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Méntrida (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-04-03 by ivan sache
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Flag of Méntrida - Image by Ivan Sache, 10 September 2019

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Presentation of Méntrida

The municipality of Méntrida (4,976 inhabitants in 2014, 5,720 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with the Community of Madrid, 60 km north of Toledo.

Méntrida was all along its old history connected with the castle of Alamín, disappeared long ago. Méntrida was incorporated to the Crown of Castile in 1085, following the reconquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI. The town was transferred in 1180 to the Archbishop of Toledo by Alfonso VIII. The feudal domain was established in 1436 for Álvaro de Luna and his wife, Juana Pimentel. In 1461, Juana Pimentel established the domain of Luna for her daughter María de Luna, the wife of Iñigo López de Mendoza, the 2nd Duke of the Infantado.
Mérinda was granted the status of villa in 1485. The town would be ruled by the Dukes of the Infantado until the suppression of the feudal system.

The tradition claims that the miraculous statue of the Virgin of the Nativity was discovered on Mt. Berciano by a goat-keeper named Pablo Tardío. The discovery was guided by the Virgin herself to the stump where the statue had been hidden during the Moorish times. The oldest written record is a legal record established in 1653 under the direction of the parish priest Celedonio Mazaterón y Velasco. Friar Luis de Solís published Historia del prodigioso Aparecimiento de la milagrosa y soberana imagen de Nuestra Señora de la Natividad venerada extra-muros de la Villa de Méntrida, dating the event to 25 April 1270. Solís claims that Pablo Tardío sold his goats and erected a hut on the place of the apprition, where he died on 8 September 1293, aged 96; he was buried near the altar dedicated to the appeared Virgin.
In the 1653 record, the villagers explained that the priests failed to relocate the miraculous statue in the village church. After the statue had left and come back to the place of apparition, it was decided to erect a chapel there and to organize a yearly pilgrimage. From the villager's evidence, it can be guessed that the first pilgrimage was organized in the middle of the 16th century. Solís gives year 1590, which is probably a misinterpretation of the 1653 record. On 22 May 1631, the town of Méntrida purchased Mt. Berciano from the Marquess of Montes Claros for 20,000 ducats; the sale was confirmed by King Philip IV on 15 February 1632. The organization of the pilgrimage, transferred to the Bortherhood of the Virgin, has not changed much over the next five centuries, with some simplification. The standard-bearer presents the pilgrimage's banner to the statue of the Virgin in different places of the itinerary (photos).
A painting dated 1699 shows the dancers dressed as usual; accordingly, the fanciful costumes and equipement of the dancers must be a recent innovation.
[Antonio Jiménez-Landi Martínez. Nuestra Señora de la Natividad y su culto en la Villa de Méntrida. 1960]

Ivan Sache, 10 September 2019

Symbols of Méntrida

The flag of Méntrida (video, photo, photo), adopted on 28 June 2012 by the Municipal Council, is prescribed by a Decree issued on 29 January 2014 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 27 February 2014 in the official gazerre of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 40, p. 5,719 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel. Green, in the center the coat of arms of the town with its supporters.

José Sánchez, then Mayor (PP) of Méntrida, summarized the flag as "a tribute to Our Lady of the Nativity". The green color represents the pasture where the Virgin appeared to a farmer. The flag also recalls the flag presentation performed during the pilgrimage organized every year on 25 April to commemorate the apparition.
The flag originally proposed by the Municipal Council was slightly different, including "the colors of the Mendoza lineage crossing the flag, as a red stripe and a yellow stripe".
An earlier proposal, reflecting the connection of the municipality with Álvaro de Luna, was rejected as "too complex".
[La Tribuna de Talavera, 28 February 2014; La Gazeta de Toledo, 16 May 2011]

The coat of arms of Méntrida is "Azure a cross or cantonned 1. and 4. by a holly oak or leaved vert fructed argent and 2. and 3. by an axe per fess surrounded in canton and base by a bull passant all or. Inescutcheon argent a stump of holly oak proper ensigned by a Marian monogram azure" [Coronet and supporters not mentioned].

The four quarters stand for the four pastures (dehesas) on which the town of Méntrida had civil and criminal jurisdiction. The oaks, trees and bulls recall the rights of cattle grazing, fruit collection and firewod collection granted to the villagers of Méntrida in these pastures. The inescutcheon recalls the apparition of the Blessed Virgin to Pablo Tardío in Berciana.
The shield is surmounted by a Royal crown open, symbolizing the reconquest of the territory from the Moors by Alfonso VI.
The shield is supported by two dancers of the pilgrimage to the Virgin.

The process of adoption of the arms was initiated on 7 June 1952 by the Municipal Council. Three proposals, drafted by the local historian Antonio Jiménez-Landi Martínez, were submitted to the Royal Academy of History. The selected design was approved on 3 January 1953 by the Spanish Government. Ventura Leblic García and José Luis Ruz Márquez ("Heráldica Municipal de Toledo, 1981) criticized the arms of Méntrida, "which do not incorporate either a moon [for Luna] or the arms of the Mendoza". Jiménez-Landi pointed out that a moon was featured in two of the three proposals submitted to the Royal Academy of History, which turned them down.
[Unofficial website]

Ivan Sache, 10 September 2019