History of Planken, Liechtenstein

It was probably towards the end of the 13th Century that immigrant Walliser families settled the area of Planken. The clearing of the village area and the associated alpine pastures might however have already taken place via the population Romanisch speaking people from Schaan and Vaduz.

The place name "Planken", comes from the Romanisch word "plaunca", which is thought to mean scrub. Like in another places settled by the Walliser, the Montfort Counts of Werdenberg, allowed the predominantly mountain dwelling people to lease initially, then to buy the property in their possession. They continued the scrub clearance begun by the valley inhabitants to in 19th Century, and in this way increased their cultural impact on the country and alpine area.

First documented mention to "Planken" is in a document from 1361. On St. George's day (23 April) that year, the village of Schaan acquired the Guschg Alp. In the sales contract "Jakob, Klausen's son of Planken" is named as one of the salesmen.

120 years later, in 1481, Sigmund of Brandis, a local gentry, had to intervene in a controversy between Eschen/Bendern and Planken about a property border on "Saraien" (Despite the document being sealed at the time, controversy rose again and again. Only 350 years after the first agreement could it finally be completed). The diversity of opinions on the common use of forests and land by Schaan, Vaduz and Planken led to continuous disputes.

Further written mentions about Planken in these disputes still exist and provide an insight. For example in 1513 after one legal proceeding in which the people of Planken were sued by "the people of Schaan and Vaduz for interests in the cattle trade and forestry" in front of the Counts of Sulz. Even this verdict was not upheld and in the following centuries new quarrels and accusations were made, until the 19th Century where an allocation of the forests was finally agreed.

A further mention of Planken takes place in a document from 10 April 1579. Gafadura, Gafflonen & Garselli, the alpine pastures, were at that time in the possession of different families. These Alpbesitzer (owners of the Alps) transferred their rights to co-operative Alps for the "protection of all disagreement, aversion, dispute and confusion" to the village of Planken. Thus they followed the example of the Triesenberger, who combined their private Alps into municipal pastures 17 years before.

Disputes over the next hundred years, as documented in the village archives report constantly of legal cases: because of fruit harvests on common land (1596), because of income and additional taxes (1605) and general well rights (1669). The fact that legal documents often offer historically interesting facts shows us the well rights document, which reports of a drastic water shortage: "....dieweilen dermal auf Plankhen so grosse noth und mangel an Wasser....." (there was at that time in Planken such great hardship and lack of water).

Subdivision of the woodland

The old usage agreements of the forests by Schaan, Vaduz and Planken, which had led to numerous disputes, was finally resolved in 1811. The entire forest was divided, whereby the key to the division was the number of houses in the three villages: namely Schaan 164, Vaduz 130, Planken 33.

Wartime

In the 17th Century the 30-year war raged across Europe, submerging it into hardship and misery. Also the two countries of Vaduz and Schellenberg had again to suffer under the rule of foreign troops. It is only thanks to the steep mountain paths to the small village of Planken that the village remained virtually untouched from direct encroachments from foreign soldiers (like Triesenberg). Indirectly though, Planken did suffer as a result of high war taxes and contributions.

Briefly before the peace treaty of Münster in the year 1648, Swedish soldiers advanced to Balzers and threatened to plunder if 12,000 Guilders of "Brandsteuer" or burning taxes were not paid. In order to apply the enormous sum, the Landammann (Governor) and the court jurors of Vaduz, Schaan and Planken had to take up a loan of 3,000 Guilders from the town of Maienfeld in modern-day Switzerland, in order to pay. This happened during the unfortunate reign of the Counts of Hohenems, who made the lot of its subjects more difficult through further hardships.

Witch Trials

At the same time, the country was also subjected to witch hunting, which also demanded its victims in Planken. In particular, the members of the Eberle family were pursued for reasons no longer evident today. Toward end of the trials their name disappears completely from the church books. One representative of this family notes special mentioned: Maria Eberle, accused of witchcraft, succeeded in escaping the county Vaduz with other suspects. In their hardship, the refugees turned to the protection and assistance of the authorities in Innsbruck. This step helped to introduce the end of the processes in the area.

The Chapel

With the affiliation of Planken to the parish of Schaan, the inhabitants were granted permission to build a chapel in 1768 by their own means. This permission seems to have strengthened the political self-assurance of the Plankener church. As a consequence of this, the Plankener church twice tried to separate from Schaan and set up its own independent parish. Both attempts failed. Only in 1884 the Hofkaplan (resident Chaplain) from Schaan transferred the right to conduct holy masses to the priest in Planken twice weekly.

Renewed wartime hardship

At the beginning of the Napoleonic wars it seemed that Planken, as during the 30-year war would remain free from direct warfare, although several times deliveries of assets, most notably hay and money were sent to the troops stationed in the valley.

In March 1799 however an Imperial troop billeted itself in Planken (They were considered as Confederates, and much of the damage from the time is recorded in the village archives).

On 9 March French troops advanced from Nendeln in the valley below. From the Tobel at the northern end of the village (a deep valley brook), the French and Imperial troops fought for two-hour, during which cannons were used in addition to hand-to-hand combat. The defeated Imperial troops withdrew to the Sarojasattel, where they entrenched themselves. The French occupied Planken, plundering the houses and setting stables alight.

Introduction of the land registry

Against the violent resistance of the farmers, the national juror, Joseph Schuppler arranged an audit of all possession in all villages of the country in 1809. To this coincide with this, house numbers were introduced. All 33 houses in Planken stood on the 'Gass' or street; thus the road named itself. Numbering was traditionally not along roads, but in order of age, so the lower the number, the older the house. This is still the case in Planken, and some of the smaller settlements in Liechtenstein.

In order to give a report over conditions in the country and the conditions of the reform, Schuppler sent a "Description of the Principality of Liechtenstein" to Prince Johann I. in Vienna on 25 June 1815 . This report reads: "Planken, a small village aligned to the parish of Schaan, between Nendeln and Schaan on half mountain height to the east of Schaan on the upper road with 33 households and 129 inhabitants with a branch chapel, where the Schaaner ministers read 26 masses annually. The inhabitants live, as the Triesenberger, only on cattle breeding, because together with less summer barley, and potatoes, no other arable crops are harvested. The aspect is good for fruit tree, especially for stony fruit, which grow in quantity, but the fruit yield is of little insignificance as a source of food. The peasants living here are most accommodating, and the best-off in the country, as they are not, unlike in other villages, burdened by debts and having a soil very suitable hay production. The summer care of the cattle is straight above the village at the Gafadura Alp. The way of life is nearly that one from the Triesenberger, because they also transfer their cattle from one stable to another."

Acquisitions of village tithe

Planken possessed the right to pasture on the Eschner pastures owned by Schaan and Vaduz. After an allocation, by which a clear ownership structure was created, Vaduz received 3/5th and Planken 2/5th of the remaining pastures after segregation of the Schaaner of part.

In 1834 Planken was able to purchase the pasture from Vaduz and therefore got possession of an economically effective agricultural area on the valley floor. Two years later the municipality possession was increased by the purchase of private plots on the Rueti. In 1843 the village acquired the felling rights to the Garsella Alp from the Prince for 360 Guilders 'for all time'.

Fire!

As all villages in the country, Planken did not remain exempt from fires. A major fire in 1869 destroyed several houses in central Planken, including the school building. In order to be prepared against such calamities, the village created 'an extinguishing wagon' and built two underground water collecting tanks.

Road construction

Over the centuries, Planken could only be reached on footpaths from Schaan or Nendeln in the valley. In 1868 the road was built from Schaan, and with this new communication route, carts could link the two communities. Traffic continued to use this road until 1933, when a new road brought improvements with a partly revised route.

Tourism before WWI

Before the outbreak of WWI, the country enjoyed its first modest successes in the area of tourism, Planken was part of this movement. At that time, the only guest accommodation in the village was called the "Drei Schwestern" (three sisters) renamed "Gasthaus zum Gantner", although private houses also accommodated the guests. 14 guests and, in total 290 night stays were registered in 1911.

A special attraction, which offered an increased tourist benefits was built in 1913 in the form of a footpath to the Drei Schwestern peak by the Vorarlberg section of the Germano-Austrian alpine association. One year later the outbreak of the WWI brought a time of distress, postponing the hopeful beginnings of tourism.

A village on the verge of extinction

After the start of WWI, Planken found itself in a dire situation. The limited land reserves in the village were used and the private land division was so far developed that a yield-rich use was impossible in many cases. Land either side of the "Gass" (main street) could only be reached by hay carrying paths. Numerous young Plankner men left for the valley villages or further afield; and extinction threatened the village. Only with the execution of the amelioration again more attractive conditions were created, which were able to stop the exodus.

Motorised traffic added an additional stimulation in past years to reverse this. Thanks to the car, people were less dependent on village amenities, helping to make Planken an attractive location to live.

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