Rheintal (Swiss German for "Rhine Valley") is a "Wahlkreis" (constituency) of the Canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland, formed under the new constitution of the canton on 10 June 2001. It consists largely of the former districts of Oberrheintal and Unterrheintal.


Infobox Former Country
native_name = "Vogtei Rheintal"
conventional_long_name = Bailiwick of the Rhine Valley
common_name = Rheintal|
continent = Europe
region = Alps
country = Switzerland
era = Middle Ages
status = Vassal
status_text = State of the Holy Roman Empire,
Condominium of the Old Swiss Confederacy
empire = Holy Roman Empire
government_type = Principality|
year_start = 1464
year_end = 1798|
event_pre = Rheintal united under
county of Werdenberg
date_pre =

event_start = Acquired by Habsburgs
date_start =

event1 = Conquered by the
canton of Appenzell
date_event1 =

event2 = Conquered by the
county of Toggenburg
date_event2 =

event3 = Conquered by Swiss
and Imp. Abbey St Gall
date_event3 =

event4 = Declared independence
date_event4 = March 26 1798
event_end = to the Helvetic
canton of Säntis
date_end =

event_post = Joined canton of St. Gallen
date_post =
p1 = County of Toggenburg
image_p1 =
s1 = Canton of Säntis
flag_s1 = Republiquehelv.svg|

image_map_caption = Eastern Switzerland in 1798, showing the Bailiwick of the Rhine Valley in grey to the right, south of Lake Constance and labelled "Vogtei Rheintal"|
capital = Altstätten, Kriessern|
footnotes =
The Alemannic people settled the lower Rhine Valley in the early Middle Ages. Under the Frankish Empire, the Rheintal between Montstein and Hirschensprung was given to the Rhinegraviate (the county of the Rheingau), and its first recorded mention is in 891; the area between Lake Constance and Montstein was a part of the Thurgau. Rule of the Rhine Valley was fragmented throughout the Middle Ages, with the Holy Roman Emperor, the Bishop of Constance, the Abbot of St Gall and the counts of Bregenz and Werdenberg all claiming various portions of the valley. It was not until 1348 that the Rheintal was united, under the county of Werdenberg-Heiligenberg.

From when the Habsburgs acquired the county of Tyrol in 1363, they gradually began to gain control of the Rhine Valley, gaining the whole valley through a combination of conquest and purchase by 1395. Defeat by Appenzell in the Battle of Stoss Pass, 17 June 1405 put an end to the Habsburg expansion (and won Appenzeller independence from the Imperial Abbey of St Gall). Marbach, Berneck and Altstätten allied with Appenzell in the _de. Bund ob dem See, in the first union of the Rhine Valley from Rheineck to Kriessern. Appenzeller defeat in the Battle of Bregenz three years later brought and end to this new-found liberty and restored the Habsburgs. By 1424, however, the Rhine Valley was largely in the hands of the counts of Toggenburg. After their extinction, Appenzell reconquered the Rheintal with Rheineck in the Old Zürich War in 1445.

In 1464, Appenzell protected the Rheintal fromthe territorial claims of the prince-abbot of St Gall, particularly in a series of battles at the time of the "Rorschacher Klosterbruch", the " _la. casus belli" for the St Gallerkrieg between 28 July 1489 and the spring of 1490. Nevertheless, Appenzell was forced to cede the governing protectorship of the Valley to the warring powers — the Abbey and the four cantons of Glarus, Lucerne, Schwyz and Zürich — bringing the bailiwick into the ambit of the Old Swiss Confederation as a "Gemeine Herrschaft" (condominium).

The following year, the " _de. vier Orte" were joined by Uri, Unterwalden and Zug in the government of the condominium. Appenzell regained its seat in the governing protectorship in 1500 and Berne. The prince-abbot also sat in the court, in Kriessern.

In 1528, the Protestant Reformation was accepted in the Rheintal; whilst Roman Catholic minorities remained, only Altstätten, Widnau, Kriessern and Rüthi had a Catholic majority. Through the defeat of the Catholic hegemony over Switzerland and the end of the lengthy religious disputes that had riven the Confederacy, the 11 August 1712 Peace of Aarau ( _de. Frieden von Aarau) established confessional parity, allowing both religions to coexist in legal equality — a concept relatively common to the Holy Roman Empire since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

In 1798, the Valley unilaterally declared its independence. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Old Swiss Confederation (resulting from it being completely overrun by the French Revolutionary Armies), on 26 March 1798, a "Landsgemeinde" in Altstätten promulgated a constitution and elected both a magistrate ( _de. Landammann) and a council ( _de. Landsrat). Within weeks, however, this nascent independence was quashed with the inclusion of the Rheintal into the Helvetic canton of Säntis, with the exception of Rüthi and Lienz, assigned to Linth.

With Napoleon's Act of Mediation on 19 February 1803, the Helvetic Republic and its cantonal boundaries were abolished, with the Rheintal reunited as a district of the canton of St. Gallen, stretching from Staad to Lienz and with its capital alternating monthly between Altstätten and Rheineck. The "Bezirk" was split in twain in 1831, creating Oberrheintal, with its capital in Altstätten, and Unterrheintal, with its capital alternating between Rheineck and Berneck. This division persisted until 2003, when a constitutional revision created the modern constituency ( _de. Wahlkreis), with the loss of Thal to the adjacent "Wahlkreis" of Rorschach.


The population as of December 2006 was 64,138, living within 13 municipalities:



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