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Morón de la Frontera (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-04-25 by ivan sache
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Flag of Morón de la Frontera - Image from the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 6 June 2014

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Presentation of Morón de la Frontera

The municipality of Morón de la Frontera (28,334 inhabitants in 2013; 43,194 ha; municipal website) is located 70 km south-west of Seville, on the border with the Province of Cádiz. The municipality is made of the town of Morón de la Frontera (27,286 inh.) and of the villages of El Algarabejo (2 inh.), Caleras de la Sierra (101 inh.), Caleras del Prado (27 inh.), Guadaíra (119 inh.), La Mata Alcozarina (53 inh.), Las Ramiras (255 inh.), La Romera (32 inh.), La Lagartija (12 inh.), La Mela (3 inh.), Purificia (7 inh.) and Pago Redondo (13 inh.).

Morón de la Frontera was probably established by the Phoenicians, who were succeeded by the Romans and the Visigoths. Strabo listed the town as Almourol; it was then documented as Maurorum and Mauror, which could indicate a Moorish origin. During the Muslim rule, the town grew out of the original, fortified citadel. Mauror was from 1018 to 1066 the capital of one of the kingdoms (taifa) that emerged after the fall of the Caliphate. Reconquerred in 1240 by King Ferdinand III the Saint, Morón was for the next two centuries a border (frontera) town. In 1253, Alfonso X the Wise granted the town to the Council of Seville, which was commissioned to man the castle. Reincorporated to the Royal domain, Morón was transferred in 1285 by Sancho IV to the Order of Alcántara. Henry II reincorporated the town to the Royal domain in 1378, offering it to his son Henry, born from his marriage with Beatriz Ponce de León. Henry died without heirs, so that the town was granted again to the Order of Alcántara by John I. In 1461, the Order swapped Morón, the castle of Cote and Arahal for other domains with the Téllez Girón lineage, Counts of Ureña and, subsequently, Dukes of Osuna, who would rule Morón until the end of the feudal system.
Morón de la Frontera was granted the title of ciudad in 1894.

Two statues, erected in the town at the beginning of the 20th century and in 1999, respectively, represent the Morón rooster, popularized by a local legend dating back to the 16th century. The first version of the legend says that the rooster was indeed a tax collector sent from Granada. A badly educated braggart, the collector was given a good hiding and expelled by the inhabitants of the town. The event was popularized by the dictum "Looking like the Morón rooster, featherless and cackling for any opportunity". The second version of the legend impersonates a judge sent to the town to settle peace between rival parties.

The Morón lime has been used since the Roman times to whitewash the houses of the "white villages" of the Province of Seville. Mixed with sand and water, it formed the mortar known as argamasa. Lime was produced in Roman kilns fed with branches of olive tree and brambles. Lime production was industrialized in the 19th century, so that two villages were totally dedicated to it, Las Caleras del Prado (lit., the lime factories of the plain) and Las Caleras de la Sierra (lit., the lime factories of the mountain). Today, lime produced in Morón according to the traditional method is mostly used for whitewashing, while lime produced industrially is used by chemical industries, mines and foundries.
The "Revitalization of the traditional craftsmanship of lime-making in Morón de la Frontera, Seville, Andalusia" was listed in 2011 on the UNESCO Register of Best Safeguarding Practices, with the following description:

The traditional practice of lime-making was a source of employment for Morón de la Frontera and a marker of its identity. When production was eclipsed by industrial lime, kilns fell into disuse and transmission of knowledge ceased. The project’s primary goals are to raise awareness of the practice and importance of lime-making and to improve living conditions for craftspeople. To this end, the Cultural Association of the Lime Kilns of Morón was established, and gave birth to an ethnographic centre and a living museum that displays the craft process in situ. Kilns have been restored and the project actively promotes transmission of techniques to new generations. Outreach activities in cooperation with lime craftspeople focus on recovering expertise and techniques for use in sustainable construction. The project has also produced audiovisual and print publications, presented displays at trade shows and is organizing the Iberian Lime Congress in 2012. The Association has been involved in a national project to raise awareness of fresco painting, as well as an international project ‘Transfer to Morocco (North Africa) of the Crafts Promotion Centres model’. The project has involved stakeholders and inhabitants of Morón de la Frontera in its decision making.

Ivan Sache, 6 June 2014

Symbols of Morón de la Frontera

The flag of Morón de la Frontera (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) is blue with the municipal coat of arms in the middle.

The coat of arms of Morón de la Frontera is "Or a white horse untamed harnessed with the reins broken and free. The shield placed on a cartouche or and surmounted by Henry II's coronet."
The coat of arms in today's use was designed in the 1970s by the painter Joaquín Pascual Alemán. It is a symbol of the untamed behaviour of the people during that years of political transition. The horse is inspired by the German horses painted by Velázquez.
[Municipal website]

At the end of the 18th century, the parish priest Zoilo de Vargas described the arms of Morón de la Frontera as "an angry horse". In December 1810, "Heráldico" claimed in El Cronista de Morón that the stone coat of arms applied to the facade of the Town House had not be n correctly interpreted; oval, the marble shield represents a "big horse about to rise in the air". Piferrer described the arms as "Gules a white horse passant with saddle and bit", which is not compliant with the norm of heraldry prohibiting colour on colour.


Rejected proposal of flag of Morón de la Frontera - Image after the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 6 June 2014

Juan José Antequera Luengo proposed on 16 September 1994, upon request of the municipality, a coat of arms described as "Gules a horse saltant gules with reins saddle and bit sable." The proposed companion flag was a banner of the municipal arms, in proportions 11:18, red with the horse in the center.

The origin of the horse featured on the arms has been for long a matter of speculation, based on oral tradition and nice legends.
Piferrer (Nobilario de los reinos y señorios de España, 1856) quotes an unpublished history of Morón written by Juan José Janer y Diego de Zafra y Ramos (eventually published in 1858 as Historia de la villa de Morón de la Frontera), which claims that the horse recalls the exploit performed by Melén Rodriguez Gallinato, the purported conqueror of Morón; a angry horse jumped over the ditch, entered the castle and caused panic among the defenders, allowing an easy conquest by the Christians. The tradition says that Gallinato was sent by King Ferdinand III, who had been called for help by Alonso Morón Figueredo after 250 days of Muslim occupation.
A curious explanation of the arms was reported by Juan Jose Garcia López, after Ignacio de Torres y León (Los Blasones del rey Pielo II y del príncipe Adameto). In 1180, Alonso de Figueredo Gallinato, a Mozarab knight from Morón, went to the Holy Land during the Crusade. with the army commanded by Rodrick Philip of Neustria, Count of Flanders. The crusaders and the army of Pylas II, King of Epirus, fought on Mount Sinai, where the St. Catherine monastery would be subsequently erected. The saint supported the Christians, as a woman riding a wonderful chestnut horse. Gallinato captured Prince Adameto and presented him to the Count, who asked the woman to fix the ransom of the prince. She answered that granting the shield of Adameto to the Mozarab knight would satisfy her, provided the shield is charged with an untamed, white horse on a vermillion field. The knight accepted the grant and promised the woman that he would defend the shield with his sword and grant it to his town, Murur, as soon it is liberated from the Moorish occupation. Yet another odd explanation claims that the title of "horse without reins" was granted to Morón de la Frontera, as a symbol of its strategic location on the border.

Gonzalo Correas reported in the 17th century an oral tradition connected with the dictum "This is Cote here, Coronilla, and not the tower of Membrilla". During a horse raid, Sancho Garcia Lobato, commander of the castle of Cote, seized by the collar the Moor Cornilla, commander of the castle of Membrilla, and unhorsed him, leaving the saddled horse running without reins. He brought back the Moor to his castle and pushed him off the top of the tower while saying the famous dictum. The humanist Rodrigo Caro recorded a slightly different story: invited to the Christian castle, the Moor was captured by treachery and jailed into a dungeon for the rest of his life. Antonio Moya, quoting the Cronica General de España, claims that Ferdinand III captured a Moor riding to the sea to call Al-Andalus for help, and offered his horse, as a trophy, to the reconquered town, "as shown on the coat of arms of the town".
The local historian Antonio Bohorques Villalón (Anales de Morón. Historia de su fundación y armas de sus famosos moradores, 1638) claims that the arms are canting since that "morón" means "a horse" in old Castilian. The author refers to the rhyme Para vos tengo una mula / Para mi tengo un morón (I have a mule for you / I have a morón for me) and to Lope de Vega, in La Locura por honra: En la pasa de un vado / Se la ahogo un morón (When crossing a ford / A morón drowned), and further referring to the rhyme as connected to the place of Morón, meaning "a horse". The author further explains that the broken reins are a symbol of the privileges granted by the kings; similarly, the horse is representing running, meaning that it can go freely wherever he wants.

A horse is featured on the crest of the arms of the Dukes of Osuna, as represented by Piferrer (image). Garcia López explains that the heraldists could not agree whether the Morón horse was added onto the arms of the dukes, who were lords of Morón, or was borrowed by the town of Morón from the arms of its lords. Rivera Ávalos (Memorial Morónense, 1967), based on a discussion between Gudiel, chronicler of the Girón lineage, and Gutiérrez Bravo, chronicler of Morón, is "quite sure" that the Counts of Ureña, owners of the castle of Morón, added to their arms the Morón white horse. However, the horse could refer to the Pimentel lineage, in connection with the legend of Mariano Téllez Girón. Garcia López believes that Morón could not have borrowed the horse from the arms of the Dukes of Osuna, for chronological considerations. The seizure of the castle, using the angry horse, is dated 1240, more than one century before the Dukes of Osuna were made lords of Morón.
[Juan José Antequera Luengo. Heráldica oficial de la provincia de Sevilla]

Juan José García López is the official Chronicler of Morón de la Frontera. He adds that the town indeed surrendered to the Christians after negotiation and without fighting. The most probable explanation of the "angry horse" event is indeed a duel fought by the two Christian and Muslim rulers to prevent a bloodbath. For whatever reason, Melendón Rodríguez cut the reins of his horse, who ran to the gate.
[ABC, 25 July 2015]

The substantive "morón", derived from Latin mauronem, was used in medieval Castilian to designate a horse already documented in Isidore of Seville's "Etymologies" (XII, 1, 55). The "morón" was a Moorish of Berber horse, particularly suitable for battles and hunting.
[Joaquín Pascual Barea. El origen de Morón y de su caballo según le historiador del siglo XVII Antonio Bohorques Villalón]

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 6 June 2014