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Cebreros (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2014-12-27 by ivan sache
Keywords: cebreros | ávila |
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Presentation of Cebreros

The municipality of Cebreros (3,444 inhabitants in 2010, therefore the 8th most populous municipality in the province; 13,700 ha; unofficial website) is located in the east of Ávila Province, on the border with Madrid Autonomous Community, 50 km of Ávila.

Cebreros was known in the past as Zervero, Zebreros, Cerveros or Cervarios; the etymology of the town's name is, however, disputed. The "mount Ciperio" claimed by Sebastián de Covarrubias in his Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española (1611) to be the origin of the Cebreros name has yet to be identified, so that Covarrubias' hypothesis can be discarded. Several popular explanations relate Cebreros to zebras (cebras), claiming that a cebrero would be a bare land inhabited by zebras. In the 18th century, the Benedictine monk Martín Sarmiento wrote that zebras were common in the past in Spain, especially in the region of Ávila, therefore the name of Cebreros given to the village. More recent authors have pointed out that zebras are quite unusual in this part of the world and have highlighted possible confusion with other animals. Juan Antonio Mayoral (1803) thought that cebras were indeed ciervos, "stags", an identification shared by the historian Juan Martín Carramolino. Américo Castro (Glosario latino-español de la Edad Media) and Ramón Menéndez Pidal believe that cebros is the name given locally to feral donkeys. Constancio Bernaldo de Quirós (1919) claimed that the cebros are indeed mountain goats, a claim supported by the writer Camillo José Cela (1956) and the linguist María Moliner (1966). Josefina Mateos Madrigal proposes yet other hypotheses, based on Zephyrus, the Greek God of western wind, or Kerberos.

Lázaro de Cebreros, born in Cebreros, was a noted conquistador, who founded in September 1531 San Miguel de Culiacán, today the Mexican town of Culiacán. He rescued Cabeza de Vaca, one of the four survivors of Narváez' expedition in Florida (1527). As opposed to several conquistadors, Cebreros did not come back to Spain and was the root of a big lineage that spread all over Latin America; his sons, nephews and grand nephews had significant offices in the colonial administration. Among his remote descendants are Adolfo López Mateos, President of Mexico in 1958-1964, and the golfer Lorena Ochoa, world's number one in 2007-2010.

Cebreros is the birth place of Adolfo Suárez (b. 1932), Prime Minister during the Democratic Transition (1976-1978) and first Prime Minister of Democratic Spain (1978-1981). Appointed Prime Minister in July 1976 by King Juan Carlos, Suárez set up a centrist government that progressively dismantled the institutions of the Franco's era. His main reforms were the general amnesty, allowing the return to Spain of famous exiled; the legalization of all political parties (including the Communist Party), provided they would recognize the Constitutional Monarchy and the red and yellow national flag; the abolishment of censorship; the organization of the first democratic elections (15 June 1977) and the drafting of the new Constitution (approved by referendum on 6 December 1978).

Ivan Sache, 13 May 2011

Symbols of Cebreros

The flag and arms (description) of Cebreros are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 28 October 1993 and published on 23 December 1993 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 243 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Quartered per cross, 1. and 4. Red, 2. and 3. White, enmarcada al circulo sky blue, with four white grapevine leaves, one in each corner. In the middle of the flag is placed the municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Azure a zebra [cebra] proper terraced or. The shield surmounted with a Royal Spanish crown.

The motto means "(Cross) always burned and always loyal", referring to the several blazes that damaged the town. During the French invasion, in the beginning of the 19th century, the French soldiers took revenge after the murder of 24 of them by the guerilla; they killed more than 30 inhabitants in different parts of the village, sacked the church and the monasteries and burned more than 300 houses. The town was burned again in 1838 during the First Carlist War by 550 guerillas commanded by Blas Garcéa.
Forest blazes, often intentional, are, unfortunately, common in the area in summer. In July 2009, a blaze suppressed more than 3,000 ha of vegetation on the heights of the town and claimed two lives.

The coat of arms of Cebreros is described in a letter sent in 1878 by Mayor Pedro Contreras to the Governor of Ávila. At the time, the zebra coat of arms was already old, its origin being "lost in the mists of time".

The arms of Cebreros appear in the 4th quarter of the arms of Ávila Province.

Ivan Sache, 19 May 2011