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The Economy: Innovation and Migration

During the middle ages, the economy in the Bregenzerwald came mostly from agriculture.  The meadows in the valley were used to grow oats.  The pastures in the Alpine region were a good basis for livestock and dairy farming.  The population grew rapidly and by 1511, a quarter of the people in Vorarlberg lived in the Bregenzerwald.   Because of that, the farms couldn‘t feed all of the people anymore so many of them went to work outside of the Bregenzerwald as migratory workers.  They went to Swabia, Switzerland and other areas as harvesters or cattle drovers.  The craftsmen of the Bregenzerwald were more successful than the uneducated workers.  Their preferred places to work were France, Switzerland and Swabia.  Later, the wanderers, as they were called, went as far as Russia.  The famous Bregenzerwald Baroque Master Builders arose from this tradition of seasonal migration workers.

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