Last modified: 2015-08-10 by ivan sache
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The adoption procedure of municipal symbols, as prescribed by the Law on Municipal Symbols (1991) amended by the Law on Local Regime (1991), requires the following steps (VexiLeón website):- The Municipal Council decides of the adoption of symbols and commission someone or a company, society... to draft the required memoir and symbols' proposal. A public contest is possible but rarely used.
Ivan Sache, 22 March 2011
The adoption of municipal symbols in Castilla y León is regulated by Decree No. 105, adopted on 9 May 1991 by the Government of Castilla y León and published on 16 May 1991 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 92 (text).
Decree on the process and heraldic standards for the approval, modification and rehabilitation of municipal coat of arms and flags
Heraldry, a system of symbols proper to Western Europe and of great tradition in Castilla y León (where the heraldic quarterly was invented and immediately spread), has one of its most known applications in the municipal coat of arms and flags, whose approval, modification and rehabilitation are within the competence of the Government of Castilla y León, as transferred by Royal Decree No. 3036/1982, Appendix 1, Epigraph B, Article 3.1. By Decree No. 256/1990 of 13 December 1990, the Government of Castilla y León delegated to the Provincial Governments the ability to approve the municipal arms of the municipalities with less than 20,000 inhabitants.
[Neubecker seems to agree that the quartered arms were invented in Castilla y León: "Ferdinand II, King of Castile in 1217 and of León in 1230, merged the canting emblems of the two kingdoms in a quartered shield, which marked a milestone in heraldry."]
The municipalities and other public entities represent themselves with a coat of arms and a flag, in which the most salient facts and elements of their history are perpetuated. Their design should not include any quirk, therefore they should fit traditional standards fully defined. Moreover, the dispersion of the bodies competent in that matter could yield inconsistent criteria and cause, keeping in mind the great specificity of this matter little known of the general public, to mismatch with the Castilian-Leonese heraldic tradition.
In Castilla y León, some municipalities have been granted proper heraldic symbols for ages, while most of the municipalities never had such symbols. Today, an increasing number of municipalities express a cultural aspiration to recover their history, asking to adopt heraldic arms and flags representing them, symbolizing their past and forming a means of identification among the local citizens and towards the rest of the collectivity.
Accordingly, the Government of Castilla y León decided the adoption of a standard process and of an heraldic and vexilllogical standard unifying criteria and updates, and completing the hitherto partial standard, which does not refer to the modification and rehabilitation process, does not consider municipal flags and does not prescribe the administrative procedure to be followed. The standards aimed at reconcile:
- the respect of the age-old rules of heraldry and vexillology;
- the increase of the municipal cultural heritage;
- the supply to the public institutions with a common framework for standard and procedures and with a proper consultative body.
The municipalities and other territorial and local entities of Castilla y León can adopt proper and private coats of arms and flags, modify those already adopted or rehabilitate those of historical use, in accordance with the standards and procedures set up in this Decree.
The competent governing body of the Government of Castilla y León shall approve the proposal for adoption, modification or rehabilitation of municipal coat of arms and flags, as prescribed by Articles 186 and 187 of Royal Decree No. 2568/1986 approving the Rules of Organization, Operation and Legal Regime of the Local Entities.
As per Articles 1 and 3.3 of Decree No. 256/1990 of 13 December 1990, the competent body shall be: for municipalities with a population higher than 20,000 the Council of Presidency and Territorial Administration; for municipalities with a lower population, the relevant Provincial Government.
[Out of the 2,247 municipalities, only 15 have a population bigger than 20,000: Valladolid, Burgos, Salamanca, León, Palencia, Ponferrada, Zamora, Segovia, Ávila, Miranda de Ebro, Soria, Aranda de Duero, San Andrés del Rabanedo, Laguna de Duero and Medina del Campo.
The competence on the municipal symbols was fully transferred to the municipalities by the Law on Local Regime (1998).]
No municipality or local entity of Castilla y León can use a coat of arms or a flag without prior legal approval.
The Council of the respective Municipal body can approve by simple majority the acts relative to the adoption, modification or rehabilitation of arms and flags, as per Law 7/1985 regulating local regimes.
The proposals for adoption, modification or rehabilitation of municipal arms and flags shall include the following documents:
a) A certificate by the Secretary of the Municipal Administration of the approval agreement by the Municipal Council in relation with the adoption, modification or rehabilitation of the municipal arms or flag;
b) An history, heraldry or vexillology memoir, presented by a specialist in heraldry or vexillology, in which are detailed the historical and technical background as well as the reasons that motivate the proposal of adoption, modification or rehabilitation of the municipal coat of arms and flag;
c) A drawing of the proposed arms or flag, with the colors and tinctures clearly expressed;
d) Any document considered as worth completing the proposal.
The proposals shall be forwarded by the Municipal Administration to the Council of Presidency and Territorial Administration or to the relevant Provincial Government. On receipt, the Council of Presidency and Territorial Administration or the relevant Provincial Government shall, within ten working days, ask reviewing of the proposal:
a) from the Royal Academy of History;
b) from the Chronicler of Arms of Castilla y León;
The reviews, which have only an advisory capacity, shall be completed within two months, as per Article 86 of Law of Administrative Procedure of 17 July 1958.
If the reviews are not completed in due time, the proposals will be proceeded without more procedure.
[The reviews are mandatory but with advisory capacity only. The review by the Royal Academy of History was dropped by the Law on Local Regime (1998).]
On receipt of the reviews mentioned in Article 6, and provided the two of them are positive, the Council of Presidency and Territorial Administration or the relevant Provincial Government shall approve the proposal within ten working days.
The adoption shall be communicated to the proposing Municipal administration and published into the Official Bulletin of Castile and León and into the Official Bulletin of the State.
[Publication in the official bulletin of the State was dropped by the Law on Local Regime (1998).]
If the reviews mentioned in Article 6 are not concordant or negative regarding the proposal, the Municipal Council shall adopt a new, amended agreement within 30 working days. The agreement, certified by the Secretary, shall be appended to the proposal and proceeded as prescribed in Article 7. If the Municipal Administration does not comply with the procedure in due time, the Council of Presidency and Territorial Administration or the relevant Provincial Government shall consider the proposal as archived.
[Several municipal councils have indeed rejected the recommendations made by the reviewing bodies, or have followed them only partially.]
HERALDIC AND VEXILLOLOGIC STANDARDS
The coat of arms, when the municipality lacks traditional heraldic emblem, shall fit the standards of heraldry and use elements very representative of historical, monumental, geographic or toponymic character proper to the municipality. The number of quarters shall not exceed three for the sake of simplicity required by good heraldry, except in cases duly justified and consistent with the aesthetic proper to heraldry.
[The Royal Academy of History usually turns down the charges deemed too specific, such as the representation of a given church, statue, mountain..., recommending the use of abstract, generic elements. The Academy does not like either the use of elements (for instance, elements of the arms of famous lineages) not supported by historical data or based on erroneous data.]
The shape of the municipal arms shall respect the Castilian-Leonese heraldic tradition, that is rectangular, higher than wider, and rounded-off in base. Their proportions shall follow the model given in the appendix of this Decree.
All the municipal coat of arms shall be surmounted by the Spanish Royal crown, the official symbol of the Kingdom and of the State.
The municipal arms shall not be decorated with other outer element or motto, except in cases justified by specific historical grant.
The municipal arms shall respect the standards set up by Alfonso X the Wise, King of Castilla y León, in the Partidas. They shall be preferentially square and not rectangular, with proportions 1:1.
[The Siete Partidas (Seven-Part Code), aka Partidas, are a body of rules (2,802 laws) compiled for Alfonso X. Each of the seven parts starts with a letter of the king's name, forming an acrostic of the name "Alfonso".
The paragraphs of the Siete Partidas relevant to flags (original text) say:The pennants or main signs are:
- standard [estendarte]: Quadrangular sign without points. Nobody should use it, except the Emperor or the King.
- royal signs [señas cabdales]: Quadrangular and pointed at the end. Nobody can use them, except those commanding 100 knights or the councils of the towns and villages.
- posaderos: Broad along the hoist and pointed at the end, carried by the troops, those seizing posadas, [...]. The Masters of Orders can use them, as well as Commanders when the Master is not present, and those who command 50 to 100 knights.
- flag [bandera]: Quadrangular, longer than high [...], without points. Used by those commanding 10 to 50 knights.
- other sign [otra seña]: For those who command only two to five knights and the main officers of the king. Narrow and long [...] and divided in two sections.
The Royal Academy of History often recalleds that cuadrada shall be understood as "quadrangular" and not, specifically, as "square" (that is, as not swallow-tailed, triangular, with roundish end...) However, Article 13 clearly states "with proportions 1:1", that is, square, and, historically, inaccurate.
In several cases, the municipal flag in demonstrated use (photos) has proportions 2:3, probably to match the other flags in use, in spite of prescribed proportions 1:1.]
The colors of the municipal flag shall be the main colors used in the coat of arms, or, by default, red and white as characteristic of Castilla y León, in the combination favoured by the municipality.
OF THE CHRONICLER OF ARMS
The Chronicler of Arms, who shall be graduated in Law or Humanities and an expert in heraldry of recognized fame, shall be appointed by Decree of the President of the Government of Castilla y León.
[The Decree indeed refounds the old office of Chronicler of Arms of Castilla y León. Alfonso de Ceballos-Escalera y Gila (b. 1957), Marquis of La Floresta, was appointed Chronicler of Arms of Castile and León by a Decree adopted on 15 May 1991 by the Government of Castilla y León and published on 16 May 1991 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 92. (text)]
The Chronicler of Arms of Castilla y León shall answer the specific questions submitted by the Government of Castilla y León and the Provincial Governments and exhibit the skills and traditional competence of the old Chroniclers Kings of Arms and Heralds of Castile and León, listed in Royal Decree of 29 July 1915 and in Decree of 13 April 1951.
No payment will be offered for this office.
The Chronicler of Arms of Castilla y León, upon indication by the Government of Castilla y León via the Council of Presidency and Territorial Administration and upon request of the Municipal Administration requiring the review, shall review the memoirs referenced in Paragraph b) of Article 5 of this Decree.
The Chronicler of Arms shall gather archives on the Castilian-Leonese municipal heraldry and vexillology, and release annual minutes with his reviews and decrees to the Central Archives of the Administration of Castilla y León.
TRANSITORY PROVISIONThe proposals for approval, modification or rehabilitation of municipal arms and flags initiated before the date of effect of this Decree shall be adjusted to these provisions without prejudice on the conservation of the acts validated in the previous procedure, especially those relative to the agreements adopted by the proposing municipality and the reviews released by the consultative bodies.
Unofficial translation and comments by Ivan Sache, 22 March 2011
Law No 1 on the Local Regime of Castilla y León, adopted on 4 June 1998 by the Government of Castilla y León and published on 11 June 1998 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 109 (text), includes two Articles amending / simplifying the procedure of adoption of municipal symbols. The review of the proposals by the Royal Academy of History is no longer required and the municipality can adopt themselves their symbols. Publication of the final agreement in the official gazette of the State is no longer required.
1. The grant of symbols, titles and distinctions to the municipalities in Castilla y León requires a procedure involving the following mandatory elements:
a) a memoir justifying the proposal;
b) an agreement by the Municipal Council:
c) the information of the public. 2. The approval of the procedure will be given by the Government of Castilla y León upon request of the Council competent in the matter of local administration, provided the required information elements have been received.
Regardless of Article 27, the municipalities of Castilla y León can approve their proper coat of arms or modify it by agreement of the Municipal Council adopted by absolute majority, provided the justification, the drawing of the proposed arms and the review by the relevant body of the Government of Castilla y León [read, the Chronicler of Arms of Castilla y León] are given.
Ivan Sache, 22 March 2011