Laupheim is a city in southern Germany in the state of Baden Württemberg. Laupheim was first mentioned in 778 and gained its city rights in 1869. One of the main trading routes, from Ulm to Ravensburg and then on towards Lake Constance ran through Laupheim. Having developed from a rural settlement into a small urban area, Laupheim is home to a number of small to medium sized industries and businesses. One of the largest employers is the German Army which maintains an airbase of the Army Aviation Corps in Laupheim.
Laupheim was the administrative centre of the district of Laupheim from 1842 until 1938 when the district was abolished. The southern parts of it were incorporated into the district of Biberach (including Laupheim itself) whereas the remainders were allocated to the district of Ulm.
Laupheim is the educational centre for the surrounding rural areas particularly with regards to secondary education.
The area in and around Laupheim has been settled from very early times onwards. Archaeological evidence shows that 15000 years ago nomadic tribes roamed the countryside. From ca. 2000 BCE onwards, Celts inhabited this area. Until around the year 260 CE, it was part of the Roman province of Raetia, after which the Alamanni invaded the Agri Decumates, eventually also settling in what was to become Laupheim.
Laupheim was first mentioned as Louphaim in a charter dated 778. The charter is still kept in the archives of the monastery of St Gallen, Switzerland. This reference is the earliest of any city in Upper Swabia and any parish in the district of Biberach.
Situated in the vicinity of two major trade routes between the Lake of Constance and Ulm and the Swabian Alb and the valley of the river Iller respectively, Laupheim developed into a major settlement. In 853, it was elevated to the status of town when a court responsible for the Rammachgau (also spelled Rammagau) was set up there.
Laupheim appears to have been home of an indigenous noble family, whose members used the suffix von Laupheim. They were attested for the first time in 1110. The last known member of this family was Berchtolt von Laupheim who was a citizen of Ulm 1372, long after his family has lost possession of any rights in Laupheim around 1310.
After the collapse of the Empire of the Staufers during the 13th century, the castle and parish of Laupheim came into the possession of the Truchsessen von Waldburg who, in 1331, sold Laupheim together with their other possessions in Upper Swabia to the Austrian House of Habsburg.
The village was badly affected by the crisis of the mid 14th century, caused by the Black Death and other factors. The population shrunk and as a consequence the hamlet of Ringelhausen, situated between Laupheim and Bronnen, was abandoned and eventually lost in the 15th century. Only the name of a street and a development area in the city of Laupheim nowadays hints at the existence of this hamlet.
In 1484, Emperor Sigismund bestowed upon Burkhard von Ellerbach the right to hold regular markets, Laupheim thereby becoming a market town, and also the privilege of inflicting high justice, which gave him the right to hold a criminal court inflicting bodily punishment, including the death penalty. The local ruler was now master of life and death. Due to the weekly market and the annual Gallus-market, Laupheim quickly developed into a commercial centre.
During the course of the German Peasants' War 1525, Laupheim Castle was destroyed by the Baltringer Haufen, an army of peasants named after the nearby village of Baltringen, where approximately 12.000 farmers gathered to form an army. After the suppression of the revolt, the peasants were forced to rebuild the castle.
After the agnatic line of the Ellerbach dynasty became extinct in 1570, Laupheim passed through Hans Pankraz von Freyberg to the Herren von Welden in 1582. They turned Laupheim into their permanent residence and established the first school in 1584. From 1582 until 1806, Laupheim was a Lordship (Reichsritterschaft) ruled by the heir of the Welden family, whose title was "Imperial Knight" (Reichsritter).
Between 1623 and 1661, the church St. Peter and Paul was built in the vicinity of the castle.
Due to the inheritance laws of the house of Welden, the market town was divided into two different territories, Großlaupheim and Kleinlaupheim (Great Laupheim and Little Laupheim), in 1621, at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648), each territory being ruled by its own dynasty. As a consequence economic growth slowed down.
During the Thirty Years' War, Laupheim repeatedly fell victim to the ravages of war, mainly due to marauding troops, both imperial, that is Catholic, and Swedish, their Protestant opponents. A massive outbreak of the bubonic plague in 1635 further diminished the population. At the close of the Thirty Years' War, Laupheim had lost two thirds of its pre-war population, so that ultimately towards the end of 17th century, Laupheim had sunk to the status of an unimportant, impoverished village. As a consequence of the Thirty Years' War, the feudal lords attempted to increase taxation and extend the amount of socage the peasants had to do for them. This led to legal conflicts between the two parties, which lasted for decades.
During the 18th century, the Welden dynasty had the old castle, Großlaupheim Castle, restored, and subsequently renewed in Baroque-style in 1752. Between 1766 and 1769, the branch of the Welden dynasty that ruled Kleinlaupheim had their residence renewed in Baroque-style by architect Johann Georg Specht. This castle is now called Schloss Kleinlaupheim (Kleinlaupheim Castle). This makes Laupheim unique in that it has two castles within its city boundaries, as a result of once having been two independent states.
Following the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss, the mediatisation and secularisation of numerous secular and ecclesiastical principalities within the former Holy Roman Empire, both parts of Laupheim were annexed by the newly formed Kingdom of Württemberg in 1806. It was administratively part of the district of Wiblingen until 1845 when the administration was moved to Laupheim, creating the district of Laupheim, ultimately disbanded in 1938 when Laupheim became part of the district of Biberach.
Due to laws based on the ideas of the enlightenment, servitude in the Kingdom of Württemberg was abolished in 1836. During the same period, laws forcing Jews to live in separate quarters and excluding them from most business activities were revoked. This enabled them to contribute enormously to the economic upturn Laupheim was experiencing, even though complete civil rights were not granted until 1864.
In 1850, a train station opened two kilometers west of Laupheim, on the Württemberg Southern Railway from Ulm to Friedrichshafen, that passes Laupheim to the West, the station therefore being named as Laupheim-West.
In 1869, Laupheim was granted a city charter by King Karl I. of Württemberg. In the same year, the first institute of further education, a Lateinschule, was established in Laupheim. In 1871, Laupheim, being part of the Kingdom of Württemberg, was incorporated into the German Empire.
In 1904, the city was connected to the railway line Ulm-Friedrichshafen by an extra route, linking the railway artery with the city itself. At the same time a train station was built in the city. This extension of the railway line went on for a further 16 km, terminating at the village of Schwendi.
126 of 312 Jewish inhabitants of Laupheim managed to flee abroad, most of them after the so-called Kristallnacht. In 1939, the remaining Jews in Laupheim were resettled within the city, only to be deported to concentration and extermination camps in 1941 and 1942. After the last of four transports, the Jewish community in Laupheim ceased to exist on 19 August 1942.
After World War II, in the 1960s, Laupheim began the to renew and modernize its appearance. New schools were built: a grammar school, a realschule and a new town hall. From the 1980s onwards, these projects were followed by a new district hospital, a public in-doors swimming pool, a renovated stadium, named after Gretel Bergmann who was born in Laupheim, and an omnibus interchange.
Additionally, several industrial estates on the outskirts of the city were established in order to attract trade and industry. As a consequence, companies from outside Laupheim established offices and production facilities there, as well as companies that formerly had been operating from the city centre.