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Mambrillas de Lara (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2018-10-30 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Mambrillas de Lara

The municipality of Mambrillas de Lara (49 inhabitants in 2017, 3,403 ha) is located 50 km south-east of Burgos.
The municipality is composed of the villages of Mambrillas, Cubillejo de Lara (9 inh.) and Quintanilla de las Viñas (18 inh.).

Ivan Sache, 30 August 2018

Submunicipal entity of Quintanilla de las Viñas


Flag of Quintanilla de las Viñas - Image by Jorge Hurtado Manqueda, 30 October 2018

The flag and arms of Quitanilla de las Viñas, approved on 3 February 2018 by the Village Council and validated on 20 February 2018 by the Chronicler of Arms of Castilla y León, are prescribed by an Agreement adopted on 3 February 2018 by the Village Council, signed on 26 April 2018 by the Mayor and published on 11 May 2018 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 90, p. 18,816 (text).
The symbols, supported by a memoir submitted on 28 October 2017 by the Spanish Vexillological Society, are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular in proportions 2:3. Composed of two vertical stripes in relative proportions 1:2. The stripe at hoist is blue, charged in its upper part with the sun of the church of Santa María de las Viñas in yellow and in its lower part with the moon of the church of Santa María de las Viñas in white. The stripe at fly is yellow with a green grapevine with black fruits.
Coat of arms: Or a grapevine vert (green). A chief azure dexter the sun of the church of Santa María de las Viñas or sinister the moon of the church of Santa María de las Viñas argent. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown.
The symbols, designed by Jorge Hurtado Maqueda, Vice President of the Spanish Society of Vexillology, were officially presented on 3 August 2018.
The flag is a semi-heraldic banner of the arms, whose chief was orthogonally rotated and placed vertically along the hoist.
The grapevine recalls the village's name, viñas meaning "grapevines" in Spanish.
The sun and moon figures are the most enigmatic ornaments of the church of Santa María de las Viñas.
[Spanish Vexillological Society, 14 August 2018]

The church of Santa María de las Viñas, its specific architecture and enigmatic elements of decoration, especially the sun and moon medallions, have been a matter of debate among scholars for nearly one century.
The half-ruined, modest church was "discovered" in 1927 by José Luis Monteverde, from the Monuments' Commission of the Province of Burgos, and registered as a National Monument in 1929.The lack of historical documentation on the church yielded two hypotheses on the origin of the monument:
- the American medievalist Arthur Kingsley Porter (1883-1933), an early specialist of Romanesque architecture and sculpture, considered the church as a Mozarabic monument erected in the second quarter of the 10th century in the aftermath of the Muslim conquest of the area (Spanish Romanesque Sculpture, 1926); this hypothesis was widely spread by two noted specialists of Middle Ages in Spain, Father Justo Pérez de Urbel (1895-1975; Enciclopedia Espasa, 1933) and Helmut Schlunk (1906-1982; lectures at Princeton University, 1934-1935).
- the Spanish historian Ricardo de Orueta (1868-1939) proposed a much earlier origin for the church, which he considered as a Visigothic monument erected in the 7th century. Schlunk eventually rallied this theory, listing the church of Santa María de las Viñas among the most notable Visigothic monuments in Spain, together with the churches of San Juan de Baños and San Pedro de la Nave (Ars Hispanica, 1947).
The two conflicting theories were based on their author's general views and intuitions rather than on detailed analysis of the monument.

Ludovic Grondijs, Professor at the University of Utrecht, provided in 1952 (L. Grondijs. 1952. Une église manichéenne en Espagne. Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 96 (3) 490-497) a detailed study of the church, including black and white photos of its most striking elements, the sun and moon medallions included. Grondijs proposed an alternative theory on the origin of the church, which he interpreted as a Manichean sanctuary. While Orueto has interpreted the moon and sun symbols located close to the altar as reminiscent of regional superstition or a local cult that would have co-existed in the early Christian period, Grondijs presented them as Manichean symbols. He further listed several iconographical elements of eastern style, some of them strikingly similar to the ornamentation of the ruined cathedral erected in 650 in Zvartnots (Armenia) by Catholicos Narses III. Grondijs convincingly recalls that the Manichean heresy thrived in norther Spain in the 7th century, being outlawed by severals Councils of Toledo. Grondijs' explanation of the connection with Armenia is far-fetched, relying on a dubious genealogical link between the last Visigoth kings and Armenian nobles, whose ancestors would have exiled to Spain after the conquest of Armenia by the Byzantine Empire.

Élie Lambert (1888-1961), a French archeologist and medievist, provided a comprehensive analysis of the architecture, ornamentation and decoration of the church (É. Lambert. 1955. L'église visigothe de Quintanilla de Las Viñas. Comptes rendus des séances de l'Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, 99 (4) 483-493). He proposed to unify the two conflicting theories on the origin of the church, considering it as a Visigothic monument left unachieved because of the Muslim invasion in 711 and subsequently revamped in Mozarabic style in the 10th century.
The Mozarabic hypothesis was recently revived by the Spanish historian María Cruz Villalón (M. Cruz Villalón. 2002-2003. Quintanilla de las Viñas y el arte cordobés. Norba-Arte, 22-23, 341-349; M. Cruz Villalón. 2004. Quintanilla de las Viñas en el contexto del arte altomedieval. Una revisión de su escultura. Antigüedad y Cristianismo, 21, 101-135), based on the comparison with sculpted elements made in the Caliphate of Córdoba in the 9th-10th century.
A comprehensive description of the church, including scale maps, color photos and 3D reconstruction, was published by Luis Caballero Zoreda (L. Caballero Zoreda. 2015. Un conjunto constructivo altomedieval. Quintanilla de Las Viñas y las iglesias con cúpulas sobre pechinas de piedra toba de las provincias de Álava, La Rioja y Burgos. Arqueología de la Architectura, 12).

Ivan Sache, 30 October 2018