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Brunstatt (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2010-12-04 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Brunstatt]

Flag of Brunstatt - Image by Pascal Vagnat, 7 July 2006


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Presentation of Brunstatt

The municipality of Brunstatt is located in Upper Alsace, in the southern outskirts of Mulhouse.
The origins of Brunstatt are unknown. A document listing the village among the possessions of the monastery of Hohenbourg, located on the Mont-Saint-Odile, dated from the beginning of the 9th century, was indeed written near 1200. However, a village might have existed very early near the Burnenbach brook and the fortress built near the brook. In 1310, the German Emperor granted Brunstatt to the Count of Ferrette. A few years later, Jeannette, last Countess of Ferrette, married Albert II of Hapsburg, and Brunstatt was transferred to Austria until the Treaty of Westfalia (1648), which retroceded the Austrian possessions in Alsace to the King of France.
The old village developed inside two successive city walls surrounding the fortress built in 1295 by Cuno de Berckheim, vassal of Count Thiébaut de Ferrette. The fortress, built at the entrance of the valley of Ill, was an outpost protecting the County of Ferrette. In 1321, Werner de Berckheim was granted the domain, fortress and village of Brunstatt by Ulrich III, last Count of Ferrette. In 1459, Emperor Friedrich III granted to Brunstatt two yearly fairs on St. Georges' day and 15 days ater St. Michel's day, respectively, as well as a weekly market hold on Monday. During the so-called "War of the Six Deniers" opposing Mulhouse and the Confederated cities to the nobles supported by the Hapsburg, the village of Brunstatt was seized on 13 June 1468 by Mulhouse. At the end of June of the same year, the Confederated attacked again the village and sacked the fortress. In 1523, the fortress was purchased by the Count of Ortenburg-Salamanca, of Spanish origin and owners of the village of Ortenburg in Carinthia. The family went into bankrupt and sold its goods, including the castle of Brunstatt, to Martin Besenval in 1644-1657.
The merchant Martin Besenval (1600-1660), aka Boessen or Besenwald, was appointed member of the Grand Council in Solothurn (Switzerland) in 1636; he was Salzwalter (salt manager) in Solothurn and Baillif of Lugano (1648), and was made Baron by King of France Louis XIV. The tradition says he was buried in the parish church of Brunstatt. The Besenval lineage split later into three branches; several Besenval served the King of France as officiers of the Swiss guards, including Pierre Joseph Victor, last lord of Besenval (1721-1791). Solothurn was indeed known as the "Ambassador's Town", mainly because of the ambassadors of the king of France. The former Busenval palace is still standing in Solothurn near the river Aar. After the French Revolution, the lords of Busenval retired in Solothurn, where they welcomed priests who had fled Alsace.
In 1807, Besenval rented the castle of Brunstatt to the wrights from Mulhouse Wagner and Litschy, who set up there a factory in 1808. The Besenval were made Counts in 1820. The castle was later purchased by the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer (Railway Company) and demolished in 1857 during the building of the Mulhouse-Belfort railway. The last member of the Besenval lineage died in 1927. When the train struggled on the curve on the former site of the castle, old people of Brunstatt used to say: "Hear how the train struggles, the Grand Duke don't allow it to go".

(After Paul Stintzi, Brunstatt, Faits d'Histoire d'une commune de Haute-Alsace)

In September 1913, a Roman well was found in the place called Croix du Burn, located in Brunstatt near the Burn source. The well yielded several Roman coins dated from emperors Trajan (98-117), Marcus Aurelius (161-180), Constantine (323-337) and Gratian (161-180). According to L.G. Werner, the coins were threwn into the well in order to calm down the source deity. In the Christian times, the source became a baptistry. A village called Burnen was built near the source, which was a popular place of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. Burnen was listed as an important parish in the diocese of Basel in the Liber Marcarum (Parish Index) in the beginning of the 15th century. The Liber Marcarum still mentioned Burnen in 1468 but no longer in 1500. Surprisingly, there are no remains of the village and the cause of its suppression has not been recorded.
The St. Blaise chapel in Burnen, already known in the 15thw century and suppressed after the French Revolution, was the seat of a pilgrimage and horses' blessing on 3 February, St. Blaise's day. A century after its destruction, Priest Fritsch decided to rebuild the chapel; funds were provided by two ladies from Mulhouse but nothing happened because of lax management of the project by Fritsch. Twenty years later, on 8 October 1882, the rebuilt chapel was eventually inaugurated in the presence of 4,000-5,000 people and renamed the Cross' Chapel.

(After Antoine Steck, the parish priest, 1982)

The municipal fountain known as St. George's Well was erected in 1872 after plans drafted by architect from Mulhouse Rissler-Tournier. Water coming from the Burn source is released into the fountain by four dolphin's heads. Since it inauguration 132 years ago, water supply in the fountain never stopped.

Source:Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 7 July 2006


Flag of Brunstatt

The municipal flag of Brunstatt is vertically divided red-white with the municipal coat of arms allover. The flag is hoisted near the St. George's Well, as shown on the municipal website.
The muncipal coat of arms is (GASO):
D'argent au fer à cheval de gueules, les sept trous de clous ajourés du champ, quatre à senestre, trois dans le point du flanc dextre (Argent a horseshoe gules, the seven nail holes open on the field, four senester and three in the base of the dexter flank).

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 7 July 2006