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Bretocino (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-01-17 by ivan sache
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Flag of Bretocino - Image by Ivan Sache, 11 January 2014

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Presentation of Bretocino

The municipality of Bretocino (aka Bretocino de Valverde; 253 inhabitants in 2012; 1,293 ha) is located in the northwest of the Zamora Province. The village is situated on the right bank of river Esla, close to its confluence with river Tera.

Bretocino was once known as Bretelo or Breto Menor, as opposed to Breto Mayor, today's Bretó. The two villages are located across river Esla, close to a ford used for ages by people and herds, subsequently replaced by a ferryboat. Bretó and Bretelo are mentioned on a charter granted in 1129 by Alfonso VII to Castrotorafe. In 1214, Alfonso IX granted Bretocino to the Cistercian monastery of Moreruelo, a grant which was confirmed by the subsequent Kings of León; between Bretó and Bretocino, the monks operated a series of grain mills powered by river Esla. They set up a farm (granja) mentioned for the first time in 1222.
In the Middle Ages, Bretocino belonged to the alfoz (group of villages) of Benavente, part of the Merindad de Riba de Tera. The village was incorporated to the County of Benavente, established in 1398. In the 15th century, the ferryboat used to cross Esla was a bone of contention between the Moreruelo monastery and the Benavente Council. Owner of the toll of the Castrogonzalo bridge, which often required expensive revamping, the Council did not enjoy competition by private boat owners. In 1434, the Count of Benavente granted the operation of the ferryboat to the monastery, forbidding the Council to operate its own boats on a big section of the river.

In the 20th century, sparse, bad roads made of river transportation the main means of access to Benavente from the neighbouring villages. The main ferryboat was operated between Bretó and Bretocino, providing access to the road heading to the Santovenia railway station. Another ferryboat served Milles and Arcos de la Polvorosa; known as "Barca del Tío Felipe" (Uncle Philip's Boat), the ferryboat was equipped with a cable. Yet another ferryboat was operated in La Ventosa to cross river Órbigo. The rectangular boats, locally known as chalupas or lanchas, could transport up to 15 people and up to 8 riders; smaller boats could transport only 5 people. The regime of exploitation of the boats significantly varied; for instance, the Tera boat was managed according to the iguala system; the users paid a yearly fee, in most case made of grain, to use the boat as often they needed it. In the middle of the 20th century, some 15 boats were operated by villagers, who also poached fish and sold it on the local markets, until caught by the Civil Guard, which confiscated the boats. Fishing subsequently declined as a secondary activity, fish being mostly used to feed animals.

Ivan Sache, 11 January 2014

Symbols of Bretocino

The Mayor of Bretocino commissioned in 2004 the local circle "Lede del Pozo" to draft proposals of a flag and arms for the village. José Ignacio Martín Benito and Rafael González Rodríguez submitted an historical memoir (Notas históricas para la propuesta de escudo y bandera de Bretocino (Zamora), Brigecio. Revista de Estudios de Benavente y sus Tierras, 2006, 16: 41-53) including a proposed design of the coat of arms.
The proposals were forwarded to the Chronicler of Arms of Castilla y León and to the Royal Academy of History, whose suggested modifications were incorporated to the designs. Approved by the Municipal Council, the symbols were unveiled in September 2005 during the village's festival.
José Manuel Santos Ferreras, current Mayor of Bretocino, is bitterly criticized by the authors of the symbols for having publicly depreciated the symbols approved by the former Mayor Pedro Aurelio Domínguez. Accordingly, the symbols are not used, neither was published the adoption Decree in any official gazette.

The flag is rectangular, in proportions 2:3, or, representing grain crops, with a ferryboat over waves azure and argent.
The coat of arms is a shield of classical Spanish shape, "Or an abbot's crozier purpure and a sword argent per saltire the two fimbriated gules, in base a ferryboat proper charged with a scallop argent over waves azure and argent. The shield surmounted with a Royal Spanish crown."
The crozier must recall that Bretocino belongs to the Astorga Diocese. The sword must represent the single village's parish, dedicated to the Conversion of St. Paul.

Ivan Sache, 11 January 2014