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Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 15A dtd. 23 Jul 1997 (edited)
Date: Sun, 20 Jun 1999 08:14:47 EDT

(issued as required by )
July 23, 1997
(all rights reserved)


The following history, written to commemorate the 660th year of this
Burgenland village, was sent to me by Burgenland Bunch member Lee Keippel,
to whom we owe our thanks. It is a document which is important to the study
of Burgenland genealogy in that much of the history applies to other
Burgenland villages, particularly those in the south. If you read no other
village histories, read this one. The German -English translator was
obviously a professional; however he was unfamiliar with some
Austrian-Hungarian words and terms and local geography. I've attempted to
expand definitions where I thought it was needed. Some items are questionable.

For those who are unfamiliar with this area, Riedlingsdorf
(Ro"do"ny=Hungarian) lies just north west of Oberwart and is at the northern
limits of what is considered southern Burgenland. It is a Katastral (land
office) Gemeinde (locality) in the Bezirk (district) of Oberwart, has 1551
inhabitants and 597 houses. Burgermeister (Richter) names since 1919 are
SCHRANZ, and KAIPEL. It was part of the Herrschaft (domain) of the
Batthyanys. Both RC's and Lutherans attended church in Pinkafeld. Being close
to the Styrian border, it would have been as strongly inflenced by Austrian
politics and customs as it was by Hungarian. LDS film nos. are 0700710-11;
Lutheran; 0700707-9; Catholic and Civil Records 0700455-461.

Title "660 Jahre Riedlingsdorf". The inside page reads: Riedlingsdorf
1331-1991 FESTSCHRIFT zum 660-Jahr-Jubilaum der ersten unkundlichen Erwahnung
der Germeinde Herausgegeben von der Germeinde Riedlingsdorf
1991"-(Anniversary of the 660th year of the first mention of the village in
extant records). Translation was by David Pendlebury (edited by G. J.

Traces from Pre-history and Antiquity
The fact that the region of the Pinka valley round about Riedlingsdorf was
already frequented during the Neolithic period (c.8000 until 1700 BC) has
been established by finds that have been made in the area. Of special
interest among these are indications of activity in a courtyard (Hof) in the
Lampelfeld area of Pinkafeld, which borders directly on Riedlingsdorf.

There, too, remains can be found of iron-smelting activity dating from the
late La Tene period (i.e. the final two centuries BC). This is already a
clear indication of permanent settlement in our area. The representatives of
this civilization were Celts.

Already at the start of this present century Johan Posch investigated some of
the burial mounds on the town borders of Riedlingsdorf which should be
considered in conjunction with those that are to be found in large quantities
in the upper Pinka valley, particularly in Pinkafeld. These burial mounds
have a diameter of up to 7 meters (approximately 23 feet) and are
occasionally more than one meter (approximately 39 inches) high. From pieces
of metal, pottery and coins we may conclude that these graves were
established in the period when present-day Burgenland was part of the Roman
province of Pannonia, that is to say about the first four centuries AD.

The large number of burial mounds from the Roman period leads one to the
conclusion that a road passed through the district of present-day
Riedlingsdorf. Paths were generally built along ridges in order to avoid the
danger of flooding and getting bogged down. The Romans liked to place their
graves alongside such roads. From this one can deduce that there was a road
link running between Steinamanger, Rechnitz, Rotenturm, Pinkafeld, Friedberg
Mo"nichkirchen and Anspang. It is conceivable that the Romans developed an
already existing road dating from the Celtic period. There was very probably
still a road link between Steinamanger and Pinkafeld in the early middle
ages, since both settlements were in the possession of the bishopric of

First Documentation of a Settlement at Riedlingsdorf
Very seldom is it possible to determine the exact year that a village was
founded. When the name of a settlement appears in a document, that merely
means that the village has been in existence for some time: it could be
years, decades or even centuries. This is also true of our own community,
which in view of this did not celebrate 660 years of existence on September
1st 1991, but simply commemorated the first documentary reference to it.
Here, too, the greatest care is required, for it is entirely possible that a
document will be found at some time in the future which mentions
Riedlingsdorf in a year prior to 1331. Indeed until a few years ago a list
dating from the year 1388 contained the first known reference to our locality.

A highly placed Hungarian administrative official, Gespan (title-like a
county sherrif ) Stephan von Eisenburg (Vasvar in present-day Hungary),
commissioned his notary Paul and the Supreme Judge [Adelsrichter] of the
Eisenburg Komitat (county), (a man) called Lukas to inspect the boundaries of
the estates of Buchschachen and Allhau, together with neighbouring

The two men carried out their task on August 21st ; and the chapter of the
Church of St Michael in Eisenburg drew up a document concerning this on
September 1,1331. The original has not survived. A copy made in the 17th
century was found in the family archives of Count Batthyany. This is now in
the Hungarian state archives, where it was discovered a few years ago and
published in Austria in a work by I. Lindeck-Pozza, "Urkundenbuch des
Burgenlandes" (Burgenland Documents), vol. 4, Vienna 1985, No. 171, p.95ff.

Let us now examine the place in the text where our locality is indicated for
the first time in closer detail. The two gentlemen start with their tour of
inspection along the boundary between Loipersdorf and Grafenschachen , until
they reach the border of Pinkafeld. At which point the document states: [see
Latin text in original not included in this copy] In the translation, for
which we are indebted to Heinz Hafner, from Oberschutzen, we read:

"From this boundary marker, indicated by a cherry tree it (i.e. the boundary)
leads, after climbing a hill, back to a district lying to the south, then
descends to a large ancient road and forms on the eastern side the boundary
with RIEDLINGSDORF. If one continues along the same long road one reaches the
valley of Kvessf (Weisfleck?), and two border markers of earth with two oak
trees growing on them, where Oberwart to the east adjoins Buchschachen to the
west." Concerning our community this document does not say much more, other
than that it was already in existence at that time. To those familiar with
the district, however, it will be apparent that the border line of the
village can hardly have changed during these 660 years, since the description
matches excellently with the way the modern boundary runs between
Riedlingsdorf and Loipersdorf, starting out from the point south of
Niklashof, where the borders of Pinkafeld, Loipersdorf and Riedlingsdorf
meet. It then runs on in a fairly straight line through the district of
Laimbach, until one reaches the Buchschachen border line in the Tellwald
district, and then comes to Roan. To this day one still travels along the
borderline of the village at this point, until eventually one arrives at the
border line conjunction, where Oberwart to the east adjoins Buchschachen to
the West.

There have been and continue to be many speculations concerning the origin
and meaning of the place-name "Riedlingsdorf". The recent appearance of the
hitherto unknown form "Radomfalva" in the 1331 document has thrown into
question all the attempts that have been made until now to interpret it. Thus
further reflection is going to be needed before anything valid can be said on
the subject. One problem lies certainly in the variety of forms that have
developed in the course of time:

1331: Radomfalva (early Hungarian); 1388 : Rodinstorff; 1392: Reudenstorff;
1435: Rudingstorff; 1569: Riegerstorff; 1648: Riedlingstorf. Since then there
have been several other ways of spelling it; however, this was the first time
it was named in the manner that ultimately won through. In Hungarian the
forms Ro"do"ny or Ro"do"n evolved.

Admittedly the origin of the settlement Riedlingsdorf is obscure; and yet
there are possible explanations. Pinkafeld, which was already mentioned for
the first time in 860, was a fortified town in the 13th century, and probably
held sway over a domain of its own. The owners were the Counts of Gu"ssing,
who at that time were the most powerful nobles in what is now southern
Burgenland and western Hungary. At the time of the colonization (12th & 13th
Century) carried out by them in this area, sparsely populated by
border-guards, our own village could have come into being. The Gu"ssingers
recruited settlers in Lower Austria and Styria.

Developments and Setbacks in the Middle Ages
In the course of the Gu"ssing quarrel (with the crown), the defenses at
Pinkafeld were destroyed, when the Hapsburg King Albrecht I led his army
against the Gu"ssing contingent and their allies. However, the west
Hungarian nobles were able to hold on to the stronghold of Bernstein; and the
now defenseless Pinkafeld was annexed to the power prevailing in the region.
This state of affairs persisted into the 17th century. The Gu"ssingers
remained in possession until about 1339, after which they were succeeded by
the Hungarian kings, who in 1389 initially pledged (mortgaged?) the castle
and dominion of Bernstein to the Kanizsy family, but three years later
transferred ownership to them.

A document dating from 1388 names the localities that belonged to Bernstein
at that time: Rettenbach, Stuben, Redischlag, Grodnau, Goberling,
Jormannsdorf, Mariasdorf, Tauchen, Aschau, Schmiedrait, Willersdorf,
Riedlingsdorf, Pinkafeld, Sinnersdorf, Wiesfleck, Schreibersdorf and Hof,
which stood in the place of present day Neustift near Schlaining. In 1392
Oberschutzen and Unterschutzen were added to the list.

When trustees were appointed to administrate the possessions of the as yet
under-age Kanizsai sons, these attempted to enrich themselves, thereby
disregarding the rights of citizens, peasants and subjects. Consequently
three men from Pinkafeld and a certain Thomas of Rundingstorff lodged a
complaint with King Sigismund, who called the accused (trustees) to order.
With this Thomas we encounter an individual person from Riedlingsdorf for
the very first time.

In the 15th century a significant change took place when the German King
Friedrich III gained control of the area and had it administered by Austrian
nobles, even though it was actually in Hungary. Before it came to this,
however, there was a murderous battle between Hapsburg troops and a rival
army fighting for Matthias Corvinus (Matyas Hunyadi, King of
Hungary,1458-1490). This confrontation took place at Lampelfeld before
sunrise on April 14th 1459. Through the mediation of the Pope a treaty was
settled; however, this did not bring an end to the vicissitudes in the
history of control in Bernstein. It was only after 1517 that continuous
development returned, when the Ko"nigsbergers moved into the castle, which
they were to retain for more than a hundred years.

This period was marked by the attempts of the Turks to bring the whole of
Hungary under their control, and if possible also parts of Austria,
particularly its most important towns. In 1529 Ottoman hordes on the retreat
from Vienna ravaged many settlements in eastern Styria and the adjoining
Hungarian territories. In 1532 the Turks attempted a renewed attack, which
also entailed besieging Gu"ns (Ko"szeg, Hungary); this certainly lasted a
long time, but in the end it came to nothing and had to be called off.

During this operation on August 20th 1532 about 3000 men under the command of
Ibrahim Pasha undertook a campaign in eastern Styria, as a result of which
many villages from St Lorenz to Stegersbach were destroyed. Given that
Pinkafeld and Buchschachen now lay in rubble and ashes, it may be assumed
that Riedlingsdorf, too, felt the terrible effects of this war. Just how high
the number of casualties was in these various attacks is hard to estimate.
However, since the approach of a fairly large military unit cannot take place
unnoticed, most of the people managed to hide in the surrounding woods; some
hid in the granaries of their farms, and yet others sought refuge in nearby
castles or more distant locations in Lower Austria or Styria.

The oldest document that has come down to us concerning the domain of
Bernstein dates back to the year 1569. In this are listed all the villages
and houses belonging to it, together with their inhabitants and their tax
liabilities. At that time there were 90 inhabited buildings in Riedlingsdorf,
including two complete farms, 74 "half-farms" and three "quarter-farms". In
addition there were another 11 farm dwellings, which had no land attached to
them, but whose tenants could obtain such by clearing areas of the forest for

One of the two major farmers was called Zenz Neidt (Neid). He worked about
2.5 hectares of arable land, 1.5 hectares of pasture and a kitchen garden.

That he both cultivated the land and bred cattle may be deduced from the
taxes he paid to the landlord. On both St George's day (April 23rd) and St
Michael's day (September 29th) he paid a considerable sum of money. At
Carnival time he had to deliver two hens, at Easter a dozen eggs and a
cheese. At Christmas he delivered 90 litres of grain and 90 litres of oats,
plus two cart-loads of wood and some money for wheat seed. In addition of
course he had to perform other tasks (robot), using his own hands or his
cart, as and when these were required by his landlord.

In the region [Rieden p 15?] of +denberg (Odenberg?), Lalmbach and Fu_berg
there were vineyards which in part belonged to Riedlingsdorf farmers; but the
Church and in particular the citizens of Pinkafeld also numbered among the
owners. From the taxes prescribed it is possible to make a tentative estimate
of the average harvest yields. These amount to approximately 25,000 litres of
wheat, 28,00 litres of corn, 37,00 litres of oats and 5,000 litres of wine.

Of the names mentioned in this document there are eight that are still found
in Riedlingsdorf: Neid, Piff, Schaden, Lang, Kirnbauer, Schuh/Schuch, Steger
and Posch. There a few others that are retained in house names, such as
Wurzer, Prodl and Jocl.

"Priested to Pinkafeld" [nach Pinkafeld gepfarrt]
These words from the 1569 document characterize the ecclesiastical situation
in Riedlingsdorf up to the present day. Since the middle ages Pinkafeld was a
patronage parish; that is to say the landlord decided who was to be the
parish priest. The congregation had hardly any say in the matter. On the
other hand the patron was liable for the support of the priest and the
expense of maintaining the building. The members of the community paid the
fees for official duties. A further source of income for the church was the
yield from fields, meadows and vineyards.

During the period of the Reformation this situation hardly changed at all.
Already in 1541 Ehrenreich von Ko"nigsberg appears on the scene as an
adherent of the Lutheran doctrine. Exactly when he appointed the first
Protestant priest to Pinkafeld cannot be determined. At all events in 1576
Jeremias Dissinger was installed in office (as pastor), a man who had
listened to Luther and Melanchthon during his theological studies in
Wittenburg. Up until 1632 there are still records of evangelical preachers;
and in fact it was only after the rule of Bernstein passed into the hands of
the now Roman Catholic Batthany family that a Catholic priest could once
again be installed. Evangelical worship continued in the form of household

Even in Riedlingsdorf copies of the Bible, books of sermons and uplifting
texts dating from the 17th and 18th centuries are still to be found in many
houses. The Batthany family proved to be tolerant towards the Protestants;
so that the measures taken by the Hungarian King from 1671 onwards to
reinstate Catholicism among the nobility hardly produced any results. This is
also one of the most important reasons why the proportion of Protestants in
the Riedlingsdorf population is still so high even today. After 1681 the
situation in Hungary relaxed as a result of a decision taken by the
parliament in O"denburg (Sopron, Hungary), according to which Protestants
were permitted to retain their faith, and they were able to a small degree to
build up an ecclesiastical organization. However, the nearest Lutheran church
was situated in Nemescso (Hungary), in the neighbourhood of Gu"ns (Ko"szeg,
Hungary). And so the Catholics were also once more able to attend church
services in Pinkafeld. Florentius de Trudis was installed as priest by the
Landlord and was active for about thirty years. In 1674 the congregation was
inspected by an Archdeacon from Eisenburg . In his inspection report there is
no mention of Riedlingsdorf, presumably because as yet there was no church
there. But already in 1698 there is talk of a house of worship with a wooden
steeple and a bell, dedicated to St Urban and situated within an enclosed
churchyard in the south of the village. Until 1816 mass was celebrated there.

The relative numbers of members of the Protestant and Catholic congregations
varied in the 18th century, as can be seen from three esquires (vistations or
Urbars?) during this period:

YearCatholics Protestants Total
1697130 18.57%570 81.43%700
1713-14233 33.3% 467 66.7% 700
1772182 21% 680 79% 862

As a result of the 1781 Charter of Toleration of Kaiser Josef II , new
perspectives were to arise in church life.

>From Ko"nigsberg to Batthyany
In the 17th century the dividing line between the Turkish and the Hapsburg
sphere of influence ran through the middle of what is now Hungary. On top of
that there were three confessional (religious) groups in the country:
Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists. Thus the relatively powerful barons
stood in the force-field between politics and religion, economic and national
interests. It is no wonder that this should prove to be a suitable breeding
ground for numerous disputes, in the course of which allies often became
enemies and vice versa.

The same could be said of the Ko"nigsbergers and the Batthyany family, with
their rich possessions in the region of Schlaining. (Stadt and castle).
During the rebellion (against the Hapsburgs) instigated by Boccskay Istvan
(Stephen Bocsky, Prince of Transsylvania) and supported by the Turks, both
groups initially took the side of the Kaiser. When the opportunity presented
itself Batthyany aided the insurgents to destroy the villages of the
Ko"nigsbergs who became his antagonists from that moment onwards. Acting on
instructions from the highest quarters (perhaps the crown or the Pope);
however, they both became reconciled once more. In the process countless
families were left behind, their houses burned down and their fields
trampled. For many communities, this year, 1605, brought more distress than
the Turkish years of the previous century. Riedlingsdorf, too, was severely
affected, and only recovered very slowly.

In 1644 Ehrenreich Christoph von Ko"nigsberg sold his domain of Bernstein to
Adam von Batthyany, who immediately set about transferring it out of Austrian
and into Hungarian jurisdiction. When this was accomplished in 1644, he had a
document drawn up; and we shall now look in greater detail at those parts of
it concerning Riedlingsdorf.

In the village, which had now grown to 104 houses, fourteen families were now
living, including those already mentioned in 1569. Among the new names the
following were added which are still encountered in these parts to this day:
Bruckner, Fleck, Zapfel, Keippel, Arthofer, Ziermann, Rehberger, Hofer,
Brunner. These changes are attributable to the heathen invasion (Turkish and
Hungarian revolts) [Heiduckensturm] , the consequences of which were to be
overcome by the settlement of new inhabitants. (ed. note; in other words,
these Germanic names are attributable to settlers arriving from elsewhere
after the period of trouble, probably the time 1690-1800). The nobility were
now demanding considerably higher taxes than they had done eighty years
before, although there had been hardly any change in the economic capacity of
the farmers.

In 1659 and then again ten years later the administration of Bernstein was
divided in such a way that Pinkafeld became an administrative center in its
own right. Riedlingsdorf was thus ceded to Pinkafeld. During the war against
the Turks, 1663-4, which ended in the victory of the Kaiser's forces at
Mogersdorf, there was also an engagement at Pinkafeld, in the course of which
a number of Turkish raiding parties were successfully repelled.

When the city of Vienna was besieged for a second time in 1683, Count
Batthyany was compelled to pay homage to the Turks in order to avoid the
devastation of his possessions.

As a result the attacking troops were able to advance unhindered into the
province of Steiermark (Styria, Austria) in order to obtain provisions, which
was in accordance with the currently prevailing customs of war (living off
the land). Following which, in revenge, the people of East Styria promptly
invaded in order to plunder Pinkafeld and the villages nearby. There were
similar events during the Kuruzzen (Hungarian revolutionary) battles between
1704 and 1709. This time however it was principally Hungarian rebels, under
the leadership of Karoly (Sandor Kaarolyi, who became a leader of kuruc
forces when he joined the Hungarian revolutionary movement started by Ferenc
Rakoczi)) who several times invaded the area around Pinkafeld.

The 18th Century; however, actually did bring a period of economic recovery,
which was also reflected in the growth of the population. The basis for this
was the reduction in the requirement for compulsory service, as well as an
extension of rights to the use of timber (although the landowners kept one
wood out of bounds in the district of Dick). There were 34 Joch [land
measure] of spruce firs and 68 Joch of pine. Likewise between Michelmas and
Christmas the farmers were allowed to sell wine, a privilege which was
otherwise reserved for the landed gentry. A sawmill, a forge, four
flour-mills, a smithy and a butcher shop complete the picture of the rustic
settlement of Riedlingsdorf.

The development of a road (trade route) running from Steinamanger
(Szombathely, Hungary) via Pinkafeld to Friedburg (Styria) had a very
favorable effect. Tolls were raised in Riedlingsdorf. Wine, cattle and
cereals were imported from Hungary into Austria. Textiles from Lower Austria
and herrings from the North Sea went in the opposite direction. Styrian salt
and iron were also transported across the border.

Churches and Religious Schools
In the 17th and 18th centuries there was an attempt in most European
countries to establish a well-ordered education system. In Hungary the main
driving force of this development came from the church communities. In 1759
Riedlingsdorf appointed its first Catholic teacher. Leopold Fleck taught in
house no. 84, which served as a school until the beginning of the 19th
century. It seems that a new school building was also erected at
approximately the same time as the new church; , and this was designated
house no. 154. The teachers were often not very well educated: they had given
up their trade in order to be able to turn their hand to teaching. In 1859,
for example, the blacksmith Hamon was replaced by the clothmaker Gachowitz.

Although the old Catholic church was repeatedly renewed and improved in the
course of time, the need still arose to replace it with a new place of
worship in the center of the village. The foundation stone was laid in 1811,
and five years later the Bishop of Steinamanger performed the consecration
ceremony. In the years that followed the interior was designed anew by the
Italian painter Antonio Riva. Two bells, a glass chandelier and an organ were
also acquired. Initially mass was only supposed to be celebrated here twice a
year, but this figure soon increased. The Charter of Toleration of 1781
brought the Protestant inhabitants of Riedlingsdorf the opportunity to form
their own congregation with the necessary institutions. A prerequisite of
this, however, was that 100 families should declare themselves to be
Protestant. Since this was extremely difficult in the tiny villages of the
period, the Lutherans of Pinkafeld, Riedlingsdorf, Wiesfleck, Weinberg,
Aschau, Scho"herrn and Schreibersdorf formed a union. Riedlingsdorf with 112
families provided the largest share; but the church was erected nonetheless
in the political and economic center, Pinkafeld.

In 1795 the daughter community of Riedlingsdorf was able for the first time
to set up a school if one leaves aside previous attempts not covered by the
law. Andreas Portschy from Unterschntzen was appointed teacher, and was
active there for almost half a century. His compensation consisted of living
quarters, money which came partly from the pupils and partly from the
congregation, as well as firewood, wheat, corn and flax.

The new school house, built in 1849 had a tower added three years later.
Religious services were held twice a year. Since the teacher was expected to
instruct up to 150 pupils a second teaching post was created; and after
another school house was built a third teacher was appointed.

Among the teachers active here, one or two deserve special mention: Samuel
Bruckner was a man of many interests; only he had precious little taste for
instruction. His report from 1865 is interesting, in which he writes, among
other things:

"In general the fertility here is middling. The produce consists of wheat,
corn, barley, oats, [Haiden, buckwheat?], vetch, beans, potatoes, turnips,
carrots, onions, garlic, flax, horses, cattle, some of which are excellent.
The inhabitants are physically healthy, strong, persevering and hard-working.
No major crimes occur."

It is noticeable that even at that time onions are mentioned among all the
vegetables. The designations of Riedlingsdorf as the "garden of South
Burgenland" and of its inhabitants as Zwiebler ("onioners") have their
origins at least as far back as the 19th century. The products that
predominate in the fields today, maize and rape, were of no importance a
hundred years ago.

The oldest Protestant inhabitants of the village still remember their
teachers Johann Posch, Adolf Unger and Gustav Bayer. Tobias Bruckner is a
name that means something even to younger people. On the Catholic side, some
still remember Karl Hazivar. The year 1938 brought the annexation of Austria
by Germany and ended church-based education, since any kind of church service
was forbidden to the youth. The school buildings remained in use until such
time as a new school building could be erected after the war. (END OF

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