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Conquest of Valencia

In the Llibre dels Feyts (Book of the Facts), chronicle of the Catalan king James I, it is narrated that when the king was marching toward Valencia, noting that he carried no standard or flag, ordered to make one with the horse's blankets.

It is also said that when he was besieging the city of Valencia, he made know the Moslem king that the signal of surrender had to be the hoisting in the towers of Bab al Sachar of the royal flag. (Chronicle, c. 282): "And when the following day came, at nightfall, I sent the message to the king and to Raís Abulhamalet (so that the Christians knew that Valencia was our and they did not suffer any damage) to put our Senyera on the tower that nowadays is the temple. And they said that it seemed right to them. And we were between the Rambla and the camp and the tower, when we saw our senyera above the tower, we dismounted of the horse and we turned our faces to the East, and our eyes wept, and we kissed the ground for the great grace that God had made to us".

In fact the Moor king Abu Zayyan surrended on 28 September 1238, hoisting a flag in the tower consisting in a white rag, with two red bars painted on.

This could mean that t he royal flag still had two red bars (and three yellow pales, since the use of white was a mistake or more probably the lack of adequate fabric), or maybe that the Moslems knew the royal flag of two bars and did not know yet the addition of a new bar, not hing excluding the use of banners with more pales like the variety in number seen in the paintings of the conquest of Majorca. In fact it is logical to suppose that just as the king made build a senyera when he was marching to Valencia, he made build one with four bars after its conquest.

The anticatalan people of Valencia say that the senyera with "two bars [red] was recognized as senyera of Valencia" as if it were a senyera different to those used in Catalonia, but on the contrary it must be emphasized that with this it is confirmed the Catalan affirmation that the same flag was flying in all the kingdoms of En Jaume (king James the Conqueror). The flag of three golden bars is attested in several portolanos, seals and royal documents in the 13th and 14th century, used in Valencia as well as in Barcelona and Aragon, and it is without doubt the royal symbol in this era. Its number would have passed to four bars in 1230 and to five in 1240, but these modifications, not maintained after the death of James and recovered afterwards, would create certain confusion in the artists, with the natural trend to copy the number of bars or pales from previous works.

Number of bars

Flag of four golden pales

In this era (1238) the number of bars was not fixed. As we have seen there exist contradictory examples allowing to suppose the use of senyeras with variable number of bars. Nevertheless the royal senyera had to contain four bars: one for Barcelona and its dependant counties; other for Aragon; other for Montpellier and the dynastic feudal rights in the Carlades; and the last for Majorca.

Heraldic and sigilographic representation.

Flag of five golden pales

Since 1241 the golden bars in the royal seals change from three to five. In 1266 James I completes the conquest of the Kingdom of Murcia. Ephemeral conquest that soon is transferred to Castille.

Heraldic and sigilographic representation.

In Valencia it is conserved the so-called "Peno de la Conquesta" (Standard of the Conquest) that would be an accurate reproduction of Jaume I's royal senyera . The king would grant his senyera to the city and Kingdom of Valencia toward the end of 1238, probably when a fifth golden bar symbolizing Valencia had already been added.

The said Standard of the Conquest, a photograph of which from the Valencia Municipal Archive appears in the European-American Encyclopedia (Volume 66, pag 640) would be a faithful reproduction of the original. Only the addition of the inscription: "Year 1-2-3-8" (in Castilian) shown in the upper part of the yellow bars, has made doubt of such datation. Nevertheless it is sure that the date was added much later ("Banderas de España") in a rehabilitation made in the 18th century. Reforms of the standard are known in 1356, 1394, 1436, 1449 and 1459 ("Banderas" 28) always with indications of fidelity to the original. " Las Provincias" says that the first written mention of the standard date from 1538, something evidently untruthful. Delivered to the city of Valencia by the king, it is deteriorated by the use and with the passage of the centuries it had to be reconstructed several times and in 1449 a new one was made but with an important modification: it was added a crown (the crown appeared since 1377 on the losange-sh aped shield of the city of Valencia, by royal grant). The standard prior to the reform of 1449, after a rehabilitation in 1459, remained in monastic custody and gave step to the use of the so-called "crowned royal senyera

The original standard (El Peno de la Conquesta) is mentioned again in 1538. In 1587 it was damaged by fire and it was restored in 1596 and again in 1638 (year in which probably the inscription was incorporated). The reformed original passed to the Valencia municipal archive in 1838.

As we have seen in the conquest of Majorca, the Standard of the Conquest, though not being probably the royal standard, must be identical (naturally without the inscription) to a standard used in the conquest or little after. King James I made donation of so me of the standards used in his expeditions to various entities: he must have done it to the city of Valencia with the Standard of the Conquest like he made later with the city's Cofradía de los Negros (Confraternity of the Blacks), and therefore the standard was representing the king and not the Kingdom.

The authenticity of the Peno de la Conquesta is accredited by the mentioned paintings of the Aguilar Palace in Barcelona (referred to the conquest of Majorca in 1229 but showing a senyera nearly identical), the paintings of the altarpiece of San Jorge de Pere Niçard (currently in the diocesan Museum of Ciutat de Mallorca) and the mural paintings of the castle of Alcanyis, also of the same era, where equally appear two senyeras of four yellow bars and three red, one with rounded end and other in point. In the shield of the king, preserved in Valencia, four red bars are seen. What is certain is that between 1228 and 1241 the number of red bars oscillated between 2 and 7 and that of yellow pale s between 3 and 8, but since 1241, the four red bars and five pales are generalized and this is precisely the design of the Standard of the Conquest.

The image of the royal senyera of three pales, used for more than one hundred years (at least from 1112 to 1229) persisted for quite a long time. It still appears in the Atlas of Cresques of 1375, though the reproduction of only two bars has been also attributed to the lack of space.