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Murcia (Municipality, Region of Murcia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-05-08 by ivan sache
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Flag of Murcia, as seen on 25 September 2012 at the Town Hall and in front of the theater - Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 17 October 2012

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Presentation of Murcia

The municipality of Murcia (439,712 inhabitants in 2014, therefore the 7th most populated Spanish municipality: 88,186 ha; municipal website) is the capital of the Region of Murcia.

Murcia was established on 25 June 825, as Misr al-Tudmir (Tudmir Camp), by Governor Abd-el-Malik Ben Labib, commissioned by Abd al- Rahman II, Emir or Córdoba, to pacify the Tudmir province. The camp was transformed into the town of Madinat Mursiya by Emir Muhammad I. After the fall of the Caliphate of Córdoba in 1031, the former Tudmir province became an independent kingdom (taifa) ruled by the Banu Tahir lineage. The taifa became in 1090 a province of the Almoravid empire.
The Almoravid rule did not last very long either, since the governor of Valencia, Abd Allah Muhammad ben Saad ben Mardanish took the power in 1147; he conquered most Andalusia, set up a truce with the Christian kingdoms and established commercial relations with the Italian republics, being recalled once century later by a pope as "a king of glorious memory". The "King Wolf" made of Murcia the capital of his kingdom, increasing the fortifications of the town and of the neighborhood. The population of the town probably reached 28,000 inhabitants. After the death of Ibn Mardanish in 1174, his sons had to submit in 1174 to the Almohads.
Abd Allah Muhammad ben Yusuf ben Hud al-Mutawakkil established again an independent kingdom in Murcia. After his death in 1238, his successor, Muhammad bin Hud Baha al-Dawla recognized the suzerainty of the Kingdom of Castile in 1243.
Madinat Mursiya is the birth town of the theologian, philosopher and poet Muhammad bin Arabí (1185-1240), who taught in Damascus and is still considered as one of the most influent Muslim theologians.

Following the incorporation of Murcia to Castile, most of its inhabitants fled to the Kingdom of Granada or North Africa. The Mudéjars revolted in 1266, forcing Alfonso X to require the help of his father-in-law, James I, King of Aragón. Alfonso re-settled the area with Castilian and Aragonese colonists. Occupied by John II of Aragón from 1296 to 1302, scoured by the black plague and threatened by the Kingdom of Granada, the Kingdom of Murcia was nearly depopulated in the 14th century. The Muslim knowledge of agriculture and, especially, of irrigation systems, was soon lost.
The seizure of Granada in 1492 suppressed the Muslim threat on Murcia, which re-emerged. The political unification set up by the Catholic Monarchs allowed the town to develop harmoniously. The French traveller Jouvain described Murcia in the 17th century as "the best place in Spain for the quantity of fruit and wine, so that this small kingdom is indeed the garden of Spain".
The War of the Spanish Succession significantly impacted Murcia. Bishop Luis Belluga Moncada organized the Bourbon party in the province, while the Austrian pretender seized Cartagena and Alicante. Murcia resisted to Archduke Charles in the battle of Huerto de las Bombas, fought on 4 September 1706, significantly contributing to the final victory of Philip V.

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2015

Flag of Murcia

The flag of Murcia is red, charged in the middle with an emblem based upon the town's coat of arms.

The central field of the logo is red with seven golden crowns. Two triplets of them are ordered paly at either side. The seventh crown is placed above a heart-shaped white line. Heart and crown are connected. The shield has a bordure made of 16 small alternating white and red quarters. The white quarters show the red lion rampant of León, while the red quarters show a white castle of Castile with three torrets, port and windows red. The shield is topped by a Royal crown.

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 17 October 2012

Coat of arms of Murcia

The coat of arms of Murcia, validated on 21 June 1968 by the Royal Academy of History, is "Gules a heart of the same fimbriated or surrounded by the motto 'Priscas novissima exaltat et amor' charged with a fleur-de lis and a lion proper surmounted by a Royal crown and surrounded by six crowns or 2, 2 and 2, a bordure of Castile and León proper, 16 pieces. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown."

The history of the coat of arms and of the old banner of Murcia was detailed by Juan Torres Fontes (1919-2013; Professor at the University of Murcia and Municipal Archivist of Murcia), one of the four members of the commission that designed the flag of the Region of Murcia (Estampas de la vida en Murcia en el Reinado de los Reyes Catolicos, Revista murgetana, No. 13, pp. 47-72, [PDF]).
The first coat of arms of Murcia was granted, together with a banner, on 14 May 1266 by King Alfonso X the Wise, soon after the reconquest of the town from the Moors. The grant does not describe the arms; however, King Peter I the Cruel increased on 4 May 1361 the grant, "adding one more crown to the five crowns already featured on your seal and banner, which shall feature six crowns." The king confirmed the grant in Seville on 10 July 1361, adding "as the orle of your seal and banner lions and castles one by one". Francisco Cascales (1563-1642), a noted erudite and humanist of Murcia, described the arms of the town in a décima (ten-verse poem):

De seis coronas compuesta 		Made of six crowns
Murcia su lealtad mantiene; 		Murcia maintained its loyalty
del Rey Sabio cinco tiene, 		Obtaining five from the Wise king
del Rey D. Pedro la sexta. 		From king Peter the sixth
Y su gloria insigne es esta,		On its glorious emblem
que las coronas doradas 		The golden crowns
en campo rojo asentadas 		Placed on a red field
para mas dignos blasones	        For a worthier blazon
de castillos y leones, 			With castles and lions
están ceñidas y orladas.		Are surrounded and orled.

King Philip V completed the arms of Murcia on 16 September 1709, as a reward for the loyalty of the town during the War of Spanish Succession: a Royal crown over a lion and a fleur-de-lis was added to surmount the shield, the whole surrounded by the Latin motto "Priscas novissima exaltat et amor" (To Honour and To Love the Old and the New).
The Murcia Council modified in 1575 its seal to increase the hommage to the king that had reconquerred the town. The Councillors argued that Alfonso X's last will prescribed the burial of his body in Seville and the transfer of his entrails to Murcia. On 14 February 1575, the Council required from Philip II the addition of a heart to the coat of arms, as a symbol of the loyalty of the town to Alfonso X, which was accepted.

Ivan Sache, 8 May 2015