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Riedisheim (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2012-05-12 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Riedisheim]

Flag of Riedisheim - Image by Ivan Sache, 28 November 2011

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Presentation of Riedisheim

The municipality of Riedisheim (12,236 inhabitants in 2008; 696 ha) is located just east of Mulhouse.

Riedisheim was mentioned for the first time in 1004, as Rudinisheim, on a list of hunting domains granted by the German Emperor to the Bishop of Basle. The current name of the village was fixed in 1832. Its meaning is disputed, referring either to the "Ried", that is the Alsace plain, or to the shortened name (Rüdo, Rüdi) of a lord Rudolf.

In the Middle Ages, the Banate of Riedisheim included the two villages of Riedisheim and Leibersheim. The latter village must have disappeared in 1467 during the war that opposed the Helvetian Confederation to the Duchy of Burgundy; the St. Mark chapel is said to have been used as a stone quarry by the villagers of Riedisheim in the late 18th century, so that nothing has remained from Leibersheim.
In the 12th century, Riedisheim belonged to the domain of Altkirch, part of the County of Ferrette. In 1495, the Austrian Emperor granted Riedisheim as an hereditary fief to Oswald, Count of Thierstein and Bailiff of Altkirch. When the Thierstein lineage got extinct in 1523, Riedisheim was returned to Austria and subsequently transferred to the Counts of Ortemburg-Salamanca, Bailiffs of Landser. Close to bankruptcy, the Counts of Ortemburg-Salamanca transferred the villages of Riedisheim, Brunstatt and Pfaffstatt to Mulhouse; since they never paid their debts, Mulhouse attempted to annex the villages, which did not please the villagers. Riedisheim was nearly suppressed at the end of the Thirty Years' War, keeping only six inhabitants out of 100.

In 1648, Riedisheim was incorporated to the Kingdom of France by the Peace of Westphalia. Mulhouse had to withdraw its territorial claims in 1653, when the Fugger of Augsburg purchased Riedisheim, Brunstatt and Didenheim. One year later, they sold the villages to Martin Boesenwald / Besenval, the captain of a company of Swiss Guards in the service of France; his descendants would rule the village until 1798.

In 1966, Riedisheim was the "biggest village in France", with 10,144 inhabitants, so the Municipal Council decided to call it a town (but note that village and ville have no specific or regulated meaning in France).

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 28 November 2011

Flag of Riedisheim

The flag of Riedisheim is vertically divided yellow-red with the municipal arms in the middle. The flag was unveiled in 1987 during the celebration of the partnership with the German town of Munderkingen. The colors of the flag must be those of the department of Haut-Rhin or those of the former municipal arms.

The arms of Riedisheim (history, municipal website) are "Argent a hind passant gules terraced vert". These were the canting arms of the Counts of Thierstein, Thier in Old German being a synonym of Hirschkuh, that is "a hind". The municipality kept using the Thierstein arms long after the extinction of the lineage; however, the use of the arms dropped in the second half of the 18th century, when they were remembered only on a engraved stone marking the boundary with Mulhouse. Accordingly, the meaning of the arms was lost.
In 1878, the historian Nicolas Ehrsam enquired in the Bulletin of the History Museum of Mulhouse about "the enigmatic beast shown on the arms of Riedisheim", which he identified as a dog, while the villagers seem to have cherished it as a white horse.
In 1914, the Municipal Council asked - just in time - the German Emperor a copy of the Armorial Généralo, which confirmed that the original blazon was "Argent a hind passant terraced gules".
After the Second World War, the Préfet of Haut-Rhin appointed an Heraldry Departmental Commission to establish the genuine arms of the municipalities constituting the department. The record of the municipal arms in the arrondissements of Mulhouse, Ribeauvillé and Thann was published in 1981, as a part of the Armorial des communes du Haut-Rhin. As far as Riedisheim was concerned, André Herscher, an heraldist from Colmar, checked documentation predating the Armorial Général and was able to reestablish the original design of the Riedisheim hind, "standing on four, with the tongue visible and the ears not straight", as opposed to "modern" renditions of the arms. His own reconstitution of the arms of Riedisheim was eventually validated by the Heraldry Departmental Commission.
The Armorial des Communes du Haut-Rhin (2000) adds that Martin Boesenwald / Besenval was granted arms as "Or a hind gules", derived from the arms of the old Counts of Thierstein, "Or a hind gules standing on three mounds vert".

Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 28 November 2011