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Lora del Río (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-11-21 by ivan sache
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Flag of Lora del Río - Image from the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 27 May 2014

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Presentation of Lora del Río

The municipality of Lora del Río (19,403 inhabitants in 2013; 19,369 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with the Province of Córdoba, 60 km north-east of Seville and 80 km of Córdoba. The municipality is made of the town of Lora del Río and of the settlements of El Priorato (1,031 inh.), Setefilla (428 inh.), Los Majadales (205 inh.), El Acebuchal (143 inh.) and El Álamo (67 inh.).

Lora del Río was settled by the Tartesi in the early Age of Bronze (1700 BC), as evidenced by archeological remains found in Setefilla. Subsequent Iberian settlements were established in Alemndro and Lora la Vieja (Old Lora). At the end of the 3rd century BC, the Romans founded the town of Axati, a main center of production and export of olive oil. Emperor Vespasian granted to the town the status of "municipium flavium", that is of a full Roman municipality. Little is known from the Visigothic period except funerary remains, which indicate that the town was still significant at the time. Some authors believe that the town got its name during that period, for the abundance of laurel in the area.
The Moors renamed the town Lawro; according to the Christian chronicles, the town was a strategic place watching the road connecting Seville and Córdoba. Conquered in 1247 by King Ferdinand III the Saint, Lora was granted to the Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, aka the Order of Malta, as a reward for the contribution of the knights of the order to the surrender of the place. Lora, chartered in 1258, became the capital of a small feudal domain, with little administrative change until the suppression of the feudal system in the 19th century.
In the 1960s, irrigation allowed the colonization of new areas by farmers coming from other regions of Spain, resulting in the establishment of two new settlements, El Priorato and Setefilla.

Ivan Sache, 6 June 2014

Symbols of Lora del Río

The flag and arms of Lora del Río, adopted on 28 September 2015 by the Municipal Council and submitted on 5 October 2015 to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 16 October 2015 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 23 October 2015 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 207, p. 37 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, one third longer than wide, in proportions 11:18, crimson red, charged in the center with an octagonal white cross, with eight angles and eight points, proper to the cloth of the knights of the Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem.
Coat of arms: Spanish shield. Argent a laurel on a base ensigned by a Marquis' coronet fimbriated sable. A bordure azure fimbriated or. Beneath the shield a scroll argent fimbriated azure inscribed "MVNICIPIVM FLAVIVM AXATITANVM" in Roman letters sable. The shield surmounted by a Royal Spanish crown closed.

The memoir supporting the proposed symbols was submitted on 26 March 2014 to the Municipal Council by José González Carballo. The symbols, designed by Manuel Gamero Nieto, were inaugurated on 9 October 2015 [Lora Información, 30 September 2015; La Vega, 16 October 2015].

The adoption of the flag and arms of Lora del Río has been required since 1981 by the Agrupacion Cultural Amigos de Lora, presided by the historian and archivist José González Carballo. The memoir supporting the symbols (flag, coat of arms) was originally submitted by José González Carballo to the Municipal Council on 2 December 2000.

The flag of Lora del Río is first documented in the book of records of the Council of Lora, kept in the municipal archives. In 1569, the Marquis of Mondéjar and the Marquis of Los Vélez were commissioned to suppress the Morisco uprising that had broken out in the Kingdom of Granada on Christmas Night of the previous year. Every Andalusian town was required to contribute with a volunteer's militia serving under a banner identifying the town. On 10 January 1569, the Council of Lora del Río ordered a review of the troops and their arms; four days later, the militia was set up, composed of 50 lancers, crossbowmen and harquebushiers.
The flag used by the miliita is described in a record dated 19 September 1569: "[...] the Council keeps a flag made of red and white taffeta and its case, to be hoisted in the service of the war fought by His Majesty in Granada; the flag and its case are kept in a safe place [...] under the custody of the elder regidor, Juan de Cervantes [...]"
The record dated 3 August 1580 is more precise: "[...] the flag made of crimson taffeta with a cross of white taffeta [...]".
Since the town was ruled by the Military Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the author of the memoir believes that the cross was either an "octagonal" cross, better known as the Maltese Cross, as shown on the cloth of the knights of the Order, or, a Latin cross, as shown on the flag of the Order.

The coat of arms of Lora del Río is first documented in a document dated 1732, kept in the municipal archives. The shield to be applied on the stone gate of the Town Hall shows a laurel (making the arms canting) on a base, surmounted by a (seemingly) Marquis' coronet. The field is limited by a fimbriation, described as an orle. The shield is surrounded by thistle leaves.
The seal used in 1814 is oval; the laurel, represented rather like a cypress, stands on a base, while the crown is omitted. Replying to a survey organized in 1839 by the Provincial Government, the municipality described the arms as "a laurel on a plain field; the meaning of this hieroglyph is unknown". The seal used to stamp an official document on 4 January 1847 is oval, featuring a laurel on a base surmounted by a Royal crown closed; this seals was used until 1912, the crown being omitted during the First Republic (1873-1874). Madoz' dictionary (1848) describes the arms as "showing a laurel surmounted by a crown". Gaspar y Roig's dictionary of Spanish language (1858) presents the arms as "a laurel on a field argent surmounted by a crown, superimposed to a Cross of Malta". J. Alonso Morgada, in the Sevilla Mariana review (1882) gives a comprehensive description of the arms: "a laurel with a Marquisate's coronet, the Cross of St. John of Malta, and the word 'Axati'".

In the 20th century, the design of the coat of arms experienced several variations. Fernández Casanova, in the first years of the century, still describes the arms of the town as "a crowned laurel". The seal used from 1912 to 1922 by the municipality is similar to the first documented version of the arms, except the shape of the shield, which is Spanish. A variant used in 1915 shows the shield supported by two branches of laurel and palm. The ceramic shield applied to the facade of a house designed in 1925 by Aníbal Gonzáles has the field argent with a laurel proper on a base surmounted by a Marquis' coronet or, the shield fimbriated azure and or.
The definitions of an official model of the arms appears to have been attempted in 1922. The shield is placed over a Cross of Malta and a parchment-like cartouche. The Marquis' coronet is accurately designed on the Italian model. The laurel is thicker than before and represented in a more realistic manner. This model was used until the Second Republic, when replaced by the Spanish arms surmounted by a mural crown. The Enciclopedia Universal Ilustrada Europeo Americana (1930), however, shows two coats of arms for Lora del Río, one featuring the Cross of St. John and the other featuring the usual crowned laurel on a field argent.

After the Civll War, the seals in use strongly drifted away from the historical model, which had been hitherto fairly respected. The laurel was sometimes replaced by an olive tree. Whimsical representations of the coronet were used: Marquis' coronet in Dutch style, Royal crown open or Royal crown closed. A design even included an olive tree surmounted by a mural crown. José María de Mena (Heráldica Municipal de la Provincia de Sevilla, 1982) attempted to fix the arms in compliance with the rules of heraldry, proposing "Azure a tree argent fimbriated sable surmounted by a Royal crown ancient or. The shield placed over a Cross of St. John and surmounted by a Royal medieval crown [indeed the same as in the field]".

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 27 May 2014