Raetia Curiensis

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Raetia Curiensis



map of Raetia Curiensis during the 9th to 11th centuries
Capital Chur
Government Not specified
 -  Raetia prima established c. 300
 -  Diocese established 452
 -  under Ostrogothic rule 476
 -  under Frankish rule 548
 -  in the duchy of Swabia 917
 -  Chur falls to the county of Bregenz 1160
 -  League of God's House 1367

Raetia Curiensis or Churrätien (Rumantsch Currezia) was the name given to the former province of Raetia prima during the early medieval period. Its administrative capital was Curia Raetorum (Chur). The territory of medieval Churraetia roughly corresponds to modern Grisons (without Puschlav), plus Liechtenstein, parts of Vorarlberg, the Rhine Valley and Sarganserland, and until the 12th century also Vinschgau, Urseren and possibly either parts or all of Glarus.

In contrast to the remaining part of the former province of Raetia, Churraetia managed to retain its Latin character, giving rise to the Rumantsch language, spoken throughout its territory during the medieval period. Raetia prima was occasionally known as Raetia Curiensis even from the 4th century, and the German name Churrätien is simply an adaptation of the Latin name. Historically, it was also known as Churwalchen, Churwahlen in German (walha "Latin/Romance", c.f. Walenstadt). The existence of a medieval German/Latin language boundary at Walensee and the Churfirsten can still be perceived from the prevalence of Latin toponymy.[1]

The Roman province of Raetia was divided into Raetia prima and Raetia secunda under Diocletian (in c. AD 300). The bishopric of Chur was established by 452. Nominally under Ostrogothic rule from 476, it appears that the bishops of Chur remained de facto independent rulers of Raetia prima. Theodoric appointed a dux for Raetia prima, who however had only military competences; civil administration lay with a praeses. Churraetia passed under nominal Frankish rule by 548. There are only very limited historical sources for the Merovingian period, but it seems likely that the bishops of Chur remained in charge as de facto rulers of what was now a province on the outer margins of the Frankish empire, until the 740s separated from Francia proper by the likewise de facto independent duchy of Alemannia.

Charlemagne from the 770s appointed the bishops of Chur himself, increasing Frankish control over the territory. In 806, he legislated a division between episcopal and comital property, ending the de facto secular rule of the bishops of Chur, appointing Hunfried I as comes curiensis.

Burchard II, Duke of Swabia held the title of count of Churraetia in 917 as he proclaimed the Duchy of Swabia. For this reason, Churraetia became nominally part of Swabia and by extension of the Holy Roman Empire even though it had not historically been part of Alemannia. Chur suffered several invasions in the 10th century, by the Magyars in 925/6, and by the Saracens in 940 and 954. In parallel with the development of feudalism in Western Europe, political power became fragmented over the 10th and 11th centuries, and Churraetia was divided into the three counties of Oberrätien, Unterrätien and Vinschgau. In the 12th century, these fell to the counts of Buchhorn, Bregenz and Tyrol, respectively. In the later medieval period, the bishops of Chur regained a certain amount of secular influence, which was however more limited in extent, restricted to the Chur itself, the Domleschg, Engadin, Bergell, Chiavenna, Bormio and Vinschgau.

At the end of the medieval period, political power passed to the Three Leagues which eventually became the Canton of Raetia in the Helvetic Republic and finally the modern canton of Graubünden.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wilhelm Götzinger, Die romanischen Ortsnamen des Kantons St. Gallen (1891). Uriel Weinreich, Languages in Contact: French, German and Romansh in twentieth-century Switzerland (2011), [books.google.ch/books?id=FbFxAAAAQBAJ&pg=PA193 p. 193].
  • Otto P. Clavadetscher: Rätien im Mittelalter. Verfassung, Verkehr, Recht, Notariat. Ausgewählte Aufsätze. Festausgabe zum 75. Geburtstag. Thorbecke, Sigmaringen 1994. ISBN 3799570020
  • Reinhold Kaiser: Churrätien im frühen Mittelalter. Schwabe, Basel 1998. ISBN 3-7965-1064-7.
  • Ursus Brunold, Lothar Deplazes (Hrsg.): Geschichte und Kultur Churrätiens. Festschrift für Pater Iso Müller OSB zu seinem 85. Geburtstag. Disentis 1986. ISBN 3-85637-112-5
  • Sebastian Grüninger: Grundherrschaft im frühmittelalterlichen Churrätien. Dissertation Universität Zürich 2003. Disertina, Chur 2006. ISBN 3856373195
  • Wolfgang von Juvalt: Forschungen über die Feudalzeit im Curischen Raetien. Zürich 1871.