Royal court, monastery, collegiate church

Town history

The history of Feuchtwangen extends over 1,200 years: Over the centuries, the town has grown from its origins as a monastery, first mentioned in annals in the early 9th century, which went on to become a canonical college in 1197. In 1241, Feuchtwangen became an imperial city, but by 1376 the town lost its imperial freedom when Emperor Charles IV pledged it to the Burgravate of Nuremberg.

The town of Feuchtwangen on the Romantic Road has its origins in a Benedictine monastery, which is mentioned in the annals as early as 818/19 as being of medium wealth. A legend about the local fountain states that Emperor Charlemagne (died 814) founded the monastery in Feuchtwangen near the "wet meadows". The Taubenbrünnlein (Dove Fountain) commemorates the founding of the monastery and the history surrounding it.

Our town is also mentioned in 824 in a fraternity book of the Reichenau Monastery on Lake Constance and in the 10th century as a private monastery of Bishop Ulrich von Augsburg. The condition of the local monastery is described in 16 letters from the years 991-995 by the learned monk Froumund and the abbot Wigo. By 1197, at the latest, Feuchtwangen became a canonical college. The canons were not monks; they lived in their own houses but performed their choral prayers together in the collegiate church. In addition to the monastery, there has been a village settlement here since the earliest times. In 1241, the town became a free imperial city. However, the founding of the city by the Staufer emperors can be dated back to between 1150 and 1178. 

From then on there were two independent communities here: the royal free imperial city south of Untere Torstraße and Postgasse and the monastery north of this line. The city charter granted the right to hold markets and the ring of fortifications. A free imperial city was obliged to serve the king through homage, military service and army taxes and to accommodate him and his court. It was only subject to the king or emperor, who had his rights exercised by officials, headed by the royal bailiff or reeve. A sovereign was not interposed. Over the course of time, the citizens managed to get their own representation towards the royal bailiff. At the head of this city council was the mayor, first mentioned in 1354, who together with the council represented Feuchtwangen externally. From 1360, no citizen was allowed to be summoned before a court other than that of his own bailiff. Our city was thus on an equal footing with other imperial cities such as Nuremberg, Rothenburg, Ulm and Dinkelsbühl, with which it tried to assert common interests against the princes in the Swabian League of Cities.

The kings repeatedly pledged their city, which had become wealthy due to the favourable transport location. In 1376, the bishop of Augsburg transferred the trusteeship of the monastery to the Hohenzollern burgrave Frederick V of Nuremberg, and a few months later Charles IV pledged the imperial city of Feuchtwangen to the same prince. This brought an era of imperial freedom to an end, since Feuchtwangen was no longer able to buy its freedom. From then on, the two communities belonged to the Burggraviate of Nuremberg, which later became the Margraviate of Brandenburg-Ansbach.

Around 1400, both parts of Feuchtwangen were surrounded by a common wall - merging into one community was only a matter of time. The margravial town, seat of an Oberamt (administrative unit), began to grow in importance. Especially in the 15th and 16th centuries, when the seven markets and the pilgrimage to the Holy Nail brought money to the town.

The unrest during the Peasants' War sparked attempts to introduce the Reformation, which finally occurred throughout the Margraviate in 1533. In 1563 the monastery was abolished and its properties transferred the state. However, the monastery's assets in the city and the surrounding villages were managed by a separate office until the end of the margravial period.

The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) also brought a period of suffering for Feuchtwangen, especially during the sacking of 1631 by the Tyllische soldateska (Count of Tilly’s soldiers). The Swedish and Imperial forces took away what was left in 1632 and 1634 respectively. After the war, it took decades for the stricken country to recover. During this period of absolutism, Feuchtwangen remained an administrative town of Brandenburg-Ansbach until 1791, when the last, childless Margrave Carl Alexander ceded his land to the Kingdom of Prussia. As part of the North German great power, our city experienced a peaceful era of development, untouched by the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, until the French seized power in 1805, before quickly losing it again to the Kingdom of Bavaria in 1806. Feuchtwangen became the seat of a regional court set up by the regional office and the district court.

During a long era of peace in the 19th century, the townscape changed. The lower gate tower and large parts of the fortification ring were demolished. However, Feuchtwangen's wish to become a station on the Nuremberg - Stuttgart main railway line never materialised. Only a branch line was built to connect to the main line. Development stagnated in the 19th and 20th centuries until the Second World War, whereas many of the associations founded during this period that still exist today bear witness to the vibrant life of the citizens.

During the rule of National Socialism, there were attacks on the remaining members of the old Jewish community and the synagogue was destroyed. In the world wars 1914 - 1918 and 1939 - 1945, many people from Feuchtwangen lost their lives as soldiers. Although some of the communities that were later incorporated into Feuchtwangen were destroyed in the world wars, Feuchtwangen itself was left unscathed.

After the Second World War, Feuchtwangen took in many expellees driven out of their lands in the east, which gave the town a renewed upswing. The number of inhabitants rose from 2,400 (1939) to 6,000 in 1970. Construction activity during this period was brisk, resulting in the emergence of the districts Ulrichsberg/Hummelbuck and Weiherlache. Feuchtwangen became a Bundeswehr garrison town. New jobs were created through new businesses and the expansion of existing ones, and a large industrial area was established. Unfortunately, Feuchtwangen lost its status as an administrative centre due to the local government reform in 1972. The district court and regional office were dissolved. On the other hand, the municipal reform saw 10 neighbouring municipalities amalgamated into Feuchtwangen: Aichau mit Thürnhofen, Aichenzell, Banzenweiler, Breitenau, Dorfgütingen, Heilbronn, Krapfenau, Larrieden, Mosbach and Vorderbreitenthann form an administrative unit with Feuchtwangen with around 12,000 inhabitants. New schools were built: two primary schools, a secondary school and a grammar school. The town also built two more housing estates: Wannenbad and Fürstenruh. In 1997, the Bundeswehr barracks were closed. Two years later, the site became the home of the Bavarian Building Academy (Bayerische Bauakademie), which established a training facility there. In 2000, the Feuchtwangen Casino opened on the motorway exit in Feuchtwangen. The location at the junction of the Heilbronn to Nuremberg motorway and Würzburg to Ulm motorway is expected to generate a further boost for our town.