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Münchner/Munich was a tiny settlement in 1156 when Henry of the Lions gained the title Duke of Bavaria. Within this settlement was a Benedictine monastery.  And not far away was the “Salt Road” extending to Augsburg from the salt mines in Bad Reichenhall and Hallein.  Duke Henry built a bridge across the Isar River and began collecting tolls.  This led to not only lining Henry’s pockets but the eventual growth of the settlement into a small town, Münchner, and later a large town, Munich.  In 1505, it was named the capital city of Bavaria.

The town got its name from the monastery, Bei den Moenchen, meaning “amongst the monks’”. The town was placed in the hands of the Wittelbacher family in 1180 after Henry was arrested for nonsupport of the Emperor’s army.  And in 1214, Munich became a formal town.  In 1239, the town symbol of “child of Munich” was first used. Originally the symbol depicted a bearded Benedictine monk holding a Bible, or book of city laws, in one hand and blessing its people with the other.  It still may be seen on Munich’s Coat-of-Arms this way.  Originally the monk was shown with the town gate and an eagle.  The eagle was changed to a lion in the 14th Century which appeared in the Wittelbacher’s coat-of-arms.  The bearded monk turned into a child monk sometime in the 15th Century.  Today the child is often seen as curly-haired, often dressed in red or brown, and/or with a red halo, instead of the old, bearded monk.

In 1890, artists began depicting the Münchner Kindl as a girl.  She may be seen as an attractive blond on a very large horse leading a parade, such as the Oktoberfest Parade.   At the Delaware Saengerbund Oktoberfest, our Münchner Kindl is chosen from the youth of the DSB. She is prominently carried to the stage during the during the opening ceremony ein marsch (entry march) carrying a radish.

Today the Münchner Kindl is featured on many German things from beer mugs to streetcars.  It is often depicted on beer mugs with a devilish smile, holding radishes in one hand and a filled stein in the other. However, the official seal still has the old bearded monk.

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