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La Guardia de Jaén (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-06-01 by ivan sache
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Flag of La Guardia de Jaén - Image from the Símbolos de Jaén website, 15 July 2009

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Presentation of La Guardia de Jaén

The municipality of La Guardia de Jaén (3,928 inhabitants in 2008; 3,846 ha; municipal website) is located 10 km south-east of Jaén.

La Guardia de Jaén was founded 1500 years BC as the Iberian fortified settlement of Mentesa Bastia / Mentesa Bastetana. After the Roman conquest, the town became the oppidum of Mentesa Bastetanorum; one of the biggest towns of Hispania Citerior, Mentesa had then much more inhabitants (c. 5,000) than today's La Guardia. The town was famous for its mines, where the finest gold was extracted and directly shipped to Rome for the Emperor's use. Epigraphic remains confirm the descriptions made by Pliny and Polybius, who both portrayed a wealthy town with beautiful palaces, temples and thermae. During the Visigothic period, Mentesa superseded Jaén as the capital of the Carthaginian province. Controlling strategic ways of communication roads and rivers -, Mentesa was the seat of a bishporic as early as the 3rd century; its first known bishop, Pardo, attended the Council of Illiberis (Granada) in 309, while his successors attended to a dozen of councils held in Toledo from 280 to 858.
After the Moorish conquest, the town, renamed Mantissa / Mantisa, was the capital of a cora (province) until superseded by Yayyan (Jaén). One of the earliest and biggest Moorish fortresses in the Iberian paeninsula was built in the town in the 7th century; the fortress was involved in several fightings between different clans. According to all the sources of the time, the fortress, located on a strongly defended height and supplied in water by several sources, was deemed impregnable. The First General Chronicle (13th century) claims that Tariq, marching in the 8th century from Écija against Toledo, seized the fortress of Mantissa and destroyed it; archeological remains, however, do not confirm the chronicle. The fortress is mentioned in several chronicles reporting the Muladi rebellion in the 9th century.
Seized in 1244 by King Ferdinand III the Saint, the fortress was several times reconquered by the Moors, but for short periods, until the fall of Granada in 1492. After the fall of Jaén in 1246, the fortress of La Guardia became located closer to the border with the Nasrid kingdom, protecting, together with the castle of Pegalajar, the Kingdom of Castile from the Moorish raids. The name of the town (lit., "The Guard") dates back to that time. In 1456, Gonzalo de Zúñiga, Bishop of Jaén, was killed in La Guardia when fighting the Moors; the Moorish warlord Reduan was killed shortly after. After the fall of Granada, the fortress lost its strategic position and the town declined. La Guardia was transferred in 1465 to Ruíz González de Mexía and later made a Marquisate granted to the Mexía / Messía family, who kept the castle and the domain until the suppression of the feudal system in the 19th century. The castle was sacked, burned down and partially ruined by the French in 1802.

Ivan Sache, 6 August 2009

Symbols of La Guardia de Jaén

The flag and arms of La Guardia de Jaén, adopted on 10 October 2005 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 14 October 2005 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, are prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 25 October 2005 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 7 November 2005 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 217, p. 49 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, in proportions 2:3, made of five vertical stripes in proportions 1/8, 1/8, 1/2, 1/8 and 1/8, the outer blue, the median yellow and blue with a yellow castle masoned sable port and windows azure in the middle.
Coat of arms: Azure a castle or masoned sable port and windows azure surrounded by two keys affronty or. The shield surmounted with a Royal crown closed.

The arms, representing the fortress built during the Muslim period, are canting.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Jaén (PDF file)]

Ivan Sache, 18 July 2009