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Kaysersberg (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-04 by ivan sache
Keywords: haut-rhin | kaysersberg | purse (black) |
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[Flag of Kaysersberg]

Flag of Kaysersberg - Image by Ivan Sache, 24 September 2011

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Presentation of Kaysersberg

The municipality of Kaysersberg (2,276 inhabitants in 2008; 2,482 ha) is located 20 km west of Colmar.

Kaysersberg (lit., "The Emperor's Mountain") was mentioned for the first time in 1227, when King of Germany Henry VII, the son of Friedrich II of Hohenstaufen, purchased the rights on the castle erected in the early 13th century. Increased, strengthened and made an Imperial fortress, the castle watched the access to the valley or river Weiss, a main link between Upper Alsace and Lorraine. In 1293, King Adolph of Nassau granted to the inhabitants of the village that had formed near the castle the same right as to Colmar; Kaysersberg was therefore granted the status of Imperial Town. The local Imperial administration known as Reichsvogtei was set up in Kaysersberg in 1330.
In 1354, King Charles IV stayed in Kaysersberg, where he recognized the Dekapolis (German, Zehnstädtebund; lit. "Ten Towns"), an alliance formed by the ten Imperial Towns of of Haguenau, Colmar, Wissembourg, Turckheim, Obernai, Kaysersberg, Rosheim, Munster, Sélestat and Mulhouse, which subsisted, more or less, until the annexation of Alsace to the Kingdom of France in 1679. A weekly free market was granted to Kaysersberg in 1429, followed in 1479 by a yearly fair. At the time, Kaysersberg was a wealthy town mostly known for wine, exported all over Europe.
In the 16th-17th centuries, Kaysersberg suffered from the unrest and the wars that scoured the region. In 1525, the revolted farmers seized the town and looted the castle and the abbey of Anspach. The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) ruined the town, which eventually had to mortgaged its church bells in Basle.
During the French Revolution, the town was renamed for a while Mont Libre (Free Mount); textile industry developed in the 1820-1870s. Severely damaged at the end of the Second World War, but quickly rebuilt, Kaysersberg is now a main tourist spot in Upper Alsace.

Source: Municipal website

Kaysersberg is the birth town of Dr. Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), who started his book De mon enfance et mon adolescence as follows:

I was born on 14 January 1875 in Kaysersberg, a small town in Haut- Rhin, in the house with a small tower located on the left upstream of the place. My father was the pastor and teacher in the small Protestant parish of the village.
Himself a pastor and a theologian, but also a philosopher and a musician, Schweitzer founded in 1913 with his wife Hélène (1879-1957) an hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon. Schweitzer was awarded in 1952 the Nobel Peace Prize. The eight associations that support the Lambaréné hospital are grouped in the Association Internationale Schweitzer Lambaréné (AISL, website).
The story of the Lambaréné Hospital has been related by the Catholic writer Gilbert Cesbron (1913-1979) in the play Il est minuit, docteur Schweitzer (1950), made in 1952 into a movie with the same title, directed by André Haguet and starring Pierre Fresnay and Jeanne Moreau. More recently, the Gabonese musician Pierre Akendengué and the French musicologist Hugues de Courson released the CD Lambarena - Bach to Africa as a tribute to Schweitzer, blending Bach musics and Gabon traditional rhythms. Excerpts of a Bach choral played by Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréné on his personal organ are included in the record.

Ivan Sache, 24 September 2011

Flag of Kaysersberg

The flag of Kaysersberg (photo, 19 June 2011), is white with the municipal arms in the middle.

The arms of Kaysersberg (presentation) are "Argent a purse sable fitted or". The purse (locally, Tasche), representing trade, is a very old symbol of the town; the burghers put it on their new arms when the town was granted municipal rights in 1293.
In the 19th century, Kaysersberg used more complex, non historical arms mixing elements from the old seal and arms of the town. The seal, known since 1271, shows a tower, as a symbol of the Imperial power. The arms where "Per pale, 1 Per pale gules and azure all over a tower surrounded by a crenellated wall masoned sable port and windows of the same on five mounds vert, 2. Argent a purse sable fitted of the first." The Armorial of the Généralité of Alsace gives arms made only of the dexter part of the "mixed" arms described above.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 24 September 2011