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Almonacid de Zorita (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-02-22 by ivan sache
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Flag of Almonacid de Zorita - Image by Ivan Sache, 6 September 2019

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Presentation of Almonacid de Zorita

The municipality of Almonacid de Zorita (720 inhabitants in 2018; 4,190 ha; municipal website) is located 70 km south-east of Guadalajara.

Almonacid is an Arab toponym, traditionally read as "almunia sidi", "the lord's garden", or "almones", "the monastery". After the Christian reconquest, Almonacid was incorporated to the Royal domain and placed under the rule of the castle of Zorita, then governed by Alvar Fáñez de Minaya (d. 111 Alfonso VII (1126-1157) granted Almonacid to Count Ponce de Cabrera (1105-1162), who sold the village in 1174 to Pedro Martí:nez de Magan. His wife, Sancha Martí:nez, offerred Almonacid in 1174 to the Order of Calatrava. The transfer was confirmed in Bulls signed by Popes Gregory VIII (1187) and Innocent III (1199, 1214).

Almonacid was the capital of one of the seven Commanderies that formed the Province of Zorita; in the late 16th century, the capital of the province was transferred to Almonacid. Charles I sold Pastrana, Sayatón and Escopete to Ana de la Cerda (1540-1592), who expected also to acquire Almonacid; the villagers, however, refused to leave the soft power hithertho exerted by the Order on the King's behalf in the hands of the foxy Ana. Charles I signed in 1542 in Logroño a privilege, still kept in the municipal archives stating that the town would remain forever part of the Royal domain; to pay the fee - two millions maravedís - to Hernando de Córdoba, Treasurer of the Order, the Village Council had to sell plots, goods and houses, which were immediuatly acquired by the villagers. The descendants of Ana de la Cerda and Ruy Gómez de Silva (1516-1573), the influent Secretary of Philip II and owner of Pastrana, Zorita and Albelate, attempted to acquire part of the village, to no avail.
After the retirement of her brother Charles V in 1555, Mary of Hungary (1505-1558), Governor of the Low Countries, announced she would also retire to Almonacid. The rumor that she had been appointed lord of Almonacid by Charles soon spread. Mary died in Cigales, on her way to the village.

The village of La Bujeda, located south of Almonacid, was granted in 1190 a charter by the Order of Calatrava. In the 14th century, the nearly deserted village was acquired by Almonacid. This was challenged by the neighboring town of Illiana; in 1462, Pedro Girón, Master of the Order, confirmed Almonacid's rights.

The village of Bolarque, located in the north of Almonacid, was selected in the early 20th century to establish a dam and a waterfall to produce electricity. After seven years of work, the dam was inaugurated on 23 June 1910 by King Alfonso XIII. In the 1970s, a second unit was built to produce more electricity and to increase the water level of 200 m to facilitate the transfer from Tagus to Segura.
The José Cabrera nuclear power plant was operated west of Almonacid from 1960 to 2016 by Unión Fenosa. A worker's estate was build nearby by the company; the buildings of the former railway station located on the Madrid-Alocén line were re-used as the chapel and general store.

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 Almonacid de Zorita

The flag of Almonacid de Zorita (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) is prescribed by an Order issued on 6 May 2003 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 19 May 2003 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 72, p. 8,849 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel, with two horizontal stripe, the upper, 2/3 of the hoist, white with two red crosses flory of the Order of Calatrava, and the lower, blue.

The coat of arms of Almonacid de Zorita is prescribed by an Order issued on 6 May 2003 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 19 May 2003 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 72, p. 8,849 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Quarterly, 1. and 4. Argent a cross flory of the Order of Calatrava gules with chains, 2. and 3. Vert a pomegranate proper (or and gules). The shield surmounted by a Royal crown in compliance with the constitutional regime of the Kingdom of Spain.

The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed symbols, requiring minor modifications.
The Cross of Calatrava is featured on all seals used by the Village Council: at the end of the 16th century - beginning of the 17th century, the seals also featured a pomegranate, without any justification. Accordingly, the proposed arms, based on a substantiated tradition, can be accepted. However, it is "absolutely inacceptable" to substitute the chains characterizing the cross of the Order of Calatrava by another representation, and even more to change their arrangement. The chains have to be placed where they belong.
Two flag proposals were submitted, one (not described) was rejected, the other was deemed acceptable.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 200:2, 168. 2003]

The seal used in 1400 by the Village Council was described by the public writer, Gregorio Martines, as "The seal of Almonesçir features two crosses and two superimposed chains, in yellow wax; appended to it, silk and cotton threads, red, white, yellow and black." In the 18th century, different seals featured two Crosses of Calatrava. Since the beginning of the 19th century, Alomnacid has been using a bronze stamp, of 3 cm in diameter, featuring a shield quartered with crosses of Calatrava and pomegranates, represented open, with grains and other botanical details; a circular writing reads "Villa de Almonacid de Zorita".
In 1862 appeared a colored seal featuring a shield quartered with castles and lions, and, in base, a tree or a plant, and surmounted by a Royal crown ensigned by a cross. The whole emblem is surronded by a narrow border featuring either three ermine spots or three crosses trefoiled.
[Los Escritos de Herrea Casado, 15 June 1990]

Ivan Sache, 6 September 2019