The county Valais

The county Valais

In 888, Rudolf I. founded the kingdom Hochburgund to which the county Valais belonged. The last ruler of Hochburgund, Rudolf III was in a difficult position with his power hungry nobility. Therefore, he tired to secure his shaking reign by raising the bishops to secular rulers. The bishops were less power hungry than the nobility as they could not neither inherit their office nor found a family reign.

In 999, Rudolf III gave the county Valais as a present to bishop Hugo von Sitten and his descendents. From this point on, the clerical head carried out the highest secular power.

Rudolf III from Hochburgund did not leave any heirs so he gave his land to the emperor shortly before his death in 1032. That way, Valais became part of the German Reich and the bishop a prince of the Reich. Henceforth, he was directly subordinate to the emperor. Only the emperor had the right to put him in a secular office and to feoff him with sovereign rights.

Two centuries later, Earl of Savoy succeeded in intervening between the emperor and the bishop. He was allowed to feoff the bishop with sovereign rights (before 1224). Since the earl and the bishop left land to each other it came to a mutual socage.

Earl Peter II intended to put an end to the ongoing disputes between his people and the bishop’s subjects. Therefore, he occupied the bishop’s possessions Martinach and Ardon/Chamoson and forced Heinrich von Raron into a barter agreement in 1260. The bishop abandoned his estates below the river Morge. In turn, the earl assigned his estates upper parts of the county. This way, a clear border arose. However, eight years later Peter’s descendents annulled the contract again.

Literature: Walliser Geschichte, volume 1+2, Arthur Fibicher

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