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Tarancón (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-10-16 by ivan sache
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Flag of Tarancón - Image by Tomislav Todorović, 4 July 2019


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Presentation of Tarancón

The municipality of Tarancón (14,990 inhabitants in 2018, therefore the second most populated municipality in the province; 10,684 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with the Province of Toledo, 100 km west of Cuenca.

Tarancón was first mentioned in the 12th century in the Belinchón Charter. Philip II's Relaciones (1576) state that "Tarancón has always been named as such and no other name is known".
Tarancón is of unknown etymology. Priest Trifón Muñoz Soliva claimed that the town was named for Hebrew words meaning "the priest's tower". José Torres Mena believes that the town's name was derived from trancón (modern Spanish, tranca), the bar that crossed the Arco de la Malena gates to prevent enemy's entrance. Heliodoro Cordente refers to tarancio ("buckthorn"), a plant once profusely growing in the area, which was called Campo de Taranz in El Cantar del Mío Cid.

Tarancón was established by the Celtiberians, who settled on the Castillejo hill and near brook Caño, which supplied them with freshwater. In the Roman times, river Riánsares was crossed by a bridge, still standing, on the road that connected Cartagoneva (Cartagena) to Complutum (Alcalá de Henares); remains of a necropolis were excavated in Haza del Cura, as well as remains of villae in the depopulated villages of El Vado de San Domingo (with mosaics) and El Vado Empedrao.
The Visigoth king Reccared I (586-601), who renunciated of Arianism in favor of Catholicism, erected in Riánsares a chapel dedicated to the Virgin.

fter the Muslim conquest, the rebel Rondo Hafsum, chased by Abd-ar-Rahman, withdrew to Tarancón, then part of the Qura (province) of Santaverilla. The town was transferred from the Kingdom of Toledo to Castile, as part of the Land of Huete, which was the dowry of Princess Zaida of Seville when she married Alfonso VI (1072-1109).
In 1108, in the aftermath of the battle of Uclès lost by Infante Sancho and the Seven Counts to the Almoravids led by Sultan Ali ibn Yusuf (1106-1143), the area was reincorporated to the Muslim states, to be soon reconquered by Alvar Fañ&ecute;z (d. 1114). Tarancón, described as "the post against Saracens" in the Belinchón Charter granted in 1171 by Cerebruno, Archbishop of Toledo (d. 1180), depended in the castle of Alharilla (Fuentidueña de Tajo); the village was transferred to the domain of Uclès acquired by Alfonso VII (1126-1157) and granted in 1174 by Alfonso VIII (1158-1214) to the Order of St. James.
Tarancón was involved in the struggle between the Lara and Castro lineages; in 1355, Juan de Padilla, Master of the Order of St. James and brother of María de Padilla (1334-1361), the favorite of King Peter I the Cruel (1350-1366), was killed near Tarancón in a skirmish with Gonzalo Mejía, Commander Mayor of Castile.
Tarancón was granted the status of villa by Charles V (1516-1556), separating from Uclès; the Emperor subsequently visited the town a couple of times.

During the War of Spanish Independence, the French troops, composed of nearly 20,000 soldiers, entered Tarancón, a strategic place on the road to Madrid, in early June 1808. On 24 December 1809, the Spanish troops (4,000 infantrymen and 800 riders) commanded by Francisco Javier Venegas (1760-1838) defeated a detachment of French dragons posted in Tarancón. In the aftermath of the battle of Uclès (13 January 1809), the French troops regained control of the whole region and set up their headquarters in the Capuchin convent of Tarancón, until their definitive withdrawal in fall 1812.

Agustín Fernando Muñoz (1808-1873), born in Tarancón, married in 1833 Queen Regent Maria Christina (1806-1878) after the death of her husband, King Ferdinand VII. He was erected Duke of Riánsares and Grandee of Spain in 1844 by Queen Isabel II (1833-1868). He acquired in Tarancón the plots surrounding the Riánsares chapel, which he restored, building a palace and a family pantheon. In the town, the architect Narciso Pascual y Colomer (1808-1870) designed an urban palace on the site of his father's house, which has been the Town Hall since 2003.

On 25 April 1919, the Potato Riot caused the death of two Civil Guards and seven villagers, mostly women. The army powderhouse of Tarancón exploded on 26 July 1949 during the celebration of the St. Ann's festival, claiming 30 lives; hundreds of villagers were injured while more than 1,100 houses were destroyed. The event is recalled by an ironic song saying "The inhabitants of Tarancón were bound to suffer, first by the bombs [referring to the Civil War] then by the powerhouse".

Tarancón is the birth place of the Dominican theologian Melchior Cano (1509-1560). Holder of the Chair of Theology at the Complutense University (1543) and at the University of Salamanca (1546), he contributed to the first round of the Valladolid debate (1550). A main opponent to the Jesuits in the Council of Trent (1551), Melchior Cano was appointed in 1552 Bishop of the Canary Islands; he resigned in 1554 when appointed Rector of the San Gregorio College in Valladolid. In the Consultatio theologica, published in 1556, he encouraged Philip II to reject the temporal claims of the Pope and to keep control, as the absolute monarch, of the goods and profits of the Spanish church. In his most important work, De locis theologicis (1554), Cano provides th list of the ten eligible sources for theological demonstration.
[Catholic Encyclopaedia]

Ivan Sache, 3 July 2019


Symbols of Tarancón

The flag of Tarancón is prescribed by an Order issued on 26 November 2003 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 15 December 2003 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 176, p. 19,766 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: White, quartered by two stripes gules of equal size that form a cross connecting the upper and lower corners, which cross in the center, where the coat of arms of Tarancón is placed. In each of the angles of the white field defined by the cross is inscribed a fleur-de-lis.
On the flags in actual use (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo), the fleurs-de-lis are purple.

The coat of arms of Tarancón is prescribed by an Order issued on 26 November 2003 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 15 December 2003 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 176, pp. 19,766-19,767 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: On a parchment or is placed the cross of St. James (gules) that supports the shield: Azure a wall or with the door closed by a bar sable in bend in chief a victor and a crown with two palms all or. A bordure argent inscribed "La noble ciudad de Tarancón". The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown.

The coat of arms of Tarancón was described in 1786 by the parish priest, Ignacio Pascual Barra as "Over the red cross of the Order of Saint James, a castle with the gate closed by a bar and in the upper part a victor and palms with a crown, the two alluding to the martyred patron saints. The orle (border) with the writing “TARANCON”, in the upper part a Royal crown."
The description of the modern arms is very similar to the priest's report. The writing was changed to "La noble ciudad de Tarancón", recalling the title that was awarded in 1921 to the town upon request of Representative Cervantes.
[Municipal website]

The patron saints of Tarancón are Sts. Victor and Corona (Crown) of Syria. According to the Roman Martyrology, they were martyred in Syria during the Diocletian persecution (3rd century). Victor (Buqtur), a soldier from Cilicia converted to the Christian religion, was sentenced to martyr by Dux Sebastian after having refused to sacrifice to the pagan gods. During three days, he was publicly tortured: he was poured hot oil on his body and whipped until skin separated from flesh. When Victor was about to die, Corona (Greek, Stephana), aged 17, the wife of a soldier from Victor's legion, convinced him to resist and to remain strong until the end. Two crowns fell down from the sky, one for Victor and one for Corona. Questioned by Sebastian, Corona refused to sacrifice to the pagan Gods, confirmed the crowns' miracle, and required to be martyred. She was tied by her arms and legs to two young palms forcibly bent, which quartered her when released, while Victor was beheaded. The martyrs' relics were transferred from Egypt to Cyprus, and, eventually to Feltre (Italy), where they are kept in a lead reliquary.

Sts. Victor and Corona have been celebrated every 14 May in Tarancón since the Middle Ages. Philip II's Relaciones describe the festival and the "antique devotion" to the saints, as related to protection against frost, drought or floods; locusts and grapevine moths; and, last but not least, black plague.
Victor and Corona's monograms, as featured on the coat of arms of Tarancón, are inscribed on a procession banner dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. After the marriage of Fernando Muñoz and the Queen Regent, Victor and Corona were superseded by the Virgin as the patron saint of the town. Limited to a mass, the devotion to the Martyr Saints was transmitted from generation to generation, though.
The increase of the population of the town prompted the set up of a second parish, named for St. Victor and St. Corona, as prescribed in a Decree issued on 23 January 2011 by His Grace Yanguas Sanz, Bishop of Cuenca. The new parish church was inaugurated on 16 November 2014. The celebration of the 14 May festival has also been reactivated for one decade.
[Radio Tarancón, 18 June 2018]

Ivan Sache, 3 July 2019