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Molsheim (Municipality, Bas-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2010-11-13 by ivan sache
Keywords: bas-rhin | molsheim | wheel (yellow) | st. george |
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[Flag of Molsheim]         [Flag of Molsheim]         [Flag of Molsheim]

Flag of Molsheim, three versions - Images by Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 22 February 2010

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Presentation of Molsheim

The municipality of Molsheim (9,382 inhabitants in 2006; 1,085 ha) is located 30 km south-west of Strasbourg.

Several Merovingian tombs (6th-7th centuries) have been found in the north of Molsheim in 1935. The oldest written mention of the town, as "Mollesheim", dates back to 820 when Bishop Adaloch granted a part of the local vineyard to the St. Thomas Chapter.
The domain of Molsheim was fiercely disputed between the Bishops of Strasbourg and the German Emperor; in 1308, Bishop John of Dirpheim showed his power by increasing the town wall built some decades earlier.
Expelled from Strasbourg by the Lutherian magistrates, the Canons of the Cathedral of Strasbourg withdrew in 1605 to Molsheim, which became a stronghold of the Counter-Reformation in Lower Alsace. Several religious orders settled in the town (Jesuits and Benedictines, 1580; Carthusians, 1598; Capuchins, 1657) to fight the "new doctrine" and to teach young priests.
Molsheim's downtown has kept its entrance gate, the Smiths' Gate (Schmiedtor), built in the beginning of the 14th century; the Metzig, a Renaissance hall buit in 1583 by the Butchers' (Metzger) Guild; the former Jesuits' Church, built in 1615-1617 by the architect Christophe Wambser, keeping the tomb of Bishop John of Dirpheim and a Silbermann organ dated 1781; and the Carthusian monastery, housing the Museum of Archeology, Art and History and the Bugatti Foundation.

Source: Municipal website

Molsheim is the cradle of the legendary Bugatti cars. The Italian engineer Ettore Bugatti (1881-1947), emigrated to Alsace in 1901, set up his factory in Molsheim in 1909. The Molsheim factory produced famous sports cars that won races everywhere in Europe, often driven by the pilots Louis Chiron (1899-1979) and Pierre Veyron (1903-1970). Ettore's son, Jean, designed the Royale roadster and other famous models. In 1933, the engine of the Royale was adapted to railcars, 85 of them being manufactured and used until the 1950s.
Following the 1936 national strike, Ettore Bugatti left Molsheim to Paris and transferred the factory to Jean, who died in 1939 in a car accident. The factory was stopped in 1956 after 47 years and the production of some 8,000 cars. The Automobile Museum at Mulhouse shows 120 Bugatti cars, including Ettore's personal Royale, part of the collection assembled by the Schlumpf Brothers.

The Bugatti factory at Molsheim was purchased in 1963 by Hispano- Suiza; subsequently renamed Messier-Bugatti and incorporated to the Safran group, the company manufactures in Molsheim airplane wheels and brakes, hydraulic systems and equipment.
In 1987, Romano Artioli purchased the Bugatti brand and founded Bugatti Automobili at Campogalliano, near Modena. The company bankrupted in 1995 and Volkswagen purchased the Bugatti brand in 1998; its fully-owned subsidiary Bugatti Automobiles was created the next year in Molsheim, the new factory being inaugurated in 2005. Production of the Bugatti Veyron 16.4 (80 models per year) started the same year.

Ivan Sache, 22 February 2010

Flag of Molsheim

The flag of Molsheim exists in three variants. These flags are not hoisted over the town hall but over the Hôtel de la Monnaie (Mint Hostel), once used to mint coins for a very short period and today a municipal cultural center.

The current flag is blue with the emblem from the coat of arms.
A former version of the flag had the coat of arms, excluding the mural crown, outlined in black.
A vertical, forked gonfanon, with the emblem from the coat of arms on top, is hung inside the building (photo in Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, 30 January 2009.

The coat of arms of Molsheim is D'azur à une roue d'or aux rais de laquelle est attaché et lacé un homme nu de carnation nimbé d'or. Une couronne murale timbre l'écu ("Azure a wheel or to the spokes of which is tied a naked man proper with a halo of the second.)
According to Brian Timms, these arms, shown on seals dated 1263, where confirmed by the Armorial Général and by Imperial Decree of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1912, Molsheim and Alsace being then part of the German Empire.

The arms represents the martyrdom of St. George. In his "Golden Legend", Jacobus de Voragine gives a lot of technical, not to say sadistic details of the event. George was laid on a wheel equipped all around with swords sharpened on both sides. The wheel broke out without any damage to George. After different, unsuccessful tortures, George was eventually beheaded with a sword the next day.

Ivan Sache, 22 February 2010