Measured in terms of population, Feldkirch is the second largest
city in the Austrian state of Vorarlberg with 34,210 inhabitants (as
of January 1, 2020) and is also the seat of the district
administration of the administrative district of the same name.
Feldkirch is the westernmost municipality in Austria and its 13th
most populous city.
Feldkirch is the seat of numerous institutions, which is why it is also referred to as the "secret state capital". These include the Feldkirch Regional Court, the Vorarlberg Chamber of Commerce, the Vorarlberg Chamber of Labor, the largest regional hospital in Vorarlberg (Feldkirch Regional Hospital), the Vorarlberg State Conservatory, a branch of the Federal Finance Court and the State Office for Surveying and Geoinformation (LVG). Feldkirch has been a diocesan town and bishopric since 1968 and has also been a university town since the Vorarlberg University of Education was founded in 2007.
For the Fritzens Sanzeno culture see cult place in the Grütze hallway.
Ancient and Middle Ages
A few kilometers north of today's urban area (in today's Rankweil) there was already a settlement with an ecclesia sancti Petri ad Campos, i.e. a church of St. Peter in the field, in late Roman times. In the 9th century, another (branch) church was built in the field, the St. Petronilla Church (today the Chapel of St. Petronilla and Martin). The name Feldkirichun in the Rätisches Reichsurbar - a property register from 842 AD - was derived from one of these churches in the field and originally referred to the settlement of today's Altenstadt. The name Feldkirch (Veldkiricha, Veldkirchia and other spellings) was then taken over for the southern, near the Ill, newly created and rapidly growing settlement at the foot of the Schattenburg built under Count Hugo I of Montfort and the original Feldkirch, although still a village, little by little Alte Stat, later called Altenstadt.
In 1218 the new Feldkirch was first mentioned as a town in a document. The last count of the Feldkirch line of the Montforters, Rudolf V († 1390), was first canon and provost in Chur for many years and was only appointed to the government after a late, childless marriage. In 1375 he sold the town and rule of Feldkirch to Duke Leopold III. von Habsburg, whose bailiffs finally moved into Feldkirch in 1379.
At the beginning of the 14th century, thirty to forty Jews lived in Feldkirch, but they were burned in 1349 because they were held responsible for the outbreak of the plague.
In connection with the sale, the Feldkirch citizens knew how to fight for freedom rights, which found expression in the great freedom letter of 1376 and which they knew how to use economically.
Trade with Italy and the Holy Roman Empire flourished and brought prosperity to the city. The artisans achieved such importance that in 1405 they dared to revolt against the patricians. The city's wealth was an important prerequisite for its cultural development. They had enough money to found a Latin school, which can be verified for the first time in 1399.
As a result, the Habsburgs administered their dominions in what is now Vorarlberg, alternately from Tyrol and Upper Austria (Freiburg im Breisgau). In the late Middle Ages, in the time of the Appenzell Wars (1405–1429) between the prince abbey of St. Gallen, allied with Habsburg, and the subordinate Appenzell, the development of the state territories, which was completed in modern times, began. Significant for this are different alliances between the cities and the estates of the Feldkirch rulership with the courtiers at Altstätten, Berneck and Marbach, with the city of St. Gallen and with the country people on the Eschnerberg. In 1405, when the city of Feldkirch was admitted, the actual establishment of the Confederation ob dem See, the most important alliance of that time in this region, followed the federal model. The federal government expanded rapidly with the accession of Bludenz, Rankweil, Sax, Gaster, Toggenburg and others. Daring military ventures and uprisings against the rule of the Habsburgs (Tyrol, Allgäu, Thurgau) were successful in the short term and led to the destruction of numerous noble castles. On January 13, 1408, however, the federation was subject to the Habsburg army of knights near Bregenz.
A battle took place near Feldkirch in 1799 during the Second Coalition War. In 1649 the Jesuit order founded a college in Feldkirch, from which the elite high school Stella Matutina developed from 1856 onwards, which was sponsored by the imperial family and which - with interruptions - existed until 1979 and gained international religious, scientific and educational influence through the Feldkirch.
In 1925, the urban area expanded considerably through the incorporation of Levis, Altenstadt, Gisingen, Nofels, Tosters and Tisis.
On October 1, 1943, Feldkirch was the target of an Allied air raid. A USAAF bomber association, which was supposed to attack a Messerschmitt plant near Augsburg, but had not found its target due to bad weather, used Feldkirch as a substitute target instead. Among other things, a hospital in the Tisis district was hit, causing over 100 deaths. Apart from the French troops marching in at the end of the war, the bombing raid on Feldkirch was the only major fighting in the Vorarlberg area during the Second World War.
The Kolping family Feldkirch with the Kolping House on Jahnplatz is the oldest still existing workers' association in Vorarlberg.