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Cárcheles (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-06-02 by ivan sache
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Flag of Cárcheles - Image by Ivan Sache, 1 December 2015

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Presentation of Cárcheles

The municipality of Cárcheles (1,458 inhabitants in 2014; 4,300 ha; municipal website) is located 30 km south-west of Jaén.
The municipality was established by Decree No. 450, adopted on 7 February 1974 by the Spanish Government and published on 20 February 1974 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 44, p. 3,469 (text), as the merger of the former municipalities of Carchelejo and Cárchel. The seat of the new municipality was assigned to Carchelejo.

Cárcheles was first documented in 1256, when King Alfonso X the Wise granted the castle of Cárcheles, today the ruins known as Castilejo, to the Bishop of Jaén. In 1271, Día Sanchez was made lord of Cárchel and Cazalla; located on borders, the places changed several times of jurisdiction until incorporated in the late 15th century to the Bishopric of Jaén.
In 1485, the Catholic Monarchs conquered Cambil, soon incorporated into Jaén. When Cambil was separated from Jaén in 1558, the new municipality was incorporated the estates of Carchelejo (33 inh.), Cárchel (12 inh.) and Cazalla (26 inh.). The three villages were sold to Antonio de Arellano y Conteras for 3 millions maravedies. After different lawsuits, the sale was cancelled in 1693 and the villages were reincorporated into the Royal domain. They were established on 24 May 1696 as a Council, separating from Cambil; the Council Hall was assigned to Carchelejo, then the most populated of the three villages.
In 1841, Antonio de Almazán, second Regidor of Carchelejo and inhabitant of Cárchel, initiated the process of separation of his village, which was completed in April 1843. Due to his involvement in the process, the parish priest, Manuel García, was suspended by the Bishop of Jaén and ordered to stay at least 6 leagues away from the village church.

Ivan Sache, 1 December 2015

Symbols of Cárcheles

The flag and arms of Cárcheles, adopted on 28 July 1995 and 26 January 1996 by the Municipal Council and approved on 9 May 1996 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 339, adopted on 9 July 1996 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 17 August 1996 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 94, p. 10,073 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution 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 symbols are described as follows:

Flag: In proportions 3 units in length on 2 units in width, that is, one and a half longer than wide, a field vert charged with the crowned coat of arms of Cárcheles, whose geometrical axis fits the flag's center, in height 2/3 of the flag's width.
Coat of arms: Gules a tower masoned and port and windows sable surrounded dexter by a ladder accosted per bend sinister to the donjon sinister by a key in pale all or. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed.

The heraldic memoir supporting the proposed symbols of Cárcheles was redacted by Andrés F. Nicás Moreno (Memoria del escudo y bandera de Cárcheles, Sumuntan, 1996, 7, 95-105). The graphical design of the symbols is credited to Ildefonso Zafra Peña.

The municipal archives of Cárcheles keep the Capitular Acts of 1824 and 1825, the two documents being stamped with a coloured seal featuring the municipal arms. The seal is circular, featuring a tower with port and windows, surrounded dexter by a ladder accosted per bend sinister to the donjon and sinister by a key in pale. The bordure of the seal is inscribed with "CARCHELEJO Y CARCHEL". This is the single record of historical arms of Cárcheles - at the time, Carchelejo and Cárchel formed a single municipality. After the separation, the two municipalities did not use any specific heraldic emblem. Older records assigning to Carchelejo the arms of its mother municipality, Cambil, are of little significance here.
From the 1940s onwards, different artists have proposed arms for Cárcheles, here again derived from the arms of Cambil, and therefore improper and a source of confusion. In 1941, Juan de Díos López Jiménez designed for the Provincial Council of Jaén a painting showing all the municipal arms in the province; he introduced a coat of arms of Carchelejo based on the old arms of Cambil, and a coat of arms of Cárchel, based on the aforementioned seal. The two coats of arms are improperly surmounted by an Infante's coronet and the source of subsequent whimsical variations. There is no hint of the tinctures used in the old arms of Carchelejo and Cárchel.

The charges retained for the proposed coat of arms clearly highlight that Cárcheles guarded and defended the border against the Nasrid threat. The tower is a symbol of defence, while the ladder is a symbol of conquest; the key is a symbol of guard. Pr. Quesada Quesada confirmed that Cárchel and Cazalla formed a Christian outpost located between Jaén and Granada until the eventual seizure of Cambil and Alhabar in 1485.
Gules is a symbol of power and triumph. Or is a symbol of nobleness, generosity and constancy.

There is also no record of any historical flag or banner in Cárcheles. The colour of the flag, olive green, is a symbol of the agricultural resources of the municipality, mostly made of olive trees, which are the main source of income in Cárcheles.
The colour specifications are given as follows, on the Pantone scale:

Yellow	117C
Red	192C
Blue	3005C
Green	339U
Silver	414C

Ivan Sache, 1 December 2015