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Châtenois (Municipality, Bas-Rhin, France)


Last modified: 2021-04-10 by ivan sache
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[Flag]         [Gonfanon]

Flag and gonfanon of Châtenois - Images by Ivan Sache, 4 March 2010

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Presentation of Châtenois

The municipality of Châtenois (in Alsatian, Keschtaholz; 3,810 inhabitants in 2006; 1,457 ha) is located 3 km west of Sélestat.

Châtenois was known in the Roman times as Castinetum, "a place planted with chestnut trees" (from Latin castanea, "chestnut", "chestnut tree", source of the French worlds châtaigne and châtaignier, respectively). The original settlement might have emerged close to the St. George Source (Georgenbrunnen), where two sandstone pieces fetauring gods Mercury and Rosmerta were found; six sarcophagi dated c. 650, including bones, a sword and jewels, were found in the same place. The chapel protecting the source dates probably from the 15th century.

In the Middle Ages, Châtenois controlled the access to Lorraine via the valleys of Sainte-Marie and Villé. The noble von Kestenholtz family, known in 1138, lived in a castle, of which nothing has remained but the name of a ward of the town. Châtenois has the biggest of the five fortified cemetaries still existing in Alsace, which encompassed the church, the cemetery proper and houses; completed in 1200-1250, the fortification was protected by small fortresses. Around 1400, a second wall was added around the town. Access to the cemetery was then possible only through the Witches' Tower, whose spire is the emblem of the town of Châtenois.
Owned by the Bishop of Strasbourg, Châtenois was burned down in 1298 by the inhabitants of Sélestat after the villagers had changed the course of river Muhlbach. From 1296 to 1306, coins were minted in the building known as Herrenhaus (Lord's House). Lacking money, the Bishop sold in 1410 Châtenois to the Grand Chapter of the Cathedral of Strasbourg, which ruled the village until the French Revolution.

In 1525, during the Peasants' War, thousands of revolted peasants were slaughtered near the gates of Châtenois by the troops of the Duke of Lorraine, but the town was spared. In 1632, the Swedes seized the town and suppressed the Chapter's administration, ruling Châtenois until 1648 (Treaty of Westfalia). Incorporated to France, the town was completely rebuilt; a canal was built in 1681 to transport the stones from Hahnenberg to the building site of the fortifications of Sélestat. Due to demographic increase, the St. Georges Church was rebuilt in 1761, with a Baroque choir, very unusual in Alsace.

From the 18th century onwards, several farmers worked at home as weavers. In 1820, the Wolbert family set up workshops with looms; the local workshops were subsequently managed by the great weavers' families from Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines. Weaving industry flourished in Châtenois until the 1970s. Today, the tradition is maintained by the Hartmann company, specialized in medical and surgical textiles. Other industries, for instance cigare production, developed in the town, which was in the beginning of the 20th century a small workers' town, compared to the neighbouring rural villages.
Châtenois was also famous for its spa and hotel, built in 1875 by the Petitdemange family on a site already known to the Romans. Famous all over Europe, the healing spas of Badbronn and Heinrichsquelle were destroyed in 1904 in a blaze and never rebuilt.

Source: Municipal website

Ivan Sache, 4 March 2010

Flag of Châtenois

The flag of Châtenois, as observed in June 2009, is horizontally divided green-yellow. There is also a forked gonfanon vertically divided green-yellow.
The colours of the flag are taken from the canting municipal arms, "Or a chestnut tree eradicated vert" (image).

Pascal Vagnat, 22 February 2010