In the Middle Ages Villingen was a town under Austrian lordship. During the Protestant Reformation it remained Catholic. Villingen came to international attention when it was besieged by marshal Tallard in 1704. Colonel Von Wilstorff put up a stout defence of the outdated fortifications, and after six days the siege failed.
Schwenningen remained a village until the 19th century. In 1858 the first watch factory was established, and watchmaking and precision mechanics have been important industries ever since.
As part of the Baden-Württemberg territorial reform of 1972, Villingen and Schwenningen were merged with a number of surrounding villages to form the city of Villingen-Schwenningen. Nevertheless, the two halves of the city are separated by a plateau and remain distinct.
Villingen is a major center of German Carneval celebrations. The traditional Narros represent the old citizens of Villingen: Alt Villingere, Morbili, Hansele, Suribbel.