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Majorca (Balearic Islands, Spain)

Mallorca

Last modified: 2018-04-04 by ivan sache
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Flag of Majorca - Image by Pascal Gross & Antonio Gutiérrez, 16 July 1999, based on an official handbook issued by the government of the Balearic Islands


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Flag of Majorca

The flag of Majorca is prescribed in Article 3.3 of Law No. 23 "de capitalitat de Palma", adopted on 20 December 2006 and published on 27 December 2006 in the official gazette of the Balearic Islands, No. 186 (text), as follows:

The official flag of Palma de Majorca shall be the one granted by King Sancho of Majorca, which features the Royal arms of the country and, in the upper part, the image of the castle in white on purple.

The flag is the Aragonese-Catalan flag - nine horizontal stripes yellow and red - with, along the hoist, a white castle rotated 90º counterclockwise on a purple field. On the central tower, an angel in black, haloed and holding a stick topped by a cross.
The castle represents the Royal Palace of La Almudaina, the official residence of the Kings of Majorca, located in Palma de Mallorca, the capital of the Balearic Islands.

The Palace of La Almudaina, which formed the earliest nucleus of the town of Palma, has been the main residence of the successive rulers of Majorca. Shaped like an irregular rectangle, the palace overlooks the lower town and the bay, constituting a convenient watch post. The palace is surrounded by a thick wall including 14 square towers of the same height but one; the higher tower has been known since the 14th century as the Angel's Tower, for the statue that surmounts it. Designed by the Catalan sculptor Arnau de Camprodón upon request of King James II (1276-1311), the statue represents the Guardian Angel who protected the town and the Kingdom of Majorca. Within the walls are located the Royal premises: the main hall, the king's chapel, dedicated to St. Ann, the queen's apartments, remains of the queen's chapel dedicated to St. John, cellars, and the king and queen's gardens.
A fortification already existed in the Roman period, but probably of much lesser extent, since the town of Palma had no special significance at the time. Accordingly, no detail on its architecture has been recorded. The historian Guillem Rossell&ocaute; Bordoy (b. 1932) provided evidence that the fortified wall was erected during the Muslim period, at the turn of the 10th and 11th centuries. At the time, the main fortress, of square shape and protected by thick towers, was located in the south-western corner of the area enclosed by the wall, that is, in the present-day's location of the Angel's Tower.
On 2 February 1115, Count of Barcelona Ramon Berenguer III (1086-1131) assaulted Medina Mayurca, partially destroyed the wall and entered the city. Severely damaged, the palace was rebuilt after the Christians' withdrawal. In the aftermath of the definitive conquest of the island, achieved in 1231, James II ordered in the beginning of the 14th century the revamping and increase of the palace, whose external aspect has been hardly modified since then.
In 1960-1970, José F. Conrado led a complete restoration of the palace, re-establishing its medieval aspect by removing accessory buildings erected in subsequent periods.
[Bartomeu Bestard (official town chronicler). El palacio de la Almudaina. Diario de Palma, 15 June 2008]

In 1309, King James II commissioned the sculptor Arnau de Camprodón to produce a statue of the Guardian Angel (Gabriel). The statue was to be placed atop a tower of the palace that was being rebuilt on the ruins of the Muslim fortress as the future official residence of the new rulers.
In January 2010, the sculptor when to Sineu, a town located in the center of the island, where the king had his palace - subsequently kept as his secondary residence. Documents provide evidence of detailed discussions between the artist and his patron about the design of the angelot. Back to Palma, the sculptor designed the frame of the statue in poplar wood, which he subsequently covered with brass sheets. According to José María Quadrado (1819-1896), the angel bears on the chest a plaque inscribed "Et verbum caro factum est" (John 1.14,The Word became flesh).
Once the sculptor completed the statue, 50 days later than promised, he transported it on a donkey to Sineu. Satisfied, the king ordered it would be placed on the highest tower of the restored palace, soon known as the Angel's Tower. The angel became the symbol of the kings of Majorca. The chapel of the royal palace of Perpignan is also surmounted with an angel. King James III placed an angel as the crest on his knight's helmet, as shown in the first miniature decorating the Palatine Law, a codex issued in 1337.
The island's people and institutions maintained the devotion to the Guardian Angel long after the suppression of the kingdom of Majorca. Among the four solemn festivals celebrated in Palma, the festival of the Guardian Angel was the most prized and attended. Organized by the municipality, the festival and procession disappeared in the middle of the 19th century.
[Bartomeu Bestard (official town chronicler). El Ángel Custodio y los reyes de Mallorca. Diario de Palma, 4 May 2014]

As shown on a black and white photo taken during the restoration of the statue performed in 1929-1930 by the sculptor Pedro Vila, the angel is haloed, holds in his left hand a long stick topped by a cross, and blesses the town from the right hand.
The angel was designed as a wind vane, therefore the local dictum, "es como el Ángel del Palacio", "he is like the Palace's Angel", referring to a whimsical person changing his mind like the angel changes his orientation according to the wind.
[Mallorca Treasure Blog, 4 April 2013]

Santiago Dotor, Jordi Pérez & Ivan Sache, 12 March 2018


Variants of the flag

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Variants of the flag of Majorca - Images by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 June 2009

On the flag observed on 26 May 2009 in Calanova (Palma de Mallorca), the castle (close-up) has a lower segement added on each side. The central tower is topped by a nimbed white angel holding a crozier in his left hand and a palm leaf in his right hand.
On another flag observed on 30 May 2008 right in the centre of Palma de Mallorca, the castle (close-up) has the central tower topped by a white silhouette of a human figure, either being nimbed or wearing a head and holding something like a walking stick in his left hand and a palm leaf in his right. It seems that this was the version hoisted on town halls, council buildings etc. The shade is darker and more blueish.

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Unidentified flag of Majorca - Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 June 2009

A photo taken on 31 August 2006 during a rally shows posters with the following inscriptions: "No al .cat" (word is deleted by red X) en Baleares", and "POR LA LIBERTAD Y LA CONVIVENC[...]A". Above all is a variant of the flag of Majorca, with only three horizontal red stripes, and a vertical light blue stripe charged with three white waves at the right of the purple stripe charged with the palace of La Almudaina.

Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 June 2009


Erroneous representation of the flag

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Erroneous flag of Majorca - Image by Pascal Gross & Antonio Gutiérrez, 5 September 2000

A very common mistake on flags in actual use is the omission of the angel standing on the central tower.

Santiago Dotor, 30 October 2000


Origin of the flag: King Sancho's alleged banner

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Flag granted to Majorca in 1311/1312 - Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 June 2009, after Pons y Fàbregues' reconstruction

The flag of Majorca is based on a study published in 1907 by the the Official Chronicler Benito Pons y Fábregues (1853-1922) (La bandera de la ciudad de Majorca.
Pons first mentions the standard raised by the knight Martinez d'Eslava on the evening of the 31 December 1229 on the walls of the town, which was about to be seized from the Muslims by King of Aragón James I the Conqueror (1213-1276). The event was recalled for long by the Standard's Festival, subsequently renamed to the Conquest's Festival. The inventory of the Town Hall dated 1563 includes el pendón del estandarte con sus cordones, and, in a different paragraph, el asta para el pendón del rey D. Jaime. Since these relics have been definitively lost, Pons proposes a reconstruction based on a comparison with the Pennon of the Conquest kept in Valencia, said to have been hoisted in 238 by the Moors as a sign of surrender of the town. Pons describes the flag as quadrangular, with the coat of arms of the Conqueror, composed of pallets gules on a yellow field and the year added on top. Valencia also keeps the king's señera, another flag of the same design, with a blue stripe on top charged with golden ornaments similar to e Royal crown open. The two flags are complete banners of arms, as were also the standards of the other kings of Majorca, James II (1275-1311), Sancho the Pacific (1311-1324), and James III the Rash (1324-1344). The Town Hall of Ciutadella de Menorca keeps the "venerated banner" of King of Aragón Alfonso III the Liberal (1285-1291), who conquered Minorca in 1287, the last Muslim state in the Balearic Islands.
St. George's altar, kept in the Museum of the Archeological Society of Ciutadella, has a painting of the conquest of Palma, featuring a rider holding a yellow flag with red pallets. Designed in the 15th century, this is the oldest pictorial representation of the flag of the conquest. The Town Hall keeps a painting representing a similar scene, produced two centuries later, though.

The first genuine description of an emblem proper to Majorca is found in a privilege granted on 23 July 1269 by James the Conqueror. Known by several copies, written either in Catalan or Latin, then the two official languages of the kingdom, the text was published in 1895 by Pons:
"III. Since it is correct and compliant with reason that any town has its proper municipal seal, we confirm to you, the municipality of the town of Majorca, that you and your followers shall have the proper seal of the municipality, which shall be made for one part of our arms and for the other part of the image of our Palace de La Almudaina de Majorca, and that you freely use it to seal the documents of the municipality."
Unfortunately, no document bearing this seal has been preserved, which prevents any attempt of reconstruction.

A more detailed description of the flag granted to Majorca is provided in a Royal Letter issued on 14 December 1312 by King Sancho the Pacific in Montpellier (France), then part of the Kingdom of Majorca. Upon request of the ambassadors Guillermo de Montsó, Berenguer Domenge, Bernardo Umbert and Ramón de Palaciol, King Sancho granted to the municipality, town and kingdom of Majorca a standard, "whose upper part shall bear the Royal arms with pallets and the upper part an image of the castle in white on purple".
The original, Latin text erroneously uses twice in parte superiori ("in upper part"). A stone engraved with the arms of Majorca, found in rubble close to the fortified wall, revealed that the shield is divided per fess, the castle being placed in the upper quarter.
Pons lyrically concludes that this was, without any doubt or discussion, the flag of Majorca used since the middle 14th century, which, "flown by famous sailors, guided our armies to the victory and was reflected in the waves of the Mediterranean Sea, flown at the stern of our galleys, protecting trade and repelling pirates." There should not be any hesitation on the design and colors.
Pons then addresses the issue of the coat of arms of Majorca, which should not be compared with the flag - the same way the flag should not be equal to the seal granted by James the Conqueror.
The arms, not known by any genuine grant, are documented on the orle of folio No. 83 of the Libre de Corts Generals, on the cover of the book of accounts of the Gran e General Consell (1438-1440), on coins minted in Majorca from the times of the Catholic Monarchs to the 19th century, on the old doors of the St. Andrew chapel of the Town Hall, on the keystones of the cathedral and other sanctuaries. They are always represented as a lozenge, quarterly with the pallets and the castle on blue. The arms of Majorca were often embroidered on flags, for instance, the flag flown on Porto Pi in the 17th century, which was crimson with the municipal arms in the center.
Pons finally claims that the flag used by King Peter IV the Ceremonious (1336-1387), who united Majorca with Catalonia, Valencia and Aragón, was different from the flag used by the partisans of the last king of Majorca, his brother-in-law James III. After the defeat of James III, the arms of the dethroned dynasty were substituted by new ones, and the new flag of Majorca was quartered, 1. and 4. Or four pallets gules, 2. and 3. Purpure the Royal Place of La Almudaina argent.
Pons' conclusion is that the modern flag of Majorca should be modeled on the flag granted by Sancho in 1312. The original study shows a full-color reconstruction of the flag, presented as vertical. According to the author, there is no contradiction between Jaume I's seal and Sancho's flag, since the two symbols have different functions and ought to be different.

The flag proposed by Pons was extensively used during the Second Republic. Article 3 of the aborted proposal of Autonomy Statutes for the Balearic Islands states: "The flag of the region shall be the old flag of Majorca".
Originally banning regional banners, the Francoist regime progressively tolerated them. For instance, both Pons' flag and the quartered banner of arms were flown on Bellver castle (Palma) during official visits.

Reedited in 1976, Pons' study stirred up local controversy during the transition to democracy period. On 28 July 1978, the inauguration of the Consell General Interinsular (CGI), the provisional autonomic organism, was celebrated in the Bellvar castle. The ceremony was presided by the Spanish flag and the quartered banner of arms, hoisted at the same height. Other flags were the present-day of the Balearic Islands ,and flags representing Majorca (with a purple stripe) and Minorca (with a blue stripe).
In 1979, the CGI appointed an expert commission to solve the issue of the flag, composed of the historians Maria Barceló Crespi (b. 1951) and Gabriel Llompart Moragues (1927-2017), from Majorca, Joan Marí Cardona (1925-2002), from Ibiza, and Joan Hernández Móra (1902-1984), from Minorca. Maria Barceló subsequently explained that the commission's report was mainly redacted by Llompart, a fierce supporter of Pons' design. The report Recull de dades sobre la bandera de les Illes Balears, published in 1980 by the CIG, was immediately criticized in the local press by Catalanist scholars, who pointed out flaws in Pons' reconstruction of Sancho's flag. First, Pons translated livido as "purple", while it means "blue". Second, the repeated word superior is not an error, as claimed by Pons, but faithfully describes the quarterly arms of Majorca.
The modern, horizontal flag of Majorca derived from Pons' reconstruction is heraldically flawed by the placement of the castle, which should appear horizontally. Moreover, there is not a single report of such a design either in medieval documentation or heraldic treatises prior Pons (Weyler Laviña, Bover, Binimella, Dameto, Mut).

Adopted in 1983, the Autonomy Statutes of the Balearic Islands prescribed the flag as proposed by the expert commission, but with the castle placed horizontally in a purple quarter. Majorca kept using Pons' design as its own flag.

[Gabriel Bibiloni, Josep Maria Llompart, Isidor Mari, Josep Massot & Joan Miralles. Sobre les banderes de las Baleares. Baleares, 14 November 1980
Gabriel Bibiloni, Ph.D in Catalan Philology at the Universitat de Barcelona, is Professor at the Universitat de les Illes Balears.
Josep Maria Llompart (1925-1993) was founder and president of the Obra Cultural Balear (1978-1986) and president of the Asociación de Escritores en Lengua Catalana (1983-1987).
Isidor Mari (b. 1947), Professor at Universidad Abierta de Cataluña, was President of the Philology section of the Instituto de Estudios Catalanes (2010-2014).
Josep Massot (b. 1941), who was ordained priest in 1972, has been editorial director of the Montserrat abbey since 1971.
Joan Miralles (b. 1949) is Professor of Catalan Philology at the Universitat de les Illes Balears.
]

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 March 2018


The quartered flag

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Quartered flag of Majorca - Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 19 June 2009

Constrastively, there is profuse documentation of the quartered emblem of the municipality of Majorca, starting in the first third of the 14th century, therefore shortly after Sancho's grant, either as a coat of arms or a flag. The quartered flag is featured on maps designed by Dulcert (1339), >Cresques (1375), and others from the 14th century (images). Pons' claim that the quartered flag was substituted by Peter IV to Sancho's alleged banner does not hold, since Dulcert's map provides evidence that this flag was already used during the reign of James III.
The authors conclude that the genuine flag of Majorca is the banner of the quarterly arms granted by James I, and that there should not be any difference in design between the flag and the arms.
[Gabriel Bibiloni, Josep Maria Llompart, Isidor Mari, Josep Massot & Joan Miralles. Sobre les banderes de las Baleares. Baleares, 14 November 1980]

In a more recent article, Gabriel Bibiloni reiterated his critic of the modern flag of Majorca. He first questions the "myth" of the independent Kingdom of Majorca, calling its kings "monarchs of the Majorca privae branch" of the lineage of the counts of Barcelona. Then he states that the flag was designed after Pons' invention for the sake of regionalism, aiming at superseding the old Catalan-Aragonese symbol.
[Gabriel Bibiloni. Simplificacions històriques. Diari de Balears, 20 September 2005]

Ivan Sache & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 12 March 2018


The quartered flag in the Catalan Atlas

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Quartered flag of Majorca in the Catalan Atlas, two versions - Images by Tomislav Todorović, 28 April 2010

The quartered flag of Majorca in the Catalan Atlas is another flag from this source with the engrailed fly. What looks like the superimposing of two blue cantons with white castles over the Aragonese-Catalan flag, is actually the result of drawing by hand (image). The flag is rather asymmetrical, just like many others from the same source, as well as those from other contemporary sources. This must have been expected to happen, considering the then mapmaking techniques, as the map was eventually delivered to the King Peter IV of Aragon and presented by him to king Charles V of France, regardless of that fact. Another evidence for this is shown in the Gelre Armorial, where the coat of arms of Aragon was reduced to two red pallets on gold field in several cases of marshalling, the device produced being quite symmetrical.

The flag of Majorca shown in the facsimile of the Catalan Atlas which is kept in the National Library of Spain, Madrid, differs from the original in reversing gold and red bars (image). This was not uncommon for the Middle Ages: there are sources (Enciclopedia universal ilustrada, Vol. XXI, 1968) which speak of both patterns (red bars on gold field and vice versa) and the reversed pattern - gules four pallets or - did find its way into the heraldry as the augmentation of at least one Spanish coat of arms (H. Paston-Bedingfeld &, P. Gwynn-Jones. Heraldry, 1993) and was also used to represent Majorca in the Gelre Armorial The facsimile of the Catalan Atlas which is kept in the British Museum, London, also shows the reversed gold and red bars, but blue field of other two cantons was not painted here, so white castle looks just outlined black on white field; this must be the error made during the copying, as it appears in several other flags from the same source (Istorija otkrića i istraživanja, Vol. I, 1979).
It is difficult to tell whether both images show the obverse or they both show the reverse; with many other flags from the map the mapmaker seems not to have been making the difference between dexter and sinister hoistings (for ex. with England).

Tomislav Todorović & Klaus-Michael Schneider, 28 April 2010


Historical flags of Majorca

Banner of Majorca in the Gelre Armorial

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Banner of Majorca in the Gelre Armorial - Image by Tomislav Todorović, 28 April 2010

The Gelre Armorial shows the banner of arms of "Mayurc" (No. 649, folio 62r) as "Gules four pallets or". The shield of arms of the King of Aragón ("Die Coninc v. Arragoen", No. 637, folio 62r), however, shows the opposite pattern, "Or four pallets gules". The same is true for five coats of arms of Aragonese princes (Nos. 643, 645, 646 and 647, folio 62r). Both patterns were obviously in parallel use during the Middle Ages.

Tomislav Todorović, 28 April 2010


Majorca in the Book of All Kingoms

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Flag of Majorca in the Book of All Kingdoms - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 8 April 2009

The "Book of All Kingdoms" [f0fXX], of 1350, tells the voyages of an anonymous Castilian friar and is illustrated with 113 flag images, referred to (though seldom described) in the text.

The 61st flag mentioned and illustrated in the "Book of All Kingdoms" is attributed to Mayorcas, at the time of this source part of the Kingdom of Aragón.
The 2005 Spanish illustrated transcription of the "Book" [f0f05] shows a vertically striped flag in the ogival default shape of this source, with six green stripes alternating with six black ones (green at the hoist).
The anonymous author of the "Book" describes the flag thusly: El rey d'ella á por señales bastones verdes e prietos (And its king has for device green and black bars).

António Martins-Tuválkin, 25 November 2007