The Wheel of Mainz or Mainzer Rad, in German, was the coat of arms of the Archbishopric of Mainz and thus also of the Electorate of Mainz (Kurmainz), in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It consists of a silver wheel with six spokes on a red background. The wheel can also be found in stonemasons' carvings (e.g. landmarks) and similar objects. Currently, the City of Mainz uses a double wheel connected by a silver cross.
The origins of the wheel are not known. One theory traces it back to Bishop Willigis, who was elected Archbishop of Mainz in 975. According to a tale delivered by the Brothers Grimm, his ancestors had been wheelwrights and his adversaries sneered at him for his mean birth. They drew wheels on the walls and doors of his residence, Willigis though made it his personal ensign with the motto "Willigis, remember where you came from". However, this is not proven, and in any case coats of arms only appeared in the 12th century. Most of the archbishops of Mainz used the wheel for the first and third field of their personal coat of arms, using their family's coat of arms for the second and fourth fields.
It is more likely that the wheel refers to Saint Martin, the patron of both the city itself and of Mainz Cathedral. Insignia dating from 1300 depict the saint with both wheels. Moreover, the Archbishops of Mainz were sometimes referred to as the currum dei aurigantes ("Drivers of God's Chariot") and the currum ecclesiae Moguntinae aurigantes ("Charioteers of the Church of Mainz"), to which the wheels may well also be a reference.
Other theories see the wheel as either:
Due to the power wielded by the Elector until 1803, the Wheel of Mainz was recognized across a vast territory, and it can be seen in many coats of arms of towns belonging to the collegiate church, such as Erfurt, which belonged to the archbishopric for centuries. In addition, it is seen in the following coats of arms: Mainz-Hechtsheim, Mainz-Laubenheim, Mainz-Lerchenberg, Mainz-Weisenau, as well as Alzenau, Arenshausen, Bad Hersfeld, Bad Sobernheim, Berlingerode, Biebergemünd, Birkungen in Leinefelde-Worbis, Blankenbach, Bönnigheim, Brehme, Breitenworbis, Bürgstadt, Büttstedt, Cleebronn, Collenberg, Deuna, Dorfprozelten, Dünwald, Effelder, Eichenbühl, Eichsfeld, Elsenfeld, Eltville (ehemalige Residenz), Ortsteil Ershausen der Gemeinde Schimberg, Faulbach, Frammersbach, Frankfurt-Griesheim, Frankfurt-Höchst, Frankfurt-Nied, Freienhagen, Fritzlar, site of an important cathedral chapter, Gau-Algesheim, Geisenheim, Samtgemeinde Gieboldehausen, Gieboldehausen, Goldbach, Großbartloff, Großheubach, Großvargula, Gumbsheim, Haibach (Unterfranken), Hanau-Steinheim, Hausen (bei Aschaffenburg), Heilbad Heiligenstadt, Heppenheim (Bergstraße), Hergenfeld, Heyerode, Hofgeismar, Hofheim am Taunus, Holungen (Landkreis Eichsfeld), Hundeshagen, Johannesberg, Jützenbach, Kahl am Main, Kelkheim (Taunus), Kelkheim-Münster, Kella, Kirchgandern, Kirchheim, Thuringia, Kirchzell (Landkreis Miltenberg), Kleinostheim, Kleinwallstadt, Klingenberg am Main, Krautheim (Landkreis Hohenlohe), Kreuzebra, Langenthal (Hunsrück), Leidersbach, Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Lindenberg/Eichsfeld, Lorch (Rheingau), Mainaschaff, Marth, Miltenberg, Mömbris, Mönchberg, Monzingen, Mühlberg, Thuringia, Naumburg/Hessen, Neudenau (with eight spokes), the former Gemeinde Herbolzheim, since 1973 Herbolzheim, part of the city of Neudenau, Neunkirchen (Unterfranken), Neustadt (Eichsfeld), Niedernberg (Landkreis Miltenberg), Niederwalluf, Nöda, Obergriesheim, Oberlahnstein, Ober-Mörlen, Oberursel, Pleitersheim, Rauenthal, Ravenstein, Reinholterode, Rieneck, Rodgau, Rohrberg, Röllbach, Rothenbuch, Sailauf, Schloßböckelheim, Schöllkrippen, Schöneberg (Hunsrück), Seesbach, Seligenstadt, Sömmerda, Sulzbach am Main (Landkreis Miltenberg), Treffurt, Uder, Viernheim, Waldaschaff, Walldürn, Weibersbrunn, Weilbach (Bayern), Weißenborn-Lüderode, Wiesen, Wittighausen, Worbis in Leinefelde-Worbis, and Wüstheuterode.
It also occurs in the coats of arms of the following Kreise (districts)
It also features in the arms of Rhineland-Palatinate itself.
Geisenheim (before 1977)
former Landkreis Künzelsau, merged with Hohenlohekreis in 1973
former Landkreis Buchen, merged with Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis in 1973
former Landkreis Mosbach, merged with Neckar-Odenwald-Kreis in 1973
former Landkreis Tauberbischofsheim, merged with Main-Tauber-Kreis in 1973
Erfurt (Partner of Mainz)
Principality of Erfurt (1807-14)
Administrative region of Lindenberg-Eichsfeld
Berlingerode (in Lindenberg-Eichsfeld)
Brehme (in Lindenberg-Eichsfeld)
Hundeshagen (in Lindenberg-Eichsfeld)
Birkungen, in Leinefelde-Worbis
Ershausen, in Schimberg
Worbis, in Leinefelde-Worbis