The history of Vals
Vals is called Vals because the valley is called Val Sogn Pieder in Romansh (St Peter's Valley). According to some people. Others say that Vals comes from the Latin word vallis, which means valley. Still others maintain that Vals is called Vals because from 1350 onwards, the Walser people immigrated over the mountains from Oberwallis and settled in the high valley.
There were people in Valsertal as far back as the bronze age (2000 to 1000 B.C.) . That is what prehistoric discoveries have shown. However, in the Early Middle Ages, Vals was once again an untouched forest landscape. Further down, in Ilanz and in the top of Lugnez, the Romansh founded village communities. They settled in the Vals basin around 1200. The seven farmsteads were sheltered by the Chur cathedral chapter and they paid an annual tax: 6 shillings in cloth, 2 shillings in money and 12 pieces of meat.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Raetians lured new colonists from the Oberwallis to the high valleys and also to Vals. They granted autonomy to the settlers, along with free choice of who would be mayor and free rights of inheritance. The Walser people progressively immigrated in groups, particularly from the Rheinwald, they cleared the forest and made the land arable.
In 1325, Romansh and Walsers lived side by side in Vals. However, the Walser people were always increasing in number and spread themselves out down the valley towards St. Martin and Tersnaus. In reaction to this, the Romansh people issued a blocking statute in 1457, with a ban on mixed marriage. Whoever violated the ban lost their rights to inheritance. The Walser people were thus held back and confined, so that a German language enclave remained in the Romansh Val Lumnezia. Here, in the Valley of Light, the people of Vals bred cattle and practised agriculture with a single alpine dairy, into the 20th century.
Documents from 1290 label the place as Ualle, then Valles or Valls. In 1645 it was Falls. Then later, it became Vals again.