The Peace Flag

The peace flag, Photo: Wikipedia. LWL-Landesmuseum in Münster.

The Münster Town Hall is known  as the location of the Peace of Westphalia. The building dates from about 1320, though the first structure is already documented in 1250. The Citizens Hall and the Council Chamber (where the councilors met) is first recorded in a chronicle dated 1337. Towards the end of the century, the Citizen’s Hall was expanded with the addiction of a porch, a small court room was incorporated into the northern part of the arched hallway in 1586. In 1576 other substantial alternations were made to the Town Hall, from then on, an overall span roof connected the front-spacing part of the building with the arched hallway and Citizen’s Hall and the Council Chamber.

This was the situation in 1648, when the Peace of Westphalia was concluded. Religious, political and economic disputes threw the European continent into one of its most serious crises. In the course of the Thirty Years War the religious motives receded almost completely into the background. The (dynastic) interests of power politics determined the course of events. The Peace of Westphalia was concluded in the Town Hall On 24 October 1648. The forgotten symbol s the peace flag. The city council commissioned the flag which was displayed outside the Town Hall at the proclamation of the Peace Treaties. The original flag still exists, though in such a fragile condition that it can no longer be exhibited. The flag depicts a green laurel wreath on a blue background and the wreath encloses four symbols: the dove with a green branch in its beak, the golden imperial crown of the Habsburgs, two hands in white gloves exchanging palms and the coat of arms in gold, red and silver of the city of Münster. Pax optima rerum, Peace is the greatest good, is written as a commemorative in the fire place on the south wall.(Source: A. Gresing, Town Hall of the Peace of Westphalia, Münster 2010).