Minor town

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In settlement geography, a minor town is a category of places with limited town charter . The most important right of a minor town was the market right , connected with it were economic advantages for the residents of the place, z. B. the craftsmen. Minor cities had an important supply function for the surrounding area, they were the central locations of the lowest level. They are often found in sparsely populated areas where the way to the market in the next town was too far for the farmers.

Many minor towns were founded near a castle in the 13th and 14th centuries . This offered protection and guaranteed trouble-free trading. At the same time, the residents of the castle could also be looked after more easily.

Designations that indicate a minority town have a historical character, but are still used today in some German federal states and in neighboring states. Comparable forms of small towns with market rights can also be found in Scandinavia and England.

Titular cities are a special form of minor cities . Like other minor cities, these have only limited rights and functions, but in contrast to these they have the title “city”.



Marketplace of the Aidenbach market in Lower Bavaria

In the case of municipalities belonging to a district, Bavarian municipal law differentiates between cities, markets and municipalities. 386 municipalities in Bavaria have the title “Market” (as of 2009). The title is still awarded today. The youngest minority town in Germany is Ruhstorf an der Rott . In the Middle Ages, the market law was associated with the title “market” .


In northern Germany, the term stains was used for minor cities. This designation was also associated with market law. In Lower Saxony , 53 municipalities (as of 2012) use the designation "Flecken" as a title which in fact no longer has any meaning. In Saxony-Anhalt four municipalities in the Magdeburg Börde (e.g. Calvörde ) and in the Altmark have this title again. In Hesse , four communities in the Limburg-Weilburg district have the title of “market town”. In Schleswig-Holstein the title “Flecken” was abolished in 1934, most of the places in this category were previously elevated to cities. In Brandenburg , Flecken Zechlin - now a district of the city of Rheinsberg and no longer an independent municipality - has the title in the place name.


In Westphalia there is the old name Wigbold (also Wiegbold, Weichbild ). In the 19th century u. a. Ochtrup , Metelen , Westerkappeln , Wolbeck and Ottenstein Wigbold called.

The places Nienborg , Schöppingen and Südlohn used the name Wigbold until June 30, 1969, Wolbeck until March 31, 1957.


The Alte Flecken , Freudenberg's historical center. The place received the rights of a freedom in 1456

Another historical form of minority is freedom. The rights of freedom were granted in Westphalia and in the Bergisches Land . Their rights came very close to those of the city.

One example of this is Bödefeld in the Sauerland . Since 1342 the place has been called "Freiheit Bödefeld". The title of “freedom” was associated with the privilege of electing a magistrate and a mayor and of administering the place itself . The privilege ended in 1803, the name has remained. In addition, there was usually the right to fortify freedom with ramparts and moats. In the Sauerland and Siegerland u. a. the current or former cities of Altena , Meschede , Sundern , Freudenberg , Hüsten and Freienohl the rights of a freedom; as well as a number of villages such as Affeln and Hachen .

In the Ruhr area , too , a number of places had the rank of freedom since the Middle Ages. Buer meant "Freedom Buer"; other places that bore the title were Hagen , Wattenscheid , Westerholt , Mengede , Blankenstein , Westhofen , Horst and Wetter .

In the Münsterland , freedoms a. a. Gemen and Metelen . For a list of spots, wigbolde and freedoms in Westphalia see under web links .

In the Bergisches Land were u. a. Mülheim from 1322 and Elberfeld from 1444 freedom.

In many federal states there was no status for places in history that is comparable to a minority city, e.g. For example, very small towns in Baden and Württemberg were also given the title “city”. In old maps there are occasionally references to places with a status that de facto corresponds to a minority city, e.g. B. Mudau in Baden-Württemberg.


In Switzerland there is no status that corresponds to a minority city. However, there are some examples in history such as: B. Beromünster or Schwyz , today in the linguistic usage of the inhabitants still called Flecken ( market town ); Langenthal , formerly a market town, since 1997 town; also Trogen in Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Rothenburg in the canton of Lucerne . These all had market rights, but not city rights - not even a lesser one.


In Austria the term market municipality is used. The designation is now a title used by the municipality, but there is no legal difference to other types of municipality. The number of market communities is over 700, the focus is in Lower Austria . The largest market town in Austria is Lustenau in Vorarlberg with 21,170 inhabitants.


In Italy , for historical reasons, the title can still be found in South Tyrol today . Examples are the market towns of Castelrotto and Ortisei .


In Alsace , too , the name Flecken was common for a market town. Examples: Brumath and Westhoffen .


Some places in North Schleswig (e.g. Højer and Løgumkloster ) had the title flække . In other parts of Denmark the title handelsplads was common (e.g. Hadsund and Marstal ). Such Danish minor towns were, like the other rural communities, also administratively subordinate to the administrative districts , while one town ( Købstad ) was directly subordinate to the state central administration in Copenhagen until 1970.


In Sweden over 100 places held the title köping , e.g. B. Örnsköldsvik and Älmhult ; as part of the local government reform of 1971, all Swedish communer ( municipalities ) were treated as equal. No church has a special title or special rights.


In England there is the name market town . The first market towns emerged in the 13th century . Their position was comparable to the market communities in Germany. The name indicates - as in Bavaria  - in many cases the status of the place, such as B. Market Bosworth or Needham Market .

Ex-Soviet Union

In the post-Soviet states , between urban (город, Gorod) and village (сельское поселение, translit. Sel'skoje poselenije) there is an urban-type settlement (посёлок городского городского тodskogoit, transl .

Czech Republic

In the Czech Republic , a minority is called městys (also městečko ). The parish type was used until 1954 and reintroduced in 2006. The chairman of the House of Representatives assigns the status of městys at the request of the municipality and after the government has given its opinion. As of January 1st, 2007 there were 123 minor cities in the Czech Republic. On November 29, 2011 there were 210.


In Poland , a minority is called a miasteczko . However, this is not a legal status, as today a distinction is made exclusively between cities and villages in this regard.


In Estonia there are eleven so-called minor cities (alev) in addition to urban and rural communities , e.g. B. Aegviidu in Harjumaa County.


In Lithuania , Gyvenvietes (settlements) are divided into Miestas (town), Miestelis (small town) and Kaimas (village). Only in exceptional cases are settlements there identical to local authorities. Cities can have parish status or, together with other settlements, can be part of a larger self-governing municipality Savivaldybė . Cities and towns can have the status of part of a municipality ( Seniūnija ) - without self-administration - or they can be located together with other settlements in a larger Seniūnija .


  • Herbert Knittler (Hrsg.): Minor cities, miserable forms, free villages: steps to urbanity and the market problem. Conference in Bozen / Bolzano from September 6th to 9th, 2005 (contributions to the history of the cities of Central Europe 20). Linz: Austria. Working group for urban history research, 2006. ISBN 978-3-900387-60-0 .
  • Frank G. Hirschmann: The city in the Middle Ages (Encyclopedia of German History 84). R. Oldenbourg, Munich 2009, ISBN 978-3-486-55775-6 , Section II.5, pp. 77-83.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. HIS-Data 2228: Hochstift Münster: Freedom
  2. ^ School wall map of southern Germany, Georg Westermann Verlag, 1959, edited by A. Geistbeck
  3. Municipal law ( Memento of the original dated November 13, 2011 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. on the website of the Association of Cities , accessed on April 20, 2010 @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.staedtebund.gv.at
  4. Podle správního rozdělení k January 1, 2007 a výsledků sčítání lidu, domů a bytů k 1st březnu 2001 . (PDF) In: Statistický lexikon obcí České republiky 2007 , Český statistický úřad a Ministerstvo vnitra České republiky, 2007, ISBN 978-80-250-1450-9