|Heraldry of the World |
Wappen der Welt
Civic heraldry of Germany
The arms were officially granted in 1909 by King Wilhelm II of Prussia and again on April 8, 1971.
The arms combine the two symbols of the Counts, later Dukes of Geldern (Gelre), the medlar flower (or Gueldrian Rose) and the lion.
Geldern was first mentioned as a town in 1286 and probably developed around the castle of the Counts of Geldern, built in the early 12th century.
The oldest seal of the city dates from 1290 and has been used until 1668. It shows a walled city with a large gate, flanked by a house and a medlar flower. The oldest secret seal also dates from 1290 and was used until 1583. It shows the arms of the Counts of Geldern.
The oldest seal of Geldern
The secret seal from 1290
All later seals show the crowned lion of the Counts of Geldern with the three medlars in the lower half.
The second seal of Geldern (1737-1753)
The seal of the high-court of Geldern (1793-1797)
The second secret seal of Geldern (1583-1628)
The third secret seal of Geldern (1642-1703)
The fourth secret seal of Geldern (1796-1798)
Paper seal of Geldern (1618-1725)
There is a nice story on the origin of the name Geldern and the medlar. In the castle at Pont (now part of the city of Geldern) once lived a nobleman. It was in the time that the dispute over the division of the lands of Charlemagne was just settled. This nobleman had two sons, Wichard and Leopold. Wichard, the oldest, was in love with the daughter of Heman, count of Hamaland (near Zutphen. On a nice day Wichard rode to Zutphen to ask the old count for the hand of his daughter Margaretha. Margaretha clearly was in favour and the old count also thought he would be a good match for his daughter, but there was a small problem. Wichard had never proven to be a good nobleman and warrior. So the old count could not be sure that Wichard was able to defend his daughter, if necessary. And there were more noble young men who would like to have his daughter as a wife.
Wichard had no idea what to do; it was peacetime so there was no change he could prove his courage in battle. But, there was one thing he could do. In the marshes around Pont there lived a red fierce dragon. If he could kill the dragon, he certainly could get Margaretha. Early in the morning Wichard entered the marsh and found the dragon still sleeping. Unfortunately the dragon woke up and all hell broke lose. After a long battle Wichard finally killed the dragon at the end of the afternoon.
Obviously Herman could not refuse Wichard his daughter, so the couple married soon afterwards. They built their own castle, close to the marsh where Wichard had killed the dragon. They named it Gelre after the guttural sounds the dragon used to make. As arms they choose the medlar, as the dragon was killed in the medlar bushes (after Vos, 1982).
Nowadays medlars are still used in arms of cities and towns in the former Duchy of Gelre, like in the arms of Doetinchem, Sint Odiliënberg and Lochem in the Netherlands and Erkelenz, Goch, Issum, Kerken, Kevelaer, Viersen and Wetten in Germany.
Before the medlar the counts of Geldern used three red circles on a yellow field as their arms. These can still be seen (in other colours) in the arms of Borculo. After 1190 the medlar replaced the circles.
The last count of Geldern to use the medlar was Gerard IV, his son Otto II used a lion as his arms. The lion appears on the secret seal of the city from the end of the 13th century. A combination of the lion and the three medlar flowers is used on all later seals. The lion of Geldern can be seen in many arms of cities and municipalities in the former Duchy, like in the arms of Venlo, Zutphen, Nijmegen, Tiel, Harderwijk in the Netherlands and Goch, the districts Geldern and Kleve in Germany.
After the merger in 1969 the arms did not change.
Kapellen also did not have its own arms. This was a possession of Geldern since 1331 and the only known seal (dating from 1384) shows the lion of Geldern.
The municipal stamp shown in 1892
Seal from around 1900
Local emergency money from 1921
The arms by Hupp in the Kaffee Hag albums +/- 1925
Sign on the municipal border (2016)
Literature : Stadler, K. : Deutsche Wappen - Bundesrepublik Deutschland. Angelsachsen Verlag, 1964-1971, 8 volumes; Frankewitz, S. en G. Fenner : De zegels der steden en dorpen in het overkwartier van Gelre/Die Siegel der Städte und Dörfer im geldrischen Oberquartier. Venlo, z.j. 291 blz.(bilingual); Vos, J.G. : De zilveren mispelbloemen in het wapen van Doetinchem. In : Jaarboek Achterhoek en Liemers, Zutphen 5(1982)47-48.