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Herbarz Miast Polskich
Polish Civic Heraldry

WROCŁAW (Breslau)

Coat of arms of Wrocław

Origin/meaning:
Around 1163 the Dukes of Silezia are known to have a castle in what is now Wrocław. In 1225 the village that developed around the castle received city rights. The oldest seal probably dates from the same time and shows the arms of Silezia (eagle with crescent) and the head of St. John Baptist, the patron saint of the city.

In 1335 the city became a possession of the kings of Bohemia and the seals of the governors of Wrocław showed quartered arms with the eagle of Silezia, and the lion of Bohemia. In the 15th and 16th century the above arms gradually developed. The arms show the lion of Bohemia, the eagle of Silezia, the town's initial and the head of St. John the Evangelist, patron saint of the chapel of the city hall. The head of St. John Baptist was added as an escutcheon. These arms were formally grantes by Emperor Charles V in 1530 and are still used today.

In the 19th century the city used the arms with a helmet and crest. The crest showed again the bust of St. John with two banners of the city, see images below.

Coat of arms of Wrocław
Seal of Wrocław from around 1900
Coat of arms of Wrocław
Image of the arms used around 1900

Until 1938 the city used the historical arms, with or without the helmet and crest, as shown by some examples from different books and albums as shown below.

Coat of arms of Wrocław
Arms of Wrocław from around 1900
Coat of arms of Wrocław
Image of Wrocław from the Kaffee Hag Albums, 1920s
Coat of arms of Wrocław
Arms of Wrocław from around 1900
Coat of arms of Wrocław
Image of Wrocław from the Abdulla albums, 1928

In 1938 the city received new arms from the Nazi government, as the use of saints in arms was considered highly unappropriate. The new arms showed the eagle of Silezia and in the lower half the Iron Cross. This German military cross was founded in 1813 in Wrocław as a result of its resistance against Napoleon. It has been the most used military order in Germany since.

Coat of arms of Wrocław
The arms of 1938

After the war the city became Polish, but the old arms wer not restored. In 1948 the city received new arms, a divided shield with the Polish and the Silezian eagle.These arms were used until the mid 1990s, even though the historical arms were finally restored in June 1990 by the city council.

Coat of arms of Wrocław
The arms of 1948

Literature : Louda, 1966; Hupp, 1920s, Plewako & Wanag, 1994; anon. 1939 (?) Die Entwicklung des Wappens der Hauptstadt Breslau.



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