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Benamejí (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-02-27 by ivan sache
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Flag of Benamejí - Image from the Símbolos de Córdoba website, 11 July 2009

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Presentation of Benamejí

The municipality of Benamejí (5,122 inhabitants in 2008; 5,335 ha; municipal website) is located 90 km south of Córdoba.

Benamejí emerged as an organized settlement in the 11th century, when Emir Abd Allah built the fortress of Banu Bashir, which was subsequently increased by Abd al Arman III. Reconquered in 1240 by Ferdinand III the Saint, the village, then known as Benamexir, was transferred by Alfonso X the Wise to the Order of St. James in 1254. Still disputed by the Moors and the Christians, the village was eventually incorporated to the Kingdom of Castile in 1487. With permission of Pope Clement VII, Charles I sold the village in 1549 to Diego de Bernuy, Municipal Councillor of Burgos, who completely reorganized the domain and the town. Bernuy commissioned the architect Hernan Ruiz II to design a new bridge over river Genil, a water mill, the town's streets and the palace. On 23 May 1675, Charles II erected the Marquisate of Benamejí for José Diego de Bernuy y de Antonio, the 5th lord of Benamejí. The Marquis of Benamejí has been a Grandee of Spain since 1815; the current holder of the title is Manuel de la Lastra y Marcos, 14th Marquis of Benamejí.

Benamejí was an inspiration for several Spanish writers. The warlord of Benamejí, El Cañeri, is a main character of La niña de Gómez Arias (The Daughter of Gómez Arias), one of the five comedies written by Pedro Calderón de la Barca (1600-1681). In El chato de Benamejí. Vida y milagros de un gran ladrón (The Pug-Nosed from Benamejí. Life and Miracles of a Great Thief, 2 volumes, 1874), the novelist Manuel Fernández y González (1821-1888) recalls that the bridge of the road linking Córdoba and Málaga and the neighbouring hills made of Benamejí a hotspot of crime in the 19th century, The classic theme of "nobles and rascals" was reused by the brothers Manuel (1874-1947) and Antonio (1875-1939) Machado in their play La Duquesa de Benamejí (The Duchess of Benamejí, 1932); the authors changed the nobility title from "Marquis" to "Duchess" to avoid offending the real lords of Benamejí. Benamejí is also mentioned in La Muerte de Antoñito el Camborio, part of Federico García Lorca's Romancero Gitano (1924-1927).

Ivan Sache, 11 July 2009

Symbols of Benamejí

The flag of Benamejí, adopted on 1 December 2005 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 7 December 2005 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 3 January 2006 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 24 January 2006 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 15, p. 71 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, in proportions 2:3, divided in the middle by a diagonal running from the upper hoist to the lower fly. The upper part crimson red and the lower part sea blue. The municipal coat of arms in the center.

The coat of arms of Benamejí is prescribed by Decree No. 286, adopted on 13 February 1975 by the Spanish Government and published on 27 February 1975 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 50, p. 4,164 (text). This was confirmed by a Decree adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The coat of arms, validated by the Royal Academy of History, is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per fess, 1. Argent a Cross of the Order of St. James gules, 2. Argent two galleys per pale on waves azure and argent. A bordure gules charge with eight scallops or. The shield surmounted by a Royal Crown.

The coat of arms was designed by Juan Bernier Luque. The Cross of St. James recalls the connection between the Order of St. James and the town since the Christian reconquest in the 13th century. The bordure and the galleys are a tribute to the Bernuy family, who significantly developed the town.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Córdoba (PDF file)]

The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed arms, provided the Marquis' coronet was substituted by a Royal Spanish crown. This was done in the official description of the arms but not in their representation.
[Boletin de la Real Academia de la Historia 181:2,424-425. 1974]

Ivan Sache, 16 February 2019