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Andlau (Municipality, Bas-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2021-04-24 by ivan sache
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Flag of Andlau - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 12 October 2020

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Presentation of Andlau

The municipality of Andlau (1,738 inhabitants in 2018; 2,369 ha) is located 40 km south-west of Strasbourg and 20 km north of Sélestat.

Andlau developed around a nuns' abbey of founded in 880 by Richarde of Swabia, daughter of the Count of Alsace. The abbey was initially placed in Saint-Sauveur following the rule of St. Benedict and received the protection of the Pope. Allowed to mint coins until 1004, the abbey was endowed with substantial assets and subsequently received many privileges. Emperor Charles IV, in confirming them in 1347, declared the abbey free of all tax and contributions and granted to the abbess Adelaide of Geroldseck, and her successors, the title of Princess of the Empire. The exact date of its secularization is not known but it is believed that it took place between the 12th and 14th centuries.

The first references to the house of Andlau are in the 12th century, which makes this family one of the oldest noble lineages in France. The lords of Andlau may have given their name to the town.
According to some sources, the Andlau family arrived in Alsace in Roman times with another family, the Dandolo, of Venice, which founded the castle of Bas-d'Andlau. Another version credits the creation of the town to a man named Balthasard d'Andolo, a native of Bologna. He would have followed Charlemagne who was heading north in the 8th century. Another story alludes to a knight of Andlau, who would have helped Richarde to find a suitable location for the abbey. The lords of Andlau won renown during the Battle of Sempach on 9 July 1386, during which the Earl of Andlau lost four of his sons. Gradually a small town formed around the abbey that the abbess gave in fief in 1364 to the Andlau noble family.

A pilgrimage was dedicated early in its history to the Virgin Mary in the crypt of the church where the canons met every day to pray. The 14th century tower, which is often, erroneously, called Spesbourg Castle, belonged to the Dicka noble lineage. Between the 13th and 14th centuries four castles were built in Andlau, including the castle of Wibelsberg-Crax of which there are a few remnants. Built between 1232 and 1249 it was first demolished by Eberhard of Andlau, then rebuilt from 1293, and finally demolished in 1298 by order of the Bishop of Strasbourg. The lords of Andlau fortified the town in the 15th century.

Olivier Touzeau, 12 October 2020

Flag of Andlau

The flag of Andlau, as observed in 2011, is blue with the municipal arms, "Gules a cross or".
These arms are shown in the Armorial Général as the arms of different members of the Andlau lineage:
- "Antoine d'Andlau, Lord of Andlau and other places, Captain of a free company of fusiliers for the guard of the Rhine in Ottmarsheim" (image);
- "François Jacques d'Andlau, Gentilhomme, Councillor at the Presidial of the Nobility of Lower Alsace" (image);
- "Jean Conrad d'Andlau, Gentilhomme of the Nobility of Lower Alsace" (image);
The Armorial also shows "the seal used by the noble Andlau family to seal contracts" as "Argent a cross gules" (image).

Pascal Vagnat, Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 13 October 2020