La Vuelta a España 2016

Spanish Heraldry
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Chris Green
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby Chris Green » 03 Sep 2016, 09:15

Saturday's route starts from yesterday's finish, Urdax-Dantxarinea, crosses back into southern France and finishes at Aubisque-Gourette.

The first town the cyclists pass in France is Cambo-les-Bains (or Kanbo in Basque):

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Cambo was a place where the incurably sick used to go in the hope of gaining some relief that the doctors of the time were unable to offer. Both Isaac Albéniz the Spanish composer and Edmund Rostand writer of "Cyrano de Bergerac" spent their last days there at the beginning of the 20th century.

Cambo was once part of the Basque province of Labourd which, though far from the areas most usually associated with them, was captured by the Vikings and held by them from 844-986 AD. From 1169-1199 it was ruled by King Richard I (Lionheart) of England.

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Blazon: Parti au premier d'or, au lion de gueules tenant en sa dextre un dard de harpon du même, posé en barre, la pointe en haut ; au second d'azur à fleur de lys d'or.


Note that the lion is holding a harpoon and not a spear or arrow.

Gourette has a coat of arms that must have a story to it, but I have yet to find it:

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Blazon: D'azur à l'arbre terrassé de sinople, adextré d'un ours assis contourné de sable, senestré d'un taureau furieux de gueules, l'arbre accosté en chef de deux fleurs de lys d'argent.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby Chris Green » 04 Sep 2016, 07:12

The Vuelta has now (Saturday) moved into Aragon, as the arms of the town of Sabiñánigo which forms the departure point clearly show:

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The letters S P Q R usually stand for "Senatus Populusque Romanus", though not I suspect in this case. (I doubt if they have the meaning given to them by London market traders: Small Profits Quick Returns.)

The municipaliy of Sabiñánigo boasts somewhat under 1,000 inhabitants, but Wiki lists over constituent 50 "towns" (most of which must have fewer than 20 inhabitants).

Not content with its not unpleasing CoA, the town council shelled out for a logo, which features on its web-site. How this childish daub promotes the image of Sabiñánigo is a mystery to me.

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The finishing line is at the ski resort of Formigal in the mountains above Sallent de Gállego whose arms also bear witness to its being Aragonese (though this time the dexter rather than the sinister half):

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Blazon: Escudo: partido, primero, el Señal Real; segundo, de gules, un sol de oro. Timbrado de corona real abierta y en punta un listel de plata con la leyenda en letras capitales de sable PERIRE NON FUGERE.


"Perire Non Fugere" means "Do Not Flee But Perish" or perhaps "Choose Death Not Flight". I can find no reason for this defiant motto. There seems to have been no memorable battle or massacre in the area.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby Chris Green » 05 Sep 2016, 06:48

Monday's stage sees the Vuelta switch its sights to the east coast, starting from Alcañiz and making its way to the Mediterranean at Peñiscola in Valencia on the Costa del Azahar or Costa dels Tarongers (Orange Blossom or Orange Tree Coast).

The arms of Albeñiz are:

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Blazon: Escudo cortado, 1º de Aragón; y 2º de azur, una torre de piedra terrazada, acostada de dos cañas de sinople, una a cada lado.

Once again we find the "Or four Pallets Gules" of Aragon, this time the top half (there seems to be no rule as to where or how the arms of Aragon should be used in civic arms).

The "cañas de sinople" look like maize but that is "maiz" in Spanish. They are actually reeds, or possibly bamboo canes.

The use of an oval shield for municipal arms does not seem to be unusual in Aragon, though not as widespread as is the lozenge in Catalonia.

The arms of Peñiscola reflect its nickname "the Gibraltar of Valencia":

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Blazon: Escudo cuadrilongo de punta redonda. En campo de azur, un castillo de oro con tres homenajes, mazonado y aclarado de gules, sobre una peña de su color y olas de azur y plata, acompañado de dos flores de lis de oro. Al timbre corona real abierta.


The castle that now exists was built by the Knights Templar at the end of the 13th century. But the headland was no doubt fortified long before as it was successively occupied by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Aragonese. It was used in the 1961 film "El Cid" to represent Valencia.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby JMcMillan » 05 Sep 2016, 14:35

Chris Green wrote:The "cañas de sinople" look like maize but that is "maiz" in Spanish. They are actually reeds, or possibly bamboo canes.


Might it be sugarcane?

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Possibly not; I have no idea whether it's cultivated in the area, although if you can grow orange trees, you should be able to grow sugarcane.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby Chris Green » 05 Sep 2016, 15:23

Might it be sugarcane?


It certainly looks right. Sugar cane translates as "caña de azúcar" so that mystery may be solved. Well done Mr M.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby Chris Green » 07 Sep 2016, 08:13

Yesterday was a rest day in Castellón de la Plana whence the cyclists depart today.

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Blazon: Un losange de oro con cuatro palos de gules, y sobre el todo, un castillo de plata, donjonado de tres torrecillas y aclarado de gules. (..) Al timbre “coronel español”, (..) que es un aro enriquecido de piedras preciosas, realzado de ocho florones y hojas de acanto (de las que sólo se ven cinco) interpoladas de ocho perlas, una en cada hueco.


Before leaving the coast the route passes through the town of Benicássim, a name that immediately struck me as being Arabic; and indeed it is, According to WikI:

The name is derived from the Banu Qasim tribe, a segment of the Kutama Berbers that settled the area during the 8th century Moorish conquest of Spain.


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The arms feature not only the almost ubiquitous Aragonese pallets but also the Moorish star and crescent. As to the "Azure a Bend between two Eagles displayed Argent", I can only guess that they were the arms of a noble who once held the land here.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby JMcMillan » 07 Sep 2016, 13:01

Chris Green wrote:Yesterday was a rest day in Castllón de la Plana whence the cyclists depart today.

Blazon: Un losange de oro con cuatro palos de gules, y sobre el todo, un castillo de plata, donjonado de tres torrecillas y aclarado de gules. (..)


Canting arms, the name of the city, Castellón, meaning great castle.

Al timbre “coronel español”...


I'm glad they explained this, because while coronel means coronet in heraldo-Spanish, this is the more generally understood meaning of a coronel español :

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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby Chris Green » 08 Sep 2016, 08:29

Today (Thursday) the Vuelta stays in Valencia, this time starting inland at Requena and heading south and east towards the coast,finshing at Gandía.

I could only find one rendering of Requena's arms and no blazon, so I can't say anything much to satisfy curiosity. The date 1468 is not mentioned as being significant in the Spanish Wiki and the broken ox-yoke (?) is a mystery, unless it is meant to signify the breaking of the yoke of Moorish domination, but that was much earlier in 1238. I can offer no explanation either for the royal crown rather than the usual coronet. As for the horns of plenty/cornucopias, are they really horns of plenty? Surely they are meant to provide all good things, not just a few flowers and a lot of leaves?!

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Gandía's arms feature yet another disappointing castle with water, this time relieved by a star:

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Blazon: Escudo cuadrilongo de punta redonda. En campo de azur y sobre ondas de plata y azur, un lienzo de muralla de plata, con dos torres en los extremos, mazonado y aclarado de sable. En jefe, una estrella o cometa de plata de seis puntas. Al timbre, corona real abierta.


It is noteworthy that the blazons of Spanish municipal arms often, as in this case, state the shape of the shield.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby JMcMillan » 08 Sep 2016, 13:01

Chris Green wrote:I could only find one rendering of Requena's arms and no blazon, so I can't say anything much to satisfy curiosity. The date 1468 is not mentioned as being significant in the Spanish Wiki and the broken ox-yoke (?) is a mystery, unless it is meant to signify the breaking of the yoke of Moorish domination, but that was much earlier in 1238. I can offer no explanation either for the royal crown rather than the usual coronet. As for the horns of plenty/cornucopias, are they really horns of plenty? Surely they are meant to provide all good things, not just a few flowers and a lot of leaves?!


The city's website has a page entitled "Did You Know? The Traditional and Historic Shield of Requena, http://www.requena.es/es/content/sab-que-escudo-tradicional-e-hist-rico-de-requena. It says that

* In the upper part is a star of eight points as a symbol of the bishopric of Cuenca, although according to the historian Herrero y Moral it represents the star that on the night of 7 January 1468 foreshadowed the victory of the people of the town of Requena over the Count of Castrogeriz, who had been lord of the place since 1465 by a grant from Enrique IV.

* Also in the upper part appears a key symbolizing the location of Requena as the gateway and boundary between Castile and Aragon, as well as (according to the interpretation of Herrero y Moral) the keys to the castle that were delivered to Enrique IV after the expulsion of the Count of Castrogeriz.

* In the lower part is a yoke broken in the middle as a symbol of liberation from the dominion of the Count of Castrogeriz, and the year 1468, the date of the victory.

It also says (if I understand properly) that the royal crown signifies the traditional direct linkage between the Spanish crown and the town--perhaps Requena was historically a royal feu, other than the three years when it was under the sway of Castrogeriz? This doesn't seem clear from the page on the coat of arms, but probably means something to locals who know the history.
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Re: La Vuelta a España 2016

Postby Chris Green » 08 Sep 2016, 13:07

Thank you very much Joseph. That clears up the date, the broken yoke and even the star and the key. The web-site even has some info about the two cornucopia and the crown, though less convincingly historical than the other explanations.
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