Reichsstadt Rottweil
(Baden-Württemberg, Germany)
by Theo Engeser, Villingendorf, and Martin Dilger, Berlin

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Political History

Rottweil is the oldest city in Baden-Württemberg. It was founded in 74 a. d. at the river Neckar by the Romans who had occupied the southwestern part of Germany (about half of present day Baden-Württemberg), the so-called "Decumatenland" (agres decumates). The Roman name of Rottweil was Arae Flaviae.

It is still unclear whether it was continuously colonized during the turmoil after the conquest of the country by the Alemannen, a germanic tribe (or political union) that was founded in southern Germany. These people came from areas that today belong to the German Länder Brandenburg, Sachsen-Anhalt, Thüringen, and from Bohemia (Czech Republic).

Later, after the defeat of the Alemannen against the Franken, it was royal property of the Frankish kings. At about 1140 the Reichsstadt Rottweil was founded, just about 500 m away on the high cliffs above the Neckar valley.

In the following six centuries the city state acquired a small, non-coherent territory of up to 30 villages with the maximum expansion in the beginning 17th century. It became a quite important imperial city in the southwestern part of Germany.

Der Schwäbische Kreis. Part of the Map from 1572
Der Schwäbische Kreis. Part of the Map from 1572

In the 16th century it was loosely associated with the "Schweizer Eidgenossenschaft" (Confoederatio Helvetiae) which became later modern Switzerland.

In the 30-years war it was conquered twice by force. The "pest" hit the territory extremely hard and more than two-thirds of its population perished either by force, disease or malnutrition and starvation. The city never fully recovered from this catastrophe to its former political power.

In 1802 it was annexed by the kingdom of Württemberg and became an Oberamt, the precursor of the present-day Landkreis Rottweil.

The present day Landkreis Rottweil is much larger than the former territory of the Reichsstadt Rottweil. It incorporates cities and villages that had never direct relations to Rottweil or shared a common (local) history. Conversely parts of the former territory of the Reichsstadt Rottweil belong today to other Landkreise.

The scope of this Site is therefore limited to the former territory of the Reichsstadt, since it had a common history for a very long time. Therefore, the villages that belong once to the former Reichsstadt Rottweil are also included although they do not belong anymore the present day Landkreis Rottweil.

Theo Engeser,
Villingendorf 1998
Arrow upHome Arrow leftBack Arrow rightForward Martin Dilger,
Berlin 2002, 2004