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Beniel (Municipality, Region of Murcia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-05-08 by ivan sache
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Flag of Beniel - Image by Ivan Sache, 1 May 2015

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Presentation of Beniel

The municipality of Beniel (11,112 inhabitants in 2014; 1,006 ha; municipal website) is located east of the Region of Murcia, on the border with the Valencian Community (Province of Alicante), 15 km north-east of Murcia. The municipality is made of the town of Beniel and of the villages of El Raiguero, El Mojón and La Basca.

Beniel was established in the 9th-10th century, possibly by the tribes that controlled the Todmir Cora. Around 1300, the settlement was made of a fortified estate and a few neighbouring houses, the inhabitants mostly living from fishing and hunting in the marshes. The Christian reconquest did not improve the demographic status of the place, the new colonists being attracted in significant population nuclei. Beniel was not listed among the estates granted in 1250 by Alfonso X to the Bishop of Cartagena, which indicated that the place was deserted at the time.

The two posts marking the border between Aragón and Castile were erected in Beniel, as decided in 1304 by the arbitration of Torrellas, ratified in Elche the next year. The delimitation did not satisfy the two parties, causing several border incidents and lawsuits. In 1320, two commissions appointed by the Councils of Lorca and Orihuela, respectively, met in Beniel to fix the definitive limits in the fertile zone watered by the river; no decision was made for the deserted area of Segura.
At the end of the 15th century, Beniel was disputed by farmers and cattle-breeders. The farmers planned to delimit plots and transform the marshes and pastures into arable land. The cattle-breeders, member of the Murcia oligarchy and nobility, opposed to the transformation of pastures into plots, required by the demographic boom that followed the Reconquest. The Catholic Monarchs awarded the disputed land to the Murcian knight Gil Rodríguez de Junterón.

In the beginning of the 17th century, Philip II transferred the civil and criminal jurisdiction over Beniel from the Murcia Council to the Junterón family. Gil Francisco de Junterón, with the permission of the Marchioness of Rafal, re-established the Cinco Alquerías canal, which allowed irrigation of wide spaces hitherto unsuitable for cultivation. Gil Francisco de Molina y Junterón was made Marquis of Beniel by Royal Letters of 9 September 1709.
The political unrest of the second half of the 19th century caused several inhabitants of the town to emigrate to the mining valleys of Almagrere and Cartagena. The municipality of Beniel asked in 1877 to be re-incorporated to Murcia, which was refused by Murcia until Beniel had paid its public debt; the same demand was rejected again in 1884 and 1886.

Ivan Sache, 1 May 2015

Symbols of Beniel

The flag and arms of Beniel (municipal website), adopted on 14 April 1987 by the Municipal Council, are prescribed by Decree No. 119, adopted on 30 July 1999 by the Government of the Region of Murcia and published on 10 November 1999 in the official gazette of the Region of Murcia, No. 260, p. 11,719 (text)
The symbols are described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular flag, divided into two equal horizontal stripes, the upper yellow and the lower green, charged in canton with three red towers, which symbolize the three villages in the municipality of Beniel.
Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Azure a tower or masoned sable ensigned by a crescent argent and a five-pointed star of the same in base a marsh or wavy argent and azure, 2. Vert two posts [photo] ensigned by a sun on a base all or. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The three towers are represented as on the coat of arms of the Region of Murcia.

Ivan Sache, 1 May 2015