Liechtenstein Under the Goths & the Franks

536 to 1200 A.D.

Liechtenstein enjoyed a well run and almost democratic existence under the Goths, until in 536, as a reward for their assistance is their wars, the Goths gave Rätia to the King of the Franks. During the next 200 years the Rätians suffered from misgovernment and ill-treatment. The Frank Kings were greedy and cruel, some of them completely dominated by their dissolute wives.

They showed little interest in the welfare of the people, accepting tributes annually to the golden throne. The Rätians, however, never lost heart, and when the last Charlemagne ascended to the throne they appealed to him to restore their old rights and customs. He granted them their wish when he passed through the country on his way from his coronation in Rome in 801.

The land was ruled by Gaugrafen (Lords of the County) appointed by Charlemagne, who also acted as judges. He kept a strict eye over them though, and four times each year a King's Trustee was sent to Rätia to control their doings. Imperial farms were set up, including in Mäls, Balzers and Schaan. Travellers could cut grass and corn for their horses, but were forbidden to demand anything other than free lodgings.

Not every was rosy. Charlemagne tried to prevent the Rätians stamping the grapes with their naked feet, trying to make the wine making more hygienic. He did, however, get them to wash their feet and to wear clothes that prevented their sweat running into the juice. It is not known how successful this was as wine was still stamped by foot until midway through the 19th century.

Education also improved, using the church and carefully chosen priests to teach. The priests were also given medical training. Parents were directed to send their children to school and the German language was carefully fostered, as Charlemagne wanted one language as a universal means of communication throughout the Empire. The Rätians were loyal to their Emperor, even when the empire began to disintegrate.

From the tenth century, Chur-Rätia, as the country was called - formed part of the Duchy of Scabbier, and as a result suffered from the frequent wars between the German ruling classes. Wild tribes took advantage of this turmoil and in 926 the Hungarians raided Rätia, taking everything of value. Ten years later a group of plundering Arabs on their way from Southern Italy entered the valley, sent by an Italian prince.

Armies fought back and forwards along the Rhine, but as the Empire's hold weakened, the power fell into the hands of the lords. Bishops and priests spent vast sums decorating churches, nobles dressed in the fines silks and hoarded weapons in their grand houses and castles, some of which were built on Roman fortresses in Triesen, Schaan and Bendern. The most important lords in Chur-Rätia were those in Vaduz, Schellenberg and Gutenberg.

The Rätians > Romans > Goths & Franks > Counts of Montfort > Barons of Brandis > Counts of Sulz > Counts of Hohenems > Princes of Liechtenstein > The modern day