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Villaquejida (Municipality, Castilla y León, Spain)

Last modified: 2015-01-17 by ivan sache
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Flag of Villaquejida, left, as prescribed, right, as used - Images by Ivan Sache, 9 February 2011

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Presentation of Villaquejida

The municipality of Villaquejida (992 inhabitants in 2009; 5,342 ha; municipal website, unofficial website) is located in the southeast of León Province, 50 km of León. The municipality is made of the villages of Villaquejida (capital) and Villafer.

Villaquejida was known in the 9th-11th centuries as Villa Quexscita; King of León Alfonso V the Noble (999-1028) granted the place to count Pedro Fernández and his wife Sancha. The brother of the Queen of Navarre and a firm enemy of the Counts of Castile, Pedro Fernández was a main political and military councillor of Alfonso V, who rewarded him with domains located around Villaquejida; the incorporation of the domain owned by his wife made of Pedro one of the richest lords in the Kingdom of León. The king and Pedro died side by side in 1028 during the siege of the fortress of Viseu (Portugal), then hold by the Muslims. His widow Sancha has remained famous as one of the most powerful dames of the time and the hidden support of the Navarrian party, promoting the Navarro-Leonese dynasty (King Ferdinand I, 1037-1065), using murder when necessary.
After Sancha's death without a male heir, most of their domains were transferred to the Bishop of León, but Villaquejida remained under direct control by the king; however, disputes between the bishop and the local nobles required the mediation of the king: in 1067, King Alfonso VI the Emperor conveyed in "villa nomine Quexscita, ripa fluvw Estole" (in the"villa named Quajida, on the banks of river Esla) the court ("palatinum regis"), including the Bishops of León and Astorga, several counts and the highest church and noble dignitaries of the kingdom, and eventually confirmed the rights of Bishop of León Pelagius. However, the villagers made all their possible to oust the bishop from the local affairs.
The second significant lord of Villaquejida was Gonzalo Morán (d. 1258), appointed by Kings Ferdinand III and Alfonso X to different offices and eventually Alfonso X's main councillor; he was also involved in the Guadalquivir campaigns of the Reconquest, that culminated with the seizure of Seville in 1248, and in the repression of the Muslim revolts in Jerez, Arcos and Lebrija.
At the end of the Middle Ages, Villaquejida was transferred to the Counts of Benavente; later on, the domain was shared between the Counts of Gramedo and the Marquis of Cardeñosa. The first Count of Gramedo (7 October 1677) was José Briceño Ronquillo; the first Marquis of Cardeñosa (24 August 1634) was Diego de Guzmán y Vivanco. In the mid 18th century, Villaquejida was a wealthy town mostly living from wine-growing.

Villaquejida claims to be the birth town of St. Turibius of Mongrovejo (1538-1606, canonized in 1726), a claim challenged by Mayorga de Campos (Valladolid Province). Named Archbishop of Lima (Peru) in May 1579, where he founded in 1591 the first seminary in the Western Hemisphere, Turibius converted hundreds of native people, learned their languages, and became a main opponent to the colonial governors, defending the rights of the natives. His most famous disciples are the Peruvian saints Rose of Lima and Martin de Porres.

Ivan Sache, 9 February 2011

Symbols of Villaquejida

The flag and arms of Villaquejida are prescribed by a Decree adopted on 29 December 2000 by the Municipal Council, signed on 1 February 2001 by the Mayor, and published on 16 February 2001 in the official gazette of Castilla y León, No. 34, p. 2,821 (text).
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Argent a cross azure charged with four fleurs-de-lis or, one at each end of the cross, an escutcheon or an oak vert. Of square shape and with proportions 1:1.
Coat of arms: Azure a lion or ensigned with a cross patty or surrounded by two fleurs-de-lis of the same, a chief or an oak vert surrounded by two bunches of grapes of the same. The shield surmounted with a Royal Spanish crown.

The flag hoisted over the Town Hall (photo) has proportions 2:3, instead of the prescribed square proportions.
The lion recalls that Villaquejida was a Leonese Royal domain. The cross highlights to local, strong devotion to the Christ. The four fleurs-de-lis are taken from St. Turibius' arms. The oak recalls the etymology of Villaquejida (I guess, for Latin quercus, "an oak"). The grapes recall the significance of wine-growing for the municipality.

Ivan Sache, 9 February 2011