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Wissembourg (Municipality, Bas-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2021-04-10 by ivan sache
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Flag of Wissembourg - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 10 October 2020

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Presentation of Wissembourg

The municipality of Wissembourg (7,519 inhabitants in 2018; 4,818 ha) is located on the border with Germany, 80 km north of Strasbourg.

Wissembourg grew around the Benedictine Weissenburg abbey, founded in the 7th century. Only the Schartenturm and some moats remain from the buildings constructed in the 11th century under the direction of Abbot Samuel. In the 13th century, the town was fortified and the abbey church of Sts. Peter and Paul was erected under the direction of Abbot Edelin; secularized in the French Revolution and despoiled of its treasures, it became in 1803 the parish church, resulting in the largest parish church of Alsace, only exceeded in size by the cathedral of Strasbourg.

Wissembourg was one of the ten towns that formed the Decapolis established in 1354 by Charles IV; preserved after annexation by France under Louis XIV in 1678, the Decapolis was suppressed during the French Revolution. On 25 January 1677 a great fire destroyed many houses and the Town Hall, which was rebuilt from 1741 to 1752. Many early structures were spared, such as the Salt House(1448)with its typical Alsatian pitched roof, which served ws the first hospital in the town. Many 15th and 16th-century timber-frame houses and parts of the town's walls and gateways are still standing.
Stanisław Leszczyński, the desposed king of Poland, stayed in Wissembourg from 1719 to 1725, where he received on 3 April 1725 the formal request for the hand of his daughter in marriage to Louis XV.

The first Battle of Wissembourg took place near the town in 1793. The Wissembourg Lines, established by Villars in 1706, were a line of fortifications extending to Lauterbourg nine miles to the southeast. Austrian General von Wurmser succeeded in briefly capturing the lines in October 1793, but was defeated two months later by General Pichegru and forced to retreat, along with the Prussians, across the Rhine.
The second Battle of Wissembourg, faught on 4 August 1870, was the first battle of the Franco-Prussian War. The Prussians, nominally commanded by the Crown Prince Frederick but ably directed by his Chief of Staff, General Leonhard Graf von Blumenthal, defeated the French, which allowed them to invade France.

Olivier Touzeau, 10 October 2020

Flag of Wissembourg

The flag of Wissembourg (photo) used in the 1990s by the Town Hall was a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules a castle argent masoned and windows sable a portcullis argent".
The arms of Wissembourg are canting, representing a white castle, in German "weissen Burg".

Pascal Vagnat, Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 10 October 2020