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Baena (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2017-01-29 by ivan sache
Keywords: baena |
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Flag of Baena - Image from the Símbolos de Córdoba website, 14 January 2017

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Presentation of Baena

The municipality of Baena (19,782 inhabitants in 2015; 36,251 ha) is located 60 km of Córdoba and 70 km of Jaén.

Baena emerged as the Iberian town of Iponoba, mentioned by Pliny the Elder, located 5 km from the present-day's town, at the foot of the Minguillar hill. The Baena Lioness (51 cm x 95 cm x 26 cm; presentation), sculpted in white stone in Greek style, was found in a necropolis dated to the 6th-5th century BP.
The hill of Torreparedones was also settled from the Copper Age to the Lower Middle Ages. The town was protected by a wall encircling an area of 10.5 ha, originally erected in the 6th century BC. The so-called Pompey Mausoleum, an hypogeous tomb including 12 funerary urns, was excavated in 1833; the monument is engraved with the name of several notables of the town. Systematic excavation performed at the end of the 20th century yielded several artefacts, but, unfortunately, no epigraphic source. Accordingly, the name of the old town is still a matter of conjecture; the two proposed names are Ituci Virtus Iulia, mentioned by Pliny the Elder, and Bursava, mentioned only in Bellum Hispaniense, an anonymous account of the armed struggle that opposed Caesar to Pompey's sons.

Baena, a toponym of Latin origin, was first mentioned, as Bayyana, when the historian Ibn Hayyan described the seizure of the town in 890 by the rebel Muladi Umar ibn Hafsun (c. 850-917). The town was fortified during the Muslim period.
Baena surrendered without fighting to King Ferdinand III the Saint in 1240. Located on the border with the Kingdom of Granada, Baena repelled Moorish assault, being rewarded with arms granted in 1300 by Ferdinand IV. In 1320, the inhabitants of the border area signed the Treaty of Baena, a truce with the Arabs that lasted until Alfonso's XI age.
The domain of Baena was granted in 1386 by John I to his Marshal, Diego Fernández de Córdoba (1355-1435), as a reward for his contribution to the Portuguese campaign. Upset, the inhabitants of Baena violently opposed to their new lord, being submitted only 15 years later by Henry II.

The militia of Baena contributed to the campaigns led by Infante Ferdinand that resulted in the seizure of Antequera in 1410, and to the incursion led by Álvaro de Luna in 1431 to the gates of Granada. They were also involved in skirmishes and suppression of enemy raids, such as the battles fought in 1408 in Albendín and Alcaudete. In 1415, the king allowed the lord of Baena to establish the castle of Doña Mencía to fill a blank in the defence of the border; the village that emerged nearby was settled in 1420 by colonists from Baena.
In the middle of the 15th century, Baena was the second most populated town in the Kingdom of Córdoba after the capital, famous for the valiance of its militia. One of the earliest fairs in Andalusia was organized in the town in 1457.
The Duchy of Baena was erected on 19 August 1566 by Philip II for Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba y Fernández de Córdoba (1520/1521-1578), 7th lord of Baena.

The poet Juan Alfonso de Baena is mostly known through the Cancionero de Baena. According to specialists, his biography is "a bunch of hypotheses and suppositions with little substance". There is no evidence that the poet was born in Baena, where he himself only claims to have been taught; his erudition makes this claim indisputable. The poet was probably a converted Jew; he presents himself as "a writer at the service of the noble king John ÈII]"; his official status has been questioned by some scholars; several recently found documents, however, lists him as "the king's writer". His first recorded work is dated 1406 and he must have died in 1435.
The modern editions of the Cancionero appear to be based on a manuscript kept at the French National Library in Paris (scan). This late copy of the original, recorded in El Escorial at the end of the 16th century, is not fully faithful to the work presented by the author to John II.
The Cancionero is a compilation of 576 works contributed by 56 poets, especially Alfonso Álvarez de Villasandino, presented as "the master and patron of poetry". For each poet, the works are classified into three categories: cantigas, decires, preguntas y reqŸestas. The compilation covers the reigns of Henry II (1369-1379), John I (1379-1390), Henry III (1390-1406) and the early reigning years of John II (1406-1454). According to Ingrid Bahler and Katherine Gyékényesi Gatto, the Cancionero de Baena is of special interest for its completeness and variety of content. "It not only contains compositions of two generations of poets, from the earliest Galician-Portuguese cantigas to the complex allegories and learned preguntas and respuestas, documenting the period of transition with its conflicts, but also reveals a literary theory and critique that antedate the Marquis de Santillana's Prohemio al Condestable de Portugal."
[Fundació:n Centro de Documentación Juan Alfonso de Baen]

The Denomination of Origin Baena (website) for olive oil is prescribed by an Order adopted on 26 October 1987 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 28 October 1987 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 89, p. 4,938-4,952 (text).
The Denomination originally covered the municipal territories of Baena, Doña Mencía, Luque, Nueva Carteya and Zuheros. The Order adopted on 16 November 2000 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 27 December 2000 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 141, p. 18,165 (text) added Cabra to the Denomination area. The Order adopted on 24 October 2003 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 3 November 2003 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 211, p. 22,840 (text) added Castro del Río to the Denomination area.
Oil can be produced only from olives of the following varieties: Picuda (aka Carrasqueña de Córdoba), Lechín, Chorrúo (Jardúo), Pajarero, Hojiblanco, and Picual (aka Marteña and Lopereña).

Baena is the birth town of the agronomist José Ruiz Santaella (1904-1997), founder and director of the Córdoba School of Agronomy. Quoting the Yad Vashem database:

During World War II, in Berlin, Dr. Jose Santaella, born in 1904 in Baena, Spain, served as the agricultural attaché in the Spanish Legation. He and his wife, Carmen Waltraut, born in 1913 in Grethem, Germany, saved the lives of three Jewish women. The Santaellas were evacuated with their four children in 1943 to the guesthouse on an estate belonging to German nobility in Diedersdorf, near Berlin. They gave shelter to Gertrude Neumann, a Jewish woman who did all their sewing and they paid her. She recommended that they hire Ruth Arndt (later Gumpel) a pediatric nurse to help take care of the children. In April 1944, Ruth met with Dr. Santaella and he took her to Diedersdorf. Like Neumann, she was paid for her work and went with the family on summer vacation to the Harz mountains. She was treated warmly and with respect and the Santaellas even sent food ration cards to Berlin for her family who was also in hiding. In May 1944, the Santaellas sent for Ruth's mother, Lina. She was employed in the Santaella household as a cook. To avoid suspicion, their identity was disguised; Lina became "Mrs. Werner" and Ruth was "Nurse Ruth Neu." In September 1944, Dr. Santaella was transferred to Switzerland. Ruth maintained contact with them from her new hiding place, receiving clothing and food packages from them. After the war, the contacts continued on a regular basis and Ruth visited the Santaellas in Spain. Ruth Gumpel believes that the motivation of her rescuers, today parents to seven children and grandparents to 13 grandchildren, derived from their deep religious beliefs and basic human kindness.
On October 13, 1988, Yad Vashem recognized Jos&eaucte; and Carmen Waltraut Santaella as Righteous Among the Nations.

Ivan Sache, 14 January 2017

Symbols of Baena

The flag of Baena (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) is dark red with the municipal coat of arms in the center. Neither the flag nor the arms appear to have been officially registered.

The coat of arms of Baena is "Argent five Moor's heads proper. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown open."
The original arms must have featured the five heads without any supplementary heraldic ornament. Modern designers have altered the original arms, introducing historical and heraldical errors. The design shown on the facade of the Town Hall and once used to stamp official documents, probably since the abolishment of the feudal system, features the Moors represented in frontal view and wearing crescent-shaped turbans, therefore looking like Turks. The shield is placed on a Royal mantle and surmounted by a Royal crown closed. In heraldry, the Moor's heads should be represented in profile's view, with a few justified exceptions, such as on the arms of
Huesca (two heads), Caspe (two heads), and Jaca (four heads).
The use of the Royal attributes is inappropriate since Baena ceased to belong to the Royal domain in the 14th century.
Piferrer published another design, without quoting any source. The heads are arranged "whimsically": the central one, in frontal view, and the four in the corners in profile view, watching each other two by two. The turbans are coloured, also "whimsically": green, golden yellow, red, purple, white and blue.

There is no iconographic record of the original coat of arms, allegedly granted in 1300. The record of the battle of Lucena (1483) by Francisco Fernández de Córdoba, Abbot of Rute (Historia de la ciudad de Córdoba y origen de la Casa de Alcaudete, 1605) indicates that Baena had arms in the 15th century and gives some clues on their design. The humanist reports that, following the use of the time, the militia from "Vaena" had a banner charged with five Moor's heads. The arms were granted by Ferdinand IV, after the town had resisted a siege by Emir Almulem’n Acaudille / Abedialle, "second by his name in the Kingdom of Granada". The local tradition says that the five heads recall that the siege was lifted after five Christian knights had defeated and beheaded five Moorish knights in a tournament.
Based on these lacunar sources, the representation of the arms most compliant with the norms of heraldry should feature the five heads in profile view, each wearing a white turban.
[Francisco Valverde y Perales. Historia de la Villa de Baena (1982)]

The version of the arms in current use follows Francisco Valverde y Perales' recommendation, but maintains the coloured turbans "whimsically" designed by Piferrer.

Ivan Sache, 14 January 2017

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