Gata and the submunicipal entity of Moheda de Gata (619 inh.), established in 1954 by the National Institute of Colonization.

Gata and the neigbouring Sierra de Gata were named for cats (gatos), according to Vicente Paredes Guillén (Origin del nombre de Extremadura y de sus villes e pueblos); hills and rocks named Gato would originate in lions engraved on rocks that signal the border between Extremadura and the old Kingdom of León, interpreted by local people as cats. There is however, no such engraved rocks and no historical background for this theory, even in local folklore. Moreover, the border fluctuated during the Christian reconquest and there was no reason to restrict the border marking to the mountains. Marcelino Guerra Hontiveros believes that Gata was indeed names for St. Agatha, the rock overlooking the town being once named Promontoria Santae Agatae (St. Agatha's spur).

Gata was originally established by the Moors as Albaranes, to be renamed to Hispania after the Christian reconquest, as stated in a privilege granted on 29 December 1253 by Alfonso X the Wise to the bishop of Coria. The treaty signed on 13 April 1251 between the bishop and Pedro Yanez de Noboa, Master of the Order of Alcántara, lists the town as Gata.
Gata was granted the status of villa on 10 April 1341, separating from Santibáñez. The privileges were confirmed on 5 July 1346 and 7 May 1364, and, eventually, by Henry II on 3 February 1367.
[Marcelino Guerra Hontiveros. 1897. Apuntes históricos acerca de la villa de Gata]

Ivan Sache, 20 March 2020

Flag of Gata

The flag and arms of Gata, adopted on 29 October 1987 by the Municipal Council and validated on 10 June 1988 by the Royal Academy of History, are prescribed by an Order issued on 21 June 1988 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 28 June 1988 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 51, p. 690 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Quadrangular, tierced per bend. The upper quarter, white with a green Cross of Alcántara. The red bend charged with "MUY NOBLE GATA MUY LEAL" [Very Noble Gata Very Loyal] in yellow letters. The lower quarter yellow with a brown cat.
Coat of arms: Argent a cat proper surmounted by a Cross of Alcántara vert. The shield surrounded by a scroll inscribed "MUY NOBLE Y MUY LEAL" and supported by an eagle sable with the feet on stone columns. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown open.

The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed symbols. The coat of arms is based on old references; the cat makes the arms canting, while the cross recalls the power exerted by the Order of Alcántara on the town.
The supporters and the crown open are not common in modern municipal heraldry but can be accepted since they are featured on the historical coat of arms.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia. 185:2, 401. 1988]

According to Bartolomé Villacencio, who visited Gata on behalf of the Order of Alcántara, a privilege granted in 1351 by Master Martín Alfonso was "sealed by a metallic seal featuring a cat and a cross of the Order above, and a surrounding scroll". The scroll was subsequently inscribed with "MUY NOBLE GATA MUY LEAL" by Charles V, who also allowed the use of his eagle as supporter, but the previous inscription, if any, is not known.
[Marcelino Guerra Hontiveros. 1897. Apuntes históricos acerca de la villa de Gata]

Ivan Sache, 20 March 2020