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Villafranca de Córdoba (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-05-31 by ivan sache
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Flag of Villafranca de Córdoba - Image from the Símbolos de Córdoba website, 21 September 2015


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Presentation of Villafranca de Córdoba

The municipality of Villafranca de Córdoba (4,876 inhabitants in 2013; 5,800 ha) is located 30 km north-east of Córdoba.

Villafranca de Córdoba was mentioned for the first time in 1264, as the hamlet as Cascajar (lit., gravely). In 1359, King Peter I commissioned his majordomo, MartÌn López de Córdoba, also Alcalde Mayor of Córdoba and Master of the Order of Calatrava, to resettle the place, which was exempted from tax and, therefore, renamed Villafranca (Freetown). The town was incorporated in 1377 to the Order of Calatrava and in 1549 to the Marquisate of Priego, inherited in the early 18th century by the Dukes of Medinaceli.
Mostly known for the production of needles, the town was called in the 17th century either Villafranca de Córdoba or Villafranca de las Agujas (of the Needles); the Municipal Council decided in the late 19th century that the two names were synonym, Villafranca de Córdoba being subsequently imposed by the use.

Ivan Sache, 21 September 2015


Symbols of Villafranca de Córdoba

The flag (photo, photo) and arms of Villafranca de Córdoba, adopted on 29 April 2002 by the Municipal Council and approved on 20 March 2003 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba, are prescribed by Decree No. 137, adopted on 30 May 2003 by the Government of Andalusia and published on 12 June 2003 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 111, pp. 12,879-12,880 (text). This was confirmed by a Resolution adopted on 30 November 2004 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 20 December 2004 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 246, pp. 28,986-29,002 (text).
The symbols are prescribed as follows:

Flag: Rectangular one and a half longer (from hoist to fly) than wide, vertically divided by a serrated line, 1. Flag red with three flag white bezants in pale, 2. Flag white with two flag red needles in pale pointing upwards.
Coat of arms: Per pale serrated, 1. Gules three bezants argent in pale, 2. Argent two needles gules in pale pointing upwards. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed.

The flag is a "vexillological adaptation of the coat of arms" (a banner of the municipal arms), the gules and argent tinctures being translated into the matching colours, red and white, respectively.
The bezants represent maravedies, as the symbol of the tax exemption granted by King Peter I. The needles [agujas] refer to the alternative name of the town. The serration refers to the topography of the municipal territory. Gules and argent are the colours of the Order of Calatrava, preferred to the Cross of Calatrava already featured on several municipal coat of arms.<+P>

The symbols were designed by Luis Segado Gómez (El escudo heráldico y la bandera municipal de Villafranca de Córdoba, Crónica de Córdoba y sus pueblos, 11, 75-84, 2005), supported in the historical research by Alfonso Porras de la Puente.
The geographer Tomás López reported the arms of the town "as described", providing a sketchy drawing forwarded in 1793 by the Vicar of the town, but no description. The drawing indeed represents the arms of the Fernández de Córdoba, "Per fess, 1. Or three fesses gules (Fernández de Córdoba), 2. Quarterly, 1. and 4. Castile and León, 2. France modern (?), 3. Figueroa (?)". The shield supported by the eagle [aguilar] from the coat of arms of the Aguilar lineage and surrounded by the Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece". A similar shield is seen on the facade of the former slaughterhouse. There is no further reference to municipal arms until 1905.
The anonymous designer of the arms used at the time claims that Villafranca originally used arms showing the Cross of the Order of Saint James orled by a Royal bordure of castles and lions and surmounted by the emblem of the village in the Caliphate of Córdoba, two half moons on a field vert, and the bend gules of the house of Córdoba, once lords of Villafranca. The facade of the old Town Hall has an azulejo charged with the coat of arms charged with the Cross of Calatrava, which replaced the Cross of the Order of St. James upon recommendation by a local erudite.
This coat of arms was declared not compliant with the modern legislation, both for historical and heraldic reasons. The shield is divided into three quarters, while Appendix 1, Paragraph 4 of Decree No. 14 of 31 January 1995 recommends to preferentially design arms with a single or two quarters. Moreover, some elements of the shield are not related with the history of Villafranca, which is prohibited by Appendix 1, Paragraph 3 of the aforementioned Decree. The Royal bordure is not suitable for a town that was a feudal domain for most of the time. The town did not belong to the Order of St. James but to the Order of Calatrava. Other elements are not specific to Villafranca: the colour of the Fernández de Córdoba could be used by several other municipalities of the Córdoba Plain and Province. Equally, a large area of Spain was submitted to the Muslim rule.
Accordingly, it was decided to design a brand new coat of arms compliant with the legislation rather than to attempt to have the traditional coat of arms legalized.

Ivan Sache, 21 September 2015