Last updated
Wappen Pfullendorf.svg
Coat of arms
Germany adm location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Pfullendorf within Sigmaringen district
Karte Pfullendorf.png
Coordinates: 47°55′27″N9°15′24″E / 47.92417°N 9.25667°E / 47.92417; 9.25667 Coordinates: 47°55′27″N9°15′24″E / 47.92417°N 9.25667°E / 47.92417; 9.25667
Country Germany
State Baden-Württemberg
Admin. region Tübingen
District Sigmaringen
   Mayor Thomas Kugler
  Total 90.56 km2 (34.97 sq mi)
Elevation 654 m (2,146 ft)
Population (2015-12-31) [1]
  Total 13,104
  Density 140/km2 (370/sq mi)
Time zone CET/CEST (UTC+1/+2)
Postal codes 88630
Dialling codes 07552
Vehicle registration SIG

Pfullendorf is a small town of about 13,000 inhabitants located 25 km (16 mi) north of Lake Constance in Baden-Württemberg, Germany. It was a Free Imperial City for nearly 600 years.

Lake Constance lake in Germany, Switzerland and Austria

Lake Constance is a lake on the Rhine at the northern foot of the Alps, and consists of three bodies of water: the Obersee or Upper Lake Constance, the Untersee or Lower Lake Constance, and a connecting stretch of the Rhine, called the Seerhein. These waterbodies lie within the Lake Constance Basin, which is part of the Alpine Foreland and through which the Rhine flows.

Baden-Württemberg State in Germany

Baden-Württemberg is a state in southwest Germany, east of the Rhine, which forms the border with France. It is Germany’s third-largest state, with an area of 35,751 km2 (13,804 sq mi) and 11 million inhabitants. Baden-Württemberg is a parliamentary republic and partly sovereign, federated state which was formed in 1952 by a merger of the states of Württemberg-Baden, Baden and Württemberg-Hohenzollern. The largest city in Baden-Württemberg is the state capital of Stuttgart, followed by Karlsruhe and Mannheim. Other cities are Freiburg im Breisgau, Heidelberg, Heilbronn, Pforzheim, Reutlingen and Ulm.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north, and the Alps, Lake Constance and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands to the west.


The town is in the district of Sigmaringen south of the Danube valley and therefore on the continental divide between the watersheds of the Rhine and the Danube. The area is known as the Linzgau.

Linzgau historic region in the South of Baden-Württemberg

Linzgau is a historic region in Southern Germany, in the state of Baden-Württemberg. It is located north of Lake Constance and south of the Danube valley.


The Hauptstrasse Pfullendorf Hauptstrasse b.jpg
The Hauptstraße
The 700-year-old house Pfullendorf. Old house believed to have been built in 1317.jpg
The 700-year-old house

Early History

Pfullendorf was founded by the Alamanni tribe during their third wave of settlement and might have been named after a clan chief named Pfullo. According to another theory, it was named Dorf am Phoul (Pfuol), meaning village on the Phoul.

The area around Lake Constance, particularly the Linzgau, Hegau and Vorarlberg, came progressively under the rule of the counts of Pfullendorf from the 8th century onward. The earliest documented bearer of that name was Count Ludwig von Pfullendorf, who is referred to as the ruler of the county of Hegau from 1067 to 1116. Presumably, Pfullendorf expanded due to its proximity to the counts' castle. Count Rudolf, a partisan of the future Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, was able to expand his family's possessions and they eventually owned fiefs from the Danube to the Grisons. Following the death of his son Berthold in 1167, Count Rudolf named the Emperor as his heir and then moved to the Holy Land where he died in 1181.

Free Imperial City

Imperial City of Pfullendorf
Reichsstadt Pfullendorf
Free Imperial City of the Holy Roman Empire
Capital Pfullendorf
Government Republic
Historical era Middle Ages
   Imperial immediacy June 2, 1220
  Establishment of guild constitution1383
   Granted Hochgerichtsbarkeit 1415
   Mediatised to Baden 1803
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Arms of Swabia.svg Duchy of Swabia
Margraviate of Baden Coat of arms of Baden.svg
Political map of the Linzgau, 18th century Political map of the Linzgau north of Lake Constance, circa 1800.jpg
Political map of the Linzgau, 18th century

In June 1220, Emperor Frederick II elevated Pfullendorf to the status of Imperial City. However, the prince-bishops of Constance, as the biggest landowners in the Linzgau and patrons of several religious institutions such as Holy Spirit Hospital in Pfullendorf, continued to exert significant political influence over the whole area. At the Council of Constance (1415), King Sigismund granted Blutgerichtsbarkeit ("Blood justice" or the right to pronounce sentences of death or mutilation) to the town, a status that confirmed the city as being answerable to God and to the Emperor only.

Frederick II, Holy Roman Emperor 1194 – 1250, Holy Roman Emperor of the Middle Ages

Frederick II was King of Sicily from 1198, King of Germany from 1212, King of Italy and Holy Roman Emperor from 1220 and King of Jerusalem from 1225. He was the son of emperor Henry VI of the Hohenstaufen dynasty and of Constance, heiress to the Norman kings of Sicily.

Council of Constance synod

The Council of Constance is the 15th-century ecumenical council recognized by the Catholic Church, held from 1414 to 1418 in the Bishopric of Constance. The council ended the Western Schism by deposing or accepting the resignation of the remaining papal claimants and by electing Pope Martin V.

Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor Monarch from the House Luxemburg, 1387 to 1437 King of Hungary, 1410 to 1437 King of Germany,  1419 to 1437 King of Bohemia and 1433 to 1437 Holy Roman Emperor

Sigismund of Luxembourg was Prince-elector of Brandenburg from 1378 until 1388 and from 1411 until 1415, King of Hungary and Croatia from 1387, King of Germany from 1411, King of Bohemia from 1419, King of Italy from 1431, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1433 until 1437, and the last male member of the House of Luxembourg. In 1396 he led the Crusade of Nicopolis, which attempted to liberate Bulgaria and save the Byzantine Empire and Constantinople from Ottoman rule. Afterwards, he founded the Order of the Dragon to fight the Turks. He was regarded as highly educated, spoke several languages and was an outgoing person who also took pleasure in the tournament. Sigismund was one of the driving forces behind the Council of Constance that ended the Papal Schism, but which also led to the Hussite Wars that dominated the later period of Sigismund's life.

Starting in 1383, Pfullendorf ruled itself according to a constitution that gave decisive powers to the town guilds and provided for the annual election of the mayor. A 50-member “High Council” also elected annually, was vested with executive authority alongside a 17-member “Small Council” chaired by the mayor. With brief interruptions, this guild-based constitution remained in force until 1803 and was to serve as a model for other cities.

Pfullendorf became a member of the powerful Swabian League in 1488 and took part in the war of 1492 against Duke Albrecht of Bavaria. The city was assigned to contribute 4 footmen, 6 horsemen, 4 wagons and 8 tents for the campaign.

Swabian League

The Swabian League was a mutual defence and peace keeping association of Imperial Estates – free Imperial cities, prelates, principalities and knights – principally in the territory of the early medieval stem duchy of Swabia, established in 1488 at the behest of Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg and supported as well by Bertold von Henneberg-Römhild, archbishop of Mainz, whose conciliar rather than monarchic view of the Reich often put him at odds with Frederick's successor Maximilian. The Swabian League cooperated towards the keeping of the imperial peace and at least in the beginning curbing the expansionist Bavarian dukes from the House of Wittelsbach and the revolutionary threat from the south in the form of the Swiss. The League held regular meetings, supported tribunals and maintained a unified force of 12,000 infantrymen and 1200 cavalry.

Like a few other small Free Imperial Cities in the vicinity of Lake Constance, Pfullendorf was comparatively untouched by the turmoil that engulfed Germany during the Protestant Reformation and it was to be one of the 12 Free Imperial Cities, out of 50, that was to be officially classified as Catholic at the Peace of Westphalia, that also explicitly stated for the first time that Free Imperial Cities enjoyed the same degree of independence (Imperial immediacy) as the other Imperial Estates.

Although the Black Death, the Peasants' War, the Reformation, the Thirty Years' War, the War of the Spanish Succession and the French Revolution left their marks on the region, Pfullendorf was able to avoid major destruction. During the Thirty Years’s war, the city was fought over for five hours in 1632 and the pilgrimage church of Maria Schray, along with its Gothic choir, was burned down.

End of the Free Imperial City of Pfullendorf

Old Pfullendorf in 1900 Pfullendorf circa 1900.jpg
Old Pfullendorf in 1900
The Town Hall circa 1905 Pfullendorf Rathaus, circa 1905.jpg
The Town Hall circa 1905

Like most of the other 50 Free Imperial Cities, Pfullendorf lost its freedom in the course of the mediatisation of 1803 and was annexed to the Margraviate of Baden.

The old hospital building in the center of town was sold and in 1845 (it now houses the restaurant Deutscher Kaiser) and a new hospital opened on the site of a former monastery near the Upper Gate. The city was connected to the railway network in 1873-75.

Pfullendorf remained an administrative center in the upper Linzgau until 1936. It then became part of the district of Überlingen, and has been a part of the district of Sigmaringen since 1973. During the administrative reforms that occurred from 1972 to 1976, the neighboring villages of Aach-Linz, Denkingen, Gaisweiler, Tautenbronn, Großstadelhofen, Mottschieß, Otterswang, and Zell-Schwäblishausen became part of Pfullendorf.


The German Army's Special Operations Training Centre (German : Ausbildungszentrum für spezielle Operationen) is located in Pfullendorf, as was the NATO International Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol School following its move from Weingarten to its closure in 1999. In 2001 the United States Army took command of the I-LRRP School in Pfullendorf and the name was changed to the International Special Training Centre (ISTC). ISTC is the International Wing (I-Wing) of the German Ausbildungszentrum Special Operations.

Twin towns

Notable Pfullendorfers

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