BREGENZ (anc. Brigantium), the capital of the Austrian province of Vorarlberg, as well as of the administrative district of Bregenz. In 1900 its population was 7595, German-speaking and Roman Catholic. It is situated at the south-east angle of the Lake of Constance, and, besides communications by water with the other towns on the shores of that lake, is connected by: rail with Feldkirch on the Arlberg line (24 m.) and with Munich. The old town is on a hillock, crowned by the ancient castle, while the new town is built on the level ground at the foot of the hill. The fine parish church (dedicated to St Gall) stands on another mound more to the south. In the local museum are collections of various kinds, especially of the Roman antiquities which have been dug up on the site of the old town. The position of the town on the lake has always made it an important port and commercial centre. Nowadays the main trade is in grain, but much is done also in cattle and in the products of the cotton-spinning factories of Vorarlberg.
We hear of counts of Bregenz as early as the 10th century, their heirs in the early 13th century being the counts of Montfort (a castle north of Feldkirch), who gradually acquired most of the surrounding country (including Feldkirch and Bludenz). But little by little the Habsburgers, counts of Tirol since 1363 bought from them most of their domains—first Feldkirch in 1375, next Bludenz and the Montafon valley in 1394, finally the county of Bregenz in two parts, acquired in 1451 and 1523. In 1408 the Appenzellers were defeated before Bregenz, while in 1647, during the Thirty Years’ War, the town was sacked by the Swedes under Wrangel. (W. A. B. C.)