Building in the old town of Langenthal
Building in the old town of Langenthal
Coat of arms of Langenthal
Coat of arms
Langenthal is located in Switzerland
Location of Langenthal
Karte Gemeinde Langenthal 2016.png
Langenthal is located in Canton of Bern
Langenthal (Canton of Bern)
Coordinates: 47°13′N 7°47′E / 47°13′N 7°47′E / 47.217; 7.783
 • ExecutiveGemeinderat
with 7 members
 • MayorStadtpräsident (list)
Thomas Rufener SVP/UDC
(as of March 2014)
 • ParliamentStadtrat
with 40 members
 • Total17.22 km2 (6.65 sq mi)
Elevation481 m (1,578 ft)
Population (Dec 2016[2])
 • Total15,501
 • Density900/km2 (2,300/sq mi)
Postal code4900-4902
SFOS number0329
Surrounded byAarwangen, Bleienbach, Lotzwil, Obersteckholz, Roggwil, Thunstetten, Untersteckholz
Twin townsBrig-Glis (Switzerland), Neviano (Italy)
SFSO statistics

Langenthal is a town and a municipality in the district of Oberaargau in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. On 1 January 2010 the municipality of Untersteckholz merged into the Langenthal.[3]

Langenthal is an educational, cultural, and economic center for the region of Oberaargau.


Poster from 1936 advertising the Langenthal-Huttwil-Wollhusen railway

Archeological evidence suggests that early settlements existed around 4000 B.C. in the Langenthal area. A Hallstatt necropolis with twelve grave mounds has been found at Unterhard. Remnants of two Roman villae have also been identified.

Langenthal is first mentioned in 861, as marcha in Langatun, referring to farming estates scattered along the Langete (a tributary of the Murg). The Old High German name Langatun is presumably composed of a hydronym langa- and the Gaulish element dunum "fort" (which had become productive as a suffix in toponyms).[4] The re-interpretation of the name as including the element -tal "valley" dates to c. the 15th century, during which the name is on record as either Langaten or Langental (the same process can be observed in the case of Murgenthal, earlier Murgatun). [5]

In the 12th century Langenthal (now known as Langaton) belonged to the territory of the lords of Langenstein. In 1194 the Freiherr founded the Abbey of St. Urban and endowed the Abbey with lands in Langenthal. Formerly part of Thunstetten parish, Langenthal was granted its own parish church in 1197. After the extinction of the Langenstein family in 1212, the Abbey inherited additional lands in the area. The establishment of the Abbey brought agricultural improvements, especially the introduction of an irrigation system to the area. However, the Abbey often came into conflict with the Kyburg Ministerialis (unfree knights in the service of a feudal overlord) family of Luternau. The Luternau family fought the growing power of the Abbey, until 1273-76 when they were obligated to sell their interest in Langenthal to the Abbey. Just a few years later, in 1279, the Abbey, in turn, was forced to give the low court and a fortified house in Langenthal to the Freiherr of Grünenberg to hold as a fief. By the end of the 14th century, the Abbey had regained power and was able to bring the village fully under their control.[5]

Starting in 1313 the Kyburgs held the high court right for the village. When that family died out in 1406, Bern inherited the right to hold the high court. Over the next few years Bern's power expanded in Langenthal. In 1415, Langenthal became incorporated into the territory of the Republic of Bern, but it remained under the landlordship and the low court of the monastery. Over the following centuries, the Bernese court slowly eliminated many of the Abbey's powers. The Protestant Reformation of 1528 weakened the power of the Abbey slightly, but it continued to collect tithes and appoint the village priest until Bern bought those rights in 1808.[5]

During the 16th century a number of craftsmen and small businesses moved into the growing town. In 1571 Bern granted the right for the town to hold two yearly markets. However, the supply of goods for sale quickly exceeded the capacity of the two yearly markets. In 1613 they built a Kaufhaus or market building and started holding weekly markets. The Kaufhaus was rebuilt in 1808 and from 1894 until 1992 served as the town hall. By 1616 Langenthal had a series of laws and regulations governing the booming markets and trade in the town. In 1640 Langenthal and Langnau became centers of linen canvas production and export to France, Italy, Spain and Portugal. In 1704 Langenthal became the seat of the Oberaargau canvas dealer's guild, which brought together weavers, shopkeepers and traders to protect their interests. The decline of eastern Switzerland's linen industry in the 18th century gave Langenthal a further boost, which encouraged to Bern to tighten supervision. Beginning in 1758 the Bernese government started inspecting cloth for quality and controlling who was allowed to sell.[5]

The success of the linen trade helped the town to grow. Even though the Aargau cantonal road bypassed the Langenthal, by 1756 it had grown to a total of 189 households, three taverns, various administrative buildings and a warehouse (dated 1748). The market street was paved in 1730 and the Langete was partially covered with stone bridges and new houses. In 1785 a brewery opened in town. A small elite of merchants, lawyers, physicians and pharmacists emerged and turned Langenthal into a center of the liberal and nationalist thought during the early modern era. Langenthal had been a subject territory of Berne within the Old Swiss Confederacy since 1415, and tended to support uprisings against the central authorities; during the Swiss peasant war of 1653 Langenthal had supported the peasant uprising nd supported the 1798 French invasion and the liberal Helvetic Republic.[5] The current municipal coat of arms, three wavy bands in blue on yellow (Or three Bends wavy Azure), has been in use since c. 1870, replacing an earlier design in red and silver,[6] but the use of a flag with a similar design, "yellow and blue with a triple rivulet" (Sie führen einen Fahnen ist gälb und blaw / In dreyfachen Bach darinnen) is recorded in a song of c. 1700.

Langenthal’s location on the road from Bern to Zurich (completed in 1760) and on the Swiss Central Railway line (inaugurated in 1857) spurred industrial development, led by textiles and machines. Municipal water supply was introduced in 1894 and an electric utility began operating in 1896. In 1898, the formerly neighboring municipality of Schoren was incorporated into Langenthal. Langenthal had a population of 1,327 in 1764; population grew to 2,738 by 1850, and to 4,799 by 1900. In the 20th century, Langenthal became known for its porcelain manufacture. Langenthal reached a population of 10,000 in 1957, further growing to 13,000 by 1970. The municipality has been officially referring to itself as a town (Stadt) since 1997. In 2001, Langenthal was twinned with the town of Neviano in southern Italy and with Brig-Glis in the upper Valais.[7] In 2010, the municipality of Untersteckholz was incorporated into Langenthal.

Other Languages
Alemannisch: Langenthal
Bân-lâm-gú: Langenthal
català: Langenthal
Чӑвашла: Лангенталь
Deutsch: Langenthal
español: Langenthal
Esperanto: Langenthal BE
euskara: Langenthal
français: Langenthal
Gaeilge: Langenthal
hrvatski: Langenthal
italiano: Langenthal
עברית: לנגנטל
қазақша: Лангенталь
lumbaart: Langenthal
norsk nynorsk: Langenthal
русский: Лангенталь
shqip: Langenthal
Simple English: Langenthal, Switzerland
svenska: Langenthal
Tiếng Việt: Langenthal
中文: 朗根塔爾