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Martos (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2019-09-16 by ivan sache
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Flag of Martos - Image by Ivan Sache, 4 December 2015

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Presentation of Martos

The municipality of Martos (24,585 inhabitants in 2013; 25,910 ha; municipal website) is located 25 km south-west of Jaén. The municipality is made of the town of Martos and of the villages of Las Casillas (263 inh.), Monte Lope Álvarez (742 inh.), La Carrasca and Villarbajo (310 inh., together).

Martos was the Celtiberian town of Tucci, established in the 5th-4th century BC. Together with Obulco (Porcuna), Tucci was the main center of power of the Turdetani. Known by several archeological remains, Tucci was documented by several historians, such as Appian of Alexandria, Diodorus of Sicily, Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy. The Iberian name of the town, of unknown etymology, was kept in use after the Roman conquest, as evidenced by stone engravings and coins. Granted the status of colonia augusta gemella, the Roman colony was established on the upper part of the rock (Peña) that probably harboured the Iberian oppidum, and progressively increased down to the valley. The local humanist Diego de Villalta (Historia y antigüedades de la Peña de Martos, 1579-1582) described a big town organized around a temple dedicated to Hercules - and, therefore, named Hercules as the founder of the town.
The seat of a bishopric until the Muslim invasion, Tucci maintained its significance during the decline of the Roman Empire. Bishop Camerinus is listed among the attendees of the Council of Iliberis (Granada), organized in the early 4th century. During the Visigothic period, the town probably withdrew within the old Roman fortifications, while farms settled the plain.
After the Muslim conquest, Martos, renamed Tús or Tuss, was transformed in the 9th century in a border town, easily defended and controlling a fertile plain. The town was conquered in 913 by ibn Hudayl. At the end of the 10th century, Tuss, aka Martus, was the capital of one of the 16 iqlim (districts) forming the cora of Jaén. After the suppression of the Caliphate, Martus was incorporated into the Zirid kingdom of Granada; in 1078, Emir Abd Allah had to offer the town to the kingdom of Seville, which increased its rule on Jaén.

Martos was transferred in the 13th century, together with Andújar, to King Ferdinand III the Saint by the local ruler Al-Bayyasí (El Baezano), as part of the Pact of Las Navas, by which the Christian king promised to support the ruler rebelled against the Caliph. The transfer allowed a strong penetration of the Christians into the valley of Guadalquivir; accordingly, Martos was granted in 1228 to the Order of Calatrava. The territorial limits with Jaén, Locubín, Arjona and Porcuna were fixed in 1251. The Order was commissioned to defend the border area located between Jaén and the south of Córdoba, which it did, repelling a Muslim attack in 1244. Martos, with increased fortifications, subsequently served as a base for the operations against the Kingdom of Granada. Following the death of the last Master of the Order of Calatrava in 1489, Martos was incorporated to the Royal domain by the Catholic Monarchs, with permission of Pope Innocent VIII.
In the 16th century, Martos was modernized by corregidor Pedro Aboz y Enriquez and the architect Francisco del Castillo. The fortifications were revamped, while new fountains, churches, convents and administrative buildings were erected. The town peaked at the end of the 19th century; the main source of income was olive oil, soon exported via the newly established railway.

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2015

Symbols of Martos

The flag (photo, photo, photo) and arms of Martos, submitted on 10 April 2015 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, are prescribed by a Resolution adopted on 30 April 2015 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 11 May 2015 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 88, p. 291 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: White, in rectangular shape, in the center the municipal coat of arms.
Coat of arms: Quarterly, divided into four quarters featuring:
I. A Cross of Calatrava on a field or.
II. The castle on the Rock on a field azure.
III. An aspergillum or on a field gules.
IV. A dragon rampant vert on a field argent.
The shield surmounted by a Royal crown open.

The Cross of Calatrava recalls the rule of the Order on the town. The castle symbolizes the fortress of Martos.
The aspergillum and the dragon are a tribute to St. Martha, the town's patron saint. Ferdinand III used to proclaim patron saint of a reconquered town the saint venerated on the day of the conquest. Al-Bayyasí released Martos and Andújar on 29 July 1219, St. Martha's day. A church dedicated to the saint was soon erected on the site of the former mosque; the church was granted the title of "Royal" in 1617. A local legend says that St. Martha expelled with her aspergillum a dragon that lived inside the rock and fed with the inhabitants of the town. This is, of course, a derivation of the story of St. Martha and the tarasque, related in Jacobus de Voragine's Golden Legend.
[Patrones y Patronas de Jaén, 12 February 2015]

Ivan Sache, 4 December 2015