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Molina de Aragón (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-02-12 by ivan sache
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Flag of Molina de Aragón - Image by "Amit6", Wikimedia Commons, 7 September 2019

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Presentation of Molina de Aragón

The municipality of Molina de Aragón (3,295 inhabitants in 2018; 16,833 ha; municipal website) is located 140 km north-east of Guadalajara and 110 km north-west of Teruel. The municipality is made of the town of Molina de Aragón and of the villages of Anchuela del Pedregal (12 inh.), Cubillejo de la Sierra (51 inh.), Cubillejo del Sitio (11 inh.), Novella (depopulated), and Tordelpalo (9 inh.).

The former municipality of Cubillejo del Sitio was incorporated to Molina de Aragón by Decree No. 873, issued on 10 April 1975 by the Spanish Government and published on 25 April 1975 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 99, p. 8,722 (text). The former municipality of Cubillejo de la Sierra was incorporated to Molina de Aragón by Decree No. 2,064, issued on 24 July 1975 by the Spanish Government and published on 4 September 1975 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 212, p. 18,779 (photo). The former municipality of Anchuela del Pedregal was incorporated to Molina de Aragón by Decree No. 946, issued on 8 April 1976 by the Spanish Government and published on 30 April 1976 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 104, p. 8,462 (photo).

Molina de Aragón was ruled in the 11th century by the Moorish king Abengalbon, a vassal of the kings of Saragosse and Valencia and a good friend of the Cid, as reported in El Cantar de Mio Cid.
In 1129, Alfonso I the Battler conquerred the town after three months of siege. Manrique de Lara re-settled the area in 1139, granting charters that were confirmed in 1154 by the king. This resulted in the establishment of a feudal domain, located on the border of Castila and Aragón, which would exist for centuries.
In the 12th-13th centuries, the lords of Lara increased their domain, protected it by several castles and fortifications and erected different churches and convents; Molina became a wealthy town, whose privileges attracted colonists. In 1369, Henry II of Castile offered the town to Duguesclin as a reaward for his support in the murder of his rival and brother-in)law, Peter I the Cruel. Upset, the inhabitants of the town pledged allegiance to Peter IV, King of Aragón, and the name of the town was changed from Molina de los Caballeros to Molina de Aragón. Six years later, the town was returned to Castile.
One century later, Henry IV offered Molina to Beltrán de la Cueva, which caused an armed uprising in the town. Isabel the Catholic eventually stated that Molina would belong to Castile for ever. Political stability allowed the town to flourish in the 16th century.

In 1810, during the Peninsular War, the French troops commanded by General Roquet looted and burned the town, until the inhabitants of the town, supported by General Juan Martín Díez (1775-1825), aka El Empecinado (The Undaunted), expelled the invaders. As a reward, Molina was granted in 1812 the title of ciudad by the Cortes of Cadíz.

Ivan Sache, 7 September 2019

Symbols of Molina de Aragón

The flag of Molina de Aragón (photo, photo), which does not appear to have been officially registered, is horizontally divided blue-red iwth a white stripe placed along the hoist and charged with the municipal coat of arms.

The coat of arms does not appear to have been officially registered either, in spite of having been approved on 17 January 1975 by the Royal Academy of History, as follows (Blog de Óscar Pardo de la Salud, 9 July 2014):

Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Per pale, 1. Azure a bend sinister argent cantonned by two millstones of the same, 2. Azure an arm armed or the hand argent holding between the thumb and the index a ring or. A base azure five fleurs-de-lis or in saltire. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The earliest coat of arms of Molina was "Azure a millstone argent"; such a shield was applied by the militias of the town on a tower of the old castle of Cuenca after its reconquest in 1177. Subsequent arms featured two millstones.
The second quarter was added in the 13th century, following the Zafra Concord that resulted in the marriage of Mafalda Manrique, the daughter of the 3rd Count of Molina, with the Infante of Castile, Alonso, the son of Alfonso X the Wise. Two generations later, María de Molina married King Sancho IV the Brave, who became lord of Molina, as would be all the next kings of Spain.
The base with the fleurs-de-lis was granted by Philip V, as a reward for the town' support during the War of the Spanish Succession.
The arms experienced some variations with time, such as the use of a scepter or instead of the bend sinister argent in the first quarter, or of a single fleur-de-lis in base. Some heraldists ignorant of the local history substituted a coin to the ring in the second quarter.
[Los Escritos de Herrera Casado, 30 June 1989]

The local historian Diego Lorenzo Sánchez de Portocarrero y de la Muela (1607-1666; appointed Captain of the town's militia on 26 April 1635) provides in his historical account of Molina (Antigüedad del Muy Noble y Leal Señorío de Molina. Historia y lista real de sus señores, príncipes y reyes, 1641) an odd explanation of the arms of Molina, representative of the knowledge of the time.
The millstones (ruedas de molino) are a straightforward allusion to the name of the town. Such a prosaic explanation could no satisfy a scholar of the 17th century, because it lacked references to classic writers and heraldic references (of the time). Sánchez de Portocarrero refers to Juan de Horozco y Covarrubias (1540-1610), who claimed in his famous Emblemas morales (1589) that millstones were used as their arms by the Corali, "a belliquous nation from Pontus", to emphasize their "equality and concord when it came to take arms". Sánchez de Portocarrero also refers to the "old custom of lords to punish their slaves using big millstones". Accordingly, the millstones represent "the valor and constance deployed by Molina against those who would oppose or invade the town, the same way the millstone gets rid of the grains that would slow down or block its progress".
To explain the armored arm holding a ring, Sánchez de Portocarrero calls Apuleius' Metamorphoses and the description of the Roman wedding rituals therein (Venire in manum, "To cross the hands"). Moreover, teh historian claims that the arms represent the power of the lords of Molina, quoting the sentence Brachium Domini confortavit me ("God's arm comforted me"). The hand represents the town's name of the time, Molina de los Caballeros; Fernán Mexía (Nobiliario) considers the knights (caballeros) as the noblest components of the society, like the hands are the noblest parts of the body. The Romans used the ring as a symbol of nobleness, loyalty and faithfulness; accordingly, concludes Sánchez de Portocarrero, "these emblems are the emphatic representation of Molina's nobleness and loyalty, of its religion, force, and other virtues".
[Los Escritos de Herrera Casado, 23 March 1974]

Ivan Sache, 7 September 2019