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Moselle (Department, France)

Last modified: 2021-04-08 by ivan sache
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Flag of Moselle - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 27 April 2019

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Administrative data

Code: 57
Region: Grand Est (Lorraine until 2014)
Traditional province: Lorraine
Bordering departments: Meurthe-et-Moselle, Bas-Rhin, Vosges
Bordering countries: Germany (Federal States of Saar and Rhineland-Palatinate), Luxembourg

Area: 6,216 km2
Population (2016): 1,045,271 inhabitants

Préfecture: Metz
Sous-préfectures: Forbach, Sarrebourg, Sarreguemines, Thionville
Subdivisions: 5 arrondissements, 27 cantons, 727 municipalities.

The department is named after river Moselle (550 km), a tributary to the Rhine.
The original department of Moselle was suppressed by the Treaty of Francfort (18 May 1871), being incorporated into Germany except the arrondissement of Briey. In 1919, the department of Moselle was reinstated, with the addition of the arrondissements of Châterau-Salins and Sarrebourg, originally parts of the defunct department of Meurthe.

Ivan Sache, 13 November 2009

Flag of Moselle

The flag of Moselle (photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo, photo) in continuous use, since at least 2011, in front of the buildings of the General, the Departmental Council, by the Departmental Assembly, and in several occasions, is a banner of the Department's arms with the words "DEPARTEMENT" and "MOSELLE".
The arms are a bit adapted, with alerions stacked in the right part of the gules bend, a dexter hand floating near the hoist in the gules field without its silver cloud, unequal upper and lower silver bars, the lion shifted to the fly, and the barbels shifted to the hoist and not centered on the field. The azure color is represented very light blue.

Olivier Touzeau, 26 April 2019

Former flag of Moselle


Former flag of Moselle, 1999 - Image by olivier Touzeau, 26 April 2019

An older flag of the department (video, September 2009), probably designed in 1999, is white with the department's coat of arms and the words "DEPARTEMENT" above the coat of arms and, below the coat of arms, "DE LA" in small letter above "MOSELLE".

The arms of Moselle, are "Quarterly, 1. Gules a dexter hand proper clad azure issuant from a cloud in sinister base holding a sword in pale argent pommelled or, 2. Or on a bend gules three alerions argent, 3. Azure crusilly fitchy two barbels addorsed or, 4. Barry of ten argent and azure a lion rampant gules armed langued and crowned or. Inescutcheon per pale argent and sable".
These arms, adopted in 1948, highlight the complex history of the department:
- 1. The arms of the Chapter of the Cathedral of Metz recall the Province of the Three Bishoprics (Metz, Verdun and Toul);
- 2. The arms of Lorraine recall that the Bailiwick of Sarreguemines, once part of the Duchy of Lorraine, bore such arms in the 19th century;
- 3. The arms of Bar stand for the region of Moyeuvre-Grande, once part of the Duchy of Bar;
- 4. The arms of Luxembourg stand for the region of Thionville, once part of the Duchy of Luxembourg;
- The escutcheon bears the arms of the medieval Republic of Metz, used today by the town of Metz, capital of the department.

The coat of arms of Moselle is presented by Jacques Meurgey de Tupigny & Robert Louis in Marques symboliques des départements français, with the following comment:
"This slightly complicated composition is not in harmony with the other department's symbolic emblems, for which very simple and easy to memorize designs were searched. Produced independently of this work and approved by the General Council, the composition could not have been modified."
These are, indeed the only arms of a French department that were not assigned by Meurgey de Tupigny.

Pascal Vagnat, Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 27 April 2019

Flags of the former General Council


Flag of the former General Council of Moselle - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 26 April 2019

The flag of the General Council of Moselle (photo, photo), adopted in 2006, is white with the small-sized logo of the General Council in the lower left part of the flag, blue and green elements scattered over the upper right quarter of the flag and the writing "Moselle /" in black letters in the lower right part of the flag.


Former flag of Moselle, 2000-2006 - Image by Pascal Vagnat, 28 November 2000

The former flag of the department, officially adopted by the General Council in 2000, features the logo of the General Council.
Blue represents the rivers of the department, including Moselle, while green represents the natural environment of the departement.
The flag was offered to all the municipalities, districts and associations of the departement. It was used in the inner courtyard of the General Council, along with the former flag!.

[Flag]         [Flag]

Older flags of the General Council of Moselle - Images by Olivier Touzeau, 26 April 2019

In October 2012, a white flag with the Council's logo adopted in 2009 (photo) was reported.
A white flag with a simpler logo was observed in 2000 in the inner court of the General Council.

The symbolic system used for the logo is based on the tree and water. The department is rich in forests, lakes, and ponds. The style of drawing and the green and blue colors of the logo are inspired by this scenery. The tree grows on a base alternating land and water. The tree, as in the Germanic symbolic system, represents our ancestors, stability, and longevity. For Moselle, the tree can be either an oak or a beech. The lands are hilly, the curves recalling the cuesta landscape are characteristic of the Plateau lorrain. The cuestas have shaped the local landscape and identity by influencing the buildings, the settlements, and the arable lands and vineyards [the Moselle DOP - 70 ha in 2005 - includes the vineyards of Pays Messin, Sierck-les-Bains, and Pays Messin).
Moselle has been for long identified with iron and steel industry and mining. It is however, among the French departments counting several protected biofopes and specific natural environments requiring preservation. In spite of being the most populated department in Lorraine, Moselle has a global green image. Water is present with rivers, lakes, and ponds, but also with canals equipped for river tourism. The water Maginot line [eastern part of the Saar Fortified Sector, c. 20 km] and the first attempts of fish rearing were located in Moselle.
Moselle has been thriving for long thanks to rivers Moselle and Saar. Trade and exchanges between the Low Countries and Moselle were intense in the past centuries. The port of Metz is Europe's first river port for grain trade.
The green color is represented by the Vosges mountains: the Dabo country in the south and the Bitche country in the north. Here are found endemic species of firs and pines.
The lettering placed beneath the logo represents the old cultural base on which stands the identity of Moselle.
[ Projet Babel]

Pascal Vagnat, Ivan Sache & Olivier Touzeau, 26 April 2019