Project Part 02: Mining and Settlement in Schwaz - The development of a special environment in the 15th and 16th centuries



Univ.-Prof. Dr. Franz Mathis 
Univ.-Prof. Dr. Klaus Brandstätter 


Marina Hilber 
Gerd Hofmann 
Wolfgang Tschan 
Alois Unterkircher 
Georg Neuhauser 
Miriam Trojer

Friedrich Stepanek
Verena Schumacher 

University of Innsbruck
Institute for Historical Sciences and European Ethnology
Innrain 52
A-6020 Innsbruck


Results PP02 (Publications, Posters, Lectures, ...) 

Poster: "Alkohol-Genuss im Bergbauzentrum Schwaz" 
Poster: "Mortality in the Mining Area Schwaz" 

Annual Reports PP02

Annual Report 2007 
Annual Report 2008 
Annual Report 2009 

Pictures PP02 




In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries Schwaz was one of the leading European mining centres. Although mining in Schwaz has long attracted scientific interest, a satisfying and thorough description and analysis of the mining activities in Schwaz has not yet been published. Especially the mutual relations between mining activities and the settlements in and around Schwaz have so far only insuffiently been examined. However, the main objective of PP02 is to fill this gap. Moreover, we want to establish a historical model for the rise and decline of this outstanding mining centre, in order to understand the socio-economic and ecological effects of mining on population and settlement structure. This model serves as a basis for a better historical understanding within the other project parts of the SFB and might even be transferred to prehistoric conditions.

The main historical sources are stored in the Tiroler Landesarchiv (Tyrolean State Archive), where they are examined and analysed. Additional sources are consulted in the central archives in Vienna and Munich, as well as in private archives in and around Schwaz. The relevant literature is fully available from the University Library in Innsbruck.

PP02’s head of project Franz Mathis possesses all the attributes to successfully coordinate the research within the framework of the SFB. His previous scientific work on the economic and social history of the Tyrol and on socio-economic development in general, enables Franz Mathis to lead the analyses in the field of mutual relations between mining and settlement in Schwaz and to place the research results in a wider historical perspective. On the basis of church records, the research assistant Marina Hilber is working on a micro study for the parish of St. Margarethen near Schwaz – unfortunately, such sources are not available for Schwaz itself – in order to reconstruct the effects of mining activities on social structure and settlement behaviour in the region. Marina Hilber has broad experience in handling demographic data and is assisted by Alois Unterkircher, Friedrich Stepanek and Angela Fodor. Besides a family reconstitution, also aspects of migration, sustenance and supply in the Greater Schwaz Area are examined. Wolfgang Tschan and Gerd Hofmann are editing mining-relevant source material, mainly concerning aspects of mining-law. With the financial support of a scholarship from the South Tyrolean State Government, Verena Schumacher is attempting to conduct a study focusing on a comparison of the mining centre Schwaz with the montane region Sterzing-Gossensass. Finally, Georg Neuhauser, supported by the State of Vorarlberg, is conducting a research on the history of mining in the Montafon.


The integration into the framework of the SFB enables interdisciplinary work with other project parts, resulting in innovative approaches to mining and settlement history. Moreover, PP02 collaborates with other cooperation partners in Austria and abroad, especially with the Deutsches Bergbaumuseum (German Mining Museum) in Bochum, which published an edition of the “Schwazer Bergbuch”, dating back to the year 1556, in 2006.






In order to answer these questions, a historical-demographic approach was chosen, compiling all family-related data on the parish of St. Margarethen (villages of Buch and Gallzein in the mining-area of Schwaz) for a microstudy. Although the statistical study of human populations has a long tradition such quantifying methods were not often used to achieve information about mortality and death rates within a mining-dominated area. But on the basis of a systematic compilation of person-related historical data (birth, marriage and death dates) for all traceable inhabitants of a certain settlement area, individual biographies can be reconstructed. By enriching the biographies with other sources – mainly those of the authoritarian or mining administration – the individual level can be concretised and contextualised thus contributing to a more general history of the population and settlements in the analysed mining area.

The main sources are the church records of parish of St. Margarethen from the 17th to the 19th century, the microcensus for the villages of Buch and Gallzein and the records of the local and communal administration.



Researcher: Mag. Marina Hilber

Project Description: This microhistorical study conducted on the basis of the church records of the parish of St. Margarethen near Schwaz focuses on two major fields of interest. On the one hand the marriage behaviour (nuptiality) in the villages of Buch and Gallzein is analysed in regards to mean age at first marriage, geographic marriage horizons, social background of both, bride and groom, as well as overall marriage frequency. The aim of the study is to evaluate differences between the dominating groups of miners and peasants. On the other hand it is planned to reconstruct aspects of marital/extra- or premarital fertility in the research area, proto- and intergenetic intervalls and the age of mothers at the birth of their last child, by means of a family reconstitution. Furthermore, aspects of widowhood and re-marriage (length of widowhood, etc.) will be dealt with. Again, the main goal is to compare the results for the mining community with those of the peasant community, in order to evaluate social differences in the area. This will lead to the development of representative socio-economic structural features for the mining community in Schwaz, which could be compared to other mining regions.

Mag. Marina Lucy Hilber, born in Innsbruck/Austria in 1981; study of History, English (teacher training) and European Ethnology at the University of Innsbruck, since 2005 postgraduate student at the Institute of Historical Sciences and European Ethnology at the University of Innsbruck (doctoral dissertation topic: The Innsbruck Maternity Hospital 1816-1924); since 2008 research assistant in the Special Research Area “HiMAT (The History of Mining in the Tyrol and Adjacent Areas)”; main research interests: Social History of Medicine, History of Maternity Hospitals, Historical Demography, Mining History (17th -19th centuries).



Researcher: Mag. Alois Unterkircher

Project Description: The case study examines long-term developments of mortality of two villages in the Greater Schwaz Area (Buch, Gallzein) from the 17th to the 19th century. Furthermore, possible class-specific differences in the population’s mortality are focused on. The main research questions are:


  • Does demographic data (mortality rates, life expectancy, causes of death spectrum) reflect the specific structure of a population in a mining-dominated area (coexistence of peasants, artisans and miners’ families)?
  • If so, does the data correlate with the mining-related economic up- and downswings in Schwaz?

Mag. Alois Unterkircher, born in Austria in 1971; Studies: Cultural Studies, German Studies and Social History at the University of Innsbruck; main research interests: Social History of Medicine, History of Masculinities, Mining History.




Researcher: Mag. Friedrich Stepanek

Project Description: The main research objective is the exploration of emigration of Tyrolean miners in the 17th and 18th century, especially the greater flows of migration, which started with the decline of the mining in the Schwaz area in the second half of the 16th century. These flows of migration caused an intense population decrease in the region. Especially for the period between 1710 and 1740, at a time when the population of the Schwaz neighbours villages Buch and Gallzein sank dramatically, we will conduct an intensive study of sources on the main flows and destinations of the out-migration movements. One central question will be, whether the miners emigration was determined by individual “wanderlust” or by coordinating authorities. Destinations are supposed to have been the “Hungarian”, nowadays Slovakian mining districts around Banská Štiavnica, Kremnica and Banská Bystrica, mining centres, which were upgraded intensively in the course of inner-colonization (foundation of the mining school of Banská Štiavnica in 1735). Besides, also an out-migration to far away destinations like Russia, Spain, Great Britain or maybe overseas destinations is possible. Records from the portfolios of “Montanistika” and from administration portfolios in the Tiroler Landesarchiv (Tyrolean State Archive) will serve as main sources. In addition, an archive journey to the Slovakian State Mining Archive in Banská Štiavnica as well as to the Fugger Archives in Dillingen near Augsburg is planned for further research on the 17th century.

Mag. phil. Friedrich Stepanek, born in Innsbruck on August 15, 1980, 1999 secondary school leaving examination, 2003-2009 study of History at the University of Innsbruck and the University of La Coruña/Spain, since January 2010 research assistant in PP 02 (Mining and Settlement in Schwaz).




Researcher: Mag. Angela Fodor

Project Description: Analysis of various sources of relevant holdings of the Tyrolean Provincial and various private archives of the region, in terms of the interaction between the timber industry on the Schwaz silver mine and its immediate surroundings. In order to identify potential landscape developments the region "Kogelmoos” will be examined more closely. For this purpose, also dated wood samples are available from the intact system of tunnels "Sagzeche”. Because of the topic it is possible to work closely with project part 13 and within this scope a master thesis on the dendrochronological analysis of wood, which were recovered in the Tyrolean Inn Valley, in the mining area between Schwaz and Brixlegg from previously only moderately explored tunnels, is being prepared. The aim of the work should be the creation of a regional tree-ring chronology to date the artefacts. The date will furthermore offer the possibility to draw conclusions about the temporal development and movement of tunneling. Because of their shape and their location provide the findings the opportunity to explain the carpenter in the various galleries in more detail.

Mag. Angela Fodor, born in Rum near Innsbruck (Tyrol) 1983, Teacher Training Program Geography and Economics, History and Social Studies in Innsbruck, 2007 Mag rer. nat., Extension Master Study Geography - Global Change, Regional Sustainability with main focus in Natural Hazards and Risk Research in Innsbruck, since 2008 associate in the SFB HiMAT PP13, master thesis on "Dendrochronological studies of wood remaining from mining tunnels, analysis and dating in the space Brixlegg to Schwaz". PhD student since 2008 with the topic "School with tradition - changing school, lyceum of the women's of Ursuline to WRG Ursulinen”, since 2010 research assistant in the SFB HiMAT PP02, main research interests: Local history (Tyrol), medieval mining and its impact on the region, Historical Research in Education, Women in Education, GIS applications in Historical Context, Regional geographie (Tyrol), Dendrochronological analysis.



Researcher: Mag. Dr. Wolfgang Tschan, Mag. Dr. Gerd Hofmann

Project Description: Study of the various fields of mining law, especially the Schwaz mining orders. Perusal of the sources, preserved in the Tiroler Landesarchiv (Tyrolean State Archive), „Kammerkopialbücher“, older and younger series (period 15th and 16th century) and transcription of relevant entries concerning topics of legal, economic and social history.


Mag. Dr. Wolfgang Tschan, born in Innsbruck 1964, study of History and Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck, 1999 doctoral examination, 1994-1998 Research assistant in the FWF research project „History of the saline Hall in the Tirol“, 1999 collaboration in the research project „History of the Austrian criminal law 1938-45“, 2002-2006 Head of the FWF research project „History of the silver- and coppermines in Schwaz in the Tirol“, since 2007 Collaboration in the FWF SFB HiMAT (PP02), main research interests: legal mining history (15th and 16th century).


Mag.phil.Dr.iur. Gerd Hofmann, born August 24, 1968 in Breitenwang/Reutte, 2002-2006 marginally employed in the FWF-research project "History of Silver-and Copper Mining in Schwaz/Tyrol"




Researcher: MMag. Georg Neuhauser

Project Description: The mining area of Montafon in today’s Austrian province of Vorarlberg was never as important as the silver city Schwaz in Northern Tyrol. Nevertheless, the valley’s history is strongly connected to its mining background and for the watchful observer this area opens up a scenic variety formed by mining related activities. In the course of HIMAT a survey of Montafon’s mining history is carried out focussing not only on a chronological overview but also on the social circumstances of the different periods of time. Research questions concerning the living conditions of the miners, especially in the 16th century, in combination with archaeological finds could be the key to a nearly unknown chapter of Montafon’s history.

Mag.phil., Mag.rer.nat. Georg Neuhauser, born in 1982, 2000 secondary school leaving examination, 2001-2006 study of History and Geography (teacher training), since 2009 research assistant funded by the Vorarlberg State Government, associated with HiMAT (PP02/PP08), main research interests: History of Mining in Montafon/Vorarlberg (16th century).



Researcher: MMag. Verena Schumacher

Project Description: forthcoming


MMag. Verena Schumacher, born in 1982, 2000-2008 study of History and Classical Archeology at the University of Innsbruck, since 2010 holder of a scholarship holder funded by the Provincial Government of South Tyrol.


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