Walser Regions | Vorarlberg-Tirol


There are only a few Walser settlements, be it in Vorarlberg or the other settlement areas that have documented their foundation as thorough as Brand. The letter of grant from 7 December 1347 does not only state the village lands of the settlement areas but also the agreed feudal interest. The feudal document itself is not contained but a so called Vidiumsurkunde. This document is a notarised copy which was issued by Hanns Hartmann, head and judge of the district council Sonnenberg, on 7 June 1580. Reason was a claim by the priest of Bürs, Johannes Benntz against a Walser from Brand. who was accused not to pay the agreed interest any longer. This was understandable as the grant took place over 200 years ago and unpleasant duties were buried in oblivion easily.

Noteworthy, the “Vnderthan ze Bürs”, that is the people from Bürs themselves, were landlords whereas the sovereign merely agreed to the contract and set a seal on it. This fact suggests the already great independence of the people in the county Sonnenberg.

Since the “Thal, gehaissen Vallawier” was an unsociable and rough landscape of primeval forest, the feudal interest was correspondingly low. The yearly “Martinizins” (feudal interest) of 21 quarters of lard, rather butter, equals 212,5 kg worth € 300.-. Added to this was the “Geldzins” (money interest) of 12 pounds cents of the Constance coin. This was most probably not worth more than € 70.-. (Would the people from Bürs still give away their valley for such a low interest today?)

The first twelve settlers would have explored their new home at first and built some simple dwellings and stables before bringing their families and cattle in the valley. Opinions are divided over the route the settlers may have taken: neither the direct way from Prättigau over the Lünsersee or the access over Bürserberg and Hof to Brand is provable. Out of the liege men’s names stated in the document none can be found anymore in Brand today.

The Walser were typical cattle farmers and therefore needed sufficient feed supplies for the long winters. Because of this they cleared big areas of nearly impenetrable primeval forest. They created the wide mats of grassland that still characterise the valley today.

Over centuries only very little changed in the way of living of the farmers. Even though the fought a constant fight with the nature, they lead a free and healthy life in a scenic mountain valley. This changed only with the rising alpinism and the summer tourism in the second half of the past century. When Brand was also opened for winter tourism later on, tourism quickly outweighed farming in its economic importance. Today, Brand is a much visited holiday spot with the infrastructure of a modern tourism village and a solid wealth. Therefore, we have all the reason to remind us of our ancestors thankfully who have laid the foundation stone for our beautiful home village.

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