The District of the Five Villages

On the left side of the Rhine this district extends from the
Scheidtöbeli at the Calanda opposite Rossboden as far as the boundary
of the Canton below Tardis Bridge.  On the right side of the Rhine it
extends from Halbmil north of Chur as far as the river Landquart and
to the entrance of the Klus.  With parts of the territory of the
communes of Trimmis and Says the district reaches into the valley of
Valzein, which geographically speaking belongs to the Prätigau.

Since 1880 the District of the Five Villages actually embraces seven
communities, i.e. Haldenstein, Igis, Untervaz, Zizers, Mastrils, Says, and Trimmis.
This fact will have to be referred to again.

A Bronze Age settlement on the castle rocks of Lichtenstein near
Haldenstein, Iron Age settlements in the same place and at Lisibühl
above Untervaz, as well as a number of single finds in almost all the
communes, prove that the territory was already settled in prehistoric
times.  The territory was also settled by the Romans, proved by
various single finds, and by the fact that this important gateway to
the Rhaetian passes was shown on late-Roman route maps.  There is
also evidence of a Roman settlement at Chur.

During the Frankish epoch the territory belonged to the Ministerium
Curisinum.  In the late Middle Ages two sovereign territories arose:
The Bishop's sovereign territory of the "Four Villages" and the
sovereignty of Haldenstein. . The Bishop's sovereign territory of the
" Four Villages", which later comprised Igis, Trimmis, Untervaz, and
Zizers grew gradually around the royal domain at Zizers, which had
been given to the Bishop by Otto the Great in 955.  There were a
great number of castles and most of them belonged to this sovereignty;
 some of them were the ancestral seats of vassals of the Bishop,
others were held by the Bishop himself.  Beside the Bishop the
Benedictine Priory at Pfäfers had large domains at Untervaz and Igis,
and Walsers settled on the estate at Valtanna in Says, on
Mastrilserberg and Batänia.

During the Reformation the movement for political and economical
emancipation was given impetus in the Four Villages by the Articles
of Ilanz.  In 1525 the villages refused to give the Bishop various
taxes and also laid claim to some of the Bishop's levies.  In 1526
they demanded of the League of God's House that the magistrate no
longer be elected by the Bishop but by the jurisdiction.

In 1532 Igis became Protestant, but in the other villages there was
parity of faith and the relationship between the confessions was
settled by arbitration.

Within the League of God's House the Four Villages were one large
jurisdiction with its own High Court.  By the middle of the 17th
century most of the sovereign rights had been bought off.

Around the village and the castle of Haldenstein a sovereignty arose
belonging to the vassals of Vaz.  They inherited the nearby
stronghold of Lichtenstein around 1300.  Towards the end of the 14th
century the line died out and the sovereignty changed hands several
times until, in 1542, it fell by marriage to Johann Jacob of Castion,
French ambassador to the Three Leagues.  Between 1544 and 1548 he
built a new castle and soon afterwards he tried to put Haldenstein
under the authority of the seven confederate cantons that ruled
Sargans.  Through arbitration by the other cantons it was decided
that Haldenstein be placed under the protectorship of the Rhaetian
Free State.

Thomas of Schauenstein, former chancellor of the University of Padua,
bought the sovereignty in 1608.  He was made a baron by the Emperor
Rudolf 11 and was given the market and minting rights as well as the
right of sanctuary.  In 1616 he went over to the new faith with his

The Mediation Act of 1803 deprived the barony of its rights and added
the village to the Four Villages.  Thus the High Court was given the
name " Five Villages" and in 1851 the district continued to be known
by this name although at the same time Mastrils joined it as a sixth
and in 1880 Says as a seventh independent commune.

Marschlins, the ancestral seat of the Salis of the same name, and the
two castles of the Salis line at Zizers, were the centres of
political activity for many centuries.

The language of the district is the German spoken in the Rhine valley
at Chur, with the exception of Says, where the dialect of the Walsers

Personalities from the District of the Five Villages:

Martin Planta (1727-1772).  He studied theology, mathematics and
physics and then worked as a private tutor in Germany and the Grisons.
  In 1761 he was a parson at Zizers and together with Johann Peter
Nesemann he founded a "Seminarium", which was soon moved to
Haldenstein and later to Marschlins Castle.  Planta's aim was to give
his students a Christian education and to prepare them to take posts
of responsibility, to become good family men, soldiers, and merchants.
  The school had an excellent name in the country and abroad and
became a "School of Nations", whose influence went far beyond the
boundaries of the Rhaetian Free State.

Ulysses of Salis-Marschlins (1728-1800) He studied history and law,
travelled widely and then settled at Marschlins Castle.  He used his
energy and mental faculties for the cultural development of his
country, e.g. as a member of the Helvetian Society, which he presided
over in 1772, and in actively promoting the seminary of Martin Planta
and J. P. Nesemann, which moved from Haldenstein to Marschlins in
1771.  As the head of the most influential family in the political
and economical life of the Grisons he became the French Minister to
the Three Leagues in 1768.  This increase in power provoked violent
opposition on the side of the so called patriots.  The opponents of
Salis triumphed at the extraordinary Assembly in 1794.  Ulysses, who
had once been so powerful, was banned by a tribunal set up by the
Assembly.  He died in Vienna in 1800.

District Coat of Arms: Silver, rampant ibex sable with claws gules on
tripartite mountain vert.  Blazonry: Whilst the seal of the Four
Villages in the 17th and 18th centuries is identical with that of
Zizers showing a black rampant ibex without the tripartite mountain,
the seal of the Five Villages shows the same animal but always on a
tripartite mountain.

District colours: black-white-green.

NOTE:  This document was taken from the book:  GRAUBÜNDEN GESCHICHTE SEINER KREISE