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Villalba del Alcor (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
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Flag of Villalba del Alcor - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 7 September 2016

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Presentation of Villalba del Alcor

The municipality of Villalba del Alcor (3,320 inhabitants in 2015; 6,500 ha; municipal website) is located 50 km north-east of Huelva.

Villalba was already settled in the Age of Bronze, as evidenced by scattered remains found along river Corombel. Roman coins and vases were found in the area, as well as a portrait of Empress Agrippina, discovered near the Los Estaquillas farm, located 2 km away form the downtown.
Villalba developed around a fortress erected on the foundations of a mosque after the reconquest of the area by Alfonso X the Wise. "Alcor" is derived from an Arab world meaning "a hill". Part of the County of Niebla since 1253, Villalba was transferred in 1331 to the daughter of the Aguacil Mayor of Niebla, Leonor Núñez. Alvar Pérez de Guzmán purchased the town in 1350. After the union of the PrPérez de Guzmán and the Zúñiga in 1395, Villalba was ruled by the Zúñiga until 1812.

Ivan Sache, 7 September 2016

Symbols of Villalba del Alcor

The flag and arms of Villalba del Alcor, adopted on 10 June 2015 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 11 August 2015 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, are prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 11 September 2015 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 29 September 2015 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 190, p. 111 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 11 x 18, made of three parallel stripes perpendicular to the hoist, the first, blue, the second, yellow, and the third, red, covering 2/4, 1/4, and 1/4 of the total [flag's] width, respectively. Charged in the center with the local coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Per fess, 1. Or a castle azure port and windows argent charged with a Latin cross of the same surrounded dexter by a Cross of Calatrava gules and sinister by a tree of the same, 2. Azure a caldron chequy or and gules with seven snakes vert issuant from each handle, for the Guzmán, Counts of Niebla and Dukes of Alba. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The symbols were proposed on 27 November 1994 by Juan José Antequera.
The municipality started in 1928 to use an ink seal featuring a French shield divided per pale, showing first the fortified facade of the St. Bartholomew church, and second, a tree without branches, the shield surmounted by an imperfect Count's coronet. On colour reproductions, the shield is fimbriated or, the church is or on azure and the tree is proper on gules.

The new design proposed by Antequera, adopted on 11 May 1995 by the Municipal Council, was appealed on 13 September 1995 by a local historian, Javier Pompa Domínguez, completing a preliminary appeal tabled on 20 August 1995. The following points were raised:
1. The designer claims that "the castle of Villalba was granted by Alfonso X, probably in 1253, to Rodrigo González Girón, Grand Master of the Order of Calatrava, who named the place Gironda, and that the Order granted a charter to the village in 1327". These facts have nothing to do with Villalba del Alcor, being related with another Villalba, located in Espartinas and disappeared in 1350, as demonstrates in documentation attached to this appeal.
2. The designer turned down the possibility that Villalba once belonged to the Order of the Temple, based on the wrong interpretation of the old name of the town, Gironda.
3. The addition of the Cross of Calatrava on the arms is not sufficiently substantiated, since there is not the least demonstrated connection between the town and the Order.
4. The addition of the Latin cross to highlight the transformation of the fortress into a church is unnecessary, since the event was not of transcendent significance for the history of Villalba.
5. There is no charge recalling the Muslim past of the town.
6. The addition of the tree is unsubstantiated. Its addition to the old coat of arms has nothing to do with the alleged "shooting of villagers by the French", which is nowhere documented.
7. The representation of the Guzmán is excessive, regarding their minor contribution to the history of the town. The significant lords of Villalba are the Zúñiga, the first lord of Villalba from this lineage was Pedro López de Stúñiga, whose son, Diego López de Stúñiga y Guzmán, was made the first Count of Miranda in the middle of the 15th century. His arms should appear on the arms of Villalba.

Javier Pompa Domínguez concluded with a counter-proposal of arms of Villalba, which should include:
1. The castle, representing the origin of Villalba, charged with a half-moon recalling and symbolizing its Muslim origin.
2. A caldron with its snakes, representing the Guzmán.
3. The arms of the Counts of Miranda, as seen on the wall of the parish church, covering one half of the shield to highlight the significance of this lineage.
The arms would be "Quarterly, 1. The castle with the half-moon, 2. Per pale Zúñiga and Bazán, 3. Guzmán, 4. Per pale López and Cárdenas."

Juan José Antequera submitted a rebuttal on 11 June 1996. His main point was that the counter-proposal was made of six quarters, which is not compliant with the Decree on local symbols adopted on 31 January 1995.
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

The symbols proposed by Antequera were rejected on 14 January 1999 by the Royal Academy of Córdoba. After the municipality had failed to submit a new proposal in due time, the registration process was declared null and void by a Resolution adopted on 5 October 1999 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 7 December 1999 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 142 (text).
The symbols were eventually registered more than 20 years after having been first proposed. The description of the arms in the official text includes "for the Guzmán, Counts of Niebla and Dukes of Alba". The imaginary connection of the Guzmán and the Dukes of Alba, of course not mentioned in Antequera's original blazon, was most probably added to make the arms canting - while Villalba was not named for the Dukes of Alba, though.

Ivan Sache, 7 September 2016