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[rets; Fr. rets]
Retz or Rais, Gilles de Laval, seigneur de, 1404-40, marshal of France, a lord of the Breton marches. A noted soldier, he was at Orléans with Joan of Arc. He was a liberal patron of music, literature, and the arts. After his retirement, rumors spread of satanic and vicious doings in his castle. He was tried in an ecclesiastical court, and he confessed to kidnaping more than 100 children, mostly boys, and to murdering them after maltreating them. He was handed over by the Church to the civil authorities and was executed. There is no reason to doubt his confession. He has been supposed, probably wrongly, to be the original of Bluebeard.

See E. Gabory, Alias Bluebeard (tr. 1930); T. Dix, Black Baron (1930); J. Benedetti, Gilles de Rais (1971).

Retz, Jean François Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de, 1613-79, French prelate and political leader. He was made (1643) coadjutor to his uncle, the archbishop of Paris. An enemy of Cardinal Mazarin, chief minister for the regent Anne of Austria, Retz was prominent in the Fronde against him. To win Retz's support, Anne nominated him (1651) to be made cardinal; he received the red hat in 1652. At the close of the Fronde, Retz was imprisoned (1652). When his uncle died (1654), he became archbishop of Paris but was not allowed to take office. He appealed unsuccessfully to the pope. After Mazarin's death (1661) he resigned his see in return for several rich abbeys. He occasionally represented the court at Rome. His memoirs (1717; tr., 4 vol., 1723) are classic.

See biography by J. H. Salmon (1969).

Retz is a town with a population of 4,168 in the district of Hollabrunn in Lower Austria, Austria.


Retz is located in the north western Weinviertel in Lower Austria. The municipality's area covers 45,01 km². 11.83 percent of this area are forested. Cadastral municipalities are Hofern, Kleinhöflein, Kleinriedenthal, Obernalb, Retz and Unternalb.


Middle ages

In the area around the present-day Anger (Meadow) of Retz a village was formed, which was first mentioned in 1180 as „Rezze“ (slavic; meaning small creek).

Rudolph von Habsburg awarded Count Berthold of Rabenswalde (1278 – 1312) shire and sovereignty of Hardegg as a fiefdom. The count did not stay for long in Hardegg, and moved to Retz, where he founded the monastery of the Dominican Order (called Dominikanerkloster). The monastery was finished in 1295. Finally he founded the city of Retz around 1300.

Around 1343 the preacher Franz von Retz was born. He reformed the Dominican Order, taught at the University of Vienna, was their Dean for five times, and represented the university also at the Council of Pisa. He died on September 8, 1427 in Vienna.

In 1425, the Hussites conquered Retz (November 25) and only a few days later also Schrattenthal and Pulkau. The city was destroyed and many people were killed. A chronicle from Klosterneuburg reported of 6000 captives, among them Count Heinrich of Maidburg (Hardegg), which were led to Prague. Nearly 8000 men are said to be slain and over 30 catholic churches to be destroyed. In 1431 the Hussites came to raid Retz for a second time.

In 1467 the Burgeois hospital chapel, located between the Verderberhaus and the Znaimer Tor, has been consecrated and in 1783 it has been secularized. Today it serves as a museum for the South Moravian gallery.

After the reconstruction of the city Retz was conquered by Matthias Corvinus on October 12, 1486 after a siege which lasted for four days. Until 1492 Retz belonged to his dominion. During that time the city received the privileges concerning the trade of wine which were responsible for the wealth of Retz in the future. Also as a consequence of these privileges the huge and multi-storied wine cellar system was built. Today it is being used for guided tours and during Advent, it serves as the location for a christmas market.

16th and 17th century

From 1568 to 1569 the former church on the main square was transformed into the city's town hall by implementing an intermediate ceiling. In the first floor the Marienkapelle was built. The cabinetmaker Jakob Barth of Retz was working for over 30 years on the carvings.

In 1576, the Sgraffitohaus was built. In 1928, the overpainted paintings were discovered and uncovered again.

The eye-catching Verderberhaus originates to the year 1583. It has its name from a family named Verderber which was a very wealthy family in Retz at that time. The family acquired the building in 1848.

The Thirty Year's War brought destruction to the town, and also did the Swedes under Lennart Torstensson, who set up his headquarters in Schrattenthal.

Between 1660 and 1670 the castle of the Suttner-Gatterburg family was built. Today it is home to the bicycle museum of Retz. During the shootings for the TV series Julia - eine außergewöhnliche Frau between 1998 and 2002, the fictional police station was situated there.

In 1680 the pest came to the town. The Pestsäule on the main square still reminds of this dramatic event.

Since 1696 the houses are allowed to being built higher than the city's defensive wall. This was the reason for the Dominican Order to increase the size of their monastery by a third story.

18th and 19th century

In the years 1701 to 1713 the spire has been revamped in the baroque style, from 1721 to 1728 the church has been enlarged, rebuilt, and revamped in the baroque style as a whole. The altarpiece showing Saint Stephen, painted by Leopold Kupelwieser, originates to the year 1852.

The first windmill in Retz was entirely built out of wood in 1772. Later, a second windmill was erected nearby, which was built out of stone. The second windmill is not used as a windmill anymore, it now serves as a residential house.

In 1831 the wooden windmill was removed and a new windmill was built on the same spot, which is still one of the town's landmarks today, for it is the only fully functional windmill left in Austria. There was also a bricklayer from Lesná u Znojma (South Moravia) involved in the works. He used the acquired knowledge to build a windmill also in his hometown, which was later inherited by the son of the windmiller of Retz. In 1927, the windmill was shut down. Not far from the windmill the Kalvarienberg (calvary) is located. It was erected in the years 1727 to 1737 by Jakob Seer.

On November 1, 1871 Retz was connected to the international railway system by the Austrian Northwestern Railway.

In 1896, a Judaistic meeting house was built, which unfortunately does not exist anymore. The local post office originates to the year 1897.


Mayor of the town is Karl Heilinger, chief officer is Andreas Sedlmayer. In the municipal council there are 25 seats and the distribution of mandates after the municipal council election from March 6, 2005 is as follows: ÖVP 16, SPÖ 8, Greens 1, other parties no seats.

Twin cities

Retz is twinned with the following cities:

Culture and landmarks


  • Fahrradmuseum (bicycle museum) at Gatterburg castle
  • Retzer Erlebniskeller ("Adventure wine cellar"), one of the biggest cellar systems in Mitteleuropa
  • Museum Retz (museum of local history and South Moravian gallery)

Historical buildings

  • Hauptplatz (main square) with Pranger (pillory), town hall, Verderberhaus and Sgraffitohaus. Beneath the Hauptplatz is the extensive wine cellar system
  • Gatterburg castle
  • Dominikanerkirche and monastery (Dominican church)
  • Parish church Saint Stephen
  • Windmill of Retz
  • Calvary
  • Military cemetery built in 1979 where all German soldiers who fell in the Weinviertel are buried together since then

Regular events

  • Weintage ("Wine days") - annual, 10 days from Corpus Christi on
  • Weinlesefest ("Grape harvest festival") - annual, Friday to Sunday on the last weekend of September
  • Kürbisfest im Retzer Land ("Pumpkin festival") in the region around Retz

Economy and infrastructure

Retz is a traditional trading city and is best known for its dealing in wines.

There are 206 non-agricultural workplaces as of 2001, and 315 agricultural workplaces as of 1999. The number of gainful persons is 1,709 according to the census of 2001. The activity rate was 42.08 percent.

Inhabitant growth

According to the 2001 census, Retz has 4,168 inhabitants. Back in 1991, there were 4,284 inhabitants, in 1981 4,333, and 4,927 inhabitants in 1971.

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