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Espartinas (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2017-02-11 by ivan sache
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Flag of Espartinas - Image after the Símbolos de Sevilla website, 27 October 2015


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Presentation of Espartinas

The municipality of Espartinas (14,723 inhabitants in 2014; 2,074 ha; municipal website) is located 15 km north-west of Seville.

Espartinas is of disputed etymology. Some scholars believe that the name of the town was derived from Spolentium, a name coined by soldiers from Spoleto, while other claim that the town was named for the patrician Spartus. However, the town was most probably named by the inhabitants of Paterna de San Bartolomé, who had left their village after an epidemic of black plague to establish a new settlement.
Once a Muslim alquería part of the district of Hish-al-Farah (San Juan de Aznalfarafe), Espartinas was mentioned for the first time under its modern name in 1299. King Ferdinand III the Saint intended to rename the village Monasterios, which did not happen. During the 15th century, the villagers took the party of the lord of Marchena against the Duke of Arcos. The municipality was progressively reduced to a simple hamlet made of a few farms, nearly depopulated. In the 17th century, the lord of Espartinas was Diego Caballero de Cabrera, Marquis of Tablante. The village resumed its growth along the road connecting Huelva and Seville, and, subsequently, southwards, perpendicularly to the road.

Espartinas is the proud birth place of "toreros of great fame", such as Juan Antonio Ruiz “Espartaco” (b. 1962; biography), active from 1975 to 2015. He was granted the alternativa on 1 August 1979 by Manuel Benítez "El Cordobés" and ranked No. 1 from 1985 to 1991.

Ivan Sache, 27 October 2014

Symbols of Espartinas

The flag (photo, photo, photo) of Espartinas (municipal website), which does not appear to have been officially registered, is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, one and a half longer than wide. Horizontally divided in the middle, the upper stripe, white, and the lower stripe, blue. In the center the municipal coat of arms.

The coat of arms of Espartinas, submitted on 18 May 2012 by the Municipal Council to the Directorate General of the Local Administration, is prescribed by a Decree adopted on 24 May 2012 by the Directorate General of the Local Administration and published on 10 July 2012 in the official gazette of Andalusia, No. 134, p. 8 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per fess, 1a. Gules a castle or masoned sable port and windows azure, 1b. Argent a lion rampant gules crowned or, 2. Azure a Maltese Cross argent. A bordure gules eight saltires or. The shield surmounted by a Royal medieval crown.

The local, oral tradition, claims that a coat of arms similar to the modern one, once displayed in the Town Hall, was broken into pieces during the Second Republic "because it featured the royal crown". A villager kept the pieces and could reconstruct the coat of arms during the Civil War, which remained in very limited use (at the time, Espartinas was a small municipality that produced very few administrative documents requiring a seal). The sporadic use of the arms did not prompt the municipal authorities to officially establish the heraldic design of the arms.
At the end of the 20th century, Espartinas turned into a modern town, with increased municipal services, cultural activities and sports events. The popularizaton of computer-aided design and printing caused an unprecedented release of documents, official or not, showing the municipal arms. In most cases, the representation of the arms was heraldically flawed; moreover, legal prescriptions made mandatory the adoption of an official design of the municipal arms and the suppression of the corrupted versions of the historical arms.
The oldest known coat of arms of Espartinas is embroidered on the simpecado (Marian procession banner) of the Hermandad del Rocío (website) of Espartinas, designed in 1957 in Esperanza Elena Caro's workshop (presentation).

The traditional, spurious explanation of the arms of Espartinas is based on a text written on a ceramic plaque hanging inside the Town Hall. Dated 1991, the text is a rephrazing an older one, written c. 1960 on another plaque hanging inside the old Town Hall. According to elders, the texts are based on a book on the history of Espartinas once kept in the old Town Hall. No reference to such a book, however, could be found either in the National Library or in the University of Seville; the source, if any, must have been a manuscript whose reference has been lost.
The text says that Espartinas was conquered by the Order of Malta, therefore the Maltese Cross on the shield, and that King Alfonso X the Wise granted in 1291 the town with the Royal arms and the saltires, as a reward for the contribution of the inhabitants of Espartinas to the Battle of Baeza. The battle was fought on 30 November 1227, St. Andrew's day, but Espartinas was reconquered only in 1248 by Ferdinand III the Saint. Accordingly, its inhabitants, then under Muslim rule, could not have fought in the Battle of Baeza on the Christian side. The reconquest of the town by the Order of Malta, although not documented, is plausible, since the Order reconquered the neighbouring town of San Juan de Aznalfarache.

The author of the coat of arms, and therefore the rationale for its design, is unknown yet. The origin of the arms might be related to the arms of the local lords, the Caballero de Cabrera lineage. The arms of he Caballero lineage have a bordure charged with eight fleurs-de-lis, while those of the Cabrera lineage are charged with eight Crosses of Alcántara. The castle and the lion rampant are featured on the arms of the Cabrera lineage.
[Municipal website]

Ivan Sache, 27 October 2014