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Mulhouse (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)


Last modified: 2011-06-10 by ivan sache
Keywords: haut-rhin | mulhouse | muhlhausen |
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History of the flag of Mulhouse

Quoting Günther Mattern, A contribution to the history of the colors of Alsace and her cities [mar72], The Flag Bulletin [tfb], 1972, 11 (3), 297-325.

Since 1267 Mulhouse (Mühlhausen) has borne canting arms - argent a mill wheel of eight paddles gules. [Mühlhausen is German for "mill houses"]. We do not know anything about medieval city flags. The only available sources are weather vanes with the mill wheel and occasional hints about banners in Swiss chronicles, as well as the red and white rank flags in the clothing of municipal employees and soldiers. On the other hand the Julius banner of Mulhouse, granted by Cardinal Schiner to the city (which served as an ally of the Swiss Confederation 1506-1798) for her services to the Roman Catholic Church, is well known (see The Flag Bulletin [tfb], 10 (2-3), 107-115).

The investiture decree of Pope Julius II, dated 20 December 1512, grants the city a banner charged with St. Stephen, patron of the city. On white damask, about 2 meters (6'6'') square, there is applied in the center a golden mill wheel. St. Stephen is shown in the canton, richly embroidered on a green background. The saint, standing and dressed in a long white garment, holds a green palm frond in his right hand and a golden Bible in his left. The banner, including the canton, is bordered by brown hewn branches.

As an augmentation, the city received permission to change the red tincture of the mill wheel into a "knightly" gold. [...]

Exact information about Mulhouse city flags is available only from the XVIIIth century. One flag used about 1770 by the Free Company and still preserved, contains 10 red and 10 white flames conjoined in the center. It is kept with the Julius banner in the Historical Museum of Mulhouse. The city flag, which is similar, resembles in its design the gyronny wavy of the famous Swiss military flags. This banner was officially used for the last time as a symbol of the independent Republic of Mulhouse, on the occasion of the city's surrender to the French commissars on 15 March 1798. [...]

Contrary to the situation in other Alsatian cities, the flag tradition of Mulhouse has continued since that time. Up to 1918 as well as during the war of 1939-1945 when the area was again annexed to Germany, the flag could always be seen charged with the arms, usually in the canton. Photographs showing the entry of French troops in 1945 depict a festive street decorated with the city flag, the Tricolor, and the flag of Free France. Today [this article dated 1972, but this is still true] the city flag is used during historic parades and festivities. This emblem is also found at the Basel-Mulhouse Airport [name has been changed recently], where it flies beside the armorial banners of Basel, St. Louis, and other communities.

All the coats of arms and flags that were officially granted during the period 1870-1918 by the German Emperor to the towns, cities, etc. of the Reichsland Elsaß-Lothringen (Imperial Country of Alsace-Lorraine) are still valid today, since France did not abolished them, including the coat of arms of the Reichsland itself. But there is not any Reichsland anymore or a territory matching the former Reichsland.

Pascal Vagnat, 14 June 1998