The history of Attendorn’s coat of arms

We have our first encounter with the attributes of the Attendorn coat of arms, the cross and the moon, on a Cologne Pfennig from the time of the archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden (1237 - 1261). While the observe of the coin shows a seated bishop with a crosier and a book, the reverse presents a large cross, decorated by four spheres in its four angles and a crescent moon below. As inscription we find the lettering “ATTENDARNE” (Fig. 1). The moon already appears without the cross on coinages from the time of archbishop Dietrich (1208-1212):

Also, the precious silver seal type from the time around 1400, which can today be seen at the museum Südsauerlandmuseum in Attendorn, shows the coat-of-arm attributes:

Stadtwappen 1450

Another historical representation of the Attendorn coat of arms can be found at the so-called “Arnsberger Wappensammlung” [Arnsberg Coat of Arms Collection] at the NRW state archive, State Archive Münster. This collection dates back to a decree of Elector Josef Clemens dated 26 June 1700, in which he called on the cities and freedoms of the Electorate of Cologne to send their coat of arms to the Bonn Court Chancellery. The city of Attendorn also followed the request and their coat of arms, which was elaborately decorated with a helmet:

Stadtwappen 1700

In 1910, the city council dealt with the revision of the municipal coat of arms and applied for the award of a mural crown. In addition, the black cross was traversed with white lines. On 7 October 1910, the amended version of the municipal coat of arms was approved:

Stadtwappen 1913

By document of the district president in Arnsberg, dated 12 August 1970, the town of Attendorn was granted the right to bear the coat of arms, flag and seal. The municipal coat of arms was described as follows: "In silver (white), a continuous black cross, accompanied in the upper right corner by a red crescent moon pointing outwards.

Stadtwappen 2004

The black continuous cross on the Attendorn municipal coat of arms refers to the territorial affiliation of the town to the Electorate of Cologne. The cross can be seen in the coats of arms of numerous cities in the Rhineland and in Westphalia. The origin of this cross may date back to the participation of Attendorn citizens in the crusade of 1217. However, this is an assumption that has not yet been proven. It can be assumed that a close partnership with the Archbishopric of Cologne was to be expressed with the choice of sovereign attributes.

The significance of the moon is much more difficult to explain. Attendorn residents associate the moon with its parish patron saint John the Baptist and take the passage in the Gospel of John as the basis for this (“He must increase, but I must decrease”, John 3.30), although there is no evidence at all that the moon was used as an iconographic attribute for John the Baptist. The theory expressed on the occasion of the 750-year anniversary of the town in 1972, that the moon is a symbol for the existence of jurisdiction in the town, also cannot be proven. More recent literature interprets the moon as a reference to Christ, but that is also unproven.

The fact that the moon appears in connection with a star on numerous medieval representations of the Magi as an attribute of Melchior, is certainly interesting. The relics of the Magi were transferred from Milan to Cologne in 1164. If the attributes of the moon and star for Melchior could be evidenced as early as this time, then this constellation would have been rather new in Cologne after 1164. Maybe the new mint of Attendorn was assigned the new symbol at that time, to differentiate it from other archiepiscopal mints.

All opinions, which could contribute to solve the mystery around the moon of the coat of arms, are cordially welcome in Attendorn.