The origin of the mayoralty in Chur is connected with the emancipation efforts of the city towards the bishopric. Since the 13th century, the people of Chur had been able to bring certain liberties into their own hands. In 1282, for example, a municipal council was mentioned for the first time; it was chaired at that time by the bishop's official, the Ammann, and later by the city's Werkmeister.
When, at the beginning of the 15th century, the citizens of Chur tried to change the name "Werkmeister" to "Bürgermeister" (mayor), they met with vigorous protest from the bishop. However, after the great city fire in 1404, Emperor Frederick III granted the citizens of Chur not only the confirmation of burnt privileges and the guild right, but also the right to use the title of mayor. According to the guild constitution of 1405, the mayor was elected every year in November. He remained in office for one year and could be re-elected only in November of the following year; in the meantime he performed certain functions as a dormant mayor. Thus, incumbent and dormant mayors often alternated in holding office year after year.
This mode of election continued until the abolition of the guilds in 1839/40; it was interrupted only during the French occupation of the city in 1800-03. Until 1872, the mayor continued to be elected every year, then every two years; however, it was possible to confirm him in office for several years. Due to the constitutional revision of 1875, the municipality (Einwohnergemeinde) replaced the burgher municipality; the head of the city was newly called the city president. The term of office for the city president continued to last two years until mid-1904, then three, and from 1904 four years.