“Quarterly, azure and gules, with four hands appaumy argent, one in each quarter, thumbs affronty.”
Through the ages, Manosque has had different coats of arms, but always featuring the four hands. The earliest representation, and as such considered by some to be the “true” version, can be found in a book printed in 1559. In this version, we see the palms of four hands, two right and two left, with thumbs facing. “Quarterly, azure and gules, with four hands appaumy argent, one in each quarter, thumbs affronty,” in heraldic language. In a later picture dating from 1623, the same hands appear, together with the motto Omnia in manu dei sunt.(Everything is in God’s hands). Thought to be canting arms, this motto is certainly one of the keys to understanding the meaning of Manosque’s blazon. The close link between the Latin word for hand (manus) and Manuesca, the town’s name in the Middle Ages, is the most common theory put forward to explain the four hands. And why four? Perhaps referring to the four areas of the old town (Palais, Martels, Payans and Hébréards) or to the four gates into the town (Saunerie, Soubeyran, Aubette et Guilhempierre). A great deal of mystery still surrounds this coat of arms!