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Ferrette (Municipality, Haut-Rhin, France)

Last modified: 2012-04-21 by ivan sache
Keywords: haut-rhin | ferrette | pfirt | fishes: 2 (yellow) | barbel |
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[Flag of Ferrette]

Flag of Ferrette - Image by Ivan Sache & Pascal Vagnat, 26 November 2011


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Presentation of Ferrette

The municipality of Ferrette (in German, Pfirt; 936 inhabitants in 2008; 194 ha) is located in Sundgau, the southernmost part of Alsace situated on the border with Switzerland.

Ferrette emerged under a fortress, today ruined, built on a rocky spur watching the Sundgau valleys and the Jura mountains that spread southwards; this part of Jura is known as Alsatian Jura, as opposed to "main" Jura, located in Franche-Comté. In 1103, the two heirs of Louis IV, Count of Montbéliard, shared his domain: Frederick was granted the Alsatian part of the County, founding the County of Ferrette and building the fortress, maybe on the ruins of an earlier Roman watch post. Progressively, the Counts of Ferrette increased their domain, which became a de facto independent, powerful feudal state. The Counts once ruled the castle and village of Ferrette, the Lanskron castle in Leymen, the Morimont castle in Oberlarg, the Liebenstein castle in Liebsdorf, the Soyhières castle in today's Swiss Jura, the Lucelle abbey, the town and castle of Altkirch and the church of Thann. In 1208, Frederick I Barbarossa granted a municipal chart to Ferrette.
The Counts of Ferrette were in permanent trouble with their powerful neighbor, the Bishop of Basle. Count Frederick II, the grandson of the founder of the County, was murdered in 1233. His son Louis was accused of the murder and excommunicated, which allowed his brother Ulrich to succeed his father; six centuries later, evidence that Ulrich was indeed the murderer was found. Anyway, Ulrich was forced to sell in 1271 the castle and town of Ferrette to Basle, becoming a vassal of the bishop. When Ulrich's grandson, Count Ulrich III, died in 1324, he was succeeded by his daughter Joan of Ferrette, who married Archduke Albert of Habsburg. Incorporated to the Austrian Empire, Ferrette was ran by managers appointed by Austria, among them the Fugger of Augsburg (1540-1567), who revamped the castle to house a permanent garrison. At the time, there were an upper and a lower castle separated by a group of buildings.
During the Thirty Years' War, the warlord Hartmann of Erlach, supporting the Swedes, invaded in 1633 Sundgau and seized the castle of Ferrette. The revolted farmers of Sundgau eventually seized the castle and killed Erlach; as a retaliation, the Swedes burned down the upper castle and destroyed the fortified walls. Occupied by the French troops in 1639, the County of Ferrette was granted in 1648 by Louis XIV to the Cardinal of Mazarin, made Duke of Mazarin and Count of Ferrette. Along his remote descendants are the Princes of Monaco, who still bear the (honorific) title of Count of Ferrette.

Ferrette is the birth place of the playwright Jean Henri Fernand Schwindenhammer (1761-1830), better known under his "translated" name of Lamartelière. Not a very successful playwright, Lamartelière was the first translator of Schiller and is credited the introduction of German playwrights to France.

Sources:
- Municipal website
- Les Amis du Château de Ferrette website

Ivan Sache, 26 November 2011


Flag of Ferrette

The flag of Ferrette, hoisted on the ruins of the castle (photo), is red with two yellow addorsed fishes.

The flag is a banner of the municipal arms, "Gules two barbels or addorsed", which are the arms of the former Counts of Ferrette.
According to the Armorial des Communes du Haut-Rhin (2000), a seal of the Municipal Council dated 1555 uses the arms of the County, but the town subsequently used different colors, probably to prevent the accusation of usurpation. The Armorial Général shows for Ferrette "Azure two barbels addorsed argent". The colors were indeed not fixed in the 18th century; Grandidier gives for Ferrette "Sable two barbels addorsed argent". The town of Ferrette has been using arms with a red field since the beginning of the 20th century, an use which was made official in 1983.

The seals and arms of the Counts of Ferrette are described in great detail by Auguste Quiquerez (Histoire des Comtes de Ferrette, 1863). The oldest known seal of the Counts, reconstructed from scraps, dates back to Frederick II. It shows, like would the seals of his successors, two addorsed fishes, originally straight and head up, and progressively curved and placed head down. The arms "Gules two fishes addorsed or" seem to have been the early arms of the Counts of Montbéliard, derived from the canting arms of the Counts of Bar, "Azure two barbels [bars] or". The adoption might have happened when Louis of Montbéliard married Sophia, the daughter of Count of Bar Frederick II.

Ivan Sache, 28 November 2011