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City of Worms (Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany)

Stadt Worms

Last modified: 2011-08-27 by german editorial team
Keywords: rhineland-palatinate | rheinland-pfalz | worms | stadt worms | coat of arms (key: white) | coat of arms (star: yellow) |
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Current Flag

[Worms city flag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 7 Jul 2011

The ratio is 3:5. It is a red over white horizontal bicolour. The coat of arms is in the centre of the flag. It is the flag on sale for the locals and one flag is hanging in the assembly room of the town hall. Upon the flag the shield is of the type painted by Max Reinhart within Stadler 1966. Furthermose the 5-point star here is thicker.
Source: email and photo of Mr. Christian Bub, mayor's office of the city of Worms
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 7 Jul 2011

Evolution of the City Flag

First of all I want to thank the helpful PR-department od the city of Worms and especially Mr. Christian Bub from the mayor's office of the city of Worms, who supplied us with really useful sources and information.
In the 15th century according to Arlberger Wappenbuch the sign of the city was simply a white key on a red sheet. The key was an attribute of the local patron St.Peter. This is reconfirmed by Stadler 1966, p.65.
Stadler claims, that this coat of arms was reported since 1498. St.Peter had been replaced by his attribute. The existence of dragon (supporters in Greater Arms and alluding to the dragon guard of the Nibelungen treasure), the star (perhaps a symbol of St.Mary) and the key can be proven on local coins since 12th century and on seals since 13th century. The star had six points on court's seals. It is however not clear, whether the 6-point variant appeared exclusively on court's seals.
On the other hand in the book StadtWorms and Gerold Bönnen(editors): "Geschichte der Stadt Worms", ISBN 3-806-21679-7, p.503 there is the following passage:
"the older version of the coat of arms with a bendy key (of St.Peter) accompanied by a golden 6-point star above left. The star was fixed per enactment of the city council from 13 August 1890 as 5-pointed in the future." (my translation).
This is partially reconfirmed by Oberarchivrat Reuter, the signer of the below mentioned file 41A. He writes: "The traditional sign of the city is the silver key. Per enactment of the city council in 1890 a golden 5-point star was added (editorial remark: not replacing the other one). () the star appears above right (editorial note: visible)".
Due to these evidences we can conclude, that a 6-point star on the city flag could not have appeared after 1890, at least not upon flags used officially by the city. Flags with a 6-point star therefore have to be considered as erroneous.
Christian Bub on 20th April 2011 added the following information: "A use of a flag containing a 6-point star today () would be inadmissible". Furthermore he added, that flags and banners just differ in the type of fixing but not in ratio. According to own observations he didn't see any "standard" flags, i.e. with common ratio 3:5 and no flags having horizontal stripes. It can however not be completely excluded, that different versions are used by citizens.
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

Vertical Flag

[Worms city vertical flag] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

The ratio is approx 5:2. It is a vertical red - white bicolour. The city's coat of arms is shifted to the top.
Description of coat of arms:
In a red field is a bendy silver(=white) key. In the upper sinister corner is a golden(=yellow) 5-point star carved inwards.
Source: photo located by Mr. Christian Bub, mayor's office of the city of Worms
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

Flag with Bannerhead reported 1978

[Worms banner 1978] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

The ratio is unknown. It is a vertical red - white bicolour. Key and star as described above are placed onto a red bannerhead.
Source: file no.41a of the city archive, dated 21 December 1978
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

Plain Flag reported 1925

[Worms plain flag 1925] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

The ratio is unknown. It is a vertical red - white bicolour.
Source: Stadler 1972, p.65
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

Variant with 6-Point Star

[Worms 6-point variant] 3:5 image by Philip Schäfer and Stefan Schwoon

The key and the dragon: A 17th century chronicler assumed the key in the city arms of Worms to represent wisdom, reason and the welfare provided by the authorities, the dragon to be a symbol for armed vigilance. An old folk tale has a different explanation for the tradition of the arms. It was written down for the first time in Jewish-German by Juspa Schammes (born 1604) and printed in 1696 in Amsterdam. It is the tale of a widowed queen who fruitfully reigned Worms in pre-Christian times. One day a horrible Lindwurm (dragon) lay down before the city walls and threatened to destroy the city, unless every day one of the inhabitants was offered to him. The victims were chosen by lot, and one day it decided that the queen should be offered. However, a courageous locksmith had made an armour of iron set with shearing blades from top to bottom, and suggested to the queen that he be surrendered to the dragon, on condition that she married him and made him king. The queen agreed and the locksmith was thrown to the dragon in his armour. Hardly had the dragon pitched into the man when it cut itself into pieces with every movement it made. The victorious smith worked his way through the carcass, everybody was happy and in Worms a locksmith became king. As a memento, the key was added to the city arms and the defeated dragon was henceforth to bear the shield. The blacksmith, the queen and the dragon were painted on the walls of the town hall.
The star: Like other imperial free cities, Worms had greater, medium and lesser arms. The lesser arms merely consist of the silver key on a red shield. The six-pointed star (not, as often displayed nowadays, a five-pointed one) was added later. German heraldry signifies the six-pointed star, whereas in French heraldry, the five-pointed star is used. The five-pointed star in the coat of arms of Worms was introduced by the French, who had occupied the city several times between the 17th and the 20th centuries. After the French withdrawal it seemed unacceptable for the authorities to re-introduce the six-pointed star. On top of it, there is a lack of heraldists in the authorities, so nobody is aware of the difference between the five-pointed and the six-pointed stars. However, in times when Worms was not occupied, many developers were eager to provide their buildings with the arms featuring the six-pointed star. For instance, the Water Tower, which was built in 1890, shows coats of arms with six-pointed stars both on the northern and the southern sides of the building. Additionally, the intermissions of the local TV channel have recently started to display the city arms with the six-pointed star.
The colours of the flag were derived from the colours of the arms.
Philip Schäfer, 27 July 2000

From Ralf Hartemink's International Civic Arms website:

Worms was an important city and the seat of a Bishop already in the early Middle Ages. When the city rights were granted is not clear, but the oldest seal is known from 1198. It shows the patron saint of the city, St. Peter on a throne. The symbol of the saint, the key, is known as the arms of the city since 1498. (...) The single key has been used as a symbol of the city on coins since the 13th century. (...) The star is also used on coins and seals since the 13th century, but was only later incorporated in the arms.
Literature: Stadler 1964-1971.

Santiago Dotor, 27 December 2001

Municipal banner reported about 1500

[Worms municipal banner 15th century] image by Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011

It is a red sheet of unknown ratio containing a silver(=white) bendy key.
Note, that I chose arbitrarily the ratio given in Znamierowski 2001, p.15 (there however assumed for 14th century city banners).
Source: file no.41a of the city archive, dated 21 December 1978 referring to:
Primary source: Arlberger Wappenbuch , publ. about 1500
Klaus-Michael Schneider, 20 May 2011