Liechtenstein Under the Counts of Sulz

1510 to 1613

The brothers Ludwig and Sigismund von Brandis left no heirs, so Count Rudolf von Sulz, a son of their sister inherited Vaduz and Schellenberg in 1510. The Counts came from the Black Forest in Germany and were members of an old and powerful aristocracy who presided over one of the happiest epochs of Liechtenstein history.

Count Rudolf was concerned for the welfare of his people and passed many new and popular laws. He abolished the serfdom that left all goods to their lords on their death, and reduced the compulsory labour to 3 days per year.

Unfortunately, this was also the time of religious upheaval in Europe. Martin Luther in Germany and Zwingli in Switzerland were challenging the Catholic church, stirring up the population. Count Rudolf was a staunch Catholic and forbade the new teachings on his lands. He also deported anyone who professed to believe the new teachings and forbade any marriages to these heretics. Thus Liechtenstein was saved from the upheaval, and the country has remained Catholic to this day, though Protestant churches are now permitted.

The Southern round tower of the castle of VaduzCount Rudolf did, however, foresee disturbances from neighbouring lands and introduced a signalling system whereby gunshots would be sounded from the towers of Gutenberg, Vaduz and Bendern. This would signal that all the men should assemble fully armed in Rankweil, in modern-day Austria. Luckily it was never needed during Rudolf's reign. As an additional precaution, Rudolf fortified the castle of Vaduz, with the northern and southern towers and western section which faces the valley. The northern tower still carried inscribed dates of 1528, 1531 and 1543.

Count Rudolf died in 1553 and was succeeded by equally peaceful family rulers. The only 'excitement' experience in these peaceful times was in 1584 when the Turks threatened to overrun the area. Special taxes were collected called the 'Turkish taxes'.

In 1590, Count Karl-Ludwig introduced new laws concerning extravagance, going to mass, bad language, laziness, adultery and bringing up children. Despite these stern laws, Karl-Ludwig was extremely popular, so much so that when they heard that he was considering selling his properties they offer to pay him to reconsider. Despite this show of loyalty, the Count sold Vaduz and Schellenberg to his son-in-law, Count Kaspar von Hohenems in 1613.


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