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Guadalajara (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-04-05 by ivan sache
Keywords: guadalajara |
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Flag of Guadalajara - Image by Ivan Sache, 14 September 2019

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Presentation of Guadalajara

The municipality of Guadalajara (86,222 inhabitants in 2016, therefore the second most populated municipality in Castilla-La-Mancha after Albacete; 23,551 ha; municipal website) is located 60 km north-east of Madrid.

Guadalajara was established by the Moors in the late 8th-early 9th century, as a fortress watching the border with the Christian states. Wad-al-Hayara means Castles' Valley or Stones' Valley; the name of the Roman settlement, Arriaca, once located in the neighborhood, might have the same meaning.
Little is known about the Muslim period in Guadalajara; located in a disputed territory, the town experienced limited development, except in the 10th century. Remains from this period are the bridge over river Henares, the ruins of the citadel and the road that connected the river to the old town.

Guadalajara was reconquered in 1085 by Alfonso VI. The chronicles credit the conquest to Alvar Fáñez de Minaya, a brother in arms of El Cid. After the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa (1212), the border moved southwards and Guadalajara became the safe capital of a big domain; the town was chartered in 1133 by Alfonso VII. The Greater Charter (fuero largo) was granted to Guadalajara in 1219 by Ferdinand III the Saint. Alfonso X protected the town, granting extended rights of fairs and markets to the local merchants.
The powerful Mendoza lineage settled in Guadalajara in the second half of the 14th century; its most prominent members were Iñigo López de Mendoza - the Marquess de Santillana (1398-1458), and Pedro González de Mendoza (1428-1495) - Grand Cardinal of Spain and Councillor of the Catholic Monarchs. Created Dukes of the Infantado in 1475, the Mendoza fostered the develoopment of Guadalajara, which was granted in 1460 by Henry IV the title of ciudad.

Guadalajara declined in the 17th centuey, after the Mendoza had transferred their court to Madrid. Bankrupted and depopulated, Guadalajara went close to suppression. This was aggravated by the looting of the town during the War of the Spanish Succession. Philip V prevented the complete ruination of the town by etablishing a Royal Cloth Factory; accordingly, population increased in the beginning of the 19th century. The development of the town was stopped again, following the War of Independence (1808-1813) and the closure of the Royal factory (1822). Guadalajara survived as a provincial capital and seat of public administrations, for instance the Academy of Military Engineers, established in 1840.

Ivan Sache, 14 September 2019

Symbols of Guadalajara

The flag of Guadalajara, which does not appear to have been officially registered, is purple with the municipal coat of arms in the centre.
Two versions of the coat of arms, not registered either, are used on the flag:
- in bright colors on an ornamented shield (photo);
- in darker, less contrasted colors, in the shape recommended in Spanish municipal heraldry (rounded-off shield without ornament, surmounted by a Royal crown closed); this flag appears to be used in the Mayor's lounge (photo, photo.

The coat of arms of Guadalajara features a medieval landscape: a flat land with a fortified town in the background, a tower on the first section of the wall, a closed gate in the left part of the wall. The tower flies a pennant charged with a moon crescent, indicating a Muslim town inhabited by Moors, who are not represented. On the green field, a medieval horse-rider, clad with a metal armor, a helmet covering his head and decorated with feathers, holding a sword or a lance, in a proud, offensive posture. Behind him, a troop of soldiers, glancing at the town and wairing, holding lances in vertical position, their bodies partially concealed by shields painted with crosses. This is a Christian army led by a warlord, Alvar Fáñez de Minaya, who fought in numerous battles all over Castile. The scene is covered by a dark, nightly sky shattered with stars and a half moon.

The tradition says that this emblem is a faithful representation of the night of 24 June 1085 (St. John's Night). The town is the Arab Guadalajara, known in the old Andalusian chronicles as Wad-al-Hayara. The green field is the left bank of ravine Coquín. Fáñez and his troop, taking advantage of the silent night and the inhabitant's sleep, wait until a soldier opens the gate that allows the ravine to enter the Mozarab borough. Marching hidden on each side of the ravine, the Christians showed up in the morning and achieved the conquest of the town.

The arms of Guadalajara, however, have a much prosaic and simple origin. They were possibly adopted in the 15th century, in the early days of municipal heraldry. The emblem showed only a horse-rider, holding a sword or a lance, on a field either plain or shattered with stars. This old arms appear on a seal, itself merging the two sides of the previous seal of a judge, and showing on the reverse a representation of early Guadalajara. This seal was discovered by Juan Catalina García López, first Chronicler of the Province of Guadalajara, who had it reproduced as a bigger, wax seal. The seal, with red, white and green threads, was appended by the judge to all kind of documents officially issued by the Guadalajara Council. Its reverse features a town protected by a small wall, including churches, palaces and turrets; this is a faithful representation of Guadalajara in the 12th century. In base, water waves must represent river Henares. The scene is surrounded by the writing "Sigillum Concilii Guadelfelare", "The Seal of the Guadalajara Council". The obverse features a rider clad in medieval style, on a galloping horse. The rider holds a flag, fully unfolded, made of horizontal stripes. Nearby, the word "ius", "a judge", identifies the rider as the most important and representative official of Guadalajara at the time. The judge had the highest rank among the representatives elected by the urbanites for a few years. He exercised justice, presided councils, and rode before processions, holding the town's standard. He kept the council's seals, which he appended to the most important documents. The judge is surrounded by an obscure writing, "Vias Tuas Domine Demostra Michi Amen".

In the early 15th century, the town of Guadalajara used proper arms, reported by Diego de Cervellón (Libro de los Blasones de España) as "Or, a rider armored on a horse argent holding in dexter hand a forked banner gules". One century later, Diego Fernández de Mendoza (Linajes de España) described the arms as "Or a rider armored holding a flag, known as the alférez". The rider was clearly identified as the highest representative of the Council, definitively not as Alvar Fáñez.
That spurious identification appeared in 1579, in the Relaciones Topográficas ordered by Philip II, as "a rider with all arms, who is Alvar Fáñez", and was spread by the subsequent historians of the town, for instance, Francisco de Torres and Alonso Núñez de Castro (Historia de Guadalaxara, 1653).
This coat of arms was actually used on a medallion of the facade of the old Town Hall, erected in 1585, and transferred to the new Town Hall built at the end of the 20th century. The arms feature a rider riding a horse and holding a flag and a sword, represented on a starry background. A round seal dated 1630, kept in the Municipal Archives, features a rider holding a spear and the writing "Ciudad de Guadalajara". Other municipal artifacts dated from the late 17th century and the 18th century, such as the silver bell used to inaugurate the sessions of the Municipal Council, are engraved with the rider. He is also represented, in full colors, on the urn used for elections, and on municipal maces.
Antonio de Moya (Rasgo heroico: declaración de las empresas, armas y blasones, con que ilustran y conocen los principales reynos, provincias, ciudades y villas de España y compendio instrumental de su historia, 1746) described the arms of Guadalajara he saw with his own eyes, as "the representation of Alvar Fañez riding, maintaining the town in his shield, which is 'Azure semy of stars or'".
All along the 19th century, the municipality used different ink seals featuring the traditional arms, as reported by Javier Barbadillo and Salvador Cortés. At the time appeared a new element on the coat of arms, a tower placed behind the rider, featured on the seal of the Guadalajara Provincial Battalion (1843) and on the medal of the Provincial Fair (1876). At the end of the 19th century appeared the fortified town, the half moon and the stars and a group of soldiers near the rider, who was definitively identified as Alvar Fañez, and the scene of the seizure of the town from the Arabs in June 1085. The legend totally contaminated the arms, relegating the genuine, medieval, simple arms of Guadalajara to scholar knowledge.
[Los Escritos de Herrera Casado, 22 September 2006]

Antonio Herrera Casado (b. 1947), Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at Universidad Complutense, was appointed Official Chronicler of the Province of Guadalajara in 1973. His attempt to "rehabilitate" the historical arms of Guadalajara appear to have been unsuccessful until now.

Alvar Fáñez (1047-1114) was a relative of Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar (El Cid), who called him "mi anai" (Old Castilan, "my brother"), therefore his nickname of Minaya. Presented in the Cantar as El Cid's alter ego and best brother in arms, Fáñez was in real life the most loyal captain of King of Castile Alfonso VI, who defended the Tagus border and prevented the Almoravids to reconquer Toledo. El Cid and Fáñez were both named Knights of the Order of Saint James in the church of Zamora; they contributed to the success of Sancho II, King of Castile, in the battles of Llantada (1068) and Golpejara (1072), fought against his brother Alfonso, King of León. Fáñez endured the Leonese attack that resulted in the capture of Sancho, while El Cid counter-attacked, liberated his king and captured Alfonso, who was exiled to Toledo, then ruled by Almamun. After the murder of Sancho in Zamora in 1072, Alfonso VI reunited the kingdoms of Castile and León and seized Toledo from the Moors in 1085, with the support of Fáñez. The fall of Toledo prompted the Almoravids to invade Al Andalus; Fáñez was commissioned to defend the Tagus border. His cavalry included the fierce "dawair" Muslims, who had taken the Christian party after the Almoravid conquest. Following the disaster of Uclés (1108) and the death of Alfonso's unique son, Sancho, aged 12, and of the seven Castilian counts, Fáñez crossed the Sierra de Altomira and headed to Zorita. He resumed resistance to the Moors' advance, seizing Cuenca, soon lost, but resisted in Toledo to the assault by Emir Ben Yusuf Tasufin.
After decades of fighting against the Muslims, Fáñez was killed in April 1114 Segovia by partisans of Alfonso I the Battler, King of Aragón, who was in struggle with his wife Urraca, Alfonso VI's daughter.
[ABC, 2 July 2018]

Ivan Sache, 14 September 2019

Historical flag of Guadalajara


Historical flag of Guadalajara - Image by Santiago Dotor, 27 December 1999

As shown in Banderas, No. 71-72, June-September 1999, the historical flag of Guadalajara is blue with two horizontal white stripes.

Santiago Dotor, 27 December 1999

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