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Kientzheim (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: haut-rhin | kientzheim | bear (black) |
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[Flag of Kientzheim]

Flag of Kientzheim - Image by Ivan Sache, 27 November 2011

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Presentation of Kientzheim

The municipality of Kientzheim (777 inhabitants in 2008; 483 ha) is located 10 km north-west of Colmar.

Kientzheim was mentioned for the first time in 785, as Coneshaim. Once owned by the Counts of Lupen, Kientzheim was granted the title of town, and therefore, the right to build a town wall. In spite of the destructions of the Second World War, Kientzheim has kept (or rebuilt) several old houses and its town wall. The Lalli Gate, built in the 15th century, is decorated with a grimacing man's face, equipped with a metallic, retractile tongue, which was used to scoff at assaulters.

In 1563, Kientzheim was purchased, as part of the Upper Landsberg domain, by Lazarus of Schwendi (1522-1583), who completely rebuilt the castle, its main residence. Born in Swabia, Schwendi was a main general and diplomat serving the Emperors Charles V and Maximilian II. On 11 February 1565, he seized the Tokaj fortress from the Turks. The Alsatian tradition says that he brought back to Alsace the Tokay grapevine and would be the father of the Tokay Alsatian wine. This convenient tradition is not supported by any serious data (although Schwendi for sure contributed to the development of wine-growing in the region): the Alsatian Tokay has nothing to do with the Hungarian Tokay (so that the Hungarians eventually obtained the suppression of the Tokay name for the Pinot gris Alsatian wines) and has been grown in Alsace at least since the Middle Ages. Schwendi asked to be buried in the Kientzheim church, where his tombstone is still visible. The sculptor Bartholdi erected in 1898 a statue representing Schwendi holding a grapevine plant.

Source: Alsace Passion website

Ivan Sache, 27 November 2011

Flag of Kientzheim

The flag of Kientzheim (photo in the magazine L'Alsace. Découverte et passion, No. 10, 1999) is vertically divided white-blue with, in the middle a standing black bear with a red tongue. The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Per pale argent and azure all over a bear statant sable langued gules".

According to the Armorial des Communes du Haut-Rhin (2000), the bear has been shown on the municipal seals since the 15th century, represented statant except on a seal dated 1550 showing it passant.
The Armorial Général mistook the bear for a barbet, a French water dog (vaguely looking like a bear!). The correct arms were reestablished on 4 December 1979 by the Municipal Council.

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 27 November 2011