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Talavera de la Reina (Municipality, Castilla-La Mancha, Spain)

Last modified: 2020-11-02 by ivan sache
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Flag of Talavera de la Reina - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 September 2019

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Presentation of Talavera de la Reina

The municipality of Talavera de la Reina (83,009 inhabitants in 2018, therefore the 2and most populated municipality in the province and the 4th in Castilla-La Mancha; 18,583 ha) is located 80 km west of Toledo. The municipality is composed of the town of Talavera de la Reina and of the villages of El Casar de Talavera (95 inh.), Gamonal (935 inh.), and Talavera la Nueva (1,461 inh.).

While different towns compete for the title of "the village of La Mancha" ("el lugar de la Mancha") referred to in the ambiguous first sentence of "Don Quixote" ("En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme", "In a certain village of La Mancha, the name of which I do not choose to remember"), Talavera de la Reina is self-styled "the best land in Castile" ("la mejor tierra de Castilla"). This is a reference to Cervantes' posthumous, less-known romance Los Trabajos de Persiles y Segismunda ("The Travails of Persiles and Sigismunda", first published in 1671).
It is believed that Cervantes visited Talavera on his way to Guadalupe, where he offered to the Virgin his chains after having been released from slavery in Algiers. The town is named in the romance, as opposed to "the village of La Mancha", and described in detail in the romance, especially its emblematic Mondas festival.
[La Mejor Tierra de Castilla, 20 November 2016]

During the complicated plot, tw women have the following dialogue:
"Praised be God, Who maketh me see people of my country! At the least I shall hear spoken Vuestra merced."
"By these words, then, you are a Spaniard," answered Constance.
"And what if I be?" said she again; "indeed I am so, and of the best land in Castile."
"And of what?" replied Constance.
"Of Talavera de la Reyna," answered she.
[The Travels of Persiles and Sigismunda: A Northern History, T.L. Darby & B.W. Ife edition]

Talavera de la Reina was known to the Romans as Caesarobriga, a town incorporated in 182 BC to the Province of Lusitania. The Romans developed grain and grapevine cultivation; a wealthy trading town, Caesarobriga minted its own coins and had a forum, temples, a theater and a circus.
The Visigoths renamed the town to Eboria; in 602, King Liuva II offered to the town the statues of the Virgin del Prado; the old cult of Ceres, the Roman goddess of fertility, was substituted by the Mondas festival, celebrated in spring.
After its conquest in 713 by the Muslims, the town was surrounded by a wall and defended by a citadel; the Moors developed irrigated crops and set up fountains and water mills. The town, renamed to Talabayra, became a renowned center of pottery production; most potters were Jews, who lived in harmony with Moors and Christians.

In the aftermath of the reconquest of Toledo by Alfonso VI in 1085, Talavera was delivered to the Christians, to be reconquered in 1109 by the Almoravids and eventually re-incorporated to Castile in 1113.
Sancho IV allowed the organization of two fairs in the town, the present-day's St. Isidor (May) and St. Matthew (September) fairs. On 24 June 1328, Alfonso XI married Mary of Portugal; among her presents, the town was renamed Talavera de la Reina (The Queen's Talavera).

Talavera was the capital of a big territory known as Talavera's Old Lands (Antiguas Tierras de Talavera) stretching from Extremadura to the north of Toledo.
In the 15th-16th centuries, pottery made the fame of Talavera, used for instance in the monastery of San Lorenzo del Escorial, the old cathedral of Salamanca, and the church of the Royal monastery of Santa María la Real de Las Huelgas in Burgos.
The town boomed in the late 16th century, after the establishment in 1750 of the Royal Silk Manufacture, which employed more than 4,000 workers and remained active for one century.

During the Peninsular War, the battle of Talavera, fought on 27 and 28 July 1809 on the Medellín hill, located north of the town, resulted in the expelling of the French to the other bank of river Alberche by the Anglo-Spanish troops commanded by General Arthur Wellesley.
Impoverished by the war, Talavera did not become a provincial capital in 1833, being instead incorporated to the Province of Toledo. The claim of a Province of Talavera de la Reina still re-surfaces from time to time.
Talavera re-emerged in the 19th century with the revamping of pottery art, magnified by the ceramist Juan Ruiz de Luna (1863-1945) and the establishment of the railway, being one of the first Spanish towns equipped with a station; the resulting demographic boom made of Talavera one of the most populated towns in central Spain.

Fernando de Rojas (1470-1541), a lawyer who served as Mayor of Talavera from 1508 to 1541, is internationally known as the author of one of the masterpieces of Spanish theater, La Tragicomedia de Calixto y Melibea (1499), better known as La Celestina.
Talavera is the birth place of Friar Hernando de Talavera (1428-1507), Bishop of Ávila (1485-1493) and 1st Archbishop of Granada (1493-1507) and Confessor of Queen Isabel the Catholic; of the musician Francisco de Peñalosa (1470-1528), Cantor of the Royal chapel of Ferdinand the Catholic (1498-1516); of the conquistador Francisco de Aguirre (1500-1581), Governor of Tucumán (1553-1554; 1563-1567; 1569-1571) and of Chile (1554-1555), founder of the towns of La Serena (Chile) and Santiago del Estero (Argentina); of Admiral Francisco Verdugo (1537-1595), Governor of Friesland, Groningen, Drenthe and Overijssel (1581-1594) and winner of the battle of Noordhorn (1581); of Juan Orellana (d. 1625), Knight of the Order of Saint James, member of the Hispano-Portuguese expedition that expelled the Dutch from Salvador de Bahia in 1625, killed during his return to Spain off the African coast during the attacking of a Dutch vessel; and of Juan de Mariana (1536-1624), a Jesuit priest, historian (Historiae de rebus Hispaniae, 1592-1605, De rege et regis institutione, 1598), and economist (De monetae mutatione).

Ivan Sache, 12 September 2019

Symbols of Talavera de la Reina

The flag of Talavera de la Reina (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo), which does not appear to have been officially registered, is horizontally divided blue-white-blue (1:3:1) with the municipal coat of arms in the center.

The flag used in seemingly less official contexts (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) - for instance, granted to local sports champions, has equally wide stripes, the coat of arms overlapping the blue stripes, and the name of the town wrapping the base of the shield.

The granite lintel of a blind gate of the Prado chapel features a shield without crown charged with an Albarrana tower whose arcade is crossed by two bulls in two opposed directions. An Albarrana tower (from Arabic barrani, "exterior") is a defensive tower detached from the curtain wall and connected to it by a bridge or an arcade.
Philip II's Relaciones (1576) report the arms of the town as "an Albarrana tower and two bulls", "of recent use since [the arms] on old buildings do not feature bulls but only a single Albarrena tower". A stone coat of arms featured on the exterior wall of the Prado chapel indeed shows a single tower; it comes from the demolished Cuartos Gate, where it had for companion a shield in different style showing two bulls. The tower represents one of the big towers that defended the town wall.
Philip II's Relaciones refer to "the so famous festival celebrated 15 days after Resurrection Day, during which 24 bulls run", most probably the Mondas festival, "so old that nobody can remember its foundation".

Legendary, more or less picturesque, explanations provide other possible origins for the charges. Some chroniclers claim that the tower comes the personal arms of king Brigo, the founder of the town. Other refer to Roman coins found in the 16th century, featuring "a castle and two bulls on one side", although nobody ever saw such a coin. Less presumptuous chroniclers say that the tower represents the "inhabitants' value"; among them, Madoz calls the tower a castle, allegedly granted by Alfonso VIII, without providing the least bit of evidence.
The bulls allegedly featured on coins are symbols of "flooding by the river plowing the land". Bartolomé Quevedo identified an oxen and a cow, two animals used by the alleged Roman founders to delimit the settlement. Tomás Rodríguez, the Mayor who answered in 1877 the sigillographic survey made by the Royal Academy of History, says that the bulls refer "to the two bulls released by the inhabitants of the town during the siege to fool their enemies by pretending to still have plenty of food".

Used for a very long period, the coat of arms experienced variations in the placement of the bulls, erroneous interpretation of the tower and addition of new charges.
The Albarrana tower was mistaken for a castle, since the two charges could not be easily distinguished in old seal's matrices. The aforementioned reports by Madoz and Mayor Rodríguez mentions a castle, although the drawing attached to the Mayor's report clearly shows a tower. The original tower did not fall in oblivion: I1defonso Fernández' Historia de Talavera shows a shield featuring the tower. However, most modern versions of the coat of arms show a castle, which is not compliant with Talavera's heraldic tradition.
The bulls, originally represented the one entering and the other leaving the fortification, are often represented differently. They are represented passant in a stone transferred from the grain barn to the rear wall of the Pardo chapel. Starting in the 19th century, the bulls are sometimes represented affronty.
Among the odd additions to the historical design are a waving flag and a tree standing atop the tower, the tree sometimes suggested by a single branch. These two designs, of unknown meaning, were introduced in the 19th century, to be progressively dropped from the municipal coat of arms. The tree could be a mulberry recalling those planted to feed the silkworms used in the silk manufacture established at the end of the 18th century. The flag, which always appears in the national colors, was allegedly a representation of the blue and white banner of the town. The Chasseurs' Battalion "Talavera No. 18", established in 1872, adopted in 1898 a similar emblem, with the tree substituted by a fleur-de-lis.
[José Luis Ruz Márquez & Ventura Leblic García. Heraldica municipal de la Provincia de Toledo. 1983; La Mejor Tierra de Castilla, 14 September 2016]

The Albarran towers made of Talavera one of the safest fortified towns in the area. The chronicles state that 17 such towers were erected in the 13th century by the Christians. Eight of them are still standing today, one of them including since 1752 a chapel dedicated to the Merchants' Christ and some other ruined.
[ Municipal website]

Ivan Sache, 12 September 2019

Submunicipal entities


The submunicipality of Gamonal (967 inhabitants in 2015; 3,200 ha) is located 10 km of Talavera la Reina.
The former municipality of Gamonal was incorporated to Talavera la Reina by Decree No. 2,541, issued on 10 September 1966 by the Spanish Government and published on 11 October 1966 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 243, p. 12,851 (text).
The submunicipal entity of Gamonal was established by Decree No. 134, issued on 29 December 1998 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 31 December 1998 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 64, p.p 10,417-10,418 (text). The process was initiated on 6 May 1992 by the Municipal Council of Talavera la Reina. The historic territory of Gamonal is recognized, but the management of the Torrehierro Business Park, partially established on its territory, remains under the full jurisdiction of Talavera la Reina.

The flag of Gamonal is prescribed by an Order issued on 10 August 2006 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 5 September 2006 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 183, pp. 18,562-18,563 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel, one and a half time longer than wide, horizontally divided in three equal horizontal stripes, the upper, blue, the middle, white, and the lower, green. Charged in the center with the coat of arms of Gamonal.

The coat of arms of Gamonal is prescribed by an Order issued on 10 August 2006 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 5 September 2006 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 183, p. 18,563 (text).
The coat of arms is described as follows:

Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Vert three flowers of asphodel argent in pale, 2. Azure two ram's heads argent in pale. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

The asphodel (gámon) makes the arms canting. The rams must recall that Gamonal was once located on the Royal Eastern Leonese Road (Cañada Real Leonesa Oriental) used for transhumance.

Ivan Sache, 12 September 2019

Talavera la Nueva


Flag of Talavera la Nueva - Image by Ivan Sache, 12 September 2019

The submunicipal entity of Talavera la Nueva (New Talavera; 1,543 inhabitants in 2015; municipal website) is located 4 km of Talavera de la Reina.
Talavera la Nueva was established by a Decree issued in 26 April 1957 by the Spanish Government and published on 14 May 1957 in the Spanish official gazette, No. 128, p. 1,306 (text).

Talavera la Nueva was designed by the Instituto Nacional de Colonización (INC). The Cazalgas Dam and the Alberche Lower Canal were inaugurated in 1949, while the Irrigable Zone of the Canal was proclaimed of national interest by a Decree issued on 9 August 1946. Approved in December 1949, the General Plan of Colonization covered an area of 10,532 ha, stretching over the municipalities of San Román de los Montes, Pepino, Gamonal, Talavera de la Reina, and Calera y Chozas and composed of 10 sectors each granted water autonomy. Once plots had been obtained either by purchase or expropriation (2,113 ha), the Coordinated Plan, prescribed by an Order issued on 6 September 1951, was jointly managed by the Ministries of Public Works and Agriculture to establish the colonies of Alberche del Caudillo and Talavera la Nueva. They were the biggest of the seven new colonies founded in Castilla-La Mancha.

Alberche del Caudillo and Talavera la Nueva were officially inaugurated on 5 October 1956 by Francisco Franco. Esteban Esteban, who had saved Franco's life during the Morocco War, was granted the property titles for all the colonists of Talavera la Nueva.
Talavera la Nueva was composed of 138 irrigated plots and 27 family-oriented gardens (huertas). The first colonists settled the village in fall 1953, living in temporary "huts", while the main colonization wave occurred in 1956-1957. Most colonists, however, lacked skills required for irrigated, modern agriculture, which prompted the INC to launch an education and training program.

The flag of Talavera la Nueva is prescribed by an Order issued on 16 June 2010 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha and published on 28 June 2010 in the official gazette of Castilla-La Mancha, No. 122, p. 30,219 (text).
The flag is described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular panel one and a half time longer than wide, divided in three horizontal stripes, the upper and the lower stripes, blue, and the central stripe, white, twice higher than the other. Charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms of the municipality.

The flag (municipal website) is, basically, the flag of Talavera de la Reina charged with a proper coat of arms. It appears to be used in proportions 1:2.

The coat of arms of Talavera la Nueva, adopted on 23 September 1983 by the Municipal Council, as prescribed on 9 September 1981 by the Royal Academy of History, is prescribed by an Order issued on 7 November 1983 by the Government of Castilla-La Mancha.
The arms are described as follows (municipal website):

Coat of arms: Per pale, 1. Vert a plow or, 2. Argent waves azure and argent. A chief azure a rising sun or. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed.

Ivan Sache, 12 September 2019