The changeful history of Pinkafeld dates back to the Neolithic Era. The oldest
finds are from this period and are about 5000 years old. Since the 2nd century
BCE, an iron smelting installation from the La Tene period had existed south of
Pinkafeld. It was part of a Celtic settlement that was located in the general
area of today’s railway station. The numerous burial mounds (tumuli) around
Pinkafeld, containing primarily potshards and bones, are from the Roman period.
Pinkafeld is first mentioned in written documents in 860. In that year, along
with numerous other estates, King Louis the German donated the “ad Peinicahu”
manor – today’s Pinkafeld – to the archbishop of Salzburg. The emergent
settlement belonged to the holdings of the counts of Güssing. In 1289, the
village together with its fortified church was destroyed in the course of the
“feud of Güssing”.
In the 14th century, Pinkafeld became the administrative headquarters and
economic centre of the house of Bernstein, to which it had belonged since 1291.
This development was furthered by the Hungarian King Louis the Great in the 14th
century when he granted different market privileges to the citizens of
Pinkafeld, and reached it’s peak in 1397 when Pinkafeld gained its
independence from the house of Bernstein. Landlord Nikolaus von Kanizsay granted
to the people of Pinkafeld both higher and lower jurisdiction, the right to hold
a market, the right of toll collection, freedom from paying tribute or
performing forced labor and the election of the judges. In subsequent centuries,
the people of Pinkafeld were always very careful to retain these privileges.
The 15th century marked the beginning of a rapid economic boom of the so-called
“privileged market”. In 1445, Pinkafeld was taken in pawn by Emperor
Frederick III, who confirmed the existing privileges and extended the exemption
from duty. On April 14th, 1445, at the Lamplfeld south of Pinkafeld, Emperor
Frederick III was ambushed by the troops of Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus and
was forced to retreat. In 1463, Pinkafeld, together with the estates of
Bernstein, came into the possession of the Hapsburg family and remained part of
Haus Austria for the next 200 years.
During the time of the Turkish wars, Pinkafeld too suffered greatly. In 1529,
the village was plundered and put to the torch and completely destroyed in 1532.
In the 16th century, the Protestant religion found a foothold in Pinkafeld
through the auspices of the Königsberger family, which had been in possession
of the Bernstein holdings since 1517. In 1644, Count Adam von Batthyány took
over the holdings of Bernstein. In 1649,the Bernstein estates, together with
Pinkafeld, became part of Hungary until 1921. The new owners built a castle in
Pinkafeld around 1658. The brothers Paul and Christoph Batthyány divided the
Bernstein holdings into two parts and Pinkafeld became its own economic entity.
The armed citizens of Pinkafeld were successful in fighting against Turkish
troops during the Ottoman war of 1663/64. During the Great Ottoman War of 1683,
Styrian farmers and border guards pillaged and devastated Pinkafeld in
retaliation for the invasion of troops from the Batthyány family into Styrian
The first half of the 18th century was
dominated by disputes concerning privileges with the counts von Batthyány,
which was followed by an enormous rise of trade and industry. Cloth
manufacturers created a more important guild than the leatherworkers. The French
War, the imported cholera and several fire catastrophes led to a complete
impoverishment of the market in the first third of the 19th century. Despite
these hardships, Pinkafeld experienced a culturally and spiritually flourishing
time thanks to the efforts of Countess Franziska Batthyány and Father Joseph
Michael Weinhofer. Many members of the Viennese circle of Romantic artists
around Clemens Maria Hofbauer, like Zacharias Werner, Roman Zängerle, Johann
Emanuel Veith, Eduard Steinle, Leopold Kuppelwieser spent summers in the castle
of Pinkafeld and left numerous traces of their artistic activities in the town.
During this time, we also see the last act of the regional court of Pinkafeld
with the execution in 1928 of bandit chief Nikolaus Schmiedhofer, known as
"Holzknechtsepple" on the Gerichtsberg.
After the revolution of 1848/49, the privileged market gradually lost its old
privileges and after the Compromise of 1867 between Hungary and Austria the
efforts at Magyarization became noticeable also in Pinkafö. Until the
mid-century, the economy recovered again and the craftsmanship of Pinkafeld
enjoyed its greatest prosperity. In 1850, there were more than 40 guilds in the
town with 661 registered masters, of whom 382 were incorporated from abroad. In
the last third of the 19th century, Pinkafeld too experienced the change from
trade to industry. Textile factories replaced the old fuller shops; a leather
factory and a tannery replaced the old leather shops. A brewery, a pitch
factory, a match factory and a steam hammer were the witnesses of the town’s
WWI was accompanied by a lot of suffering, but also by a short boom of the
textile industry due to military orders. After the annexation of Burgenland to
Austria in 1921, the loss of the sales markets in the East lead to enormous
economic problems. However, the economy recovered again thanks to the connection
to the Austrian rail network in 1925 and the establishment of further textile
factories. At the end of the 1920’s, Pinkafeld was the most important
industrial center in southern Burgenland. The world economic crisis in the
1930’s brought this recovery to a sudden halt. Due to its juridical and
economic importance in its past, Pinkafeld was elevated to the position of
township in 1937.
Many of Pinkafeld’s inhabitants died during WWII, which lead to the collapse
of the economy. Only after the termination of the Soviet occupation period was
Pinkafeld able to recover again. A renewed boom of the textile industry after
1955 helped Pinkafeld become once again one of the most important industrial
centers of the Burgenland. After the collapse of Pinkafeld’s textile factories
because of the textile crisis of 1966, Pinkafeld changed from an industrial
center to a modern town, offering a diverse range of schools, shopping centers
and leisure centers. A university of applied science, a sport airfield,
numerous shops, modern industrial enterprises, a garrison, the SOS Children’s
Village, a well-maintained town with many points of interest, a range of
gastronomic offers and many other institutions all testify to the steady upward
trend of the city of Pinkafeld.
Original by Mag. Rudolf Köberl