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The original settlement was named Vila, from the Latin villa, which meant "estate, manor" and in late antiquity came to mean "small town". This evolved into Weil. Later the suffix "die Stadt" (the town) was added to distinguish the town from villages of the same name, such as Weil im Dorf and Weil im Schönbuch. The current name is unusual in that it contains the German dative case (the word Stadt is feminine). It arose because the place of issue in official documents was usually given as "gegeben zu Weil, der Stadt" ("issued in Weil, the town"). The Roman origins of the city are immortalized in the coat-of-arms which feature the SPQR motto ("Senatus Populusque Romanus", i. e. Senate and People of Rome).
In 1075 A.D., the village "Wile" was first mentioned in a document as the property of the famous monastery Hirsau. Weil der Stadt became an Free Imperial City in the 13th century, but had existed for centuries before as an important trading place.
It was completely destroyed during the Thirty Years' War in 1648 but was subsequently rebuilt, and the center is still dominated by buildings from this period. The city fortifications are still nearly intact with city walls, gates, and several towers called "Red Tower" or "Thief's Tower", "Rope-Maker's Tower", and "Raven's Tower".
Weil der Stadt is best known as the birthplace of both the astronomerJohannes Kepler (1571–1630) and the Protestant reformer Johannes Brenz (1499–1570) of Württemberg. The association with Kepler is the reason for the town's unofficial title ('The Kepler Town Weil der Stadt'). Due to its surroundings and attractive cityscape which is dominated by the church steeple of St. Peter and Paul, Weil der Stadt is a popular destination for excursions in the Stuttgart region.
At the beginning of the 19th century, Weil der Stadt became part of the Kingdom of Württemberg. Since 1952, the town has been part of the German Federal State of Baden-Württemberg.
Since 1973, Weil der Stadt has been part of the district of Böblingen, including the municipalities of Merklingen (not the same as Merklingen in Alb-Donau district), Hausen an der Würm, Schafhausen and Münklingen.
Weil der Stadt is a stronghold of traditional carnival which is celebrated with a parade in the city center. In contrast to the carnival in the Rhineland, the carnival in Weil der Stadt, called Fasnet, is based on Alemannic (Germanic tribe) traditions which are celebrated in various towns in South Western Germany and Switzerland.
Weil der Stadt escaped destruction in World War II when a French artillery barrage was called off in honor of its being Kepler's birthplace.