History of Ruggell, Liechtenstein

Bronze-Age: One still finds extraordinary relics from the pre-historic past in the Ruggell fields - jewellery pins, a Bronze lance point, a bracelet, bronze arrow and a belt buckle from the Dark Ages. Further finds show that Celts from Lake Constance, and the Rhätics from the Alps influenced the people in the area.

15 B.C.:The Romans invaded the area and for the first time the Rhine valley is fused into a 'state'. Even though the Roman road follows the foot of the Rhine mountains from Schaan-Nendeln-Schaanwald, shards of Roman casks and a depot containing 25 Roman coins dating from 313 - 340 AD were discovered in Ruggell.

500 A.D.: After the fall of the Roman empire the Alemannic tribes from Lake Constance moved South in the search for new settlements. The first settlers in Ruggell made use of the natural environment of their location. The fertile floodplain along the various river channels and streams offered an abundance of arable land - an argument that overrode the dangers of the Rhine. They toiled in hard, communal work to raise the edges of the fields, on the edges of already present Rhäto-Roman people around the Eschnerberg. The huts and stalls of the Alemannic serfs were ring-form on the plain islands, that now forms the old centre of the village.

800: At the time of Karl the Great, Ruggell belonged to the Empire of the Franks. The whole area from Altenstadt, Gisingen through Nofels to Gamprin was called "Ad Roncalem" in the 9th Century. Later, the name of "Roncale" (=Reute or floodplain) was only used for the area of modern Ruggell.

933: Ruggell appears first in the annals of the area in 933 at the sales of a farm "cortinum a roncale: Manno sold a farm, land und orchard in Ruggell for Johannes and his wife Dominica to Magnus and his wife Quintella. (Buchs, April 933)".

1343: Rhine flooding. The years between 1342 and 1348 were known as the most catastrophic time in the area: Flooding, damp, cold, famine and pestilence.

1347: The cathedral city of Chur bought a farm in Ruggell: Jos Bok from Feldkirch sold "... den hof und das guot ze Runggaelle..." (farm and goods in Ruggell) to the Choir master on 4th December 1347. In the following centuries documents highlight the regular large purchases of land by the church. A large number of inhabitants of the town of Feldkirch also appear, living in Ruggell, building town houses and trading in corn, horses and salt. According to hearsay, house No. 72/73 was built by a Feldkircher landlord and tradesman.

17th November 1394: Duke Albrecht von Werdenberg-Bludenz permits the breeding cattle in Ruggell as a hereditary right. In the sales documentation of a Feldkircher noble, a field in "Mühlbach" (means mill stream) was mentioned, and it appeared that he then closed the mill.

1437: The dukes of Brandis bought the north-western part of the county of Schellenberg including Ruggell. The county sheriff represented the people and dispersed justice at Rofenberg, Eschen. Unterland and Oberland were ruled equally.

1464: Ruggell refused to pay a tenth of the hemp harvest to the monastery St.Luzi in Chur, but finally gave in a little. Ever since Ruggell belonged to the parish of Bendern, there were continual delivery disputes.

1488: An arbitral award defined the parish boundaries of Bendern-Altenstadt. Therein the northern border of Ruggell and therefore Liechtenstein was set: "... vom Gandenstein - Markstein - zum alten Badbrunnen - dem Hasenbach hinab in die Spürs - Weienau..." (from Gandenstein, Markstein to the old bathing fountain, the 'rabbit stream' and down to the spurs and Weienau).

1530: Schellenberg sued Ruggell for the Atzungsrechtes (pasture right) on the Bangser meadows.

1597: In the letter of defence between Ruggell and Sennwald the Hirschensprung (deer jump) is mentioned as a range marker for the building of the defences.

1617: the first documented date of a mass in a chapel in Ruggell on the 20th September, the church's patron saint, St. Fridolin appears with the Virgin Mary. The choice of the church patron could be to due to the proximity of the Müsinen Gaurights in Rankweil at which, the legend states, Fridolin appears with the dead Ursus for jurisdiction.

1619: Arbitral award between Sennwald and Ruggell, because Ruggell refused to adhere to the defence agreement of 1597.

1629: Austrian and Spanish troops stored a large amount of loot in Ruggell and took the last pieces of bread from the locals. They also brought diseases and epidemics including a new instance of plague.

1634: The defence boundary between Gamprin and Ruggell is specified in the document called the 'Schlatt'. Today the parish boundaries runs along this line.

1646: Here come the Swedes! On Christmas Eve, Swedish riders entered Ruggell and began to rob and plunder the village. Refugees from Feldkirch and Ruggell were saved by ship by Jost Grob, the minister from Salz.

1650: A flood wave on the Rhine tore the mill loose in December. It was, however recovered and repaired.

1668: Ruggell is not exempt from the witch-hunts, including the execution of the ferryman 'Spiegler'.

1687: Andreas Büchel and its stepbrothers Christoph, Georg and Ferdinand acquired the rights to run the Ruggell ferry for themselves and their descendants from Count Jakob Hannibal of Hohenems for 300 Gilders.

1689: The co-operative alp in Rellstal in Montafon, which belongs to farmers from Ruggell and Gamprin, was mentioned in a territory and charter letter.

1692: The regal milling rights are replaced and the people of Ruggell pay the Count von Hohenems 400 Gilders so that they could mill, and to build their own mills.

1699: Prince Hans Adam I von Liechtenstein bought the Unterland, from the rulers of Schellenberg, for 115,000 Gilders. On the 16th March the investiture takes place on the "Platte;" in Bendern. National Sheriff Andreas Büchel from Ruggell represented the country and defended for the retention of the traditional rights energetically.

1700: The village totals 60 households. After 1700 the Rhine current increased with devastating consequences. Floods and bank-breakages along the Rhine are reported in 1739, 1740, 1743, 1762, and 1769. Particularly bad were the bank failures of 1775, 1785 and 1787, 1789 saw floods in June and October.

1721: Ruggell still named "Roggell" at this time is depicted on the national map.

1725: The defence agreement with the town of Altenstadt in Switzerland, where Altenstadt takes over the defence work up to the inlet at "Muehlbaches" at that time, into the Rhine, approx. 500m north of today's border with the so-called "Lettenbucht," in order to better protect Bangs and Matschels.

1776: In a letter between Sennwald and Ruggell, which was based on the defence letters of 1597 and 1619, defensive marshes ("Mönny") are specified.

1784: "Ruggell totals 76 houses and 397 inhabitants. In Ruggell, weekly cattle markets took place and horse markets three times in the year. There are two public houses as well as a mill and a sawmill." Horses were bred including a small, tough racehorse. "The people, if they seem rough, course and uncultured are nevertheless... the best subjects because they are not only very industrious and productive... and with them in all village amenities... also there is they are the most honest farmers." (from the rural report of 1784: Gilm von Rosenegg/Josef Fritz).

1790:The defence contract between Werdenberg and Liechtenstein. They turn to the old Defence building methods with straw and wattle to close the breaches, but with little success.

1794: The boundaries between Ruggell and Schellenberg are finally established to end the countless disputes over common property on the areas of "Wunn, Weid, Trieb, Tratt, Zwing and Bann". The division took place in relation to the number of households, whereby Ruggell had 82, and Schellenberg had 49.

1799: French troops under General Massena crossed the Rhine at Bendern and plundered areas around the Eschnerberg. Ruggell is ignored by the French troops, but carried the burden of war for many years.

1809: The land register is introduced. Ruggell is recorded with 451 inhabitants during the first census.

1815: The energetic Landvogt Schuppler wrote the following about Ruggell: "Ruggell consists of 88 households with 435 inhabitants. Here in the months of May and June up to St. John's day they hold cattle markets each Saturday." The inhabitants live "from cattle breeding, ploughing fields, and particularly in the growing of flaxes and are the most industrious in the country...."

1817: Famine and massive flooding continue. On 27th August the Rhine banks fail between the Ruggell ferry and Bangs, which lead to the soil being washed away and replaced by gravel. The floods also devastated the village by destroying large numbers of house numbers, many of which stored tithe.

1831: The Summer meadow or "Sommerriet" (Oksarietle) was divided between 88 households "because of their flooded planting fields" due to the Rhine floods of 1829.

1843: The 'Trattrecht' (general agricultural rights of all tithe outside the immediate village boundaries) in the parish of Ruggell is waived leading to the final allocation of the fields and their transition to the free property of the 88 households. This distribution of the common possession is due to the rising population as well as the floods and drowning of fields and meadows.

1847: The convention between the Swiss Confederation and the Principality of Liechtenstein planned the building of high river defences both sides of the Rhine for a distance of 120m. Behind it the Binnendämme or drainage canals were to offer secondary protection barriers 47m back. The national governor allowed a family from Ruggell to emigrate but at the loss of their citizenship.

1850/51: Engineer J. Jakob Kuemmerle put a "New regulation plan for Ruggell" forward, as a general drainage project. The whole parish area is measured precisely for the first time and all plots of land are drawn up and numbered. A straight-line network of drainage channels was developed over the next 10 years.

1852: The Principality of Liechtenstein agreed a customs treaty with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In Ruggell customs officials were stationed on the Rhine. Ruggell now has 541 inhabitants.

1859: The Mölibach was diverted into the Spiersbach with some difficulty and then into the Rhine downstream of Bangs. The "gaps" in the "Lettenbucht" inlet were blocked.

1864: The newly created village constitution strengthened the political self-determination of the villages and made the free administration of their estates possible.

1866: Army officer, Andreas Walch and eight Ruggell villagers took part in the last campaign of the Liechtenstein army at Stilfserjoch during the Austro-Prussian war.

1868: Rhine bank failure at the Lettenbucht, leading to the Bangserfeld und Bangs being flooded again.

1891: Ruggell has 450 inhabitants. The population had reduced to it 1812 levels as a result of the mass emigration.

1899: The first Christmas mass is celebrated in the new parish church of St. Fridolin.

1900-1911: At the beginning of the 20th century, Ruggell had 450 inhabitants, and for them, the completion of the church the most important event. It was inaugurated in 1911. Dispute raged over the building of the Binnenkanal, which would finally remove the danger of the Rhine. Ruggell was at this time nearly completely cut off, with the north the village bordering Austria, and the east the wooded slopes of Schellenberg, to the south the bad road to Bendern, in the middle the swampy meadows which were often impassable, and in the west the Rhine. The village lived mainly on agriculture. Handicrafts only provided some additional income mainly thanks to home knitting machines.

In 1911 a bicycle shop opened in Ruggell for the first time. This is the start of a revolution in which the bicycle became an important part of Ruggell life up to the modern day.

1914-1940: 1914 saw the break out the First World War and whilst Liechtenstein remained neutrally, there was nevertheless a social emergency. The knitting industry lost its orders as the export of goods into Switzerland was prohibited and 1917/18 the Rhine ferry ceased, cutting Ruggell off even more. After end of the war, the Crown was no longer legal tender and Swiss Franc took over. Business was often only possible through bartering.

In 1922 Ruggell got connected to the electricity mains bringing at least some connection to the rest of the country. The knitting industry did not recover from the crisis of the First World War and died. The building of a solid bridge over the Rhine was again discussed.

These discussions and plans were however ended on the 25th September 1927 when downpours swelled the Rhine causing the banks to burst at Schaan flooding the Unterland. Ruggell was worst affected, with the harvest destroyed, and the fields covered with a layer by sand and gravel, cellars and ground floors were silted up, and the roads impassable. Nevertheless, in 1928 the building of a Rhine bridge was approved and finished in 1929. 1930 saw the building of the Binnenkanal and that were officially opened in 1937. As a result, the ground-water level sunk and the land reclaimed.

1940-1950: With the Second World War raging in Europe, Ruggell was again affected. Towards the end of the war the allies advanced on Feldkirch, causing refugees to stream cross the border. Among them were about 500 Russians from the 1st Russian army, who fought for the German army against Stalin. They were disarmed on the border and three barracks were set up in Ruggell for them. Later they were divided to work and housed with several farmers. Relationships did not only leave traces on the fields.

The Rhine was defeated and the war over. It is an irony of history that the "Valley folk determined the fate of the Rhine for the first time," providing the farmers the power to control at least some of nature's hazards? Agricultural products were now transported over well made roads.

The only non-agricultural work is in the small textile mill on the main road or in the newly forming industries in the area. The population, who had remained to a large extent constant in the last 50 years, grew. Ruggell opened up to the outside world as old structures broke open, and a new chapter began.

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