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Alcázar de San Juan (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-09-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: alcázar de san juan |
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Flag of Alcázar de San Juan - Image by "Erlenmeyer", Wikimedia Commons, 7 May 2019

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Presentation of Alcázar de San Juan

The municipality of Alcázar de San Juan (30,686 inhabitants in 2018, therefore the 4th most populous municipality in the province; 66,678 ha, therefore the second biggest municipality in the province by its area; municipal webiste) is located on the border with the Province of Toledo, 100 km north-east of Ciudad Real and 100 km south-east of Toledo. The municipality is made of the town of Alcázar de San Juan and of the villages of Cinco Casas (612 inh.) and Alameda de Cervera (255 inh.).

Alcázar de San Juan was identified by some historians as the Celtiberian town of Alces, conquered by Praetor Sempronius Gracchus, and featured on the Antonine Itinerary as Murum. Roman mosaics found in the town are of disputed dating: Valero Aparisi, their first discoverer, dated them for the late 2nd-early 3rd century, while Carmen García Bueno dated them to the 4th century, based on a stylistic study and on coins found nearby.

After the Arab invasion, La Mancha became a no man's land between the Christian and Muslim states. The Arab built there a significant fortified complex named Al-kasar, meaning "an alcá:zar" / "a fortified palace".
After the Christian reconquest, Sancho IV incorporated Alcázar to the Commandery of Consuegra, ran by the Order of Saint John, whose Grand Commander had already started to rebuild the town. Sancho's grant, the oldest document kept in the Municipal Archives, granted to the town a coat of arms and a big territory.
Charles I, to solve conflicts between the Grandees of Spain for the lucrative title of Grand Prior of the Order, split the domain of the Order into the Priorate of Castile, granted to Diego de Toledo and headquartered in Consuegra, and the Priorate of León, granted to Antonio de Zúñiga and headquartered in Alcázar. The prior, however, resided at the Court and not in Alcázar, where he was represented by a Governor. The 16th century was Alcázar Gilded Age, in the aftermath of the decline of Consuegra and after the establishment of the biggest gun powder manufacture in Spain.

In 1530, the town counted nearly 15,000 inhabitants, including noted members of the Court, artists and scholars, such as the Court's calligrapher Pedro Díaz Morante (1565-1636), author of Arte Nuevo de Escribir (New Art of Writing, 1624); the prolific poet José de Valdivielso (1565-1638); the painters Miquel Barroso (1538-1590) and Juan Sánchez Cotán (1560-1627); the Dominican friar Juan Cobo (1547-1593), the first translator of a Chinese book in an European language; and the Jesuit father Diego de Torres Rubio (1547-1638), author of reference treaties on the Aymara and Quechua languages.
The St. Francis of Assisi convent, erected by Diego de Toledo, Prior of the Order of Saint John and Duke of Alba, was consecrated on 2 March 1532; the convent housed the University of Alcázar, composed of the Chairs of Medicine, Theology, Sacred History, and Philosophy; the Chairs of Grammar and Art were added in 1619. The new parish church, inaugurated in 1603, was designed by Juan de Herrera (1530-1597), the builder of the Escorial palace.
Prince Juan José of Austria (1629-1679), the illegitimate son of Philip IV and of the actress María "La Calderona" (1605-1678), was "exiled" from 1665 to 1670 in the palace of the Order of Saint John, for political reasons.

Alcázar de San Juan is self-styled Cervantes' cradle. Miguel Cervantes (1547-1616), a good friend of Díaz Morante and Valdivielso, is "officially" believed to have been born in Alcála de Henares. This hypothesis, pushed by the powerful University of Alcála de Henares and the Community of Madrid, is fiercely disputed in Alcázar de San Juan.
Deemed by humorists "more worrisome than the Catalan turmoil", the case was recently re-opened by Antonio Mendoza Mendoza. The historian found in the register of baptisms of the Santa María la Mayor parish what he believes to be Cervantes' genuine baptism certificate, dated 9 November 1558, mentioning Miguel, "the son of Blas Cervantes Sabedra and Catalina Lopez".
[La Razón, 22 January 2018]

Ivan Sache, 7 May 2019

Symbols of Alcázar de San Juan

The flag (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) of Alcázar de San Juan is prescribed by an Order issued on 9 October 1992 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 16 October 1992 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 79, pp. 4,490-4,491 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in the proportions of the Spanish flag (2:3), that is, one and a half time longer than wide. On a red background is placed a white cross, whose arms are in width 1/8 of the flag's width and match the flag's vertical and horizontal axes. Centered on the hoist's upper canton, a castle or masoned sable and port and windows gules.

The coat of arms of Alcázar de San Juan is prescribed by an Order issued on 9 October 1992 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 16 October 1992 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 79, p. 4,490 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Azure a castle or masoned sable port and windows gules on a base or a knight on a horse holding dexter a lance and sinister a standard of the Order of Saint John. The shield superimposed to a Cross of Saint John or Maltese cross argent.

The coat of arms is a "rehabilitation" of the coat of arms of "immemorial use", which reportedly had the field argent.

Ivan Sache, 7 May 2019