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Arjonilla (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-09-16 by ivan sache
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Flag of Arjonilla - Image from the Símbolos de Jaén website, 30 November 2015

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Presentation of Arjonilla

The municipality of Arjonilla (3,793 inhabitants in 2013; 4,240 ha; municipal website) is located in the west of the Jaén Province, 50 km north-west of Jaén.

Arjonilla belonged in the 10th century, together with Aryuna (Arjona), to one of the 17 districts forming the Cora de Yayyan (Jaén). In the early 14th century, the Order of Calatrava managed most of the western plain of the Upper Guadalquivir; the administrative center was Martos and among the fortresses was the castle of Arjonilla, of which the donjon and walls have been preserved until now. Still ran by the Order of Calatrava, Arjonilla seceded from Arjona in 1553. The town was completely revamped in the second half of the 17th century.

Ivan Sache, 30 November 2009

Symbols of Arjonilla

The flag (photo) and arms of Arjonilla, adopted on 11 May 1999 by the Municipal Council and validated on 18 January 2001 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 157, adopted on 26 June 2001 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 19 July 2001 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 82, p. 12,314 (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 "rehabilitated" symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, three units in length on two units in height, quartered into four chromatic triangular areas by the two diagonals, the upper and lower areas, white, the two lateral areas, black. In the middle of the flag is placed the town's coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Vert a fortified castle port sable [vert on the images] and masoned of the same in base a chain or per fess. Shield in Spanish shape, surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed.

The castle recalls the fortress erected in the 14th century by the Order of Calatrava. The chain might refer to the famous Macías, jailed in the castle following a romance with a married lady, or to a symbol of defense.
[Símbolos de las Entidades Locales de Andalucía. Jaén (PDF file)]

The process of adoption of the symbols was detailed by Ildefonso Rueda Jándula in the program of the San Roque Festival (text, undated).
The flag originally adopted on 14 July 1998 was quartered per saltire, recalling that the St. Andrew's cross is a common element in the arms of the old lineages of Arjonilla. The upper quarters were white and the lower black, the colours of the banner of the militia of Arjonilla in the service of the king in the 16th and 17th century. These are the traditional colours of the coat of St. Bernard and St. Benedict, respectively, the patron saints of the Order of Calatrava. The flag was charged with a red Cross of Calatrava, as stated in a document dated 1596.
The Royal Academy of History of Córdoba, in its report dated 11 January 1999, pointed out that the proposed design could be confused with other municipal flags; the Academy recommended to add the municipal coat of arms to the flag.
The suggestions of the Academy were validated on 11 May 1999 by the Municipal Council. The coat of arms was amended in compliance with the modern norms, changing the shield shape from oval to oblong, rounded-off in base, and the background tincture from gules to vert to prevent confusion with the arms of Castile.
The Academy validated the amended coat of arms on 12 January 2001, provided the tincture of the chain is changed from sable to or or argent, and the amended flag, provided the coat of arms is modified as suggested. The Municipal Council unanimously decided on 30 March 2001 that the tincture of the chain should be or, to match the tincture of the castle.
The proposed flag was deemed "striking and, however, simple". In the Academy's report, the academician Ignacio Garijo Pérez concluded that "considering the huge cultural heritage of Arjonilla, it would not be reasonable to drop such famous symbols of the past and replace them with brand new emblems lacking any connection with the rich local tradition."

The first coat of arms of Arjonilla, used until the 1980s, was very similar to the coat of arms of Arjona, "Quarterly, 1. A castle argent masoned and port and windows sable ensigned by a patriarchal cross of the same, 2. Gules a saltire or, 3. Vert two bends argent, 4. Purpure a bull passant sable". The arms of Arjonilla differed only in the fourth quarter, which features pallets.
Matías Varea wrote in the 1957 Festival Program the article Nuestro escudo de armas (Our coat of arms), arguing that the genuine coat of arms of Arjonilla was as sculpted on the frontispiece of the facade of the old Town Hall. Here the Royal arms are surrounded by two copies of the same shield, considered by Varea as the genuine coat of arms of the town. The shield features a fortified castle made of a tower surmounted by three crenelated turrets and flanked with gated walls; a chain is placed in base. The oval shield is surrounded by a bordure inscribed with "ARGONILLA" and supported by two soldiers each holding a club. This coat of arms was adopted by the Municipal Council, with a red background, a yellow castle and bordure and a black chain, and used until the formal "rehabilitation" of the arms in 2001.
[Cronica de Arjonilla, 21 March 2014]

The chain on the coat of arms recalls a story involving the famous Galician troubadour Macías "The Lover". The troubadour, while staying at the court of Enrique de Villena, had a love affair with María de Albornoz, the wife of the lord. He wrote every night poems dedicated to María, who secretly loved him. Enrique de Villena wanted to become Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava; since the position could be held only by a widower or a single man, he thought of getting rid of his wife. Since divorce would not be socially acceptable, Enrique commissioned Macías to murder his wife. The troubadour found every excuse not to murder his secrete lover, so that Enrique hired hitmen; he soon announced that the bloody body of his wife had been discovered in a neighbouring wood. Made aware of the romance, Enrique jailed Macías in the dungeon of the castle of Arjonilla. María, who had not been killed, was jailed in the adjacent cell, which allowed Macías to recite poems from his cell to alleviate María's suffering. The jealous lord eventually killed the troubadour, but was not appointed Grand Master and lost all his gods. The legend further says that María went back to her birth town, Cuenca, when she spent the rest of her life as a street beggar. Another legend says that she used to sleep at the gate of the church where Macías had been buried; the priest eventually allowed her to take shelter inside the church, soon to find her dead on Macías' tomb.
[IES Juan de Villar, 6 March 2015]

Ivan Sache, 30 November 2015