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Llerena (Municipality, Extremadura, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-10-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of Llerena - Image by Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020

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Presentation of Llerena

The municipality of Llerena (5,821 inhabitants in 2017; 16,270 ha; municipal website) is located 120 km south-east of Badajoz and 70 km south-east of Almendralejo.

Llerena was already settled in the Prehistoric times, as evidenced by 4,000-year old tombs excavated in Mirasierra. The Llerena idol, an anthropomorphic statue of 10 cm in height, holding, seemingly, a knife, was found in Huertecillo.
Most historians agreed that Llerena emerged near the Tanners' Fountain, but they don't agree on the name of the early settlement: Allarias, Ellerina, or Ellerena.
Incorporated to the León Province of the Order of Saint James after the Christian reconquest, Llerena gained in significance with time. Several Masters of the Order established their temporal residence in the town: Fadrique (half-brother of King Peter I the Cruel, 1342-1358), Pedro Fernández Cabeza de Vaca (1382-1387), Enrique García Fernández de Villagarcía (1385-1387), Lorenzo Suárez de Figueroa (1387-1409), and the last Master of the Order, Alonso de Cárdenas (1480-1493).
Alfonso XI gathered the Cortes in Llerena in 1340, while several general and particular chapters of the Order of Saint James were organized in the town, where all Commanders were invited. Llerena became the administrative center of the León Province in Extremadura and ruled, jointly with Mérida, the local possessions of the Order, composed of 30 villages.

Llerena had a flourishing Jewish community (aljama) composed of more than 600 families; following the expelling of the Jews from Castile ordered in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs, 125 families converted to the Christian religion and stayed in Llerena.
The Court of Inquisition was established in Llerena on the advice of Luis Zapata, Councillor and Assessor of the Catholic Monarchs and organizer of the Jewish colonization of Lower Extremadura. The Court had a jurisdiction of more than 40,000 sq. km, the third bigger in Spain, encompassing the dioceses of Ciudad Rodrigo, Plasencia, Coria and Badajoz. It had three permanent seats in Llerena. The court was involved in the persecution of the illuminati heretics led by Friar Alonso de la Fuente in the middle of the 16the century.

In 1591, Llerena was the second most populated town in Extremadura after Badajoz. Its decline during the 17th century was not stopped by the grant of the status of villa by Philip IV on 12 June 1641.
The painter Francisco de Zurbarán (1598-1664) lived in Llerena from 1617 to 1629 and married twice in the town.

Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020

Flag of Llerena

The flag (photo) and arms of Llerena, adopted on 31 July 2007 by the Municipal Council and validated on 18 January 2007 by the Assessing Council of Honors and Distinctions of the Government of Extremadura, are prescribed by an Order issued on 23 January 2007 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 8 February 2007 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 16, pp. 2,120-2,121 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 2:3. White panel with a red bretessed border, 1/10 of the flag's width. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms, in height 1/2 of the flag's width.
Coat of arms: Argent a fountain proper on a base vert surrounded by two holly oaks of the same and surmounted by a cross of the Order of Saint James. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The coat of arms features the fountain erected on the Plaza Mayor of Llerena (photo, photo), which is said to have been used a model by Francisco de Zurbarán in his early drawings.

Ivan Sache, 15 March 2020