Last modified: 2020-10-24 by ivan sache
Keywords: magacela |
Links: FOTW homepage | search | disclaimer and copyright | write us | mirrors
Flag of Magacela - Image by Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020
The municipality of Magacela (530 inhabitants in 2019; 7,580 ha; municipal website) is located 130 km east of Badajoz and 15 km south-east of Villanueva de la Serena.
Magacela was already inhabited in the Prehistoric times, as evidenced by a dolmen (3rd millennium BC) decorated with schematic engravings, schematic rock paintings found in different shelters, and a stele featuring a warrior, exhibited in the National Archeological Museum (presentation). Historians agree that the castle was once the site of the Celtiberian citadel of Arsa Turdula / Asryle, surrounded by Cyclopean walls.
Some authors say that the Lusitanian warlord Viriatus was killed by the Romans in Magacela in 139 BC. The Roman post of Contosolia, listed on the Antonine Itinerary, is often identified to Magacela, with little accuracy. There are, indeed, very little archeological remains of the Roman and Visigothic periods that could help reconstituting the local history at the time.
Magacela was known to the Arabs as Umm Gazala (Greater / Safer House), a citadel located atop a hill. The prefix "Umm" indicates a significant place, since it was used to highlight the main towns in the Muslim realms. According to Manuel Terrón Albarrán, the toponym evolved as Ummagazala < Magazala < Megazela < Magacela. Other hypotheses on the etymology of Magacela, such as Latin Magacela (Big grain barn) or Magalia Quondam (Shepherd's shelter) are not substantiated by any relevant data.
Antonio Agúndez reports the locally well-known legend of the Moorish princess who lived in the castle ane could not finish her dinner because of the Christian attack. When dying, she said amargo cena, amargo cena para mi (Bitter dinner, bitter dinner to me), "amargo cena" being subsequently transformed into Magacela.
The exact date of the Christian reconquest is not known, differing among sources. Most probably, Magacela was abandoned by the Moors without fighting in 1234. On 24 April, Magacela was granted to the Order of Alcántara, as the base of the re-settlement of the Serena district. The limits between Magacela, Hornachos, Reyna and Benquerencia were fixed in 1235.
In 1254, Alfonso X the Wise confirmed Ferdinand III's grant and issued the second charter of separation from Medellín, defining the respective domains of the Orders of Alcántara and Saint John. Magacela became the seat of a priorate, with jurisdiction on Villanueva de Magacela / de los Freyres (Villanueva de la Serena), La Haba, Quintana, La Guarda, Campanario and Aldehuela (La Coronada). The flourishing fortified town of Magacela became a melting-pot of Christian and Muslim inhabitants, until the Catholic Monarchs expelled from their realms "those who would not convert to our faith".
Henry II prescribed in 1369 that the Moorish population should not be jailed but in their own jail and should not be tortured by by their own commander. Magacela and Bequerencia became the Serena's towns with the highest Muslim population, probably dominant. In 1388, Master Martín Yánez exempted from specific tax the Muslim boroughs (aljamas) of the two towns. In the 15the century, Master Gutiérre de Sotomayor's last will ordered to bring back to the Moors the cows and oxen that had been seized because of their noise.
Magacela remained a Morisco stronghold until the expelling of the Moriscos by Philip II. Colombus' Cosmography reports that Magacela counted 100 citizens, mostly Moriscos.
In the 15the century, Magacela was fiercely disputed between the Master of the Order of Alcántara, Gómez de Cáceres y Solís, and the order's Warden, Alonso de Monroy. The Warden's War ended in 1473 with the triumph of Monroy, who was appointed Master of the order.
The fortress of Magacela was equipped with a significant arsenal, which was not common for the order's fortresses, whose armament was usually deemed "old, obsolete and sparse".
At the end of the 18th century, the castle and most of the village, "injured by time", were ruined. Freshwater was lacking and the convent was transfered to Villanueva de la Serena, which prompted the Prior to also move to Villanueva. Magacela progressively fell into oblivion.
Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020
The flag (photo) and arms of Magacela, adopted on 12 June and 30 October 1992 by the Municipal Council and validated on 15 September 1992 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order issued on 6 November 1992 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 12 November 1992 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 89, pp. 2,489-2,490 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:
Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Composed of two triangles formed by a diagonal running from the hoist's upper part to the fly's lower part, green at hoist and white at fly. The fly charged with the municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Vert three spikes argent, 2. Sable a castle argent. Grafted in base, argent a Cross of the Order of Alcántara vert. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.
Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020