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Flags of Rodemack - Images by Ivan Sache, 27 October 2006
The village of Rodemack (804 inhabitants) is located in northern Lorraine, close to the borders with the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (6 km) and Germany (20 km). The village, still surrounded by a 700-m long wall, is nicknamed La petite Carcassonne lorraine, referring to the big fortified city of Carcassonne, located in Languedoc. Since 1987, Rodemack is one of the 151 members of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
In the beginning of the IXth century, Emperor Louis le Pieux (Charlemagne's son, 778-840), gave the village of Rodemack to the German abbey of Fulda (Hessen). Later, Abbot Huoki exchanged Rodemack and other remote possessions against closer domains with Abbot Reginas of Echternach (Luxembourg). Like most domains owned by abbeys, Rodemack was ran by an avoué (manager) appointed by the abbey. In 1190, Arnoux I usurped the domain and built a fortress; in order to secure his position, he recognized the suzereignty of the Count of Luxembourg. Arnoux's lineage became very powerful and the domain dramatically increased in size, reaching the outskirts of the town of Metz: among the villages included in the domain of Rodemack were Richemont, Fontoy, Zoufftgen, Hayange, Uckange, Manom, Garche, Roeser, Hespérange, Chassepierre, Boulay, Montmédy and Ancerville.
Following an unfortunate alliance with the King of France and a ransom to pay, the Rodemack's luck changed: in 1492, the last lord of Rodemack was declared a traitor and his goods were confiscated. Rodemack was allocated by Emperor of Austria Maximilian to Christopher I, Margrave of Baden. The fortress gained strategic importance and was seized several times. In 1560, Margrave Christopher II built in Rodemack the castle known as the Baillif's house; he married in 1564 Cécile, the daughter of King of Sweden Gustav I Vasa, and they stayed for a while in Rodemack.
In 1542, the French troops commanded by Charles d'Orléans and Claude de Guise seized Rodemack, which was retroceded to Spain in 1544 (Treaty of Crépy). In 1552, the French took over Rodemack again, only for a couple of months. In 1558, Claude de Guise seized once again the fortress, which was once again retroceded to Spain in 1559 (Treaty of Cateau-Cambrésis). During the Thirty Years' War, Rodemack was seized by the Duke de Guise in 1639, but quickly abandoned. The French came back in 1643. In 1649, Rodemack was reallocated to Spain (Treaty of the Pyrénéées), which was confirmed in 1662 (Conference of Metz). Marshall de Créquy seized once again the fortress in 1668; the French were expelled in 1673 but eventually expelled the Spaniards in 1678. The Kingdom of France then ruled de facto Rodemack; this was recognized de jure only more than one century later, on 16 May 1769 (Treaty of Versailles). Anyway, the Margraves of Baden took the oath to the King of France in 1685, recognizing the French sovereignty.
In 1792, the fortress was besieged by the Duke of Brunswick; Marshal Luckner's counter-attack allowed the evacuation of the fortress; among the defenders were Sous-Lieutenant Brune (1763-1815; later Marshal of France) and Sergent Junot (1771-1813; later General and Duc d'Abrantès). In 1815, the Prussian troops could not seize the fortress, which was commanded by General Hugo (1773-1828), father of the writer Victor Hugo (Mon pére, ce héros au sourire si doux - "My father, the hero with such a sweet smile"). The writer described Rodemack as follows:
Rodemack est célèbre parce qu'en 1814, une garnison de 75 hommes, détachée de Thionville et mise dans Rodemack par mon père, a tenu tête à 4500 Allemands. A l'heure qu'il est, Rodemack est démantelé. Ce vieux bourg a encore un grand aspect. Un reste d'enceinte du treizième siècle avec porte de ville entre deux tours rondes; un reste de haute muraille qui était la citadelle de 75 hommes de mon père. Tout cela est saisissant. Je retournerai à Rodemack.
(Rodemack is famous because in 1814, a 75-men garrison, detached from Thionville and sent to Rodemack by my father, resisted to 4,500 Germans. Nowadays, Rodemack is demolished. This old village is still impressive. Remains of the XIII-th century wall with the city gates flanked by two round towers, remains of a high wall of what was my father's 75-men citadel. All that is striking. I'll come back to Rodemack).
In 1869, the ruins of the fortress were purchased by Baron Charles de Gargan, already the owner of the castle of Preisch since 1850. His daughter Jeanne de Gargan modernized the castle and revamped the lands around the castle. Madeleine de Gargan, the Baron's grand-daughter, lived in the castle from 1956 to her death in 2000. She did a lot for the protection of the historical heritage of Rodemack.
Rodemack is the birth place of General François Valentin Simmer (1776-1847). Simmer was awarded the Légion d'Honneur in 1806; Napoléon made him Baron de Wagram in 1810. He later moved to Auvergne, where he was elected Deputy for the department of Puy-de-Dôme.
Source: Office du Tourisme de Rodemack website
Ivan Sache, 27 October 2006
Every year in June, the village organizes a medieval festival, during which the streets are decorated with flags. Dominique Cureau spotted there two flags, a square flag with six horizontal stripes in turn yellow and blue and five blue "tails", and a vertical banner vertically divided yellow-blue.
The square flag is the banner of the municipal arms:
Fasé d'or et d'azur six pièces (Fessy or and azure six pieces), which were the arms of the lords of Rodemack. GASO gives erroneous arms for Rodemack, fessy argent and gules.
Other villages in the neighborhood have their municipal coat of arms derived from the Rodemack family's arms.
In the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg:
- Breistroff-la-Grande: Per pale fessy or and azure six pieces or a bear sable gorged azure.
- Fixem: Fessy or and azur six pieces an arrow gules in pale overall.
- Gavisse: Fessy or and azur six pieces a tau-cross gules overall.
- Basse-Rentgen: Quartered first and fourth argent two bends gules second and third fessy or and azure six pieces. Argent two bends gules are the arms of the Gargan family. Madeleine de Gargan (see above) was Mayor of Basse-Rentgen and General Councillor of the department of Moselle for 18 years.
- Evrange (enclave ceded to France on 28 March 1820): Fessy or and azur six pieces a chief gules three martlets argent.
- Entrange: Per pale fessy or and azure six pieces azure a Gothic letter M crowned or supported by a crescent argent (that is per pale Rodemack and the abbey of Munster).
Ivan Sache, 27 October 2006Red dog casino