Last modified: 2020-10-10 by ivan sache
Keywords: badajoz |
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The municipality of Badajoz (150,702 inhabitants in 2019, therefore the most populated municipality in Extremadura; 144,037 ha, therefore the biggest municipality by its area in the province, the second in Extremadura and the third in Spain; municipal website) is located on the border with Portugal, 400 km south-west of Madrid, 230 km east of Lisbon, and 60 km west of Mérida.
The municipality is composed of the town of Badajoz and of the villages of Alcazaba (240 inh.), Alvarado (405 inh.), Balboa (535 inh.), Bótoa (278 inh.), Gévora (until 2011, Gévora del Caudillo; 2,482 inh.), Novelda del Guadiana (922 inh.), Sagrajas (580 inh.), Valdebótoa (1,347 inh.), and Villafranco del Guadiana (1,509 inh.).
Badajoz, located in the fertile valley of river Guadiana, ws already settled in the Lower Paleolithic, as evidenced by several remains exhibited in the Provincial Archeological Museum.
The Romans established several villas on the territory, but there is not the least evidence of a urban settlement. The identification of the Roman town of Bathalius with Badajoz is no longer accepted by historians; Bathalius indeed corresponds to the Portuguese town of Beja. The Visigothic period in Badajoz is equally obscure, in spite of several archeological findings (capitals, columns...) and the mention of Visigothic bishops of Badajoz (Benedictus and Hermenegildus).
The town of Badajoz was founded in 875 by Abd al-Rahman Ibn Muhammad Ibn Marwan Ibn Yunus al-Yilliqi al-Maridi. A model of renegade and audacious rebel and warlord, Marwan was a Muladi of Spanish origin who could rally to any powerful ruler and betray him as soon as he was no longer powerful. Expelled from Mérida, not really estimated in Córdoba, he established his own fortified stronghold in Badajoz.
In the aftermth of the winding up of the Caliphate of Córdoba, Badajoz became the capital of a de facto independent kingdom (taifa). Sapur, a former slave of Persian origin, was appointed Governor of Badajoz in 979; in 1016, he severed all relations with Córdoba and ruled until his death, as a wise manager and patron of arts and letters, a big kingdom bordering Galicia, León, Seville, the Sierra Morena, Algarve and the Atlantic Ocean. Sapur commissioned his friend Ibn-al-Aftas to protect his two sons after his death; Ibn-al-Aftas actually betrayed him and proclaimed himself King of Badajoz, subsequently increasing the fortifications and the fame of the town. Badajoz was taken over in 1095 by the Almoravids, who maintained until 1148 a military rule based on religious fanatism and intolerance.
The Almohads succeeded the Almoravids in 1148; they set up several alliances with the Spanish Christian realms against their commun ennemy, the Portuguese, who attacked Badajoz in 1161, 1165, 1168 and 170.
Badajoz was reconquerred on 19 March 1230 by Alfonso IX. Alfonso X awarded the title of "Very Noble and Very Loyal Town" to Badajoz as a reward for the fierce defense of he town against the Portuguese. Although he never visited Badajoz, the king initiated the building of the cathedral.
At the end of the 14th century, Badajoz was totally ruined and nearly depopulated, as a consequence of the war with Portugal and of epidemics. To settle peace between the two kingdoms, John I of Castile married in 1383 infante Beatriz, the daughter of Ferdinand I of Portugal. The wedding was celebrated on 1 May jointly in the ruined town of Badajoz and in Elvas, and was attended by Levon V, King of Armenia.
Badajoz was detroyed once again in 1705, when besieged from 12 to 15 October by the Anglo-Portufuese troops; the town was hit by more than 10,000 cannonballs and 700 bombs. Philip V rewarded the leaders of the local militia with military ranks and exempted the population from tax for all the duration of the war.
In January 1729, Infante Ferdinand (later, King Ferdinand VI) married in Badajoz the Infante of Portugal, Barbara of Braganza, John V's daugther. At the same time, her brother, Prince of Brazil José of Braganza married the Spanish Infante María Ana Victoria.
The French troops entered Badajoz on 11 March 1811 after the surrender of the 6,000 defenders of the town. This was the first surrender of the town since 1386, in spite of 20 subsequent assaults.
A much less serious military event occurred in Badajoz on 5 August 1883. A group of soldiers proclaimed the Republic but in such a clumsy way that they did not attract any attention from anyone else in Spain and quickly fled to Portugal.
Badajoz' local hero is the painter Luis de Morales (aka The Divine; 1520/1511-1586), although the claim he was born in the town is unsbustantiated. However, he settled in Badajoz in 1539 after having worked in Plasencia from at least 1535 to 1537.
Morales earned a high reputation in Extremadura, where he produced about twenty altarpieces and around one hundred devotional panels, although the exact number of these, his best known work, is complex to determine because of the numerous versions, derivations and copies of Morales' originals that continue to appear.
Of the altarpieces, only the ones at Arroyo de la Luz and San Martín in Plasencia remain completely mounted with their original structure and decoration. At Higuera la Real, all the painted panels are preserved, but not the structure. Visitors can also see some of the panels painted for Elvas Cathedral, the Dominicans in Évora, the convent church of Alcántara and the Chapel of El Sagrario at Badajoz Cathedral. As a master of altarpieces, Morales's most important work was produced in the 1540s and 1550s.
Among the long list of works produced in the 1540s, one which stands out exceptionally is The Virgin and Child with the Little Bird, of 1546. One of the painter's most successful achievements, and the only work which he dated, it was painted for the church of the Hospital de la Concepción in Badajoz, and has been kept since about 1950 in the parish church of San Agustín in Madrid.
The other "universal child" of Badajoz is the politician Manuel Godoy Álvarez de Faria Ríos y Sánchez Zarzosa (1767-1851), aka the Prince of Peace. Protected by Charles IV, he exerted for nearly 15 years an abosolute power. He is credited the restoration of the historical national territory with the re-incorporation of Olivenza - but failed to retrieve Gibraltar. His power ended in 1851 with the so-called coup of Aranjuez.
Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020
Badajoz currently does not use any flag, while it used one from the 13th century to the middle 19th century; the reason of the disuse of the historical banner is not known.
The banner (pendón) is crimson red, a color derived from the proper color of the Kingdom of León, to which the town was incorporated after the Christian reconquest. On one side is embroidered the coat of arms of the town, on the other are fatured the arms of Castile and León.
Several scholars campaign for the re-establishment of the public use of the historical flag, such as Alberto González, Chronicler of Badajoz, and Manuel Márquez, President of the Asociaci&aocute;n Amigos de Badajoz.
In the past, the banner was used to represent the town in different solemn events, such as the reception and proclamation of kings and bishops, Corpus Christi processions, signatures of treaties and royal weddings. The banner was hoisted on the Town Hall by the town's corregidor on the moist solmen instances. On 6 December 1598, the banner was hoisted to celebrate Philip III's coronation, and, again, in 1700, for Philip V's coronation, in 1747 for Ferdinand VI's coronation, and in 1789 for Charles IV's coronation. The banner was used for the last time on 17 April 1808 for Ferdinand VII's coronation.
The municipality of Badajoz still uses the town's standard, charged with the coat of arms and the legend "Muy Noble y Muy Leal Ciudad de Badajoz".
[Hoy, 18 August 2008
Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020
Proposed "rehabilitated" flag
Proposed "rehabilitted" flag of Badajoz - Image from the ACCB, 14 March 2020
Asociación Cívica “Ciudad de Badajoz” (ACCB) and the aforementioned Asociación Amigos de Badajoz required the support of the Sociedad Española de Vexilología (SEV) to re-establish the flag of Badajoz. The SEV proposed a flag described as "Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. Crimson, charged in the center with the coat of arms." It was recommended to fix the width of the coat of arms to the half of the flag's width. The SEV further recommended to "rehabilitate" a "fully heraldic" coat of arms, to be foubnd in the municipal archives.
[ACCB, 4 November 2013]
Asociación Amigos de Badajoz asked in 2018 the municipality to officially adopt the proposed flag. Mayor Francisco Javier Fragoso postponed the adoption, arguing that the flag would be adopted "when it will no stir up controversy and trigger opposed positions.
There is, indeed, no consensus on the color of the flag: the Municipal Council proposes white and black, as the colors of the province, of the town and of its patron saint instead of crimson proposed by the local associations.
[El Periódico Extremadura, 8 January 2018]
Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020
Pedro Cordero's proposal
Proposed flag of Badajoz - Image by Pedro Cordero, 14 March 2020
The heraldist Pedro Cordero proposed another flag for Badajoz, blue with the main charge from the coat of arms placed along the hoist. Cordero is credited the correction of the coat of arms of Badajoz, which once featured two lion rampants.
Cordero's proposal is based on the coat of arms, the flag's blue field recalling the arms' field azure. The emblem is skewed to the hoist since the honor place is not in the flag's center but near the hoist, as featured on the flags of Spain and Extremadura.
According to Cordero, the "historical flag" of Badajoz was not "a flag proper to the town" but the flag of the Kingdom of León.
[Hoy, 28 July 2013]
Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020
The current arms of Badajoz, based on an extensive study by Pedro Cordero and designed by Abelardo Muñoz Sánchez, are "Azure a column argent on a base vert wrapped by a scroll argent inscribed 'PLUS ULTRA' in letters sable sinister a lion gules armed and langued gules crowned or. The shield surmounted by a spanush Royal crown".
The coat of arms of Badajoz is based on old municipal seals. The seal once used by the Council of Badajoz is shown on a manuscript kept by the National Library in Madrid, unfortunately missing the first chapter, and, therefore, the author's name; the author is most probably the chronicler Diego Suárez de Figueroa, since most subsequent chapters of the manuscript are found in his famous Historia de la ciudad de Badajoz (Seville, 1732). The seal is described as follows:
"The first and oldest known seal features a crowned lion on a field argent, and, on the reverse, a fortified town over waves; such a seal was appended to a donation made to the cathedral of the town of Campo Mayor on 28 May 1255." Rodrigo Dosma (Discursos patrios de la real ciudad de Badajoz) reports the same document and the same seal.
Juan de Solano de Figueroa y Altamirano, theologian and canon at the Badajoz cathedral, describes the seal of the Council in a document dated 1664 and kept in the cathedral's archives:
"The arms of the town are better preserved than other; on one side they feature a crowned lion, non rampant, and on the reverse a fortified town over waves, which represent river Guadiana, and tower higher than the other."
Faustino Menéédez Pidal de Navascués believes that the column featured on the town's coat of arms was originally a bell clapper, in Spanish badajo, which makes the arms canting, and was featured on one side of the earlier seal. The lion fatured on the other side of the seal represents Alfono IX, King of Leén, who reconquerred the town from the Moors in 1228. It is possible that the "tower higher than the other" described by Juan de Solano de Figueroa is a late representation of the badajo surmounting the town.
All reliable scholars confirm that the arms of Badajoz, "featuring a lion and column", were granted by Charles V. Nicolás Días Pérez (Extremadura, 1887) claims that the town already used arms in 647, several centuries before the emergence of heraldry, though!
The arms of Badajoz were probably designed by Pedro Gratia Dei, who was King of Arms of the Catholic Monarchs, of Joanna of Castile, and of Charles V. A long time resident in Extremadura, Gratia Dei published in 1489 in Coria Blasón general y nobleza del universo; he is credited by several authors the design of the arms of Plasencia and Jerez de los Caballeros.
The oldest representation of the arms of Badajoz is a stone shield, dated 1541, transfered in 1938 from the gate of an abandoned house to La Galera gate, and in 1989 to the Provincial Archeology Museum. The shield featuring a lion is surrounded by two columns each supported by an angel's head and wrapped by scrolls. The design is similar to that of the old arms of Mérida, which were modified in 1633 by the local scholar Bernabé Moreno de Vargas.
A marble coat of arms, kept in the Provincial Archeological Museum and orgionally part of the Palma bridge, inaugurated in 1596, features a column wrapped by a scroll inscribed "PLUS ULTRA" adextered by a crowned lion. This elaborated design was probably used as a prototype for subsequent representations of the arms found on different monuments in the town.
In the 19th century, the representation of the lion and column on a shield featured on the lateral facade of the new Town Hall was mirrored: on a shield featured on the main facade of the Provincial Council the lion is placed on the sinister instead of dexter flank of the column, and looks dexterwise instead of sinisterwise, which is heraldically correct.
The aforementioned manuscript credited to Diego Suárez de Figueroa includes the drawing of "enoblished" arms of the town, a fantasy recognized by the author and common in scholars of the time. The coat of arms feature two columns, each wrapped by a scroll inscribed "NON PLVS" dexter and "VLTRA" sinister and two lions near each column. The shield is surmounted by a Spanish Royal crown. The whole design is in roccoco style; accordingly, the charges are represented in a realistic manner, the lions without crowns and the field covered in chief with clouds to represent the sky. The written description supplied by the author matches the drawing. The field is azure, the columns and the scroll argent, and the letters sable. To back up his "enoblishment" of the arms, Suárez de Figueroa argues that they were granted by Charles V to Badajoz, as the birth place of the captains who conquered Peru and Florida, and discovered the south seas. This is pure invention, since none of those captains - Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto and Vasco Núñez de Balboa - were born in Badajoz; the author could not refer either to the Province of Badajoz, which did not exist at the time.
Diego Suárez de Figueroa subsequently describes, in a very reliable manner, the arms used by Badajoz at the time, as "The arms used now by the town are: a red lion on a field argent leaning to a jasper column, with a golden rown and a motto saying 'PLUS ULTRA''. The same description is given by Antonio del Sola. Aware of the heraldic norms, Suárez de Figueroa represents the lion with the head turned dexterwise.
The Ordinances granted to the town on 28 January 1767 by Charles III presents, for the first documented time, arms complanat with the norms of heraldry, that is, with the lion placed sinister regarding the column and looking dexterwise. This depiction probably served as the prototype for further representations of the arms of Badajoz.
In the 19th century, Badajoz changed its arms from the historical design - with a single lion - to the arms "augmented" with a second lion by Diego Suárez de Figueroa. In 1779, Friar Mateo Reyes Ortiz de Tovar (Partidos triunfantes de la Beturia Túrdula, que se conserva en el monasterio de Guadalupe) still reported the single-lion arms. Pascual Madoz' Diccionario geográfico estadístico (Vol. 3, 1850), however, reports the two-lions version of the arms. In 1910, Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada reported the single-lion version of the arms for the Province of Badajoz and the two-lions version for the town of Badajoz. This completely flawed report - the province did not have arms - was spread by subsequent authors, however. The two-lions arms of Badajoz appear in the entrance hall of the Town Hall of Badajoz (late 19th century) and on the tympsan of the facade of the old Institute of Intermediary Level
Francisco Piferrer's Nobiliario de los reinos y señorios de España (1855) shows two designs for the arms of Badajoz, either with one or two lions. Badajoz is the only provoincial capital with dual arms.
The monument dedicated to Luis de Morales "The Divine" (1925) features a two-lion coat of arms.
In 1963, the National Mint issued a series of stamps featuring flawed representations of the coat of arms of the provincial capitals; the flawed designs were highlighted by Vicente de Cadenas y Vicent. The Royal Academy released a report on the arm of Badajoz, which was rejected by the municipality of Badajoz, "in spite of the recognition of the historical relevance of the Academy's report". The main reason put forward by the municipality is the widespread publication of the flawed arms, which were, therefore, accepted by the citizens.
[P. Cordero Alvarado. 2005-2006. Evolución histórica del escudo de armas de la ciudad de Badajoz>. Anales de la Real Academia Matritense de Heráldica y Genealogía, 9, 183-228; El Blog de Chano, 10 June 2018]
Ivan Sache, 14 March 2020