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Palos de la Frontera (Municipality, Andalusia, Spain)

Last modified: 2016-12-20 by ivan sache
Keywords: palos de la frontera | mazagón |
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Flag of Palos de la Frontera - Image from the Símbolos de Huelva website, 3 September 2016


See also:


Presentation of Palos de la Frontera

The municipality of Palos de la Frontera (10,365 inhabitants in 2015; 20,828 ha; municipal website) is located 15 km east of Huelva.

Palos de la Frontera was established in 1322 by Alonso Carro and Berenguela Gómez, who were granted the domain by King Alfonso XI of Castile. At the time, Palos was probably a small fisher's hamlet founded near a river port protected from the sea winds and the pirate's raids.
Palos and the neighbouring town of Villalba ware granted in 1349 to Álvar Pérez de Guzmán by John I, as a compensation for the transfer of Gibraltar and Huelva to the Countess of Medinaceli. The first 50 families that settled in Palos were exempted of tax. Isabel and Juana, the two daughters of Álvar Pérez de Guzmán, each inherited one half of Palos, which was split into two domains. A first part was incorporated to the County of Miranda; in 1480, the Counts engaged 1/6 of the domain to Enrique de Guzmán, Duke of Medina Sidonia. The other part was incorporated to the County of Cifuentes; in June 1492, the counts sold one half of the domain to the Catholic Monarchs.

In the middle of the 15th century, Palos experienced a demographic and economic boom; the traders and seamen from the town established strong connections with the Mediterranean and North Atlantic ports of Europe, selling fish and other products obtained in the Gulf of Guinea.
The war of succession that opposed Juana la Beltraneja and Isabel the Catholic initiated a war between Spain and Portugal. From 1470 to 1479, Palos became the base of the Castilian expeditions against Portugal and its overseas possessions. According to Alfonso de Palencia's Chronicle of Henry IV, "only those of Palos had a long knowledge of the sea of Guinea, being used, since the beginning of the war, to fight the Portuguese and to swap slaves against low-value merchandise". The defeat of Castile, which had to abandon to Portugal by the Treaty of Alcaçovas (1479) all the disputed maritime domains but the Canary Islands, deprived, at least in theory, the seamen of Palos of all their fishing and trade opportunities.

Palos de la Frontera gained world fame as the cradle of the discovery of America. Columbus' first expeditions, made of the caravels La Pinta and La Niña and of the nave Santa María, left the port of Palos on 3 August 1492. Several expert seamen of Palos, caught in illegal activities in the Gulf of Guinea, were sentenced to serve the crown of Castile for two months, which decreased the cost of Columbus' expedition. The famous Pinzón brothers (Martín Alonso, Vicente Yáñez, and Francisco Martín) convinced several seamen of Palos to enrol in the expedition. While the Santa María got wreck in the American coast, La Pinta and La Niña returned to the port of Palos on 15 March 1493.
Columbus was also supported by the neighbouring Franciscan convent of Santa María de La Rábida. Several friars from the convent were among the first evangelizers of America, especially in Mexico and Lima.

Named for the Latin word palus, "a marsh", Palos was erroneously called Palos de Moguer by the early chroniclers of the Indies, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo and Francisco Loacute;pez de Gómara, who believed that Palos and Moguer were a single place. The erroneous name was soon propagated in textbooks and encyclopaedias, prompting the Municipal Council of Palos to adopt the name in May 1642.
Palos, like the other Andalusian ports, declined short after the discovery of America. The Catholic Monarchs established in 1603 in Seville the Casa de Contratación, which exerted a monopoly on trade with the Indies, the Canary Islands and the Barbary Coast. Most shipowners and seamen left Palos to Seville or America, while the fishers moved to the neighbouring towns; in the 16th century, only six ships were still registered in Palos. In the 18th century, the population of the town decreased to 125 inhabitants.
Palos re-emerged at the end of the 18th century, when Catalan investors led by Antonio Bueno, developed wine-growing in the region. The population slowly increased, regaining its size at Columbus' time only in the middle of the 20th century. At the end of that century, oil refining, shell fishing and strawberry cultivation provided significant new sources of income to the town.

Palos was on 22 January 1926 the starting point of the flight of the Plus Ultra, the first hydroplane that crossed the Atlantic Ocean. Made of six stages, the voyage triumphally ended in Buenos Aires; King Alfonso XIII offered the plane to the Argentine Army, which used it for the postal service. The town of Buenos Aires offered a statue of Icarus, which was erected in Palos near the site of the taking-off. The successful flight was seen as a modern re-enaction of Columbus' expedition. Carlos Gardel composed a famous tango entitled La gloria del águila (The Glory of he Eagle) to celebrate the flight. Alfonso XIII granted the title of ciudad to Palos.

Ivan Sache, 3 September 2016


Symbols of Palos de la Frontera

The flag of Palos de la Frontera (photo, photo, photo) is horizontally divided yellow-white-blue, charged in the center with the municipal coat of arms. The flag has not been officially registered yet.
Juan José Antequera proposed on 12 October 1994 a brand new flag, described as follows:

Flag: Rectangular, in proportions 11:18, diagonally divided yellow-blue from the lower hoist to the upper fly, with a white transversal stripe of 1/24 of the flag's height. Charged in the center with the local coat of arms.

The coat of arms of Palos, used since 1967 without official registration, either, is "A caravel in base surrounded by two hemispheres issuant from the flanks the New World dexter the Old World sinister all on the sea superimposed by two caravels dimitiated all proper. A bordure or charged with four anchors sable and four hearts gules in turn. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown open, sometimes substituted by a Ducal coronet."
These arms are an interpretation of the arms granted in 1519 by Charles I to the Pinzón lineage, as a reward for their contribution to the discovery of America. The tinctures are not mentioned in the original grant, which mentions three caravels sailing on the sea, from each of them a hand raising to show the land, the horizon divided and a bordure charged with anchors and hearts.

Juan José Antequera proposed on 12 October 1994 brand new arms.
The arms granted to the Pinzón lineage cannot be properly used by the municipality of Palos. Rather, the designer proposed to use the most emblematic charges of the Pinzón arms to recall all the seamen of Palos who served the Spanish crown in expeditions to the New World: the anchors, the hearts, and the caravels. The proposed arms, which were not considered by the municipality, are "Azure on waves argent a caravel or with crosses gules on the sails ensigned in chief dexter by a heart and in chief sinister by an anchor of the same. The shield surmounted by a Royal crown closed."
[Juan José Antequera. Principios de transmisibilidad en las heráldicas officiales de Sevilla, Córdoba y Huelva]

Ivan Sache, 3 September 2016


Mazagón

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Flag of Mazagón - Image by Ivan Sache, 9 September 2016

The beach town of Mazagón (4,101 inhabitants in 2012), located on the coast 20 km south of Moguer, is administratively split between Moguer (3,357 inh.) and Palos de la Frontera (744 inh.).
The Asociación de Vecinos de Mazagón (AVEMA - Association of the Inhabitants of Mazagón; blog) was registered in 1993, with the aim of obtaining the erection of the town as an independent municipality.

The unofficial symbols of Mazagón were "symbolically" presented on 27 May 2008 in Huelva during a meeting supporting the request of municipal independence of Mazagón.
The flag, designed by Justo Juan Guerra, is horizontally divided green-orange-blue (1:2:1).
[ Huelva Información, 28 May 2008]

Ivan Sache, 9 September 2016

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