Swiss History Part I

Swiss history, shaped by the peculiarity that since the Middle Ages a nation-wide state has developed from a loose alliance of free farming communities and cities. These ties began with the Confederation of the three original cantons in 1291; beforehand we can only speak of a history of today’s Swiss territory and its residents, but not of a history of Switzerland.

According to constructmaterials, Switzerland shares its prehistory with Central Europe.

Antiquity and Migration Period

The Celtic Helvetii, after whom Switzerland is still called today, did not migrate until shortly before 100 BC. Between the Jura and the Alps. 58 BC Caesar subjugated them at Bibracte; 15 BC BC Raetians and Alpine Celts were incorporated into the Roman Empire. In the east they came to the province of Raetia, in the west to the province of Gaul (origin of the Rhaeto-Romanic, Italian and French languages ​​in Switzerland). In the 5th century, the Burgundians settled in the west and the Alemanni in often abandoned areas in the north of what is now Switzerland. Franconian since 536 (843 to the East Franconian Empire), the west came to the Kingdom of Burgundy around 900, the main part to the Holy Roman Empire. As 1032/34 Burgundy to the Roman King Conrad II. fell, a loose bond was established around most of the areas, but soon many small secular and spiritual lordships arose (including the dukes of Zähringen; monasteries such as St. Gallen, Einsiedeln, the dioceses of Geneva, Lausanne, Sion, Basel, Chur and Constance developed to territorial rule).

The formation of alliances

The dukes of Zähringen (1098–1218) were able to establish a strong position as rectors of Burgundy (from 1127) that covered the whole of the Central Plateau; Significant city foundings (especially Bern, Freiburg im Üechtland and Freiburg im Breisgau) and the revitalization of older cities (especially Zurich, Lucerne) go back to them. The Duchy of Swabia became important with the kingdom of the Staufers in the Holy Roman Empire. After the Zähringers died out (1218) and the Hohenstaufen dynasty (1250), local feudal lords shared the inheritance. The later area of ​​Switzerland was because of the accesses to the then most important alpine crossings (Great St. Bernhard, Bündner Passes) and v. a. with the development of the Gotthardweg (beginning of the 13th century to around 1230; the significance of the Alps as a traffic route)) interesting for foreign powers for economic and political reasons. Around 1250–1300, the Counts of Savoy in the southwest, the Habsburgs (including heirs of the Kyburger, Froburger) in the north and east gained dominance.

In the 13th century, three alliance systems of towns and valleys emerged: the confederations of the cities of Bern and Freiburg in the Üechtland in the Burgundian region (loose »Burgundian Confederation«; 13th – 15th centuries), the »Eternal Alliance« of the forest area in the Gotthard area (with Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden [Nidwalden and Obwalden]; federal letter from the beginning of August 1291 in the renewal of an older contract), on Lake Constance the leagues of Zurich and other cities. These frets were initially v. a. Protective alliances, as they existed elsewhere in the Alpine region, and served among other things. the maintenance of the peace; v. a. From the early 14th century onwards, the leagues opposed the Habsburgs’ intentions to create a closed territory, especially the league of forest sites (original cantons).

The liberation sagas about W. Tell, the bailiff Geßler, Walter Fürst and the first » Rütli oath« (according to an older tradition, founded by Ä. Tschudi, around 1570, dated to 1307; Rütli) as well as the destruction of castles belonging to foreign landlords (»Burgenbruch«) have only been documented since the 15th century (first complete in the »Weisse Buch von Sarnen «, around 1470). Century to the general Swiss founding myth and a central component of Swiss identity.

Formatting of the Confederation

The original cantons won at Morgarten (1315) over an Austrian army of knights; then they renewed the “Eternal Covenant”. Lucerne joined their alliance system in 1332, the imperial city of Zurich in 1351, Glarus and Zug in 1352, and the imperial city of Bern in 1353 after the Laupenkrieg (1339–40; Laupen). The Confederation of the “Eight Old Places” (also known as the eight-place federation), to which the name of Schwyz was then transferred as an overall name, developed from the federation of the “Three Old Places” (cantons; also known as the three-place federation). The decisive factor was the victory of Sempach (1386) over Habsburg in the context of the Upper German city war; so the Waldstätte and Lucerne, through the victory at Näfels (1388) the Glarus secure their independence (imperial immediacy).

The cities belonging to the Bund der Waldstätte were usually imperial cities ruled by councils, which began to create their own territory, from which the later “city cantons” emerged. Economically, they were trading and industrial centers, but agriculture was practiced in their territory, which also covered large parts of the Central Plateau. Here the peasants became subjects of the city. The valley communities (“Lands”) were usually Reichsländer governed by the Landsgemeinde (annual people’s assembly), whose leadership was in the hands of Landammann and councilors of a rural upper class, who mostly led free farmers. Economically, the countries shifted more and more to grass farming. Cities and countries alike were interested in trade across the Alps and through the Central Plateau. Characteristic for the 14./15. The 19th century saw the decline of the lower nobility, whose position the cities sought to take over, while the peasant movements of the time were directed against the entire nobility. They were successful in the Alps and pre-Alps, but failed because of the urban territorial formation, the only ones of the late Middle Ages that were permanent.

Swiss History 1