Last modified: 2020-11-14 by ivan sache
Keywords: tornavacas |
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Flag of Tornavacas - Image by Ivan Sache, 22 March 2020
The municipality of Tornavacas (1,132 inhabitants in 2019 vs. 2,292 in 1950; 7,660 ha) is located on the border with Castilla y Leán (Provinces of Ávila and Salamanca), 120 km north-east of Cáceres and 50 km north-east of Plasencia.
Tornavacas originates in the Colubrid inn, established on a popular transhumance road; the village that developed around the inn was originally named Villaflor de las Cadenas.
From the middle 10th century to the late 12th centuries, the area was fiercely disputed between Moors and Christians. In the 1Oth century, King of León Ramiro II the Great initiated the reconquest against Abd al-Rahman III. Christian troops led by Ramiro II, or by the Count of Castile Fernán González - or even by the two warlords - were challenged by the Saracens from Cordóba led by Ahmad Ben Yala. Outnumbered by the Saracens, the Christians withdrew to Villaflor, where the local shepherds proposed the king a weird trick: they would gather as many cows as possible, fasten torches to their horns and push them to the Saracen camp. At the same time, the men would scream and make as much noise as possible, expecting the enemy to be fooled and to believe that a big army was marching against them.
Scared by the lights and the turmoil, the Saracens quickly abandoned the camp while those who could not have woken in time were captured. The next morning, the cows came back to their pasture and Ramiro shouted "¡Ya tornan las vacas!" (The cows have returned) to celebrate the victory. To commemorate the event, Villaflor was renamed to Torna-Vacas, subsequently Tornavacas.
On 11 November 1556, heading to the monastery of Yuste where he would retire and die after his abdication, Emperor Charles V stopped his cortege near river Jerte, his attention being attracted by the unusual tools used by the fishers. Noticed of the emperor's appearance, the fishers bent down but he ordered them to ignore him to resume fishing. The fishers eventually offered him a big basket full of trouts. Since it was already late and cold, the emperor decided to overnight in the next village, Tornavacas. He was welcomed by the villagers who escorted him to Juan Méndez Dávila's house, where he enjoyed the truits. The engraved stone set over the house's door remembers the event.
The next morning, the emperor prayed in the house' chapel, which housed a miraculous statue of the Virgin; dated from the 13th century and considered as Extremadura's oldest statue, it was unfortunately sold in 1966 by Juan Méndez Dávila's descendants.
To reach Jarandilla as soon as possible, Charles V dramatically modified the route of his last journey; rather than heading to Plasencia down the valley of Jerte, which would require six days, the cortege was ordered to cross the Sierra de Tormancos, sparing five days. Since the path was to narrow to accomodate Charles' litter, the inhabitants of Tornavacos offered to carry the emperor on a sill. Escorted by more than 100, the old, ill emperor eventually reached the pass, swearing he would not cross any other pass but death. He was welcomed the same day in Jarandilla by the Count of Oropesa.
Ivan Sache, 22 March 2020
The flag (photo,
photo) and arms of Tornavacas, adopted on 17 February 1990 by the Municipal Council and validated on 23 December 1990 by the Royal Academy of History, are prescribed by an Order issued on 25 February 1991 by the Government of Extremadura and published on 7 March 1991 in the official gazette of Extremadura, No. 19, p. 491 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:
Flag: Quadrangular. Gyronny blue and white. Charged in the center with the crowned municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Quarterly, 1. and 4. Or a cow sable with flaming horns, 2. and 3. Chequy argent and azure 15 pieces. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.
The Royal Academy of History validated the proposed symbols. Seals used in 1860 by the municipality feature a cow and a balance, a symbol of justice commonly used on the seals of the time. The legendary cows (vacas) make the arms canting.
The other quarters feature the arms of the Álvarez de Toledo, Counts of Oropesa and lords of Tornavacas from the middle of the 14th century to the suppression of the feudal system.
[Boletín de la Real Academia de la Historia. 188:1, 190. 1991]
Ivan Sache, 22 March 2020