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Coat-of-Arms (Hamburg, Germany)

Hamburgisches Landeswappen

Last modified: 2012-07-18 by klaus-michael schneider
Keywords: hamburg | coat of arms (castle: white) |
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Lesser Arms
Kleines Landeswappen
Middle Arms
Mittleres Landeswappen
Greater Arms
Großes Landeswappen
[Lesser Arms (Hamburg, Germany)] [Middle Coat-of-Arms (Hamburg, Germany)] [Greater Arms (Hamburg, Germany)]
all three by Marcus Schmöger

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Translated from Hamburger Wappen:

The oldest coat of arms of Hamburg has been retained on a city seal of 1241. It probably existed long before that: a castle with three towers. Over the middle tower there was a cross even then, indicating certain church in the city. The towers and the walls with their pinnacles and the closed gate symbolized the determination of the town to defend itself. The so-called Stars of Mary (Mariensterne) on top of the two side-towers recalls the fact that Hamburg used to be an archbishopric. During the centuries the towers, walls, pinnacles and symbols of the coat of arms of Hamburg changed several times, without changing in character. The use of city seals with the coat of arms was in olden times a privilege of the City Council; the city elders had to watch its maintenance. Even now the coat of arms is protected and can only be used under specific circumstances.

Jarig Bakker, 30 March 1999

Three variants of the arms are used in Hamburg:

  • The lesser arms (Kleines Landeswappen) only shows the white three-towered castle with two six-pointed stars on a red escutcheon. This dates back to the oldest seals (1241).
  • The middle arms (Mittleres Landeswappen) decorates the escutcheon with a helmet with crest [which includes three peacock feathers and six banners of the arms] and mantling. This variant dates back to 1594.
  • In the greater arms (Großes Landeswappen) two golden lions are added as supporters [standing on a compartment]. This variant dates back to 1640.
I do not have proper sources on the actual use of these three variants. According to the images in Schurdel 1995 and Laitenberger and Bassier 2000 the greater arms is used in the greater state seal (Großes Staatssiegel) and the greater service seal (Großes Dienstsiegel), as well as in the state flag. The lesser arms is used in the lesser service seal (Kleines Dienstsiegel). However, I have not found an instance when the middle arms is used.

Sources: Hesmer 1992, Schurdel 1995, Laitenberger and Bassier 2000 and Gaedechens 1855.

Marcus Schmöger, 30 May 2001

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