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Arahal (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-11-13 by ivan sache
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Flag of Arahal - Image after the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 17 October 2015

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Presentation of Arahal

The municipality of Arahal (19,585 inhabitants in 2014; 20,109 ha; municipal website) is located 50 km south-east of Seville.

Arahal was first mentioned in 1285, when King Sancho IV granted Morón, Arahal included, to the Order of Alcántara. The name of the town, from Arab Ar-Rahal, means "a resting place on a road with enclosure for cattle".
Arahal was granted the status of villa in 1554 by Charles V, separating from Morón de la Frontera. The Dukes of Osuna, lord of Arahal since 1477, did not accept the limitation of their power and initiated a long series of lawsuits against the Council of Arahal. The town acquired new privileges from Philip IV. Arahal thrived in the 18th century, its population reaching 7,000 inhabitants in 1787.

Ivan Sache, 29 May 2014

Symbols of Arahal

The flag of Arahal is horizontally divided blue-white-blue with the coat of arms in the center (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo). The flag was already used in the late 20th century, as evidence by a photo taken during the visit of Felipe González to the town, 16 April 1982.

The coat of arms of Arahal is "Azure a lion couchant dislocated proper on a base vert in chief a scroll argent inscribed with 'Absorta est mors in victoria' in letters sable. The shield surmounted by a hidalgo's helmet and placed on a cartouche charged with palms and a row of trees."
The coat of arms of Arahal was granted in 1554 by Charles IV, together with the status of villa. The original charter, made of eight parchment sheets, was lost in the blaze that destroyed the municipal archives in 1857. The charter, known to us by an anonymous copy, describes the arms as "[...] on a green field and a white scroll reading 'Absorta est mors in victoria'. On the green field a lion dislocated".
For whatever reason, the town was not satisfied with the granted coat of arms; in 1787, the parish priest Patricio Gutiérrez Bravo described the arms as "A green tree on a celestial field with six stars argent and two bears standing against its trunk". This is confirmed by a Municipal Decree, signed on 5 February 1597, prescribing the manufacturing of a silver seal featuring the arms of the town. Here the two bears are described as two lions. Gutiérrez Bravo believes that the original coat of arms was indeed granted to a Master of the Order of Alcántara, since Arahal then belonged to the Commandery of Morón. This could have been the arms of the Pizarro lineage, which are similar to the granted arms, although there is no evidence of a direct connection between the lineage and the Order.
Accordingly, the coat of arms in current use is a reconstruction on the lost coat of arms granted in 1554.
[Municipal website]

Francisco Frías Saborido (blog) explains that the dislocated lion represents the defeated town of Morón, which once ruled Arahal and considered its inhabitants as slaves. The nine cypresses in the base of the cartouche represent the nine entrances of the town.

The Latin motto "Absorta est mors in victoria" (1 Corinthians 15:54) reads "Death is swallowed up in victory" / "Death has been swallowed up in victory", depending on the translation.

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 29 May 2014