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Torralba (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-02-22 by ivan sache
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Presentation of Torralba

The municipality of Torralba (114 inhabitants in 2018; 5,549 ha) is located 40 km north of Cuenca.

Torralba is located on the old Albalate road, traditionally considered as the continuation of the Roman road that bordered the Cuenca mountains and connected the local towns of Valeria and Ercávica with Levante and with the big towns of Complutum (Alcalá de Henares) and Segontia (Sigüenza). According to Santiago Palomero, the region was also crossed by a dense network of secondary roads that connected the local urban nuclei, such as Opta (Huete), to the flourishing mines of lapis specularis (transparent, crystallized gypsum once used to make windows).
In the Middle Ages, the road was renamed to Wool Road, a transhumance road that connected southern Spain to Burgos and Medina del Campo, then the place of a famous fair. Located half-way on the road, the region of Torralba became a main center of sheep breeding and cloth making.

The castle of Torralba was erected on a hill overlooking the village and watching the fertile plain of river Albalate. The toponym Torralba refers to a white (Latin, alba) tower erected during the re-settlement of the area by Alfonso VII. Torralba is listed on the Huete Charter, issued in 1172; whether Torralba was reconquered that year, together with Huete, or at an earlier date and incorporated to the possessions of the Order of Saint James or the Council of Guadalajara, is not known.
On 29 June 1311, Fernando IV ordered the transfer of Torralba to the Council of Cuenca, as the capital of a sexmo (administrative division), subsequently transformed into a feudal domain. In 1370, Henry II confirmed the privilege granted by Alfonso XI to García de Albornoz, brother of the famous Cardinal Gil de Albornoz; Torralba was granted the status of villa.
After the death of María de Albornoz, 7th lord of Torralba, in 1470, the domain was inherited by the Carrillo de Albornoz lineage. Pedro Carrillo de Albornoz plead allegiance to the Catholic Monarchs in 1475 and supported them in the Granada and Málaga Wars; he was named Captain of the troops of the 2nd Duke of the Infantado in 1482 and General in 1490.
Bernardino de Cárdenas was killed during the battle of Lepanto in 1571, leaving a debt of 50,000 ducats. He was succeeded by Luisa de Cárdenas Carrillo de Albornoz; when she died in 1621, the Albornoz lineage was ruined. So was Torralba, whose Council sued her heirs to get the 200,000 ducats required to revamp the town, 20,000 ducats included for the restoration of the castle. The castle was reported "very old" but "demolished, leaving only two thick walls and a machicolated gate house" in 1828.

The "two walls" belonged to the keep of the castle, which is still standing on the north-western end of the hilltop. More than 200 caves were dug near the castle, connected by a networks of underground galleries. The caves were dug after the ruination of the castle in the 17th century and used as cellars by the local winegrowers. In the aftermath of the phylloxera crisis at the end of the 19th century, most caves were abandoned and ruined
[R. Martínez-Porral, M. Molina Garel. 2011.Las bodegas subterráneas en el Castillo-Fortaleza de Torralba (Cuenca). Documentación arqueológica previo al proceso de consolidación. Oleana 26,89-106]

Torralba was the birth place of Henry of Aragón, Marquess of Villena (1384-1434). Aware of his limited political and military skills, Henry turned into a prolific scholar. He translated Virgil's Aeneid and Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy in Spanish, and wrote several treaties, including El Arte Cisoria, a gastronomy treaty completed on 5 September 1423 in Torralba.
Nicknamed The Astrologist or The Necromancer, although the authenticity of his famous Treaty of Astrology has been questioned by modern scholars, Henry was considered as threatening the dogma of the church; after his death, his library was "weeded" by Bishop Lope de Barrientos, probably upon request of King John II. The precursor of humanism became a matter of legends propagated by subsequent writers; the tradition says that he had been initiated to necromancy by the devil in the Cave of Salamanca.
[Biografías y Vidas]

Ivan Sache, 4 July 2019

Symbols of Torralba

The flag of Torralba is prescribed by an Order issued on 13 December 1995 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 29 December 1995 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 64, p. 6,965 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3, composed of three vertical stripes in proportions 1/2, 1/4, and 1/4, at hoist, red with a white castle, the central, white, and at hoist, green.

The coat of arms of Torralba is prescribed by an Order issued on 13 December 1995 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 29 December 1995 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 64, p. 6,965 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Gules a tower argent, 2. Or an elm proper. The shield surmounted by a Spanish Royal crown.

The arms recall the aforementioned fortress of Torralba and the old elm that was for long a matter of pride for the village.

Elms were planted in several villages of Castile, especially after the proclamation of the Constitution in 1808. They often replaced pillories, whose suppression was ordered in 1818 by the Cortes de Cádiz, as symbols of the abolished feudal system. In several places, the pillory's column was demolished but the stone steps were kept as a support for the newly planted elm.
The centenary elm of Torralba was indeed planted on the steps that formerly supported the pillory, but much earlier than in other villages. A written document kept by a late villager states that the tree was planted on 5 February 1787 by Jerónimo Roldán. It has been used since them as a meeting place for the Municipal Council, therefore its nickname of Council's elm.
Like most European elms, the Torralba elm was attacked in the late 20th century by graphiosis, a lethal disease caused by a parasitic fungus. The emblematic tree eventually died in 2009. The dead tree, at risk to fall down, was removed in 2016.
On 26 February 2017, the municipality planted a new elm, using a recently bred resistant clone, on the restored steps. The dead elm will be installed, as a wooden sculpture, close to the St. Anthony's chapel.
[Municipal website; Voces de Cuenca, 16 December 2016; ABC, 16 December 2016; SER Catsilla-La Mancha, 30 January 2017; Castilla-La Mancha Media, 21 December 2016]

Ivan Sache, 4 July 2019