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Jan 24, 2009

The origin of the name - Münch

The history & origin of the name - Münch

Münch family crest
The city of Munich was founded in Carolingian times (1158) by by the Welf Henry the Lion, duke of Saxony and of Bavaria near an already existing settlement of Benedictine monks Münichen (Latin Monacum, Monachium). The village grew around St.Peter church next to a bridge over the Isar River,for that it was referred to as zu den Münichen -- "at the site of the little monks." The name stuck -- though it was later shortened to München, and the little monk, or Münichen, remains the symbol of the city of Munich even today.

The Bishop Otto von Freising imposed tolls on the traffic moving along the salt road that stretched between the cities of Salzburg, Hallein, Reichenhall, and Augsburg. The ruler of the Bavarian territory, Guelph Heinrich der Löwe (Duke Henry the Lion), was in need of cash. So, with the customary ferocity that had earned him his nickname, he simply burnt down the bishop's bridge and built his own bridge a few miles upstream, preempting the profitable tolls. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa was called upon to settle this dispute between his cousin Heinrich and his uncle Bishop Otto at the Imperial Diet held in Augsburg in 1158. However, the bishop's fully justified rage did little to influence the faraway emperor, who was too busy with more important problems to worry about than a minor clash between church and state. (Duke Henry represented the state, the bishop the church. The battle over the tolls was whether the money would go to the state or to the church.) This particular squabble, however, was to have far-reaching consequences.

Henry the Lion had already had successful experiences in founding trading centers. With this knowledge, he granted Munich the right to mint its own coins and to hold markets, basic tools that any city needed for survival. Tolls from his new bridge, which now funneled the lucrative salt trade across the Isar, went directly into Henry's coffers. Within a few months, Barbarossa validated the crude but effective actions of his duke, legitimizing the establishment of Munich on June 14, 1158, the date that is commemorated as the official debut of the city. Henry, however, had to accept a price: Barbarossa ordered that a third of all tolls generated by the new bridge be paid to the bishop of Freising, whose bridge Henry had destroyed.

As described above, the roots of the distinguished German surname Münch lie in the region of the Rheineland used as a surname by a former member of a monastery, who passed the name down to his desendents. First found on a tomb stone , where this family was prominent contributor to the development of the district from ancient times. It was derived from an estate, purchased from an order of monks in France. This name is also established in Scandinavia, especially Denemark.

The name Münch, as originally spelled means monk or friar. The name is derived from the Low German (Münch) And French (Alsace) variant of Mönch. The name Minnig is chiefly of German and Swiss origin, meaning, "one who led an austere existence". The diaeresis or "umlaud" over the name Münch has the effect of u e (Muench). Spelling variations include: Munch, Munnich, Munnick, Muench, Munsch, Münsch, Muenich, Münnich, Monsche, Münich, Muennich and many more.

Coat of arms of Munich
The coat of arms of the city of Munich

The Serbo-Croatian Version is Minh (Minhen) and the newest version is the Hebrew one מינך (pronounced - Minh). This variant was proposed by the Ministry of Interiors of the State of Israel to Dr. Paul Münch after immigrating with his wife Klementina and his son Alexander (That's me...),from Zagreb (former Yugoslavia) on January 15th 1956.


Dear Alex,

At the end of the story you wrote:

This variant was proposed by the Ministry of Interiors of the State of Israel to Dr. Paul Münch after immigrating with his wife Klementina and his son Alexander (That's me...),from Zagreb (former Yugoslavia) on January 15th 1956.

Actually it was simpler: the Hebrew is an exact transcription of the Yugoslav 'Minh' and was simply copied from Yugoslav documents.
I reverted to Münch later on the basis of my birth certificate (Vienna, 1924), but the Hebrew version remained the same because in Hebrew there is
neither ü nor ch.

Love - Aba

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