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2008 | 11 | 15-19

Article title

THE JELGAVA TOWN EMBLEM OVER THE CENTURIES (Jelgavas pilsetas gerbonis gadsimtu gaita)

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In 1893 historian Leonid Arbuzov published the oldest known picture of the Jelgava town emblem found on a sealed document from 1589. In 1914 Jelgava Town Mayor Gustavs Smits published an article on the development of the emblem in the 19th century but historian Arveds Svabe was the first to provide information on the town charter received by Jelgava in 1753 and an engraving of the town seal in 1574. Duke Gotthard Kettler had granted part of his coat of arms - the elk's head of Zemgale - to be included in the Jelgava town seal. The Duke's first coat of arms was created in 1565 but on 4 August 1579 Stephen Bathory, the King of Poland, approved the changes to the Duke's coat of arms. The wolf's jaw, the symbol of the Bathory family, appeared as a sign of the King's favour alongside the monogram in the middle shield. Since the very first coats of arms, the elk's figure was not depicted consistently and often appeared as a deer. A deer instead of an elk was also found in the stone carving placed on the Town Hall fa├žade. Stylistic features point to the period after 1686 when Jelgava Town Council purchased a building in the marketplace from Duke Friedrich Kasimir, which was to become the Town Hall. The Town Hall was located in the centre of the marketplace but was pulled down in the 1650s. Changes in the Duke's coat of arms from 1579 modified the town emblem as well; a new town seal was created - the elk carrying on its neck the middle shield of the Duke's coat of arms with the Kettlers' pot hook, the crowned monogram SA and the Bathory family wolf's jaw. Later periods brought a number of subsequent variations in the town emblem, depending on political events.


  • Imants Lancmanis, Rundale Palace Museum, Pilsrundale, Rundale Parish, Rundale District, LV-3921, Latvia


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