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Cifuentes (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-02-09 by ivan sache
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Flag of Cifuentes - Image by Ivan Sache, 6 September 2019

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Presentation of Cifuentes

The municipality of Cifuentes (1,697 inhabitants in 2018; 21,995 ha, therefore the 5th biggest municipality in the province by its area; unofficial website) is located 70 km north-west of Guadalajara. The municipality is composed of the town of Cifuentes, of the submunicipal entities of Gárgoles de Abajo (138 inh.), Gualda (58 inh.) and Moranchel (44 inh.), and of the villages of Carrascosa de Tajo (16 inh.), Gárgoles de Arriba (141 inh.), Huetos (15 inh.), Oter (15 inh.), Ruguilla (43 inh.), Socota de Tajo (11 inh.) and Val de San Garcéa (6 inh.).

Cifuentes was named for its seven fountains (siete fuentes), indeed sources, which gush forth in the town. After the Christian reconquest of the area by Alfonso VI in 1985, Cifuentes emerged as a hamlet part of the Common of the Town and Land of Atienza, a big territory that was chartered in 1149 by Alfonso VII. Made at the end of the 12th century an archpriest's domain by the bishop of Segovia, Cifuentes attracted several muleteers who established there a wealthy corporation. In 1177, Cifuentes was granted a market that increased its local significance. During the reign of Alfonso X the Wise, Cifuentes was granted the status of villa, separating from Atienza.

In 1253, Alfonso offerred Cifuentes and other places of Alcarria to his lover, Mayor Guillén de Guzmán, who came to be the town's benefactor; she funded the building of the Romanesque church and developed the town. In 1317, Infante Juan Manuel purchased Cifuentes from Blanca, Mayor's daughter, and immediatly confirmed the earlier charters and privileges. Successively owned by the three children of Juan Manuel, who had no descendance, Cifuentes was incorporated to the Royal domain by Peter I the Cruel. His successor, Henry II, granted Cifuentes to his cousin, Alfonso of Aragón, Count of Ribagorza and Marquis of Villena, which was succeeded by his son, Pedro de Aragón, and his grandson, Henry of Aragón the Necromancer. After the death of the latter lord, Cifuentes was reincorporated to the Royal domain.

John II offerred the town to his favorite, Álvaro de Luna, who transferred it in 1431 to his friend, Juan de Silva (1399-1464), Alférez Mayor of Castile and member of the Royal Council, who was erected by the king 1st Count of Cifuentes in 1456. The 2nd Count of Cifuentes, Alonso de Silva, inherited the title of Alférez Mayor from his father and participated to the Castilian civil wars. The 3rd Count of Cifuentes, Juan de Silva, also Alférez Mayor, was appointed Captain General by the Catholic Monarchs during the Wars of Granada; he increased the territory of the county and founded a famous Franciscan convent in the town. The 4th Count, Fernando de Silva, supported Charles V and the Flemish party during the War of the Commoners. Appointed Imperial ambassador and Captain of the Royal armies, he established an hospital and a Franciscan nun's convent in the town. The 5th Count of Cifuentes, Juan de Silva, travelled with Charles V all over Euorpe. The 6th Count, Fernando de Silva, Captain of the Guards of Castile, fought in North Africa. After the death in 1602 of the 7th count, Juan Baltasar de los Reyes, different branches of the lineage struggled for the possession of the county.
In the beginning of the 18th century, the 13th Count of Cifuentes, Fernando de Silva Meneses (2663-1749) took the party of the Archduke of Austria during the War of the Spanish Succession. As a retaliation, he was deprived from all his titles and goods and its palace located on the plaza mayor in Cifuentes was totally demolished, salt being poured on the foundations.

Cifuentes is the birth place of Diego Ladrón de Guevara Orozco y Calderón (1641-1718). Appointed Bishop of Panamá in 1689, he rebuilt the cathedral destroyed by pirates and founded several colleges and convents; from 1691 to 1693, he denounced the abuses of the Marquess de la Mina, President of the Real Audiencia, who was eventually sacked by the Council of the Indies. In 1699, he was appointed Bishop of Huamanga (Ayacucho) in Peru, where he re-established the San Cristóbal University and redacted its new Constitution. Bishop of Quito in 1706, he organized the administration and the court of justice, promoted culture and defended the colonists against the English pirates. He succeeded on 29 August 1710 Manuel Oms de Senmenat, Marquess of Castel dos Rius, as the 25th Vice-Roy of Peru; he immediately limited public spending, increased the production of the silver mines of Potosí, Huancavelica and San Nicolás, controlled the illegal production of sugar brandy and increased tax on authorized producers. Sacked in 1716 and accused of wrong doing and misappropriation, he died in Mexico on his way back to Spain.

Ivan Sache, 6 September 2019

Symbols of Cifuentes

The flag of Cifuentes (photo) is prescribed by an Order issued on 11 February 2002 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 18 February 2002 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 21, p. 3,311 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Blue, rectangular, with the representation of the castle on the mount with the the fountains located on the fly side.

The coat of arms of Cifuentes is prescribed by an Order issued on 11 February 2002 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 18 February 2002 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 21, p. 3,311 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Azure a castle or port and windows gules on amount proper seven fountains gushing forth. The shield surmounted by a Spanish Royal crown.

The memoir supporting the proposed symbol was redacted by Plácido Ballesteros San José and Paloma Rodriguez Paniz, Archivists at the Guadalajara Provincia Council.

The oldest known seal of Cifuentes, kept in the Municipal Archives, was used on Sunday 14 June 1299 to seal a charter of mutual aid signed by the inhabitants of the town. The wax seal, of 7.5 cm in diameter, was appended to yellow and blue flax threads.
Juan Catalina García (1845-1911; Memorial Histórico Español 52, 1903) described the seal as "On the other side, the coat of arms of the town, consisting of sunflower-like flowers over waves or rocks, which cannot be detailed because of the crudeness of the design, with the legend reading +S...CONCILI...S. The full legend must read + S. CONCILI CENTVFONTIS."
Juan Catalina indeed repeated the description of the seal he had offered in 1894 during his inauguration at the Royal Academy of History: "Two big flowers growing from undulations looking more like rocks than thr water of a brook."

In his Catalogue of Medieval Spanish Seals (1918), Juan Menéndez Pidal (1858-1915) provided a completely different interpretation of the seal: "From rocks gush forth the seven fountains of Cifuentes (Septi-fontes) and the water falls over three mill wheels..." Scholars who subsequently studied the seal all validated Menéndez Pidal's interpretation. In his classical Historia de la villa condal de Cifuentes (1955), Francisco Layna Serrano (1893-1971) wrote:
"By odd chance is kept the wax seal of the council...; on the other side, undulations that represent mounds from which water gush forth, representing the fountains that gave their name to the town, atop two mill wheels, the other part of the seal missing."
In Philip II's Relaciones Topográficas, Mayor Francisco Calderón de Quirós reports the seal as "a shield with a castle and several fountains running down from the castle".

Antonio Herrera Casado (Heráldica municipal de la provincia de Guadalajara, 1989) says that the castle originates in the arms of Castile, to which Cifuentes always belonged. It also represents the oldest and biggest monument of the town, erected by Infante Juan Manuel and still overlooking the town. The fountains or brooks running down from the castle represent the several natural fountains gushinbg forth from the hill and forming the source of river Cifuentes. These fountains are the town's namesake, intepreted as "cent fontes" (hundred fountains), or, more plausibly, "septem fontes" (seven fountains), recalling the seven fountains of the town.

The municipality of Cifuentes sometimes used a different coat of arms. A seal used on 2 April 1978 and allegedely used since 1867 features a castle standing on a hill with two mill wheels in base. The wheels could be an allegoricval reminiscence of the lawsuits that opposed all along the 17th and 18th nceturies the Town Council to the Count of Cifuentes for ownership of the big mill established in the town. A commemorative stone, set in 1804 on the mill's wall, features the very same coat of arms.
In the last decades of the 20th century, Cifuentes used a coat of arms based on the oldest known seal, as reported by Herrera Casado and Faustino Ménendez Pidal (b. 1924; Gran Enciclopedia de Madrid, Castilla-La Mancha". 1983).
[Unofficial website; Los escritos de Herrera Casado, 9 June 1989]

The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed symbols. Cifuentes has a long history of proper emblems, tracing back to a seal from the late 13th century. The well-designed supporting memoir reports all the sources and substantiate the proposed symbols.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia 197:3, 521. 2000]

Ivan Sache, 6 September 2019