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Historical Flags (Valencian Community, Spain)

Kingdom of Valencia, Reino de Valencia, Reialme de Val&eagrave;ncia

Last modified: 2001-09-08 by santiago dotor
Keywords: spain | valencian community | historical | lambrequin | jewel | letters |
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Historical Flags

Royal Flag of James I
Senyera Reial de Jaume I
[1449 Royal Flag of James I, Valencia (Spain)]
by Jaume Ollé

Pennon of the Conquest (probable original state)
Penó de la Conquesta
[1238 Banner of the Conquest, Valencia (Spain), original state]
by Jaume Ollé

Pennon of the Conquest (current state, inscription probably added much later than 1238, see text)
Penó de la Conquesta
[1238 Banner of the Conquest, Valencia (Spain)]
by Santiago Dotor

The historical flag of Valencia from the 14th or 15th century is the base for the current one. The devices in the blue and red vertical bands of the hoist were a bit different to the current ones.

Jaume Ollé, 9 December 1998

A photograph of the historical flag of Valencia can be seen at this website, together with a good text on the Valencian senyera. It is written in Valencian, though (a Catalan dialect or a Catalan-like language, depending whom you ask...). There seems to be an ongoing argument in Valencia on whether the blue stripe with open crown device beside the hoist is a traditional part of the flag or dates only from mid-19th century. This is discussed (a bit biasedly in my humble opinion) at Pere-Enric Barreda's website. Again in Valencian, but the drawings are self-explanatory and the argument is that the original (gonfalon-like) royal flag (Senyera Reial) was allegedly unproperly restored in the 19th century, when it was cut into a swallowtailed flag and (because of the resulting short fly) a blue decorative hoist band added to it. Further text (and images) about the Senyera Reial in another page of the same website.

Santiago Dotor, 10 December 1998

Calvo and Grávalos 1983 shows both the Senyera de Jaume I (ie. Flag of James I, the same as Jaume Ollé's [es-vc449.gif]) and the Pendón [pennon] of the Conquest of Valencia (exactly as it is shown here as the Senyera Reial ie. Royal Flag, reconstructed version here), as two different flags altogether, although from the same date, 1238.

About the first one it says:

Señera of James I (1238). It was granted to the city of Valencia by James I as the free municipality's own flag. The currently existing one, a faithful copy of the original, was made in the 17th century and it is kept, though very damaged, at the City Historical Archive of the Turia capital [ie. Valencia]. Its symbolic colours are four stripes of gules [red] on a gold field and a transversal blue band ornated with lambrequins, thus synthesizing the arrival of [the Kingdom of] Aragon to the Valencian sea. (...)
About the second:
Pennon of the Conquest of Valencia (1238). Better known as the Penó de la Conquesta [the same thing, in Valencian]. It is one of Valencia's most important relics; this flag was, according to tradition, hoisted by the arabs on top of one of the city wall's gates as a sign of surrender to James I's forces. It is made of three sewn pieces of sarga [bunting?] and measures 217 cm wide by 247 long, though we may guess it must have been longer since nowadays its fly is irregularly cut. [It is a "paly of nine or and gules", and next to the hoist it bears] the inscription "Año 1 2 3 8" [one bit per yellow stripe, as in this photograph, which] was probably added later. It is kept in the City Historical Archive of Valencia.
The only further Valencian flag in the whole book, and one which would support the fact that the blue crowned stripe by the hoist is part of the original flag of Valencia, is a flag of 1480, slightly pointed at the fly, which I would better describe blazoning as "per pale azure, an open royal crown or, and or a fess gules". The flag is taken from a 1480 map chart in Smith 1975.

Santiago Dotor, 11 December 1998

The flag hoisted by the Muslims in Valencia 1238 when they surrended to Jaume I was white with two vertical red bars. Traditionally it is said that the flag was yellow with two bars, but it seems that the Moors didn't have yellow fabric and used white instead. The Penó de la Conquesta was one of the flags used by the King Jaume I in the conquest of Valencia, that was entrusted to the city of Valencia. The flag deteriorated with time and in 1449 a blue band was added with a golden crown [ornament]. The original flag was restored in 1459 and currently exists, and the blue-band-added flag was also restored several times and also exists.

Jaume Ollé, 12 December 1998

Jaume Ollé said, "The original flag (...) currently exists, and the blue-band-added flag (...) also exists". Does that mean that nowadays there are two such flags (original and copy)? I had understood the original did no longer exist. And since the copy (what date was it made by the way - 17th century? 1449? 1459?...) appears to be the one at Valencia's Archivo Histórico Municipal - where is the original one? And which of both has not got the blue band?

On the other hand, I would say the blue-banded 1480 flag (the one which appears in Calvo and Grávalos 1983 and Smith 1975) implies that the Valencian flag has had such a blue band for a long time (perhaps not always, but certainly from the mid 15th century).

Santiago Dotor, 16 December 1998

As for the Penó de la Conquesta, the original flag was restored (or newly manufactured) several times, and is now in the Municipal Historical Archive. After 1449 it was in Monastic custody [in the Valencian Sant Vicent de la Roqueta Monastery] and in 1838 it was transferred to the historic archive. A substitute flag, with a golden crown in an unknown background (probably yellow) included after 1449, was used (1449-1850). Later the background derived to blue (near 1850) and finally was adopted as blue by the Autonomous Community, to establish a difference with the Catalan flag. Many towns (Sagunt, Xixona...) adopted the Catalan flag as their local flag to be able to use the historical Valencian flag without the blue band. An interesting article about this by A. Durán appeared in Banderas. The main Valencian historian Sanchís Guarner also gives this version. The flag with blue band is the current official flag, and we must accept this. But it never was a historical flag before 1850.

Jaume Ollé, 19 December 1998

On the flag is written "Año 1238". "Año" is a Castilian word, the Catalan equivalent being "any". The army that conquered the moorish city of Valencia was mostly Catalan speaking, but as far as I know, neither Castilian nor Catalan were usually written languages at the time (in the seldom occasions they were actualy written down, usually one or two "vulgar" words amid a Latin text, an ad hoc Latin based spelling was used). I would expect to read the Latin "anno" here.

António Martins, 6 July 1999

This may have nothing to do with either Catalan or Castilian: in late Latin the ~ was often used as an abbreviation of a following "n" (and sometimes a following "m"): cõ- for con- and cu~- for cum. If that were the case with anno I would expect "año" and not the other way around.

Rich Hansen, 6 July 1999

I seem to recall that a double "n" would be handwritten in Medieval Spain as "n" with another small "n" or sometimes just a curved line ("~") on top — hence "ñ".

Santiago Dotor, 7 July 1999