St. Gallen or traditionally St Gall, in German sometimes Sankt Gallen (
The official language of St. Gallen is (the Swiss variety of Standard)
Imperial City of St. Gallen
Reichsstadt Sankt Gallen
• City founded
|17 August 1451|
13 June 1454
The abbey prospered in the 9th century and became a site of pilgrimage and a center of trade, with associated guest houses, stables and other facilities, a hospital, one of the first monastery schools north of the Alps. By the tenth century, a settlement had grown up around the abbey.
On 26 April 937 a fire consumed much of the abbey, spreading to the adjoining settlement. However, the library was spared. About 954 a protective wall was raised around the abbey; by 975 abbot Notker finished the wall, and the adjoining settlement began growing into the town of St Gall.
A wall with gates and towers was built in 953/954 under abbot Anno and 971-975 under abbot Notker, first establishing the abbey and its associated settlement as a city.
From the later 12th century, the city of St. Gall increasingly pushed for independence from the abbey. In 1180, an imperial reeve, who was not answerable to the abbot, was installed in the city.
In 1207, Abbot Ulrich von Sax was granted the rank of Imperial Prince (Reichsfürst) by
The city of St. Gallen proper progressively freed itself from the rule of the abbot. Abbot
Wilhelm von Montfort in 1291 granted special privileges to the citizens. By about 1353 the
In 1405, the
After the war, Varnbüler often represented St. Gallen at the various parliaments of the Confederation. In December 1480, Varnbüler was offered the position of mayor for the first time. From that time on, he served in several leadership positions and was considered the city's intellectual and political leader.
His reputation among the Confederates was also substantial. However, in the late 1480s, he became involved in a conflict that was to have serious negative consequences for him and for the city.
Ulrich Rösch had assumed the management of the abbey of Saint Gall. He was an ambitious prelate, whose goal was to return the abbey to prominence by every possible means, following the losses of the
His restless ambition offended the political and material interests of his neighbours. When he arranged for the help of the Pope and the Emperor to carry out a plan to move the abbey to
At this point, Varnbüler entered the conflict against the prelate. He wanted to restrain the increase of the abbey's power and at the same time increase the power of the town that had been restricted in its development. For this purpose he established contact with farmers and Appenzell residents (led by the fanatical Hermann Schwendiner) who were seeking an opportunity to weaken the abbot.
Initially, he protested to the abbot and the representatives of the four sponsoring Confederate cantons (Zurich, Lucerne, Schwyz, and Glarus) against the construction of the new abbey in Rorschach. Then on 28 July 1489 he had armed troops from St. Gallen and Appenzell destroy the buildings already under construction, an attack known as the
When the Abbot complained to the Confederates about the damage and demanded full compensation, Ulrich responded with a countersuit, and in cooperation with Schwendiner rejected the arbitration efforts of the non-partisan Confederates. He motivated the clerics from
Ulrich Varnbüler had made a serious miscalculation. In early 1490, the four cantons decided to carry out their duty to the abbey and to invade the St. Gallen canton with an armed force. The people of Appenzell and the local clerics submitted to this force without significant resistance, while the city of St. Gallen braced itself for a fight to the finish. However, when they learned that their compatriots had given up the fight, they lost confidence; and they agreed to a settlement that greatly restricted the city's power and burdened the city with serious penalties and reparation payments.
Ulrich, overwhelmed by the responsibility for his political decisions, panicked in the face of the approaching enemy who wanted him apprehended. His life was in great danger, and he was forced to escape from the city disguised as a messenger. He made his way to
The suit had the support of Friedrich II and Maximilian and the trial threatened to drag on for years: it was continued by Ulrich's sons Hans and Ulrich after his death in 1496, and eventually the Varnbülers regained their properties. However, other political ramifications resulted from the court action, because the Confederation gained ownership of the city of St. Gallen and rejected the inroads of the empire. Thus, the conflict strengthened the relationship between the Confederation and the city of St. Gallen. On the other hand, the matter deepened the alienation between Switzerland and the German
Despite the unpropitious end of his career, Ulrich Varnbüler is immortalized in a famous woodcut by
Starting in 1526 then-
In 1798 Napoleon invaded the
One of the first acts of the new canton was to suppress the abbey. The monks were driven from the abbey; the last abbot died in
In the 15th century, St. Gallen became known for producing quality textiles. In 1714, the zenith was reached with a yearly production of 38,000 pieces of cloth. The first depression occurred in the middle of the 18th century, caused by strong foreign competition and reforms in methods of cotton production. But St. Gallen recovered and an even more prosperous era arrived.
At the beginning of the 19th century, the first embroidery machines were developed in St. Gallen. In 1910 the embroidery production constituted the largest export branch (18% of the total export value) in Switzerland and more than half of the worldwide production of embroidery originated in St. Gallen. One fifth of the population of the eastern part of Switzerland was involved with the