Colmar - what's in a name?
Over the centuries there have been numerous suppositions about the the origins of the name Colmar. These include the conjecture that 'Colmar' came from a temple dedicated to Mars, set on a hill from which the name “Collis Martis” was derived, later to become Colmar. Another hypothesis suggests the name comes from Collis Marii (Marius' Hill), from the name of a Bishop of Lausanne who once owned the area. Another interpretation says that the name comes from the union of Kohl (coal) and the Markt (market) ie the city of the coal market.
The most convincing hypothesis is that the origin of the name is in a term such as Columbro and Columbarium, related to the breeding of pigeons. In medieval documents, Colmar is almost always called by the names Columba, Columbra, Columbaria, Colmir, Colmere and Kolmer; which means that, probably, this last hypothesis is correct.
In Roman times Colmar,, belonged to the territory of Sequani and was militarily subordinated to the Castrum of Argentuaria (Horbourg).
With Charlemagne (742-814), the territory was part of the Columbaria Marquisate, and it was a place frequented by emperors such as Charles the Fat in 883 AD. In 981 Otto I donated Colmar to his faithful Duke Rudolf, the son of Queen Bertha.
Towards the end of the 12th century Colmar became a possession of the Abbey of Payerne and Pairis. In the eleventh century the village of Colmar is still of no importance, but from 1198 the city was conquered with a fierce war by the Archbishop of Strasbourg.
From the early thirteenth century the city was a Municipality and it was under Frederick II with the rank of 'imperial city'. In 1262 Colmar was again under the dominion of the bishop of Strasbourg, but the city, with Walter Roesselmann and the help of Emperor Rudolf of Habsburg (1218-1291) managed to dismiss the troops of the Bishop of Strasbourg.
Between the fourteenth and fifteenth century, Colmar had a life quite independent and peaceful under the imperial protection and it developed new civic and religious buildings. The city still remained under imperial rule throughout the fifteenth century.
In the second half of the seventeenth century, after several years of Swedish rule, Colmar entered the Kingdom of France, but after 1871 (with the defeat of Napoleon III), the city returned to Germany until World War I. It was then reoccupied by the Germans during the World War II, but returned to France at the end of the war.