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Villarrubia de los Ojos (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-10-19 by ivan sache
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Flag of Villarrubia de los Ojos - Image by "Erlenmeyer", Wikimedia Commons, 10 June 2019

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Presentation of Villarrubia de los Ojos

The municipality of Villarrubia de los Ojos (9,902 inhabitants in 2018; 28,186 ha; municipal website) is located on the border with the Province of Toledo, 50 km north-east of Ciudad Real and 30 km north of Daimiel.

Villarrubia was known in the 11th century as Villa Rubeum (Red Town), a reference to the red color of the local soil. Subsequent names of the town were Villarrubia de los Ajos (16th century) and Villarrubia de los Ojos del Guadiana (18th century), eventually shortened to Villarrubia de los Ojos.
Los Ojos del Guadiana are one of the sources - or resurgences - of river Guadiana.

Villarrubia was already settled in the Age of Bronze (1500 BC), as evidenced by the archeological site of Motilla de Zuacorta. Roman remains were found in Los Ojos del Guadiana, Xetar, Renales, and El Lote, as well as fragments of a road that connected Zuacorta to the banks of the Guadiana and the town of Consuegra (Province of Toledo) through the Sierra de Villarrubia.

After the Christian victory of Las Navas de Tolosa in 1212, the Moorish castle of Villarrubia was transferred to the Order of Calatrava, which established there a Commandery. In the 15th century, the Order was actively involved in the conflict between the Castilian nobility and the crown. Pedro Girón, Master of the Order, and his brother Juan Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, led a league challenging Henry IV's rule. To settle the dispute, the king promised the hand of his daughter, Infante Isabel, to Pedro Girón. To conclude the transaction, but also to support the Marquis of Villena's claim on part of the kingdom, Pedro Girón marched with a troop of 3,000 men from Andalusia to Castile. On 2 May 1466, he stopped at the Commandery of Villarrubia, where he died in odd circumstances, which immediately stopped the advance of the troops.

The Commandery of Villarrubia, disbanded in 1543 with the Pope's permission, was acquired in 1550 by Diego Gómez Sarmiento de Villandrando, 3rd Count of Salinas and Bibadeo. The pillory erected by the Order of Calatrava, as well as its heraldic symbols, was removed from the town and replaced by the emblems of the new ruler. The villagers did not easily abandon the privileges formerly granted by the Order; for the next 300 years, they would engage in series of lawsuits against their feudal lord and the officials appointed by him.
The most famous Count of Salinas and lord of Villarrubio was Diego de Silva Mendoza, appointed Vice Roy of Portugal in 1617 by Philip III, and also a noted poet. His son, Rodrigo Sarmiento de Silva (1600-1664), 8th Count of Salinas and Ribadeo, married in 1622 Isabel Margarita Fernández de Híjar, 4th Duchess of Híjar and one of Spain's richest heirs in the 17th century. He immediately took his wife's titles, being exclusively known as the Duke of Híjar.
Rodrigo Sarmiento de Silva was the most controversial Duke of Híjar. In 1648, he pushed the secession of Aragón from Spain, to no avail. This was yet another episode of his permanent conflict with Philip IV and, mostly, his ministers, namely the Count-Duke of Olivares and Luis de Haro, which resulted in his exile from the Court to Villarrubia in 1631, and, again, in 1644-1645.

Ivan Sache, 10 June 2019

Symbols of Villarrubia de los Ojos

The flag of Villarrubia de los Ojos (photo, photo, photo, photo), which does not appear to have been officially registered, is horizontally divided red-white with the municipal coat of arms in the center.

The coat of arms of Villarrubia de los Ojos, of "immemorial use", is "Per fess, 1. Argent a cross of Calatrava, 2. Gules 13 roundels or. The shield surmounted by a Count's coronet".
The cross of Calatrava recalls that the town belonged to the Order. The second quarter features the arms of Diego Sarmiento, Count of Salinas de Rivadeo, who acquired the town from Charles V in 1591.
[Ramón José Maldonado y Cocat. 1973. Heráldica municipal de la provincia de Ciudad Real. Cuadernos de Estudios Manchegos 4, 84-109]

Ivan Sache, 10 June 2019