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The free city of Rust – a historical portrait



2006: The two wine-growing towns of Tokaj and Rust, both of them producers of dessert wines, twinned. www.tokaj.hu

2001: The old town of Rust is entered into the list of UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites together with the region of Fertö-to/Lake Neusiedl. UNESCO Weltkulturerbe

1989: The first German-speaking "Wine Academy" in the world is founded in Rust.

1981: The "wine-growing town" of Rust twins with the "beer-producing town" of Kulmbach / Federal Republic of Germany. "Bierstadt" Kulmbach/BRD.

1975: The "royal free city" of Rust becomes a "model town" alongside Salzburg and Krems during the "European Architectural Heritage Year", because there is a vital and not a revitalised old town here.

1954: The old town of Rust is the first town to be put under the protection of the Hague Convention.

1921: The province of Burgenland - which also includes Rust - becomes Austrian. Rust becomes a chartered town, exercises autonomy by means of its own town charter and is thus the smallest administrative district in Austria (to the present day).

1876: The centuries-old privileges are abolished. The Austro-Hungarian Empire mandates the "royal free city" of Rust to the Comitatus, or administrative unit, of Sopron.

1836: Emperor Ferdinand grants the "royal free city" of Rust the right to hold a total for four annual markets.

1809: Austro-French war: Hostile French soldiers march into Rust.

1703: Kuruzzen (loosely organised cavalry) wars: Rust gives up without a fight. Count Karoly, a Kuruzzen General, sets up his main headquarters in Rust.

1681: Emperor Leopold I raises the town's status to that of a "royal free city" on December 3, 1681 at the Imperial Diet of Sopron. The citizens of Rust purchase their city charter for 60,000 Gulden in cash and have to deliver 500 pails of Ausbruch, a premium sweet white dessert wine from Rust, for the Imperial Hofburg Palace.

1649: The citizens of Rust redeem themselves of all duties, payments, services, compulsion in religion and the jurisdiction of the domain of Magyaróvár and purchase their autonomy for 12 years by payment of 6,000 Gulden in cash and 1,000 pails of "Ausbruch", a premium sweet white dessert wine from Rust. After the expiry of these years living in freedom, the town of Rust has to succumb a further 9,000 Gulden to the Emperor in 1660 to extend its freedom for a further 20 years

1624: Emperor Ferdinand II grants Rust the right to hold a weekly market every Tuesday.

1583: The plague ravages Rust. Many inhabitants flee to Lower Austria especially the area around Wiener Neustadt.

1532: The town was never damaged again in any other war and the old townscape has not changed since this date.

1529: Rust is ravaged by the Turks.

1524: In this year the citizens of Rust are permitted to burn a crowned "R" into their barrels (Queen Mary of Hungary). Many people in Rust still use this branding on their wine corks today.

1512: The Market Town or Rust is for the first time surrounded and fortified by walls, ditches and other bulwarks.

1479: Emergence of the "Zech", the guild of wine-growers, and the confirmation of wine exportation privileges by Matthias Corvinus.

1470: Rust is raised to market status. The first privileges granted to the citizens of Rust derive from this period (right to hold markets and the right to choose a "Marktrichter" (market judge) for themselves)

1436: First documented mention of own parish.

1317: Rust is first mentioned as "Ceel" (Hungarian for elm, which is also known as the old German word "Ruester") in a deed of donation from the Hungarian King Charles Robert I of Anjou-Naples to his liegeman Desiderius Hedevary as "possessio Ceel vocatum circa stagnum Ferthew".

The free city of Rust is the smallest administrative district in Austria with its 1,924 inhabitants. The matters of the municipal administration of the town itself are dealt with at the municipality of the free city of Rust on the basis of the fact that Rust is chartered town. This is located in the town hall, Conradplatz 1. The mayor therefore also takes on the position of a district chief administrator. Passports can thus be drawn up and business registered in the town hall as well as whole lot more.

The reasons for Rust being a chartered town are historical. The citizens of Rust were granted the town charter back in 1681 when the Province of Burgenland still belonged to Hungary. After the Province of Burgenland was annexed to Austria, both the Hungarian "royal free cities" of Eisenstadt and Rust became Austrian chartered towns - the name free city was retained. If an Austrian town were to apply for its own charter today, it would have to have at least 20,000 inhabitants. This information is also evidence of the exceptional status given to the "royal free city" of Rust and its 1,924 inhabitants within the Austrian constitution.

The free city of Rust and its citizens are in any case proud of occupying this exceptional position.

Municipal Authorities
Conradplatz 1
7071 Rust