1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Switzerland/History/Religious divisions

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The Period of Religious Divisions and French Influence — up to 1814[edit]

In 1499 the Swiss had practically renounced their allegiance to the emperor, the temporal chief of the world according to medieval theory; The Reformation and in the 16th century a great number of them did the same by the world's spiritual chief, the pope. The scene of the revolt was Zurich, and the leader Ulrich Zwingli (who settled in Zurich at the very end of 1518). But we cannot understand Zwingli's career unless we remember that he was almost more a political reformer than a religious one. In his former character his policy was threefold. He bitterly opposed the French alliance and the pension and mercenary system, for he had seen its evils with his own eyes when serving as chaplain with the troops in the Milanese in 1512 and 1515. Hence in 1521 his influence kept Zurich back from joining in the treaty with Francis I. Then, too, at the time of the Peasant Revolt (1525), he did what he could to lighten the harsh rule of the city over the neighbouring rural districts, and succeeded in getting serfage abolished. Again he had it greatly at heart to secure for Zurich and Bern the chief power in the Confederation, because of their importance and size; he wished to give them extra votes in the Diet, and would have given them two-thirds of the " common bailiwicks " when these were divided. In his character as a religious reformer we must remember that he was a humanist, and deeply read in classical literature, which accounts for his turning the canonries of the Grossmünster into professorships, reviving the old school of the Carolinum, and relying on the arm of the state to carry out religious changes (see ZWINGLI). After succeeding at two public disputations (both held in 1523) his views rapidly gained ground at Zurich, which long, however, stood quite alone, the other Confederates issuing an appeal to await the decision of the asked-for general council, and proposing to carry out by the arm of the state certain small reforms, while clinging to the old doctrines. Zwingli had to put down the extreme wing of the Reformers — the Anabaptists — by force (1525-1526). Quarrels soon arose as to allowing the new views in the " common bailiwicks." The disputation at Baden (1526) was in favour of the maintainers of the old faith; but that at Bern (1528) resulted in securing for the new views the support of that great town, and so matters began to take another aspect. In 1528 Bern joined the union formed in December 1527 in favour of religious freedom by Zurich and Constance (Christliches Burgrecht), and her example was followed by Schaffhausen, St Gall, Basel, Bienne and Muhlhausen (1528-1529). This attempt virtually to break up the League was met in February 1529 by the offensive and defensive alliance made with King Ferdinand of Hungary (brother of the emperor) by the three Forest districts, with Lucerne and Zug, followed (April 1529) by the Christliche Vereinigung, or union between these five members of the League. Zurich was greatly moved by this, and, as Zwingli held that for the honour of God war was as necessary as iconoclasm, hostilities seemed imminent; but Bern held back; and the first peace of Kappel was concluded (June 1529), by which the Hungarian alliance was annulled and the principle of " religious parity " (or freedom) was admitted in the case of each member of the League, while in the " common bailiwicks " the majority in each parish was to decide the religion of that parish. This was at once a victory and a check for Zwingli. He tried to make an alliance with the Protestants in Germany, but failed at the meeting at Marburg (October 1529) to come to an agreement with Luther on the subject of the Eucharist, and the division between the Swiss and the German Reformations was stereotyped. Zwingli now developed his views as to the greater "fight which Zurich and Bern ought to have in the League. Quarrels, too, went on in the " common bailiwicks," for the members of the League who clung to the old faith had a majority of votes in matters relating to these districts. Zurich tried to cut off supplies of food from reaching the Romanist members (contrary to the wishes of Zwingli), and, on the death of the abbot of St Gall, disregarding the rights of Lucerne, Schwyz and Glarus, who shared with her since 1451 the office of protectors of the abbey, suppressed the monastery, giving the rule of the land and the people to her own officers. Bern in vain tried to moderate this aggressive policy, and the Romanist members of the League indignantly advanced from Zug towards Zurich. Near Kappel, on the 11th of October 1531, the Zurich vanguard under Goldli was (perhaps' owing to his treachery) surprised, and despite reinforcements the men of Zurich were beaten, among the slain being Zwingli himself. Another defeat completed the discomfiture of Zurich, and by the second peace of Kappel (November 1531) the principle of " parity " was recognized, not merely in the case of each member of the League and of the "common bailiwicks," but in the latter Romanist minorities in every parish were to have a right to celebrate their own worship. Thus everywhere the rights of a minority were protected from the encroachments of the majority. The " Christliches Rurgrecht " was abolished, and Zurich was condemned to pay heavy damages. Bullinger succeeded Zwingli, but this treaty meant that neither side could now try to convert the other wholesale. The League was permanent ly split into two religious ramps: the Romanists, who met at Lucerne, numbered, besides the five already mentioned, Fribourg, Soleure, Appenzell (Inner Rhoden) and the abbot of St Gall (with the Valais and the bishop of Basel), thus commanding sixteen votes (out of twenty-nine) in the Diet; the Evangelicals were Zurich, Bern, Scharthausen, Appenzell (Ausser Rhoden), Glarus and the towns of St Gall, Basel and Bienne (with Graubünden), who met at Aarau.

Bern had her eyes always fixed upon the Savoyard lands to the south-west, in which she had got a footing in 1473, Conquest of Vaud by Bern and now made zeal for religious reforms the excuse for resuming her advance policy. In 1526 Guillaume Farel, a preacher from Dauphiné, had been sent to reform Aigle, Moral and Neuchltel. In 1532 he came to Geneva, an ancient city of which the rule had long been disputed by the prince-bishop, the burgesses and the house of Savoy, the latter holding the neighbouring districts. She had become in 1519 the ally of Fribourg, in 1526 that of Bern also; and in 1530, by their influence, a peace was made between the contending parties. The religious changes introduced by Farel greatly displeased Fribourg, which abandoned the alliance (1534), and in 1535 the Reformation was firmly planted in the city. The duke of Savoy, however, took up arms against Bern (1336), who overran Gex, Vaud and the independent bishopric of Lausanne, as well as the Chablais to the south of the lake. Geneva was only saved by the unwillingness of the citizens. Bern thus ruled north, and south of the lake, and carried matters with a high hand. Shortly after this John Calvin, a refugee from Picardy, was, when passing through Geneva, detained by Farel to aid him, and, after an exile from 1538-1541, owing to opposition of the Papal party and of the burghers, who objected to Bernese rule, be was recalled (1541) and set up his wonderful theocratic government in the city, in 1553 burning Servetus, the Unitarian (see [[CALVIN and SERVETUS), and in 1555 expelling many who upheld municipal liberty, replacing them by French, English, Italians and Spaniards as new burghers, whose names are still frequent in Geneva (e.g. Candollc, Mallet, Diodati). His theological views led to disputes with the Zurich Reformers, which were partly settled by the Consensus Tigurinus of 1549, and more completely by the Helvetic Confession of 1562—1566, which formed the basis of union between the two parties.

By the time of Calvin's death (1564) the old faith had begun to take the offensive; the reforms made by the Council of Trent urged on the Romanists to make an attempt to recover lost ground. Emmanuel Phflibert, duke of Savoy, the hero of St Ouentin (1557), and one of the greatest generals of the day, with the support of the Romanist members of the League, demanded the restoration of the districts seized by Bern in 1536, and on the 30th of October 1564 the Treaty of Lausanne confirmed the decision of the other Confederates sitting as arbitrators (according to the old constitutional custom). By this treaty the Genevois and the Chablais were to be given back, while Lausanne, Vevey, Chillon, Villeneuve, Nyon, Avenches and Yverdon "were to be kept by Bern, who engaged to maintain the old rights and liberties of Vaud." Thus Bern lost the lands south of the lake, in which St Francis of Sales, the exiled prince-bishop of Geneva (1602-1622), at once proceeded to carry out the restoration of the old faith. In 1555 Bern and Fribourg, as creditors of the debt-laden count, divided the county of Gruyere, thus getting French-speaking subjects. In 1558 Geneva renewed her alliance with Bern, and in 1584 she made one with Zurich. The duke of Savoy made several vain attempts to.gct hold of Geneva, the last (in 1602) being known as the " escalade." The decrees of the Council of Trent had been accepted fully by the Romanist members of the League, so far as relates to dogma, but not as regards discipline or the relations The Counter-Reformation of church and state, the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of each state being always carefully reserved. The counter-Reformation, however, or reaction in favour of the old faith, was making rapid progress in the Confederation, mainly through the indefatigable exertions of Charles Borromeo, from 1560 to 1584 archbishop of Milan (in which diocese the Italian bailiwicks were included), and nephew of Pius IV., supported at Lucerne by Ludwig Pfyffer, who, having been (1562-1570) the chief of the Swiss mercenaries in the French wars of religion, did so much till his death (1594) to further the religious reaction at home that he was popularly known as the "Swiss king." In 1574 the Jesuits, the great order of the reaction, were established at Lucerne; in 1579 a papal nuncio came to Lucerne; Charles Borromeo founded the " Collegium Helveticum " at Milan for the education of forty-two young Swiss, and the Catholic members of the League made an alliance with the bishop of Basel; in 1581 the Capuchins were introduced to influence the more ignorant classes. Most important of all was the Golden or Borromcan League, concluded (Oct. 5, 1586) between the seven Romanist members, of the1 Confederation (Uri, Schwyz, Unterwaldcn, Lucerne, Zug, Fribourg and Soleure) for the maintenance of the true faith in their territories, each engaging to punish backsliding members and to help each other if attacked by external enemies, notwilh: standing any other leagues, old or new. This league marks the final breaking up of the Confederation into two great parties, which greatly hindered its progress. The Romanist members had a majority in the Diet, and were therefore able to refuse admittance to Geneva, Strassburg and Miihlhausen. .Another result of these religious differences was the breaking up of Appenzell into two parts (1597), each sending one representative to the Diet—" Inner Rhoden " remaining Romanist, " Ausser Rhoden " adopting the new views. We may compare with this the action of Zurich in 1555, when she received the Protestant exiles (bringing with them the silk-weaving industry) from Locarno and the Italian bailiwicks into her burghership, and Italian names are found there to this day (e.g. Orelli, Muralt). In the Thirty Years' War the Confederation remained neutral, being bound both to Austria (1474) and to France (1516), and neither religious party wishing to give the other an excuse for calling in foreign armies. But the troubles in Raelia threatened entanglements. Austria wished to secure the Münsterthal (belonging to the League of the Ten Jurisdictions), and Spain wanted the command of the passes leading from the Valtellina (conquered by the leagues of Raetia in 1512), the object being to connect the Habsburg lands of Tirol and Milan. In the Valtellina the rule of the Three Raetian Leagues was very harsh, and Spanish intrigues easily brought about the massacre of 1620, by which the valley was won, the Romanist members of the Confederation stopping the troops of Zurich and Bern. In 1622 the Austrians conquered the Prattigau, over which they still had certain feudal rights. French troops regained the Valtellina in 1624, but it was occupied once more in 1629 by the imperial troops, and it was not till 1635 that the French, under Rohan, finally succeeded in holding it. The French, however, wished to keep it permanently; hence new troubles arose, and in 1637 the natives, under George Jenatsch, with Spanish aid drove them out, the Spaniards themselves being forced to resign it in 1639. It was only in 1649 and 1652 that the Austrian rights in the Prattigau were finally bought up by the League of the Ten Jurisdictions, which thus gained its freedom.

In consequence of Ferdinand II.'s edict of restitution (1629), by which the status quo of 1552 was re-established — the high- water mark of the counter-Reformation — the abbot of St Gall tried to make some religious changes in his territories, but the protest of Zurich led to the Baden compromise of 1632, by which, in the case of disputes on religious matters arising in the " common bailiwicks, " the decision was to be, not by a majority of the cantons, but by means of friendly discussion — a logical application of the doctrine of religious parity — or by arbitration. But by far the most important event in Swiss history in this age is the formal freeing of the Confederation from the empire. Formal Freedom from the EmpireBasel had been admitted a member of the League in 1501, two years after the Confederation had been practically freed from the jurisdiction of the imperial chamber, though the city was included in the new division of the empire into " circles " (1521), which did not take in the older members of the Confederation. Basel, however,refused to admit this jurisdiction; the question was taken up by France and Sweden at the congress of Miinstcr, and formed the subject of a special clause in both the treaties of Westphalia, by which the city of Basel and the other " Helvetiorum cantones " were declared to be " in the possession, or almost in the possession, of entire liberty and exemption from the empire, and Hutlalcnus subject to the imperial tribunals." This was intended to mean formal exemption from all obligations to the empire (with which the Confederation was connected hereafter simply as a friend), and to be a definitive settlement of the question. Thus by the events of 1409 and 1648 the Confederation had become an independent European state, which, by the treaty of 1516, stood as regards France in a relation of neutrality.

In 1668, in consequence of Louis XIV.'s temporary occupation of the Franche Comté, an old scheme for settling the number of men to be sent by each member of the Confederation to the joint army, and the appointment of a council of war in war time, that is, an attempt to create a common military organization, was accepted by the Diet, which was to send two deputies to the council, armed with full political powers. This agreement, known as the Defensionale, is 'the only instance of joint and unanimous action in this miserable period of Swiss history, when religious divisions crippled the energy of the Confederation. Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries the Confederation was practically a dependency of France. French Influence, Religious Divisions and Rise of an AristrocracyIn 1614 Zurich for the first time joined in the treaty, which was renewed in 1663 with special provisions as regards the Protestant Swiss mercenaries in the king's pay and a promise of French neutrality in case of civil war in the League. The Swiss had to stand by while Louis XIV. won Alsace (1648), Franche Comtf (1678) and Strassburg (1681). But, as Louis inclined more and more to an anti-Protestant polity, the Protestant members of the League favoured the Dutch military service; and it was through their influence that in 1707 the " states " of the principality of Neuchatel, on the extinction of the Longueville line of these princes, decided in favour of the king of Prussia (representing the overlords — the house of Chalon-Orange) as against the various French pretenders claiming from the Longueville dynasty by descent or by will. In 1715 the Romanist members of the League, in hopes of retrieving their defeat of 1712 (see below), agreed, while renewing the treaty and capitulations, to put France in the position of the guarantor of their freedom, with rights of interfering in case of attack from within or from without, whether by counsel or arms, while she promised to procure restitution of the lands lost by them in 1712. This last clause was simply the surrender of Swiss independence, and was strongly objected to by the Protestant members of the Confederation, so that in 1777 it was dropped, when all the Confederates made a fresh defensive alliance, wherein their sovereignty and independence were expressly set forth. Thus France had succeeded to the position of the empire with regard to the Confederation, save that her claims were practically asserted and voluntarily admitted.

Between 1648 and 1798 the Confederation was distracted by religious divisions and feelings ran very high. A scheme to set up a central administration fell through in 1655, through jealousy of Bern and Zurich, the proposers. In 1656 a question as to certain religious refugees, who were driven from Schwyz and took refuge at Zurich, brought about the first Villcmergcn War, in which the Romanists were successful, and procured a clause in the treaty asserting very strongly the absolute sovereignty, in religious as well as in political matters, of each member of the League within its own territories, while in the " common bailiwicks " the Baden arrangement (1632) was to prevail. Later, the attempt of the abbot of St Gall to enforce his rights in the Toggenburg swelled into the second Villemergen War (1712), which turned out very ill for the defeated Romanists. Zurich and Bern were henceforth to hold in severally Baden, Rapperswil, and part of the " common bailiwicks " of the Aargau, both towns being given a share in the government of the rest, and Bern in that of Thurgau and Rheinthal, from which, as well as from that part of Aargau, she had been carefully excluded in 1415 and 1460. The only thing that prospered was the principle of " religious parity," which was established completely, as regards both religions, within each parish in Che " common bailiwick."

The Diet had few powers; the Romanists had the majority there; the sovereign rights of each member of the League and the limited mandate of the envoys effectually checked all progress. Zurich, as the leader of the League, managed matters when the Diet was not sitting, but could not enforce her orders. The Confederation was little more than a collection of separate atoms, and it is really marvellous that it did not break up through its own weakness.

In these same two centuries, the chief feature in domestic Swiss politics is the growth of an aristocracy: the power of voting and the power of ruling are placed in the hands of a small class. This is chiefly seen in Bern, Lucerne, Fribourg and Soleure, where there were not the primitive democracies of the Forest districts nor the government by gilds as at Zurich, Basel and Schaffhausen. It was effected by refusing to admit any new burghers, a practice which dates from the middle of the i6th century, and is connected (like the similar movement in the smaller local units of the " communes " in the rural districts) with the question of poor relief after the suppression of the monasteries. Outsiders (Hintersasse or Niedergelasscne) had no political rights, however long they might have resided, while the privileges of burghership were strictly hereditary. Further, within the burghers, a small class succeeded in securing the monopoly of all public offices, which was kept up by the practice of co-opting, and was known as the " patriciate." So in Bern, out of 360 burgher families 69 only towards the close of the i8th century formed the ruling oligarchy — and, though to foreigners the government seemed admirably managed, yet the last thing that could be said of it was that it was democratic. In 1749 Samuel Henzi (disgusted at being refused the post of town librarian) made a fruitless attempt to overthrow this oligarchy, like the lawyer, Pierre Fatio at Geneva in 1707. The harsh character of Bernese rule (and the same holds good with reference to Uri and the Val Leventina) was shown in the great strictness with which its subject land Vaud was kept in hand: it was ruled as a conquered land by a benevolent despot, and we can feel no surprise that Major J. D. A. Davel in 1723 tried to free his native land, or that it was in Vaud that the principles of the French Revolution were most eagerly welcomed. Another result of this aristocratic tendency was the way in which the cities despised the neighbouring country districts, and managed gradually to deprive them of their equal political rights and to levy heavy taxes upon them. These and other grievances ( the fall in the price of food after the close of the Thirty Years' War, the lowering of the value of the coin, &c.), combined with the presence of many soldiers discharged after the great war, led to the great Peasant Revolt (1653) in the territories of Bern, Solcure, Lucerne and Basel, interesting historically as being the first popular rising since the old days of the 13th and 14th centuries, and because reminiscences of legends connected with those times led to the appearance of the " three Tells-," who greatly stirred up the people. The rising was put down at the cost of much bloodshed, but the demands of the peasants were not granted. Yet during this period of political powerlessness a Swiss literature first arises: Conrad Gesner and Giles Tschudi in the 16th century are succeeded by J. J. Schcuchzer, A. von Haller, J. C. Lavater, J. J. Bodmer, H. B. de Saussure, J. J. Rousseau, J. von Miiller; the taste for Swiss travel is stimulated by the publication (1793) of the first real Swiss guide-book by J. G. Ebel (q.f.), based on the old Deliciae, industry throve greatly. The residence of such brilliant foreign writers as Gibbon and Voltaire within or close to the territories of the Confederation helped on this remarkable intellectual revival. Political aspirations were not, however, wholly crushed, and found their centre in the Helvetic Society, founded in 1763 by F. V. Bakhasar and others.

The Confederation' and France had been closely connected for so long that the outbreak of the French Revolution could not fail to affect the Swiss.Effects of the French Revolution on the Confederation The Helvetian Club, founded at Paris in 1790 by several exiled Vaudois and Fribourgers, was the centre from which the new ideas were spread in the western part of the Confederation and risings directed or stirred up. In 1790 the Lower Valais rose against the oppressive rule of the upper districts; in 1791 Porrentruy defied the prince-bishop of Basel, despite the imperial troops he summoned, and proclaimed (November 1792) the " Rauracian republic," which three months later (1793) became the French department of the Mont Terrible; Geneva was only saved (1792) from France by a force sent from Zurich and Bern; while the massacre of the Swiss guard at the Tuileries on the loth of August 1792 aroused intense indignation. The rulers, however, unable to enter into the new ideas, contented themselves with suppressing them by force, e.g. Zurich in the case of Stafa (1795). St Gall managed to free itself from its prince-abbot (1795-1797), but the Leagues of Raetia so oppressed their subjects in the Valtellina that in 1797 Bonaparte (after conquering the Milanese from the Austrians) joined them to the Cisalpine republic. The Diet was distracted by party struggles and the fall of the old Confederation was not far distant. The rumours of the vast treasures stored up at Bern, and the desire of securing a bulwark against Austrian attack, specially turned the attention of the directory towards the Confederation; and this was utilized by the beads of the Reform party in the Confederation — Peter Ochs (1752-1821), the burgomaster of Basel, and Frederic Cesar Laharpe (1754-1838; tutor, 1783-1794, to the later tsar Alexander I.), who had left his nome in Vaud through disgust at Bernese oppression, both now wishing for aid from outside in order to free their land from the rule of the oligarchy. Hence, when Laharpe, at the bead of some twenty exiles from Vaud and Fribourg, called (Dec. 9, 1797) on the Directory to protect the liberties of Vaud, which, so he said (by a bit of purely apocryphal history), France by the treaty of 1565 was bound to guarantee, his appeal found a ready answer. In February 1798 French troops occupied Mühlhausen and Bienne (Biel), as well as those parts of the lands of the prince-bishop of Basel (St Imier and the Münsterthal) as regards which he had been since 1579 the ally of the Catholic members of the Confederation. Another army entered Vaud (February 1798), when the "Lemanic republic" was proclaimed, and the Diet broke up in dismay without taking any steps to avert the coming storm. Brune and his army occupied Fribourg and Soleure, and, after fierce fighting at Neuenegg, entered (March 5) Bern, deserted by her allies and distracted by quarrels within. With Bern, the stronghold of the aristocratic party, fell the old Confederation. The revolution triumphed throughout the country. Brunc (March l6-19) put forth a wonderful scheme by which the Confederation with its " associates " and " subjects " was to be split into three republics— the Tellgau (i.e. the Forest districts), the Rhodanic (i.e. Vaud, the Valais, the Bernese Oberland and the Italian bailiwicks), and the Helvetic (i.e. the northern and eastern portions); but the directory disapproved of this (March 23), and on the 29th of March the "Helvetic republic, one and indivisible," was proclaimed.The Helvetic Republic This was accepted by ten cantons only as well as (April 1;) the constitution drafted by Ochs. By the new scheme the territories of the Everlasting League were split up into twenty-three (later nineteen, Raetia only coming in in 1799) administrative districts, called " cantons," a name now officially used in Switzerland for the first time, though it may be found employed by foreigners in the French treaty of 1452, in Commynes and Machiavelli, and in the treaties of Westphalia (1648): A central government was set up, with its seat at Lucerne, comprising a senate and a great council, together forming the legislature, and named by electors chosen by the people in the proportion of r to every 100 citizens, with an executive of five directors chosen by the legislature, and having four ministers as subordinates or " chief secretaries. A supreme court of justice was set up; a status of Swiss citizenship was recognized; and absolute freedom to settle in any canton was given, the political " communes " being now composed of all residents, and not merely of the burghers. For the first time an attempt was made to organize the Confederation as a single state, but the change was too sweeping to last, for it largely ignored the local patriotism which had done so much to create the Confederation, though more recently it had made it politically powerless. The three Forest districts rose in rebellion against the invaders and the new constitutions which destroyed their ancient prerogatives; but the valiant resistance of the Schwyzers, under Alois Reding, on the heights of Morgarten (April and May), and that of the Unterwaldners (August and September), were put down by French armies. The proceedings of the French, however, soon turned into disgust and hatred the joyful feelings with which they had been hailed as liberators. Geneva was annexed to France (April 1798); Gersau, after an independent existence of over 400 years, was made a mere district of Schwyz; immense fines were levied and the treasury at Bern pillaged; the land was treated as if it had been conquered. The new republic was compelled to make a very close offensive and defensive alliance with France, and its directors were practically nominated from Paris. In June- October 1799 Zurich, the Forest cantons and Raetia became the scene of the struggles of the Austrians (welcomed with joy) against the French and Russians. The manner, too, in which the reforms were carried out alienated many, and, soon after the directory gave way to the consulate in Paris (18 Brumaire or Nov. 10, 1799), the Helvetic directory (January 1800) was replaced by an executive committee.

The scheme of the Helvetic republic had gone too far in the direction of centralization ; but it was not easy to find the happy mean, and violent discussions went on between the " Unitary "(headed by Ochs and Laharpe) and " Federalist " parties. Many drafts were put forward and one actually submitted to but rejected by a popular vote (June 1802) In July 1802 the French troops were withdrawn from Switzerland by Bonaparte, ostensibly to comply with the treaty of Amiens, really to show the Swiss that their best hopes lay in appealing to him. The Helvetic government was gradually driven back by armed force, and the Federalists seemed getting the best of it, when (Oct. 4) Bonaparte offered himself as mediator, and summoned ten of the chief Swiss statesmen to Paris to discuss matters with him (the " Consulta " — December 1802). He had long taken a very special interest in Swiss matters, and in 1802 had given to the Helvetic republic the Frickthal (ceded to France in 1801 by Austria), the last Austrian possession within the borders of the Confederation. On the other hand, he had made (August 1802) the Valais into an independent republic. In the discussions he pointed out that Swiss needs required a federal constitution and a neutral position guaranteed by France. Finally (Feb. 19, 1803) he laid before the Consulta the Act of Mediation which he had elaborated and which they had perforce to accept — a document which formed a new departure in Swiss history, and the influence of which is visible in the present constitution.

Throughout, " Switzerland " is used for the first time as the official name of the Confederation. The thirteen members of the old Confederation before 1798 are set up again, and to them are added six new cantons — two (St Gall and Graubünden or Grisons) having been formerly " associates," and the four others being made up of the subject lands conquered at different times — Aargau (1415), Thurgau (1460), Ticino or Tessin (1440, 1500, 1512), and Vaud (1536). In the Diet, six cantons which had a population of more than 100,000 (viz. Bern, Zurich, Vaud, St Gall, Graubünden and Aargau) were given two votes, the others having but one apiece, and the deputies were to vote freely within limits, though not against their instructions. Meetings of the Diet were to be held alternately at Fribourg, Bern, Soleure, Basel, Zurich and Lucerne — the chief magistrate of each of these cantons being named for that year the " landamman of Switzerland." The " landsgemeinden," or popular assemblies, were restored in the democratic cantons, the cantonal governments in other cases being in the hands of a " great council " (legislative) and the " small council " (executive) — a property qualification being required both for voters and candidates. No canton was to form any political alliances abroad or at home. The " communes " were given larger political rights, the burghers who owned and used the common lands became more and more private associations. There was no Swiss burghership, as in 1708, but perfect liberty of settlement in any canton. There were to be no privileged classes or subject lands. A very close alliance with France (on the basis of that of 1516) was concluded (Sept. 27, 1803). The whole constitution and organization were far better suited for the Swiss than the more symmetrical system of the Helvetic republic; but, as it was guaranteed by Bonaparte, and his influence was predominant, the whole fabric was closely bound up with him, and fell, with him. Excellent in itself, the constitution set forth in the Act of Mediation failed by reason of its setting.

For ten years Switzerland enjoyed peace and prosperity under the new constitution. The Pact of 1815 Pestalozzi and Fellenberg worked out their educational theories; K. Escher of Zurich embanked the Linth, and his family was thence called " von der Linth"; the central government prepared many schemes for the common welfare. On the other hand, the mediator (who became emperor in 1804) lavishly expended his Swiss troops, the number of which could only be kept up by a regular blood tax, while the " Berlin decrees " rasied the price of many articles. In 1806 the principality of Neuchâtel was given to Marshal Berthier; Tessin was occupied by French troops from 1810 to 1813, and in 1810 the Valais was made into a department of the Simplon, so as to secure that pass. At home the liberty of moving from one canton to another (though given by the constitution) was, by the Diet in 1805, restricted by requiting ten years' residence, and then not granting political rights in the canton or a right of profiting by the communal property. As soon as Napoleon's power began to wane (1812-1813), the position of Switzerland became endangered. Despite the personal wishes of the tsar (a pupil of Laharpe's), the Austrians, supported by the reactionary party in Switzerland, and without any real resistance on the part of the Diet, as well as the Russians troops, crossed the frontier on the 2ist of December 1813, and on the 2gth of December the Diet was induced to declare the abolition of the 1803 constitution, guaranteed, like Swiss neutrality, by Napoleon. Bern headed the party which wished to restore the old state of things, but Zurich and the majority stood out for the nineteen cantons. The powers exercised great pressure to bring about a meeting of deputies from all the nineteen cantons at Zurich (April 6, 1814, " the long Diet "); party strife was very bitter, but on the 12th of September it decided that the Valais, Neuchatel and Geneva should be raised from the rank of " associates " to that of full members of the Confederation (thus making up the familiar twenty-two). As compensation the congress of Vienna (March 20, 1815) gave Bern the town of Bicnne (Biel), and all (save a small part which went to Basel) of the territories of the prince- bishop of Basel (" the Bernese Jura ") ; but the Valtellina was granted to Austria, and Muhlhausen was not freed from France. On the 7th of August 1815 the new constitution was sworn to by all the cantons save Nidwalden, the consent of which was only obtained (Aug. 30) by armed force, The Pact of 1815 a delay for which she paid by seeing Engelberg and the valley above (acquired by Nidwalden in 1798) given to Obwalden. By the new constitution the sovereign rights of each canton were fully recognized, and a return made to the lines of the old constitution, though there were to be no subject lands, and political rights were not to be the exclusive privilege of any class of citizens. Each canton had one vote in the Diet, where an absolute majority was to decide all matters save foreign affairs, when a majority of three-fourths was required. The management of current business, &c., shifted every two years between the governments of Zurich, Bern and Lucerne (the three "Vororte"). The monasteries were guaranteed in their rights and privileges; and no canton was to make any alliance contrary to the rights of the Confederation or of any other canton. Provision was made for a Federal army. Finally, the Congress, on the 20th of November 1815, placed Switzerland and parts of North Savoy (Chablais, Faucigny and part of the Genevois) under the guarantee of the Great Powers, who engaged to maintain their neutrality, thus freeing Switzerland from her 300 years' subservience to France, and compensating in some degree for the reactionary nature of the new Swiss constitution when compared with that of 1803.