1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Switzerland/History
The Swiss Confederation is made up of twenty-two small states, differing from each other in nearly every point—religious, political, social, industrial, physical and linguistic; yet it forms a nation the patriotism of whose members is universally acknowledged. History alone can supply us with the key to this puzzle; but Swiss history, while thus essential if we could thoroughly grasp the nature of the Confederation, is very intricate and very local. A firm hold on a few guiding principles is therefore most desirable, and of these there are three which we must always bear in mind. (1) The first to be mentioned is the connexion of Swiss history with that of the Empire. Swiss history is largely the history of the drawing together of bits of each of the imperial kingdoms (Germany, Italy and Burgundy) for common defence against a common foe—the Habsburgs; and, when this family have secured to themselves the permanent possession of the Empire, the Swiss League little by little wins its independence of the Empire, practically in 1499, formally in 1648. Originally a member of the Empire, the Confederation becomes first an ally, then merely a friend. (2) The second is the German origin and nature of the Confederation. Round a German nucleus (the three Forest districts) there gradually gather other German districts; the Confederation is exclusively German (save partially in the case of Fribourg, in which after its admission in 1481 Teutonic influences gradually supplanted the Romance speech); and it is not till 1803 and 1815 that its French- and Italian-speaking “subjects” are raised to political equality with their former masters, and that the Romonsch-speaking Leagues of Raetia (Graubünden) pass from the status of an ally to that of a member of the Confederation. (3) Swiss history is a study in federalism. Based on the defensive alliances of 1291 and 1315 between the three Forest districts, the Confederation is enlarged by the admission of other districts and towns, all leagued with the original three members, but not necessarily with each other. Hence great difficulties are encountered in looking after common interests, in maintaining any real union; the Diet was merely an assembly of ambassadors with powers very strictly limited by their instructions, and there was no central executive authority. The Confederation is a Staatenbund, or permanent alliance of several small states. After the break-up of the old system in 1798 we see the idea of a Bundesslaat, or an organized state with a central legislative, executive and judiciary, work its way to the front, an idea which is gradually realized in the Constitutions of 1848 and 1874. The whole constitutional history of the Confederation is summed up in this transition to a federal state, which, while a single state in its foreign relations, in home matters maintains the more or less absolute independence of its several members.
Swiss history falls naturally into five great divisions: (1) The origins of the Confederation—up to 1291 (for the legendary origin see Tell, William); (2) the shaking off dependence on the Habsburgs—up to 1394 (1474); (3) the shaking off dependence on the Empire-up to 1499 (1648); (4) the period of religious divisions and French influence—up to 1814; (5) the construction of an independent state as embodied in the Constitutions of 1848 and 1874.
1. On the 1st of August 1291 the men of the valley of Uri (homines vallis Uraniae), the free community of the valley of Schwyz (universitas vallis de Swilz), and the association of the men of the lower valley or Nidwalden (communitas hominum intramontanarum vallis inferioris)—Obwalden or the upper valley is not mentioned in the text, though it is named on the Early History of the Three Lands. seal appended-formed an Everlasting League for the purpose of self-defence against all who should attack or trouble them, a league which is expressly stated to be a confirmation of a former one (antiquam confederationis formam juramenlo vallalam presentibus innovando). This league was the foundation of the Swiss Confederation.
What were these districts? and why at this particular moment was it necessary for them to form a defensive league? The legal and political conditions of each were very different. (a) In 853 Louis the German granted (inter alia) all his lands (and the rights annexed to them) situated in the pagellus Uraniae to the convent of Sts Felix and Regula in Zürich (the present Fraumünster), of which his daughter Hildegard was the first abbess, and gave to this district the privilege of exemption from all jurisdiction save that of the king (Reichsfreiheit), so that though locally within the Zürichgau it was not subject to its count, the king's deputy. The abbey thus became possessed of the greater part of the valley of the Reuss between the present Devil's Bridge and the Lake of Lucerne, for the upper valley (Urseren) belonged at that time to the abbey of Disentis in the Rhine valley, and did not become permanently allied with Uri till 1410. The privileged position of the abbey tenants gradually led the other men of the valley to “commend” themselves to the abbey, whether they were tenants of other lords or free men as in the Schächenthal. The meeting of all the inhabitants of the valley, for purposes connected with the customary cultivation of the soil according to fixed rules and methods, served to prepare them for the enjoyment of full political liberty in later days. The important post of “protector” (advocates or vogt) of the abbey was given to one family after another by the emperor as a sign of trust; but when, on the extinction of the house of Zäringen in 1218, the office was granted to the Habsburgs, the protests of the abbey tenants, who feared the rapidly rising power of that family, and perhaps also the desire of the German king to obtain command of the St Gotthard Pass (of which the first authentic mention occurs about 1236, when of course it could only be traversed on foot), led to the recall of the grant in 1231, the valley being thus restored to its original privileged position, and depending immediately on the king. (b) In Schwyz (first mentioned in 972) we must distinguish between the districts west and east of Steinen. In the former the land was in the hands of, many nobles, amongst whom were the Habsburgs; in the latter there was, at the foot of the Mythen, a free community of men governing themselves and cultivating their land in common; both, however, were politically subject to the king's delegates, the counts of the Zürichgau, who after 1173 were the ever-advancing Habsburgs. But in 1240 the free community of Schwyz obtained from the emperor Frederick II. a charter which removed them from the jurisdiction of the counts, placing them in immediate dependence on the king, like the abbey men of Uri. In a few years, however, the Habsburgs contrived to dispense with this charter in practice. (c) In Unterwalden things were very different. The upper valley (Obwalden or Sarnen), like the lower (Nidwalden or Stans), formed part of the Zürichgau, while in both the soil was owned by many ecclesiastical and lay lords, among them being the Habsburgs and the Alsatian abbey of Murbach. Hence in this district there were privileged tenants, but no free community, and no centre of unity, and this explains why Obwalden and Nidwalden won their way upwards so much more slowly than their neighbours in Uri and Schwyz. Thus the early history and legal position of these three districts was very far from being the same. In Uri the Habsburgs, save for a brief space, had absolutely no rights; while in Schwyz, Obwalden and Nidwalden they were also, as counts of the Zürichgau, the representatives of the king.
The Habsburgs had been steadily rising for many years from the position of an unimportant family in the Aargau to that of a powerful clan of large landed proprietors in Swabia and Alsace, and had attained a certain political importance as counts of the Zürichgau and Aargau. In one or both qualities the cadet or Laufenburg line, to which the family estates in the Forest districts round the Lake of Lucerne had fallen on the division of the inheritance in 1232, seem to have exercised their legal rights in a harsh manner. In 1240 the free men of Schwyz obtained protection from the emperor, and in 1244 we hear of The League of 1291. the castle of New Habsburg, built by the Habsburgs on a promontory jutting out into the lake not far from Lucerne, with the object of enforcing their real or pretended rights. It is therefore not a matter for surprise that when, after the excommunication and deposition of Frederick II. by Innocent IV. at the Council of Lyons in 1245, the head of the cadet line of Habsburg sided with the pope, some of the men of the Forest districts should rally round the emperor. Schwyz joined Sarnen and Lucerne (though Uri and Obwalden supported the pope); the castle of New Habsburg was reduced to its present ruined state; and in 1247 the men of Schwyz, Sarnen and Lucerne were threatened by the pope with excommunication if they persisted in upholding the emperor and defying their hereditary lords the counts of Habsburg. The rapid decline of Frederick's cause soon enabled the Habsburgs to regain their authority in these districts. Yet these obscure risings have an historical interest, for they are the foundation in fact (so far as they have any) of the legendary stories of Habsburg oppression told of and by a later age. After this temporary check the power of the Habsburgs continued to increase rapidly. In 1273 the head of the cadet line sold all his lands and rights in the Forest districts to the head of the elder or Alsatian line, Rudolph, who a few months later was elected to the imperial throne, in virtue of which he acquired for his family in 1282 the duchy of Austria, which now for the first time became connected with the Habsburgs. Rudolph recognized the privileges of Uri but not those of Schwyz; and, as he now united in his own person the characters of emperor, count of the Zürichgau, and landowner in the Forest districts (a name occurring first in the 14th century), such a union of offices might be expected to result in a confusion of rights. On the 16th of April 1291 Rudolph bought from the abbey of Murbach in Alsace (of which he was “advocate”) all its rights over the town of Lucerne and the abbey estates in Unterwalden. It thus seemed probable that the other Forest districts would be shut off from their natural means of communication with the outer world by way of the lake. Rudolph’s death, on the 15th of July of the same year, cleared the way, and a fortnight later (August 1) the Everlasting League was made between the men of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden (the words et vallis superioris, i.e. Obwalden, were inserted, perhaps between the time of the drawing up of the document, the text of which does not mention Obwalden, and the moment of its sealing on the original seal of Nidwalden) for the purpose of self-defence against a common foe. We do not know the names of the delegates of each valley who concluded the treaty, nor the place where it was made, nor have we any account of the deliberations of which it was the result. The common seal—that great outward sign of the right of a corporate body to act in its own name—appears first in Uri in 1243, in Schwyz in 1281, in Unterwalden not till this very document of 1291; yet, despite the great differences in their political status, they all joined in concluding this League, and confirmed it by their separate seals, thereby laying claim on behalf of their union to an independent existence. Besides promises of aid and assistance in the case of attack, they agree to punish great criminals by their own authority, but advise that, in minor cases and in all civil cases, each man should recognize the “judex” to whom he owes suit, engaging that the Confederates Will, in case of need, enforce the decisions of the “judex.” At the same time they unanimously refuse to recognize any “judex” who has bought his charge or is a stranger to the valleys. All disputes between the parties to the treaty are, as far as possible, to be settled by a reference to arbiters, a principle which remained in force for over six hundred years. “Judex” is a general term for any local official, especially the chief of the community, whether named by the lord or by the community; and, as earlier in the same year Rudolph had promised the men of Schwyz not to force upon them a “judex” belonging to the class of serfs, we may conjecture from this very decided protest that the chief source of disagreement was in the matter of the jurisdictions of the lord and the free community, and that some recent event in Schwyz led it to insist on the insertion of this provision. It is stipulated also that every man shall be bound to obey his own lord “convenienter,” or so far as is fitting and right. The antiqua confoederatio mentioned in this document was probably merely an ordinary agreement to preserve the peace in that particular district, made probably during the interregnum (1254–1273) in the Empire.
2. In the struggle for the Empire, which extended over the years following the conclusion of the League of 1291, we find that the Confederates supported Without exception anti-Habsburg candidate. On the 16th of October 1291 Uri and Schwyz allied themselves with Zürich, and joined the general rising in Swabia Morgarten and the league of 1315. against Albert, the new head of the house of Habsburg. It soon failed, but hopes revived when in 1292 Adolf of Nassau was chosen emperor. In 1297 he confirmed to the free men of Schwyz their charter of 1240, and, strangely enough, confirmed the same charter to Uri, instead of their own of 1231. It is in his reign that we have the first recorded meeting of the “Landsgemeinde” (or legislative assembly) of Schwyz (1294). But in 1298 Albert of Habsburg himself was elected to the Empire. His rule was strict and severe, though not oppressive. He did not indeed confirm the charters of Uri or of Schwyz, but he did not attack the ancient rights of the former, and in the latter he exercised his rights as a landowner and did not abuse his political rights as emperor or as count. In Unterwalden we find that in 1304 the two valleys were joined together under a common administrator (the local deputy of the count)—a great step forward to permanent union. The stories of Albert’s tyrannical actions in the Forest districts are not heard of till two centuries later, though no doubt the union of offices in his person was a permanent source of alarm to the Confederation. It was in his time too that the “terrier” (or list of manors and estates, with enumeration of all quit rents, dues, &c., payable by the tenants to their lords) of all the Habsburg possessions in Upper Germany was begun, and it was on the point of being extended to Schwyz and Unterwalden when Albert was murdered (1308) and the election of Henry of Luxemburg roused the free men to resist the officials charged with the survey. Despite his promise to restore to the Habsburgs all rights enjoyed by them under his three predecessors (or maintain them in possession), Henry confirmed, on the 3rd of June 1309, to Uri and Schwyz their charters of 1297, and, for some unknown reason, confirmed to Unterwalden all the liberties granted by his predecessor, though as a matter of fact none had been granted. This charter, and the nomination of one royal bailiff to administer the three districts, had the effect of placing them all (despite historical differences) in an identical political position, and that the most privileged yet given to any of them—the freedom of the free community of Schwyz. A few days later the Confederates made a fresh treaty of alliance with Zürich; and in 1310 the emperor placed certain other inhabitants of Schwyz on the same privileged footing as the free community. The Habsburgs were put off with promises; and, though their request (1311) for an inquiry into their precise rights in Alsace and in the Forest districts was granted, no steps were taken to carry out this investigation. Thus in Henry’s time the struggle was between the Empire and the Habsburgs as to the recognition of the rights of the latter, not between the Habsburgs and those dependent on them as landlords or counts.
On Henry’s death in 1313 the electors hesitated long between Frederick the Handsome of Habsburg and Louis of Bavaria. The men of Schwyz seized this opportunity for making a wanton attack on the great abbey of Einsiedeln, with which they had a long-standing quarrel as to rights of pasture. The abbot caused them to be excommunicated, and Frederick (the choice of the minority of the electors), who was the hereditary “advocate” of the abbey, placed them under the ban of the Empire. Louis, to whom they appealed, removed the ban; on which Frederick issued a decree by which he restored to his family all their rights and possessions in the three valleys and Urseren, and charged his brother Leopold with the execution of this order. The Confederates hastily concluded alliances with Glarus, Urseren, Arth and Interlaken to protect themselves from attack on every side. Leopold collected a brilliant army at the Austrian town of Zug in order to attack Schwyz, while a body of troops was to take Unterwalden in the rear by way of the Brünig Pass. On the 15th of November 1315, Leopold with from 15,000 to 20,000 men moved forward along the shore of the Lake of Aegeri, intending to assail the town of Schwyz by climbing the slopes of Morgarten above the south-eastern end of the lake. There they were awaited by the valiant band of the Confederates from 1300 to 1500 strong. The march up the rugged and slippery slope threw the Austrian army into disarray, which became a rout and mad flight when huge boulders and trunks of trees were hurled from above by their foes, who charged down and drove them into the lake. Leopold fled in hot haste to Winterthur, and the attack by the Brünig was driven back by the men of Unterwalden. On the 9th of December 1315 representatives of the victorious highlanders met at Brunnen, on the Lake of Lucerne, not far from Schwyz, and renewed the Everlasting League of 1291. In their main lines the two documents are very similar, the later being chiefly an expansion of the earlier. That of 1315 is in German (in contrast to the 1291 League, which is in Latin), and has one or two striking clauses largely indebted to a decree issued by Zürich on the 24th of July 1291. None of the three districts or their dependents is to recognize a new lord without the consent and counsel of the rest. (This is probably meant to provide for an interregnum in or disputed election to the Empire, possibly for the chance of the election of a Habsburg.) Strict obedience in all lawful matters is to be rendered to the rightful lord in each case, unless he attacks or wrongs any of the Confederates, in which case they are to be free from all obligations. No negotiations, so long as the “Lander” have no lord, are to be entered on with outside powers, save by common agreement of all. Louis solemnly recognized and confirmed the new league in 1316, and in 1318 a truce was concluded between the Confederates and the Habsburgs, who treat with them on equal terms. The lands and rights annexed belonging to the Habsburgs in the Forest districts are fully recognized as they existed in the days of Henry of Luxemburg, and freedom of commerce is granted. But there is not one word about the political rights of the Habsburgs as counts of the Zürichgau and Aargau. This distinction gives the key to the whole history of the relations between the Confederates and Habsburgs; the rights of the latter as landowners are fully allowed, and till 1801 they possessed estates within the Confederation; it is their political rights which were always contested by the Swiss, who desired to rule themselves.
As early as 1320 we find the name “Switzerland” (Sweicz)
(derived from Schwyz, which had always been the leader in the
struggle) applied to the three Forest cantons, and in
1352 extended to the Confederation as a whole.
But it was not till after Sempach (1386) that it
The League of
Eight Members. came into popular use, the historian J. von Muller (1785) fixing the distinction between “Schweiz” (for the country) and “Schwyz” (for the Canton), and it did not form the official name of the Confederation till 1803. (Officially in the middle ages and later the Confederation was named “les Ligues de la Haute Allemagne,” or, as Commines, late in the 15th century, puts it, “les vieilles Ligues d'Allemagne qu'on appelle Suisses,” while from c. 1452 onwards the people were called “Swiss”). This is in itself a proof of the great renown which the League won by its victory at Morgarten. Another is that as years go by we find other members admitted to the privileges of the original alliance of the three Forest districts. First to join the League (1332) was the neighbouring town of Lucerne, which had grown up round the monastery of St Leodegar or Leger (whence the place took its name), perhaps a colony, certainly a cell of the great house of Murbach in Alsace, under the rule of which the town remained till its sale in 1291 to the Habsburgs. This act of Lucerne was opposed by the house of Austria, but, despite the decision of certain chosen arbitrators in favour of the Habsburg claims, the town clung to the League with which it was connected by its natural position, and thus brought a new element into the pastoral association of the Forest districts, which now surrounded the entire Lake of Lucerne. Next, in 1351, came the ancient town of Zürich, which in 1218, on the extinction of the house of Zäringen, had become a free imperial city in which the abbess of the Fraumunster (the lady of Uri) had great influence, while in 1336 there had been a great civic revolution, headed by Rudolph Brun, which had raised the members of the craft gilds to a position in the municipal government of equal power with that of the patricians, who, however, did not cease intriguing to regain their lost privileges, so that Brun, after long hesitation, decided to throw in the lot of the town with the League rather than with Austria. In this way the League now advanced from the hilly country to the plains, though the terms of the treaty with Zürich did not bind it so closely to the Confederates as in the other cases (the right of making alliances apart from the League being reserved though the League was to rank before these), and hence rendered it possible for Zürich now and again to incline towards Austria in a fashion which did great hurt to its allies. In 1352 the League was enlarged by the admission of Glarus and Zug. Glarus belonged to the monastery of Säckingen on the Rhine (founded by the Irish monk Fridolin), of which the Habsburgs were “advocates,” claiming therefore many rights over the valley, which refused to admit them, and joyfully received the Confederates who came to its aid; but it was placed on a lower footing than the other members of the League, being bound to obey their orders. Three weeks later the town and district of Zug, attacked by the League and abandoned by their Habsburg masters, joined the Confederation, forming a transition link between the civic and rural members of the League. The immediate occasion of the union of these two districts was the war begun by the Austrian duke against Zürich, which was ended by the Brandenburg peace of 1352, by which Glarus and Zug were to be restored to the Habsburgs, who also regained their rights over Lucerne. Zug was won for good by a bold stroke of the men of Schwyz in 1364, but it was not till the day of Nafels (1388) that Glarus recovered its lost freedom. These temporary losses and the treaty made by Brun of Zürich with Austria in 1356 were, however, far outweighed by the entrance into the League in 1353 of the famous town of Bern, which, founded in 1191 by Berthold V. of Zäringen, and endowed with great privileges, had become a free imperial city in 1218 on the extinction of the Zaringen dynasty. Founded for the purpose of bridling the turbulent feudal nobles around, many of whom had become citizens, Bern beat them back at Dornbuhl (1298), and made a treaty with the Forest districts as early as 1323. In 1339, at the bloody fight of Laupen, she had broken the power of the nobles for ever, and in 1352 had been forced by a treaty with Austria to take part in the war against Zürich, but soon after the conclusion of peace entered the League as the ally of the three Forest districts, being thus only indirectly joined to Lucerne and Zürich. The special importance of the accession of Bern was that the League now began to spread to the west, and was thus brought into Connexion for the first time with the French-speaking land of Savoy. The League thus numbered eight members, the fruits of Morgarten, and no further members were admitted till 1481, after the Burgundian War. But, in order thoroughly to understand the nature of the League, it must be remembered that, while each of the five new members was allied with the original nucleus-the three Forest districts—these five were not directly allied to one another: Lucerne was allied with Zürich and Zug; Zürich with Lucerne, Zug and Glarus; Glarus with Zürich; Zug with Lucerne and Zürich; Bern with no one except the three original members. The circumstances under which each entered the League can alone explain these very intricate relations.
After a short interval of peace the quarrels with Austria broke out afresh; all the members of the League, save the three Forest districts and Glarus, joined (1385) the great union of the south German cities; but their attention was soon called to events nearer home. Lucerne fretted much under Sempach. the Austrian rule, received many Austrian subjects among her citizens, and refused to pay custom duties to the Austrian bailiff at Rothenburg, on the ground that she had the right of free traffic. An attack on the custom-house at Rothenburg, and the gift of the privileges of burgher ship to the discontented inhabitants of the little town of Sempach a short way off, so irritated Leopold III. (who then held all the possessions of his house outside Austria) that he collected an army, with the intention of crushing his rebellious town. Lucerne meanwhile had summoned the other members of the League to her aid, and, though Leopold’s feint of attacking Zürich caused the troops of the League to march at first in that direction, they discovered their mistake in time to turn back and check his advance on Lucerne. From 1500 to 1600 men of Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Lucerne opposed the 6000 which made up the Austrian army. The decisive fight took place on the 9th of July 1386, near Sempach, on a bit of sloping meadow-land, cut up by streams and hedges, which forced the Austrian knights to dismount. The great heat of the day, which rendered it impossible to fight in armour, and the furious attacks of the Confederates, finally broke the Austrian line after more than one repulse and turned the day (see Winkelried). Leopold, with a large number of his followers, was slain, and the Habsburg power within the borders of the Confederation finally broken. Glarus at once rose in arms against Austria, but it was not till the expiration of the truce made after Sempach that Leopold's brother, Albert of Austria, brought an army against Glarus, and was defeated at Nafels (not far from Glarus) on the 9th of April 1388, by a handful of Glarus and Schwyz men.
In 1389 a peace for seven years was made, the Confederates being secured in all their conquests; an attempt made in 1393 by Austria by means of Schöno, the chief magistrate of Zürich and leader of the patrician party, to stir up a fresh attack failed owing to a rising of the burghers, who sympathized with Freedom from the Political Claims of the Habsburgs. the Confederates, and on the 16th of July 1394 the peace was prolonged for twenty years (and again in 1412 for fifty years), various stipulations being made by which the long struggle of the League against the Habsburgs was finally crowned with success.
By the peace of 1394 Glarus was freed on payment of £200 annually (in 1395 it bought up all the rights of Sackingen); Zug too was released from Austrian rule. Schwyz was given the advocatia of the great abbey of Einsiedeln; Lucerne got the Entlebuch (finally in 1405), Sempach and Rothenburg, Bern and Soleure were confirmed in their conquests. Above all, the Confederation as a whole was relieved from the over lordship of the Habsburgs, to whom, however, all their rights and dues as landed proprietors were expressly reserved; Bern, Zürich and Soleure guaranteeing the maintenance of these rights and dues, with power in case of need to call on the other Confederates to support them by arms. Though the house of Habsburg entertained hopes of recovering its former rights, so that technically the treaties of 1389, 1394 and 1412 were but truces, it finally and for ever renounced all its feudal rights and privileges within the Confederation by the “Everlasting Compact” of 1474.
It is probable that Bern did not take any active share in the Sempach War because she was bound by the treaty of peace made with the Austrians in 1368; and Soleure, allied with Bern, was doubtless a party to the treaty of 1394 (though not yet in the League), because of its sufferings in 1382 at the hands of the Kyburg line of the Habsburgs, whose possessions (Thun, Burgdorf, &c.) in 1384 fell into the hands of the two allies.
We may mention here the foray (known as the English or Gugler War) made in 1375 by Enguerrand de Coucy (husband of Isabella, daughter of Edward III. of England) and his freebooters (many of them Englishmen and Welshmen), called “Gugler” from their pointed steel caps, with the object of obtaining possession of certain towns in the Aargau (including Sempach), which he claimed as the dowry of his mother Catherine, daughter of the Leopold who was defeated at Morgarten. He was put to rout in the Entlebuch by the men of Bern, Lucerne, Schwyz and Unterwalden in December 1375. This victory was commemorated with great rejoicings in 1875.
3. The great victory at Sempach not merely vastly increased the fame of the Everlasting League but also enabled it to extend both its influence and its territory. The 15th century is the period when both the League and its several members took the aggressive, and the expansion of their power and lands cannot be better Struggles in Appenzell, St Gall and Valsis. seen than by comparing the state of things at the beginning and at the end of this century. The pastoral highlands of Appenzell (Abbatis Cella) and the town of St Gall had long been trying to throw off the rights exercised over them by the great abbey of St Gall. The Appenzellers, especially, had offered a stubborn resistance, and the abbot’s troops had been beaten back by them in 1403 on the heights of Vögelinseck, and again in 1405 in the great fight on the Stoss Pass (which leads up into the highlands), in which the abbot was backed by the duke of Austria. The tales of the heroic defence of Uri Rotach of Appenzell, and of the appearance of a company of Appenzell women disguised as warriors which turned the battle, are told in connexion with this light, but do not appear till the 17th and 18th centuries, being thus quite unhistorical, so far as our genuine evidence goes. Schwyz had given them some help, and in 1411 Appenzell was placed under the protection of the League (save Bern), with which in the next year the city of St Gall made a similar treaty to last ten years. So too in 1416-1417 several of the “tithings” of the Upper Valais (i.e. the upper stretch of the Rhone valley), which in 1388 had beaten the bishop and the nobles in a great tight at Visp, became closely associated with Lucerne, Uri and Unterwalden. It required aid in its final struggle (1418–19) against the great house of Raron, the count-bishop of Sitten (or Sion), and the house of Savoy, which held the Lower Valais—the Forest districts, on the other hand, wishing to secure themselves against Raron and Savoy in their attempt to conquer permanently the Val d’Ossola on the south side of the Simplon Pass. Bern, however, supported its burgher, the lord of Raron, and peace was made in 1420. Such were the first links which bound these lands with the League; but they did not become full members for a long time—Appenzell in 1513, St Gall in 1803, the Valais in 1815.
Space will not allow us to enumerate all the small conquests made in the first half of the 15th century by every member of the League; suffice it to say that each increased and rounded off its territory, but did not give the conquered lands any political rights, governing them as “subject lands,” often very harshly. The same phenomenon of lands which had won their own freedom playing the part of tyrant over other lands which joined them more or less by their voluntary action is seen on a larger scale in the case of the conquest of the Aargau, and in the first attempts to secure a footing south of the Alps.
In 1412 the treaty of 1394 between the League and the Habsburgs had been renewed for fifty years; but when in 1415 Duke Frederick of Austria helped Pope John XXII. to escape from Constance, where the great ecumenical council was then sitting, and the emperor Sigismund placed the duke under the ban of the Empire, summoning all members of the Empire to arm against him, the League hesitated, because of their treaty of 1412, till the emperor declared that all the rights and lands of Austria in the League were forfeited, and that their compact did not release them from their obligations to the Empire. In the name, therefore, of the emperor, and by his special command, the different members of the League overran the extensive Habsburg possessions in the Aargau. The chief share fell to Bern, but certain districts (known as the Freie Aemter) were joined together and governed as bailiwicks held in common by all the members of the League (save Uri, busied in the south, and Bern, who had already secured the lion’s share of the spoil for herself). This is the first case in which the League as a whole took up the position of rulers over districts which, though guaranteed in the enjoyment of their old rights, were nevertheless politically unfree. As an encouragement and a reward, Sigismund had granted in advance to the League the right of criminal jurisdiction (haute justice or Blutbann), which points to the fact that they were soon to become independent of the Empire, as they were of Austria.
As the natural policy of Bern was to seek to enlarge its borders at the expense of Austria, and later of Savoy, so we find that Uri, shut off by physical causes from extension in other directions, as steadily turned its eyes towards the south. In 1410 the valley of Urseren was finally joined to Uri; though communications were difficult, and carried on only by Italian First Italian Conquest means of the “Stiebende Brücke,” a wooden bridge suspended by chains over the Reuss, along the side of a great rocky buttress (pierced in 1707 by the tunnel known as the Urnerloch), yet this enlargement of the territory of Uri gave it complete command over the St Gotthard Pass, long commercially important, and now to serve for purposes of war and conquest. Already in 1403 Uri and Obwalden had taken advantage of a quarrel with the duke of Milan as to custom dues at the market of Varese to occupy the long narrow upper Ticino valley on the south of the pass called the Val Leventina; in 1411 the men of the same two lands, exasperated by the insults of the local lords, called on the other members of the League, and all jointly (except Bern) occupied the Val d’Ossola, on the south side of the Simplon Pass. But in 1414 they lost this to Savoy, and, with the object of getting it back, obtained in 1416-1417 the alliance of the men of the Upper Valais, then fighting for freedom, and thus regained (1416) the valley, despite the exertions of the great Milanese general Carmagnola. In 1419 Uri and Obwalden bought from its lord the town and district of Bellinzona. This rapid advance, however, did not approve itself to the duke of Milan, and Carmagnola reoccupied both valleys; the Confederates were not at one with regard to these southern conquests; a small body pressed on in front of the rest, but was cut to pieces at Arbedo near Bellinzona in 1422. A bold attempt in 1425 by a Schwyzer, Peter Rissi by name, to recover the Val d'0ssola caused the Confederates to send a force to rescue these adventurers; but the duke of Milan intrigued with the divided Confederates, and finally in 1426, by a payment of a large sum of money and the grant of certain commercial privileges, the Val Leventina, the Val d'Ossola and Bellinzona were formally restored to him. Thus the first attempt of Uri to acquire a footing south of the Alps failed; but a later attempt was successful, leading to the inclusion in the Confederation of what has been called “Italian Switzerland.”
The original contrasts between the social condition of the different members of the League became more marked when the The First Civil War. period of conquest began, and led to quarrels and ill-feeling in the matter of the Aargau and the Italian conquests which a few years later ripened into a civil war, brought about by the dispute as to the succession to the lands of Frederick, count of Toggenburg, the last male representative of his house. Count F rederick's predecessors had greatly extended their domains, so that they took in not only the Toggenburg or upper valley of the Thur, but Uznach, Sargans, the Rhine valley between Feldkirch and Sargans, the Priittigau and the Davos valley. He himself, the last great feudal lord on the left bank of the Rhine, had managed to secure his vast possessions by making treaties with several members of the League, particularly Zürich (1400) and Schwyz (1417)—from 1428 inclining more and more to Schwyz (then ruled by Ital Riding), as he was disgusted with the arrogant behaviour of Stussi, the burgomaster of Zürich. His death (April 30, 1436) was the signal for the breaking out of strife. The Prattigau and Davos valley formed the League of the Ten Iurisdictions in Raetia (see below), while F rederick's widow sided with Zürich against Schwyz for different portions of the great inheritance which had been promised them. After being twice defeated, Zürich was forced in 1440 to buy peace by certain cessions (the “Hofe”) to Schwyz, the general feeling of the Confederates being opposed to Zürich, so that several of them went so far as to send men and arms to Schwyz. Zürich, however, was bitterly disappointed at these defeats, and had recourse to the policy which she had adopted in 1356 and 1393)—an alliance with Austria (concluded in 1442), which now held the imperial throne in the person of Frederick III. Though technically within her rights according to the terms on which she had joined the League in 1351, this act of Zürich caused the greatest irritation in the Confederation, and civil war at once broke out, especially when the Habsburg emperor had been solemnly received and acknowledged in Zürich. In 1443 the Zürich troops were completely defeated at St Jakob on the Sihl, close under the walls of the city, Stussi himself being slain. Next year the city itself was long besieged. Frederick, unable to get help elsewhere, procured from Charles VII. of France the despatch of a body of Armagnac free lances (the Ecorcheurs), who came, 30,000 strong, under the dauphin Louis, plundering and harrying the land, till at the very gates of the free imperial city of Basel (which had made a twenty years' alliance with Bern), by the leper house of St lakob on the Birs (Aug. 26, 1444), the desperate resistance of a small body of Confederates (1200 to 1500), till cut to pieces, checked the advance of the freebooters, who sustained such tremendous losses that, though the victors, they hastily made peace, and returned whence they had come. Several small engagements ensued, Zürich long declining to make peace because the Confederates required, as the result of a solemn arbitration, the abandonment of the Austrian alliance. At length it was concluded in 1450, the Confederates restoring. almost all the lands they had won from Zürich. Thus ended the third attempt of Austria to conquer the League by means of Zürich, which used its position as an imperial free city to the harm of the League, and caused the first civil war by which it was distracted. These fresh proofs of the valour of the Confederates, and of the growing importance of the League, did not fail to produce Constitution of the League, c. 1450 important results. In 1452 the “Confederates of the the Old League of Upper Germany” (as they styled themselves) made their first treaty of alliance with France, a connexion which was destined to exercise so much influence on their history. -Round the League there began to gather a new class of allies (known as “Zugewandte Orte,” or associated districts), more closely joined to it, or to certain members of it, than by a mere treaty of friendship, yet not being admitted to the rank of a full member of the League. Of these associates three, the abbot (1451) and town of St Gall (1454), and the town of Bienne (Biel), through its alliance (1352) with Bern, were given seats and votes in the Diet, being called socii; while others, known as confoederati, were not so closely bound to the League, such as the Valais (1416-1417), Schaffhausen (1454), Rottweil (1463), Muhlhausen (1466), (to the class of confoederati belonged in later times Neuchatel 1406-1501), the Three Leagues of Raetia (1497-1498), Geneva (1519-1536), and the bishop of Basel (1579). Appenzell, too, in 1452, rose from the rank of a “protected district” into the class of associates, outside which were certain places “ protected” by several members of the League, such as Gersau (1359), the abbey of Engelberg (c. 1421), and the town of Rapperswil (1464). The relation of the “associates” to the League may be compared with the ancient practice of “Commendation”: they were bound to obey orders in declaring war, making alliances, &c. In 1439 Sigismund succeeded his father Frederick in the Habsburg lands in Alsace, the Thurgau, and Tirol and, being much irritated by the constant encroachments of the Confederates, in particular by the loss of Rapperswil (1458), declared war against them, but fared very badly. In 1460 the Confederates overran the Thurgau and occupied Sargans. Winterthur was only saved by an heroic defence. Hence in 1461 Sigismund had to give up his claims on those lands and renew the peace for fifteen years, while in 1467 he sold Wintherthur to Zürich. Thus the whole line of the Rhine was lost to the Habsburgs, who retained (till 1801) in the territories of the Confederates the F rickthal only. The Thurgovian bailiwicks were governed in common as “subject” lands by all the Confederates except Bern. The touchiness of the now rapidly advancing League was shown by the eagerness with which in 1468 its members took up arms against certain small feudal nobles who were carrying on a harassing guerrilla warfare with their allies Schaffhausen and Muhlha usen. They laid siege to Waldshut, and to buy them off Sigismund in August 1468 engaged to pay 10,000 gulden as damages by the 24th of June 1469; in default of payment the Confederates were to keep for ever the Black Forest, and Waldshut, one of the Black Forest towns on the Rhine. A short time before (1467) the League had made treaties of friendship with Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, and with the duke of Milan. All was now prepared for the intricate series of intrigues which led up to the Burgundian War)—a great epoch in the history of the League, as it created a common national feeling, enormously raised its military reputation, and brought about the close connexion with certain parts of Savoy, which finally (1803-1815) were admitted into the League.
Sigismund did not know where to obtain the sum he had promised to pay. In this strait he turned to Charles the Bold (properly the Rash), duke of Burgundy, who was then beginning his wonderful career, and aiming at restoring the kingdom of Burgundy. For this purpose Charles wished to marry his daughter and heiress to Maximilian, The Burgundian War. son of the emperor, and first cousin of Sigismund, in order that the emperor might be induced to give him the Burgundian crown. Hence he was ready to meet Sigismund's advances. On the 9th of May 1469 Charles promised to give Sigismund 50,000 florins, receiving as security for repayment Upper Alsace, the Breisgau, the Sundgau, the Black Forest, and the four Black Forest towns on the Rhine (Rheinfelden, Sackingen, Laufenburg and Waldshut), and agreed to give Sigismund aid against the Swiss, if he was attacked by them. It was not unnatural for Sigismund to think of attacking the League, but Charles's engagement to him is quite inconsistent with the friendly agreement made between Burgundy and the League as late as 1467, The emperor then on his side annulled Sigismund's treaty of 1468 with the Swiss, and placed them under the ban of the Empire. Charles committed the mortgaged lands to Peter von Hagenbach, who proceeded to try to establish his master's power there by such harsh measures as to cause the people to rise against him. The Swiss in these circumstances began to look towards Louis XI. of France, who had confirmed the treaty of friendship made with them by his father in 1452. Sigismund had applied to him early in 1469 to help him in his many troubles, and to give him aid against the Swiss, but Louis had point-blank refused. Anxious to secure their neutrality in case of his war with Charles, he made a treaty with them on the 13th of August 1470 to this eHect. All the evidence goes to show that Sigismund was not a tool in the hands of Louis, and that Louis, at least at that time, had no definite intention of involving Charles and the Swiss in a war, but wished only to secure his own flank.
Sigismund in the next few years tried hard to get from Charles the promised aid against the Swiss (the money was paid punctually enough by Charles on his behalf), who put him off with various excuses. Charles on his side, in 1471–1472, tried to make an alliance with the Swiss, his efforts being supported by a party in Bern headed by Adrian von Bubenberg. Probably Charles wished to use both Sigismund and the Swiss to further his own interests, but his shifty policy had the effect of alienating both from him. Sigismund, disgusted with Charles, now inclined towards Louis, whose ally he formally became in the summer of 1473—a change which was the real cause of the emperor's Bight from Treves in November 1473, when he had come there expressly to crown Charles. The Confederates on their side were greatly moved by the oppression of their friends and allies in Alsace by Hagenbach, and tried in vain (January 1474) to obtain some redress from his master. Charles's too astute policy had thus lost him both Sigismund and the Swiss. They now looked upon Louis, who, thoroughly aware of Charles's ambition, and fearing that his disappointment at Treves would soon lead to open war, aimed at a master stroke—no less than the reconciliation of Sigismund and the Swiss. This on the face of it seemed impracticable, but common need and Louis's dexterous management brought it to pass, so that on the 30th of March 1474 the Everlasting Compact was signed at Constance, by which Sigismund finally renounced all Austrian claims on the lands of the Confederates, and guaranteed them in quiet enjoyment to them; they, on the other hand agreed to support him if Charles did not give up the mortgaged lands when the money was paid down. The next day the Swiss joined the league of the Alsatian and Rhine cities, as also did Sigismund. Charles was called on to receive the money contributed by the Alsatian cities, and to restore his lands to Sigismund. He, however, took no steps. Within a week the oppressive bailiff Hagenbach was captured, and a month later (May 9, 1474) he was put to death, Bern alone of the Confederates being represented. On the 9th of October the emperor, acting of course at the instance of Sigismund, ordered them to declare war against Charles, which took place on the 25th of October. Next day Louis formally ratified his alliance with the Confederates, promising money and pensions, the latter to be increased if he did not send men. Throughout these negotiations and later Bern directs Swiss policy, though all the Confederates are not quite agreed. She was specially exposed to attack from Charles and Charles's ally (since 1468) Savoy, and her best chance of extending her territory lay towards the west and south. A forward policy was thus distinctly the best for Bern, and this was the line supported by the French party under Nicholas von Diesbach, Adrian von Bubenberg opposing it, though not with any idea of handing over Bern to Charles. The Forest districts, however, were very suspicious of this movement to the west, by which Bern alone could profit, though the League as a whole might lose; then, too, Uri had in 1440 finally won the Va.l Leventina, and she and her neighbours favoured a southerly policy—a policy which was crowned with success after the gallant victory won at Giornico in 1478 by a handful of men from Zürich, Lucerne, Uri and Schwyz over 12,000 Milanese troops. Thus Uri first gained a permanent footing south of the Alps, not long before Bern won its first conquests from Savoy.
The war in the west was begun by Bern and her allies (Fribourg, Soleure, &c.) by marauding expeditions across the ]ura, in which Héricourt (November 1474) and Blarnont (August 1475) were taken, both towns being held of Charles by the “sires” de Neuchâtel, a cadet line of the counts of Montbéliard. It is said that in the former expedition the white cross was borne (for the first time) as the ensign of the Confederates, but not in the other. Meanwhile Yolande, the duchess of Savoy, had, through fear of her brother Louis XI. and hatred of Bern, finally joined Charles and Milan (January 1475), the immediate result of which was the capture, by the Bernese and friends (on the way back from a foray on Pontarlier in the free county of Burgundy or Franche-Comté), of several places in Vaud, notably Grandson and Echallens, both held of Savoy by a member of the house of Chalon, princes of Orange (April 1475), as well as of Orbe and Jougne, held by the same, but under the count of Burgundy. In the summer Bern seized on the Savoyard district of Aigle. Soon after (October–November 1475) the same energetic policy won for her the Savoyard towns of Morat, Avenches, Estavayer and Yverdon; while (September) the Upper Valais, which had conquered all Lower or Savoyard Valais, entered into alliance with Bern for the purpose of opposing Savoy by preventing the arrival of Milanese troops. Alarmed at their success, the emperor and Louis deserted (June-September) the Confederates, who thus, by the influence of Louis and Bernese ambition, saw themselves led on and then abandoned to the wrath of Charles, and very likely to lose their new conquests. They had entered on the war as “helpers” of the emperor, and now became principals in the war against Charles, who raised the siege of Neuss, made an alliance with Edward IV. of England, received the surrender of Lorraine, and hastened across the Jura (February 1476) to the aid of his ally Yolande. On the 21st of February Charles laid siege to the castle of. Grandson, and after a week's siege the garrison of Bernese and Fribourgers had to surrender (Oct. 28), while, by way of retaliation for the massacre of the garrison of Estavayer in 1475, of the 412 men two only were spared in order to act as executioners of their comrades. This hideous news met a large body of the Confederates gathered together in great haste to relieve the garrison, and going to their rendezvous at Neuchâtel, where both the count and town had become allies of Bern in 1406. An advance body of Bernese, Fribourgers and Schwyzers, in order to avoid the castle of Vauxmarcus (seized by Charles), on the shore of the Lake of Neuchâtel, and on the direct road from Neuchâtel to Grandson, climbed over a wooded spur to the north, and attacked (March 2) the Burgundian outposts. Charles drew back his force in order to bring down the Swiss to the more level ground where his cavalry could act, but his rear misinterpreted the order, and when the main Swiss force appeared over the spur the Burgundian army was seized with a panic and fled in disorder. The Swiss had gained a glorious victory, and regained their conquest of Grandson, besides capturing very rich spoil in Charles's camp, parts of which are preserved to the present day in various Swiss armouries. Such was the famous battle of Grandson. Charles at once retired to Lausanne, and set about reorganizing his army. He resolved to advance on Bern by way of Morat (or Murten), which was occupied by a Bernese garrison under Adrian von Bubenburg, and laid siege to it on the 9th of June. The Confederates had now put away all jealousy of Bern, and collected a large army. The decisive battle took place on the afternoon of the 22nd of June, after the arrival of the Zürich contingent under Hans Waldmann. English archers were in Charles's army, while with the Swiss was René, the dispossessed duke of Lorraine. After facing each other many hours in the driving rain, a body of Swiss, by out flanking Charles's Van, stormed his palisades camp, and the Burgundians were soon hopelessly beaten, the losses on both sides (a contrast to Grandson) being exceedingly heavy. Vaud was reoccupied by the Swiss (Savoy having overrun it on Charles's advance); but Louis now stepped in and procured the restoration of; that region to Savoy, save Grandson, Morat, Orbe and Ếchallens, which were to be held by the Bernese jointly with the Fribourgers, Aigle by Bern alone—Savoy at the same time renouncing all its claims over Fribourg. Thus French-speaking districts first became permanently connected with the Confederation, hitherto purely German, and the war had been one for the maintenance of recent conquests, rather than purely in defence of Swiss freedom. Charles tried in vain to raise a third army; René recovered Lorraine, and on the 5th of January 1477, under the walls of Nancy, Charles's wide-reaching plans were ended by his defeat and death, many Swiss being with René's troops. The wish of the Bernese to overrun Franche-Comté was opposed by the older members of the Confederation, and finally, in 1479, Louis, by very large payments, secured the abandonment of all claims on that province, which was annexed to the French crown.
These glorious victories really laid the foundation of Swiss nationality; but soon after them the long-standing jealousy Internal Disputes in the League. between the civic and rural elements in the Con-Disputesln federation nearly broke it up. This had always hindered common action save in the case of certain pressing questions. In 1370, by the “Parsons' ordinance” (Pfaifenbrief), agreed on by all the Confederates except Bern and Glarus, all residents whether clerics or laymen, in the Confederation who were bound by oath to the duke of Austria were to swear faith to the Confederation, and this oath was to rank before any other; no appeal was to lie to any court spiritual or lay (except in matrimonial and purely spiritual questions) outside the limits of the Confederation, and many regulations were laid down as to the suppression of private wars and keeping of the peace on the high roads. Further, in 1393, the “Sempach ordinance” was accepted by all the Confederates and Soleure; this was an attempt to enforce police regulations and to lay down “articles of war” for the organization and discipline of the army of the Confederates, minute regulations being made against plundering—women, monasteries and churches being in particular protected and secured. But save these two documents common action was limited to the meeting of two envoys from each member of the Confederation and one from each of the “socii” in the Diet, the powers of which were greatly limited by the instructions brought by each envoy, thus entailing frequent reference to his government, and included foreign relations, war and peace, and common arrangements as to police, pestilence, customs duties, coinage, &c. The decisions of the majority did not bind the minority save in the case of the affairs of the bailiwicks ruled in common. Thus everything depended on common agreement and good will. But disputes as to the divisions of the lands conquered in the Burgundian War, and the proposal to admit into the League the towns of Fribourg and Soleure, which had rendered such good help in the war, caused the two parties to form separate unions, for by the latter proposal the number of towns would have been made the same as that of the “Lander,” which these did not at all approve. Suspended a moment by the campaign in the Val Leventina, these quarrels broke out after the victory of Giornico; and at the Diet of Stans (December 1481), when it seemed probable that the failure of all attempts to come to an understanding would result in the disruption of the League, the mediation of Nicholas von der Flüe (or Bruder Klaus), a holy hermit of Sachseln in Obwalden though he did not appear at the Diet in person, succeeded in bringing both sides to reason, and the third great ordinance of the League-the “compact of Stans”-was agreed on. By this the promise of mutual aid and assistance was renewed, especially when one member attacked another, and stress was laid on the duty of the several governments to maintain the peace, and not to help the subjects of any other member in case of a rising. The treasure and movables captured in the war were to be equally divided amongst the combatants, but the territories and towns amongst the members of the League. As a practical proof of the reconciliation, on the same day the towns of Fribourg and Soleure were received as full members of the Confederation, united with all the other members, though on less favourable terms than usual, for they were forbidden to make alliances, save with the consent of all or of the greater part of the other members. Both towns had long been allied with Bern, whose influence was greatly increased by their admission. Fribourg, founded in 1178 by Berthold IV. of Zaringen, had on the extinction of that great dynasty (1218) passed successively by inheritance to Kyburg (1218), by purchase to Austria (1277), and by commendation to Savoy (1452); when Savoy gave up its claims in 1477 Fribourg once more became a free imperial city. She had become allied with Bern as early as 1243, but in the 14th and I5ll'1 centuries became Romance-speaking, though from 1483 onwards German gained in strength and was the official language till 1798. Soleure (or Solothurn) had been associated with Bern from 1295, but had in vain sought admission into the League in 1411. Both the new members had done much for Bern in the Burgundian War, and it was for their good service that she now procured them this splendid reward, in hopes perhaps of aid on other important and critical occasions.
The compact of Stans strengthened the bonds which joined the members of the Confederation; and the same centralizing tendency is well seen in the attempt (1483-1489) of Hans Waldmann, the burgomaster of Zürich, to assert the rule of his city over the neighbouring country districts, to place all power in the hands of the gilds (whereas by Brun's constitution the patricians had an equal share), to suppress all minor jurisdictions, and to raise a uniform tax. But this idea of concentrating all powers in the hands of the government aroused great resistance, and led to his overthrow and execution. Peter Kistler succeeded (1470) better at Bern in a reform on the same lines, but less sweeping.
The early history of each member of the Confederation, and of the Confederation itself, shows that they always professed to belong to the Empire, trying to become immediately dependent on the emperor in order to prevent oppression by middle lords, and to enjoy practical liberty. The Empire itself had now become very much of a shadow; cities and princes were gradually asserting their own independence, sometimes breaking away from it altogether. Now, by the Practical Freedom from the Empire. time of the Burgundian War, the Confederation stood in a position analogous to that of a powerful free imperial city. As long as the emperor's nominal rights were not enforced, all went well; but, when Maximilian, in his attempt to reorganize the Empire, erected in 1495 at Worms an imperial chamber which had jurisdiction in all disputes between members of the Empire, the Confederates were very unwilling to obey it—partly because they could maintain peace at home by their own authority, and partly because it interfered with their practical independence. Again, their refusal to join the “Swabian League,” formed in 1488 by the lords and cities of South Germany to keep the public peace, gave further offence, as well as their fresh alliances with France. Hence a struggle was inevitable, and the occasion by reason of which it broke out was the seizure by the Tyrolese authorities in 1499 of the Münsterthal, which belonged to the “Gotteshausbund,” one of the three leagues which had gradually arisen in Raetia. These were the “Gotteshausbund” in 1367 (taking in all the dependents of the cathedral church at Chur living in the Oberhalbstein and Engadine); the “Ober” or “Grauer Bund” in 1395 and 1424 (taking in the abbey of Disentis and many counts and lords in the Vorder Rhein valley, though its name is not derived, as often stated, from the “grey coats” of the first members, but from “grawen” or “grafen,” as so many counts formed part of it); and the “league of the Ten jurisdictions” (Zehngerichtenbund), which arose in the Prattigau and Davos valley (1436) on the death of Count Frederick of Toggenburg, but which, owing to certain Austrian claims in it, was not quite so free as its neighbours. The first and third of these became allied in 1450, but the formal union of the three dates only from 1524, as documentary proof is wanting of the alleged meeting at Vazerol in 1471, though practically before 1524 they had very much in common. In 1497 the Ober Bund, in 1498 the Gotteshausbund, made a treaty of alliance with the Everlasting League or Swiss Confederation, the Ten Jurisdictions being unable to do more than show sympathy, owing to Austrian claims, which were not bought up till 1649 and 1652. Hence this attack on the Münsterthal was an attack on an “associate” member of the Swiss Confederation, Maximilian being supported by the Swabian League; but its real historical importance is the influence it had on the relations of the Swiss to the Empire. The struggle lasted several months, the chief nght being that in the Calven gorge (above Mals; May 22, 1499), in which Benedict Fontana, a leader of the Gotteshausbund men, performed many heroic deeds before his death. But, both sides being exhausted, peace was made at Basel on the 22nd of September 1499. By this the matters in dispute were referred to arbitration, and the emperor annulled all the decisions of the imperial chamber against the Confederation; but nothing was laid down as to its future relations with the Empire. No further real attempt, however, was made to enforce the rights of the emperor, and the Confederation became a state allied with the Empire, enjoying practical independence, though not formally freed till 1648. Thus, 208 years after the origin of the Confederation in 1291, it had got rid of all Austrian claims (1394 and 1474), as well as all practical subjection to the emperor. But its further advance towards the position of an independent state was long checked by religious divisions within, and by the enormous influence of the French king on its foreign relations.
With the object of strengthening the northern border of the Confederation, two more full members were admitted in 1501—Basel and Schaffhausen—on the same terms as Fribourg and Soleure. The city of Basel had originally been ruled by its bishop, but early in the 14th century it became a free imperial city; before 1501 it had made no permanent alliance with the Confederation, though it had been in continual relations with it. Schaffhausen had grown up round the Benedictine monastery of All Saints, and became in the early 13th century a free imperial city, but was mortgaged to Austria from 1330 to 1415, in which last year the emperor Sigismund declared all Duke Frederick's rights forfeited in consequence of his abetting the flight of Pope John XXII. It bought its' freedom in 1418 and became an “associate” of the Confederation in 1454.
A few years later, in 1513, Appenzell, which in 1411 had become a “ protected” district, and in 1452 an “associate” member of the Confederation, was admitted as the thirteenth full member; and this remained the number till the fall of the old Confederation in 1798. Round the three original members had gathered The League enlarged to Thirteen Members. first five others, united with the three, but not necessarily with each other; and then gradually there grew up an outer circle, consisting of five more, allied with all the eight old members, but tied down by certain stringent conditions. Constance, which seemed called by nature to enter the League, kept aloof, owing to a quarrel as to criminal jurisdiction in the Thurgau, pledged to it before the district was conquered by the Confederates.
In the first years of the 16th century the influence of the Confederates south of the Alps was largely extended. The conquests system of giving pensions, in order to secure the right of enlisting men within the Confederation, and of capitulations, by which the different members supplied troops, was originated by Louis XI. in 1474, and later followed by many other princes. Though a tribute to Swiss valour and courage, this practice had very evil results, of which the first fruits were seen in the Milanese troubles (1500–1516), of which the following is a summary. Both Charles VIII. (1484) and Louis XII. (1499 for ten years) renewed Louis XI.'s treaty. The French attempts to gain Milan were largely carried on by the help of Swiss mercenaries, some of whom were on the opposite side; and, as brotherly feeling was still too strong to make it possible for them to fight against one another, Lodovico Sforza's Swiss troops shamefully betrayed him to the French at Novara (1500). In 1500, too, the three Forest districts occupied Bellinzona (with the Val Blenio) at the request of its inhabitants, and in 1503 Louis XII. was forced to cede it to them. He, however, often held back the pay of his Swiss troops, and treated them as mere hirelings, so that when the ten years' treaty came to an end Matthew Schinner, bishop of Sitten (or Sion), induced them to join (1510) the pope, Julius II., then engaged in forming the Holy League to expel the French from Italy. But when, after the battle of Ravenna, Louis XII. became all-powerful in Lombardy, 20,000 Swiss poured down into the Milanese and occupied it, Felix Schmid, the burgomaster of Zürich, naming Maximilian (Lodovico's son) duke of Milan, in return for which he ceded to the Confederates Locarno, Val Maggia, Mendrisio and Lugano (1512), while the Raetian Leagues seized Chiavenna, Bormio and the Valtellina. (The former districts, with Bellinzona, the Val Blenio and the Val Leventina, were in 1803 made into the canton of Ticino, the latter were held by Raetia till 1797.) In 1513 the Swiss completely defeated the French at Novara, and in 1515 Pace was sent by Henry VIII. of England to give pensions and get soldiers. Francis I. at once on his accession (1515) began to prepare to win back the Milanese, and, successfully evading the Swiss awaiting his descent from the Alps, beat them in a pitched battle at Marignano near Milan (Sept. 13, 1515), which broke the Swiss power in north Italy, so that in 1516 a peace was made with France-the Valais, the Three Raetian Leagues and both the abbot and town of St Gall being included on the side of the Confederates. Provision was made for the neutrality of either party in case the other became involved in war, and large pensions were promised. This treaty was extended by another in 1521 (to which Zürich, then under Zwingli's influence, would not agree, holding aloof from the French alliance till 1614), by which the French king might, with the consent of the Confederation, enlist any number of men between 6000 and 16,000, paying them fit wages, and the pensions were raised to 3000 francs annually to each member of the Confederation. These two treaties were the starting point of later French interference with Swiss affairs.
4. In 1499 the Swiss had practically renounced their allegiance to the emperor, the temporal chief of the world according to medieval theory; 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 Zürich, and the leader Ulrich Zwingli (Who settled in Zürich at the very The Reformation. 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 Zürich back from joining in the treaty with Francis I. Then, too, at the time of the Peasant Revolt (1 52 5), 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 Zürich 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 Grossmunster 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 Zürich, 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 Zürich 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. Zürich 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 weight which Zürich 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. Zürich 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 Zürich. Near Kappel, on the 11th of October 1531, the Zürich vanguard under Guldli was (perhaps owing to his treachery) surprised, and despite reinforcements the men of Zürich were beaten, among the slain being Zwingli himself. Another defeat completed the discomfiture of Zürich, 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 Burgrecht” was abolished, and Zürich 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 permanently split into two religious camps: 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 Zürich, Bern, Schaffhausen, Appenzell (Ausser Rhoden), Glarus and the towns of St Gall, Basel and Bienne (with Graubunden), 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 1475, 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
Vaud by Bern. Aigle, Morat and Neuchatel. 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 (1536), 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, he 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. Candolle, Mallet, Diodati). His theological views led to disputes with the Zürich 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 Philibert, duke of Savoy, the hero of St Quentin (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 Gex, 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 Gruyére, thus getting French-speaking subjects. In 1558 Geneva renewed her alliance with Bern, and in 1584 she made one with Zürich. The duke of Savoy made several vain attempts to get 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 of church and state, the sovereign rights and jurisdiction of each state being always carefully reserved. The Counter-Reformation. 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 fortytwo 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 Borromean League, concluded (Oct. 5, 1586) between the seven Romanist members of the Confederation (Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, 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, notwithstanding 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 Mühlhausen. 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 Zürich in 1555, when she received the Protestant exiles (bringing with them the silk-weaving industry) from Locarno and the Italian bailiwicks into her burgher ship, 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 Raetia threatened entanglements. Austria wished to secure the Munsterthal (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 Zürich 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 163Q. It was only in 1649 and 1652 that the Austrian rights in the Priittigau 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 Zürich led to the Baden compromise of 1632, by which, in the case of disputes on religious matters arising in the. “common bailiwicks,” die 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 Empire. Basel 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 Munster, 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 nullatenus 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 1499 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 Comte, 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. In 1614 Zürich for French influence, Religious Divisions, and ise of an Aristocracy. 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 of 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 Comté (1678) and Strassburg (1681). But, as Louis inclined more and more to an anti-Protestant policy, 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 Neuchätel, 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 Zürich, the proposers. In 1656 a question as to certain religious refugees, who were driven from Schwyz and took refuge at Zürich, brought about the first Villemergen 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. Zürich 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 the “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. Zürich, 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 Zürich, Basel and Schaffhausen. It was effected by refusing to admit any new burghers, a practice which dates from the middle of the 16th 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 Niedergelassene) had no political rights, however long they might have resided, while the privileges of burgher ship 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 18th 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, Soleure, 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. Scheuchzer, A. von Haller, J. C. Lavater, I. J. Bodmer, H. B. de Saussure, J. J. Rousseau, J. von Müller; the taste for Swiss travel is stimulated by the publication (1793) of the first real Swiss guide-book by ]. G. Ebel (q.v.), 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 1762 by F. U. Balthasar 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. The Helvetian Club, founded at Paris in 1790 by several exiled Vaudois Effects of the French Revolution on the Confederation. and Fribourgers, was the centre from which the new ideas were spread ir. the western part of the Confederation, and risings directed or stirred up. In 1790 the Lower Valais rose against the oppressive rule Jf 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 Zürich and Bern; while the massacre of the Swiss guard at the Tuileries on the 10th 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. Zürich in the case of Stäfa (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 heads of the Reform party in the Confederation—Peter Ochs (1752–1821), the burgomaster of Basel, and Frédéric César Laharpe (1754–1838; tutor, 1783–1794, to the later tsar Alexander I.), who had left his home in Vaud through disgust at Bernese oppression, both now wishing for aid from Antside in order to free their land from the rule of the oligarchy. Hence, when Laharpe, at the head 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 Miihlhausen 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. Brune (March 16–19) 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. the “Helvetic republic, one and indivisible,” was proclaimed. This was accepted by ten cantons only as well as (April 12) 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 1 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 director's were practically nominated from Paris. In June–October 1799 Zürich, 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 The Act of Mediation. 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 Graubunden 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, Zürich, Vaud, St Gall, Graubunden 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, Zürich 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 burgher ship, as in 1798, 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. Pestalozzi and Fellenberg worked out their educational theories; K. Escher of Zürich embanked the Linth, and his family was thence called “von der Linth”; the central government The pact of 1815. 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” raised 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 the 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 requiring 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 21st of December 1813, and on the 29th 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 Zürich 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 Zürich (April 6, 1814, “the long Diet”); party strife was very bitter, but on the 12th of September it decided that the Valais, Neuchâtel 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 Bienne (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, a delay for which she paid by seeing Engelberg and the valley above (acquired by Nidwalden in 1798) given The Pact of 1815. 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 Zürich, 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.
5. The cities at once secured for themselves in the cantonal great councils an overwhelming representation over the neighbouring country districts, and the agreement of 1805 as to migration from one canton to another was renewed (1819) by twelve cantons. For some time Attempts at Reform. there was little talk of reforms, but in 1819 the Helvetic Society definitely became a political society, and the foundation in 1824 of the Marksmen’s Association enabled men from all cantons to meet together. A few cantons (notably Tessin) were beginning to make reforms, when the influence of the July revolution (1830) in Paris and the sweeping changes in Zürich led the Diet to declare (Dec. 27) that it would not interfere with any reforms of cantonal constitutions provided they were in agreement with the pact of 1815. Hence for the next few years great activity in this direction was displayed, and most of the cantons reformed themselves, save the most conservative (e.g. Uri, Glarus) and the advanced who needed no changes (e.g. Geneva, Graubünden). Provision was always made for revising these constitutions at fixed intervals, for the changes were not felt to be final, and seven cantons—Zürich, Bern, Lucerne, Soleure, St Gall, Aargau and Thurgau—joined together to guarantee their new free constitutions (Siebener Concordat of March 17, 1832). Soon after, the question of revising the Federal pact was brought forward by a large majority of cantons in the Diet (July 17), whereon, by the league of Sarnen (Nov. 14), the three Forest cantons, with Neuchâtel, the city of Basel, and the Valais, agreed to maintain the pact of 1815 and to protest against the separation of Basel in two halves (for in the reform struggle Schwyz and Basel had been split up, though the split was permanent only in the latter case). A draft constitution providing for a Federal administration distinct from the cantons could not secure a majority in its favour; a reaction against reform set in, and the Diet was forced to sanction (1833) the division of Basel into the “city” and “country” divisions (each with half a vote in the Diet), though fortunately in Schwyz the quarrel was healed. Religious quarrels further stirred up strife in Connexion with Aargau, which was a Canton where religious parity prevailed, later in others. In Zürich the extreme pretensions of the Radicals and freethinkers (illustrated by offering a chair of theology in the university to D. F. Strauss of Ttibingen because of his Life of Jesus, then recently published) brought about a great reaction in 1839, when Zürich was the “Vorort” In Aargau the parties were very evenly balanced, and, when in 1840, on occasion of the revision of the constitution, the Radicals had a popular majority the aggrieved clerics stirred up a revolt (1840), which was put down, but which gave their opponents, headed by Augustine Keller, an excuse for carrying a vote in the great council to suppress the eight monasteries in the Canton (Jan. 1841). This was flatly opposed to the pact of 1815, which the Diet by a small majority decided must be upheld (April 1841), though after many discussions it determined (Aug. 31, 1843) to accept the compromise by which the men's convents only were to be suppressed, and declared that the matter was now settled. On this the seven Romanist cantons—Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Lucerne, Zug, Fribourg and the Valais—formed (Sept. 13, 1843) a “Sonderbund” or separate league, which (February 1844) issued a manifesto demanding the reopening of the question and the restoration of all the monasteries. Like the Radicals in former years the Romanists went too far and too fast, for in October 1844 the clerical party in Lucerne (in the majority since 1841, and favouring the reaction in the Valais) officially invited in the Jesuits and gave them high posts, an act which created all the more sensation because Lucerne was the “Vorort.” Twice (December 1844 and March 1845) parties of free lances tried to capture the city. In December 1845 the Sonderbund turned itself into an armed confederation, ready to appeal to war in defence of the rights of each canton. The Radicals carried Zürich in April 1845 and Bern in February 1846, but a majority could not be secured in the Diet till Geneva (Oct. 1846) and St Gall (May 1847) were won by the same party. On the 20th of July 1847, the Diet, by a small majority, declared that the Sonderbund was contrary to the Federal pact, which on the 16th of August it was resolved to revise, while on the 3rd of September it was decided to invite each Canton to expel the Jesuits. Most of the Great Powers favoured the Sonderbund, but England took the Contrary view, and the attempt of Metternich, supported by Louis Philippe, to bring about European intervention, on the plea of upholding the treaties of Vienna, was frustrated by the policy of masterly inactivity pursued by Lord Palmerston, who delayed giving an answer till the forces of the Sonderbund had been defeated, a friendly act that is still gratefully remembered in the country. On the 29th of October the deputies of the unyielding cantons left the Diet, which ordered on the 4th of November that its decree should be enforced by arms. The war was short (Nov. 10–29), mainly owing to the ability of the general, G. H. Dufour (1787–1875), and the loss of life trifling. One after another the rebellious cantons were forced to surrender, and, as the Paris revolution of February 1848, entailing the retirement of Guizot (followed three weeks later by that of Metternich), occupied all the attention of the Great Powers (who by the constitution of 1815 should have been consulted in the revision of the pact), the Swiss were enabled to settle their own affairs quietly. Schwyz and Zug abolished their “landsgemeinden,” and the seven were Condemned to pay the costs of the war (ultimately defrayed by subscription), which had been waged rather on religious than on strict particularist or states-rights grounds. The Diet meanwhile debated the draft constitution drawn up by Johann Conrad Kern (1808–1888) of Thurgau and Henri Druey (1799–1855) of Vaud, which in the summer of 1848 was accepted by fifteen and a half cantons, the minority consisting of the three Forest cantons, the Valais, Zug, Tessin and Appenzell (Inner Rhoden), and it was proclaimed on the 12th of September.
The new Constitution inclined rather to the Act of Mediation than to the system which prevailed before 1798. A status of “Swiss citizenship” Was set up, closely joined to cantonal Citizenship, a man settling in a Canton not being his birthplace got cantonal citizenship after a residence of at most two years, but was excluded from all local Constitution of 1848. rights in the “commune” where he might reside. A Federal or central government was set up, to which the cantons gave up a certain part of their sovereign rights, retaining the rest. The Federal Legislature (or assembly) was made up of two houses—the Council of States (Ständerat), composed of two deputies from each Canton, whether small or great (44 in all), and the National Council (Nationalrat), made up of deputies elected for three years, in the proportion of one for every 20,000 souls or fraction over 10,000, the electors being all Swiss citizens. The Federal council or executive (Bundesrat) consisted of seven members elected by the Federal Assembly sitting as a Congress; they were jointly responsible for all business, though for sake of convenience there were various departments, and their chairman was called the president of the Confederation. The Federal judiciary (Bundesgericht) was made up of eleven members elected for three years by the Federal Assembly sitting in congress; its jurisdiction was chiefly confined to civil Cases, in which the Confederation was a party (if a Canton, the Federal council may refer the case to the Federal tribunal), but took in also great political crimes-all constitutional questions, however, being reserved for the Federal Assembly. A Federal university and a polytechnic school were to be founded. All military Capitulations were forbidden in the future. Every Canton must treat Swiss citizens who belong to one of the Christian confessions like their own citizens, for the right of free settlement is given to all such, though they acquired no rights in the “Commune.” All Christians were guaranteed the exercise of their religion, but the Jesuits and similar religious orders were not to be received in any canton. German, French and Italian were recognized as national languages.
The constitution as a whole marked a great step forward; though very many rights were still reserved to the cantons, yet there was a fully organized central government. Almost the first act of the Federal Assembly was to exercise the power given them of determining the home of the Federal authorities, and on the 28th of November 1848 Bern was chosen, though Zürich still ranks as the first canton in the Confederation. Soon after 1848 a beginning was made of organizing the different public services, which had now been brought within the jurisdiction of the central Federal authority. Thus in 1849 a uniform letter post service was established, in 1850 a single coinage replaced the intricate cantonal Currencies, While all customs duties between cantons were abolished, in 1851 the telegraph service was organized, while all weights and measures were unified (in 1868 the metrical system was allowed, and in 1875 declared obligatory and universal), in 1854 roads and canals were taken in hand, While finally in 1855 the Federal Polytechnic School at Zürich was opened, though the Federal university authorized by the new constitution has not yet been set up. These were some of the non-political benefits of the creation of a Federal central executive. But in 1852 the Federal Assembly decided to leave the construction of railways to private enterprise and so had to buy them up in 1903 at a vastly enhanced price.
By this early settlement of disputes Switzerland was protected from the general revolutionary movement of 1848, and in later years her political history has been uneventful, though she has felt the weight of the great European crises in industrial and social matters.
The position of Neuchâtel, as a member of the Confederation (as regards its government only) and as a principality ruled by the king of Prussia, whose rights had been expressly recognized by the congress of Vienna, was uncertain. She had not sent troops in 1847, and, though in 1848 there was a republican revolution there, the prince did not recognize the changes. Finally, a royalist conspiracy in September 1856 to undo the work of 1848 caused great excitement and anger in Switzerland, and it was only by the mediation of Napoleon III. and the other powers that the prince renounced (1857) all his rights, save his title, which his successor (the German emperor) has also dropped. Since that time Neuchâtel has been an ordinary member of the Confederation. In 1859–1860 the cession of Savoy (part of it neutralized in 1815) to France aroused considerable indignation, and in 1862 the long-standing question of frontiers in the Vallée des Dappes was finally arranged with France. In 1871 many French refugees, especially Bourbaki’s army, were most hospitably received and sheltered. The growth of the Old Catholics after the Vatican Council (1870) caused many disturbances in western Switzerland, especially in the Bernese Jura. The attack was led by Bishop Eugene Lachat (1819–1886) of Basel, whose see was suppressed by several cantons in 1873, but was set up again in 1884 though still not recognized by Bern. The appointment by the pope of the abbé Gaspard Mermillod (1824–1892) as “apostolic vicar” of Geneva, which was separated from the diocese of Fribourg, led to Monseigneur Mermillod’s banishment from Switzerland (1873), but in 1883 he was raised to the vacant see of Lausanne and Geneva and allowed by the Federal authorities to return, but Geneva refused to recognize him, though he was created a cardinal in 1890. An event of great importance to Switzerland was the opening of the St Gotthard tunnel, which was begun in 1871 and opened in 1882; by it the Forest cantons seem likely to regain the importance which was theirs in the early days of the Confederation.
From 1848 onwards the cantons continually revised their constitutions, always in a democratic sense, though after the Sonderbund War Schwyz and Zug abolished their “landsgemeinden” (1848). The chief point was the introduction of the referendum, by which laws made by the cantonal legislature may (facultative referendum) or must (obligatory referendum) be submitted to the people for their approval, and this has obtained such general acceptance that Fribourg alone does not possess the referendum in either of its two forms. It was therefore only natural that attempts should be made to revise the federal constitution of 1848 in a democratic and centralizing sense, for it had been provided that the Federal Assembly, on its own initiative or on the written request of 50,000 Swiss electors, could submit the question of revision to a. popular vote. In 1866 the restriction of certain rights (mentioned above) to Christians only was swept away; but the attempt at final revision in 1872 was defeated by a small majority, owing to the efforts of the anti-centralizing party. Finally, however, another draft was better liked, and on the 19th of April 1874 the Revised Constitution of 1874. new constitution was accepted by the people—141 against 71 (those of 1848 without Tessin, but with Fribourg and Lucerne) and 340,199 votes as against 198,013. This constitution is still in force, and is mainly a revised edition of that of 1848, the Federal power being still further strengthened. Among the more important novelties three points may be mentioned. A system of free elementary education was set up, under the superintendence of the Confederation, but managed by the cantons. A man settling in another canton was, after a residence of three months only, given all cantonal and. communal rights, save a share in the common property (an arrangement which as far as possible kept up the old principle that the “commune” is the true unit out of which cantons and the Confederation are built), and the membership of the commune carries with it cantonal and federal rights. The “Referendum” was introduced in its “facultative” form; i.e. all federal laws must be submitted to popular vote on the demand of 30,000 Swiss citizens or of eight cantons. But the “Initiative” (i.e. the right of compelling the legislature to consider a certain subject or bill) was not introduced into the Federal Constitution till 1891 (when it was given to 50,000 Swiss citizens) and then only as to a partial (not a total) revision of that constitution. By the constitutions of 1848 and 1874 Switzerland has ceased to be a mere union of independent states jointed by a treaty, and has become a single state with a well-organized central government, to which have been given certain of the rights of the independent cantons, but increased centralization would destroy the whole character of the Confederation, in which the cantons are not administrative divisions but living political communities. Swiss history teaches us, all the way through, that Swiss liberty has been won by a close union of many small states, and we cannot doubt that it will be best preserved by the same means, and not by obliterating all local peculiarities, nowhere so striking and nowhere so historically important as in Switzerland.
M. Numa Droz (who was for seventeen years—1876 to 1892—a member of the Federal executive, and twice, in 1881 and in 1887, president of the Swiss Confederation) expressed the opinion shortly before his death in December 1899 (he was born in 1844) that while the dominant note of Swiss politics from 1848 to 1874 was the establishment of a Federal state, that of the period extending from 1874 to 1899 (and this is true of a later period) was the direct rule of the people, as distinguished from government by elected representatives. Whether this distinction be just or not, it is certain that this advance towards democracy in its true sense is due indirectly to the monopoly of political power in the Federal government enjoyed by the Radical party from 1848 onwards: many were willing to go with it some part of the way, but its success in maintaining its close monopoly has provoked a reaction against it on the part of those who desire to see the Confederation remain a Confederation, and not become a strongly centralized state, contrary to its past history and genius. Hence after 1874 we find that democratic measures are not advocated as we should expect by the Radicals, but by all the other political parties with a view of breaking down this Radical monopoly, for it is a strange fact that the people elect and retain Radical representatives, though they reject the measures laid before them for their approval by the said Radical representatives. For these reasons the struggle between Federalists and Centralists (the two permanent political parties in Switzerland), which up to 1874 resulted in favour of the Centralists, has been turning gradually in favour of the Federalists, and that because of the adoption of such democratic institutions as the Referendum and the Initiative.
The general lines on which Swiss politics have run since 1874 may be most conveniently summarized under three headings the working of the political machinery, the principal political events, and then the chief economical and financial features of the period. But it must be always borne in mind that all the following remarks relate only to Federal politics, those of the several cantons being much more intricate, and of course turning more on purely local differences of opinion.
1. Political Machinery.—The Federal Constitution of 1848 set up a permanent Federal executive, legislature and tribunal, each and all quite distinct from and independent of any cantonal government. This system was a modified revival of the state of things that had prevailed from 1798 to 1803, and was an imitation of the political changes that had taken place in the cantonal constitutions after 1830. Both were victories of the Centralist or Radical party, and it was therefore but natural that this party should be called upon to undertake the Federal government under the new constitution, a supremacy that it has kept ever since. To the Centralists the Council of States (two members from each canton, however large or small) has always been a stumbling-block, and they have mockingly nicknamed it “the fifth wheel of the coach.” In the other house of the Federal legislature, the National Council (one member per 20,000, or fraction of over 10,000 of the entire population), the Radicals have always since its creation in 1848 had a majority. Hence, in the Congress formed by both houses sitting together, the Radicals have had it all their own way. This is particularly important as regards the election of the seven members of the Federal executive which is made by such a Congress. Now the Federal executive (Federal Council) is in no sense a cabinet, i.e. a committee of the party in the majority in the legislature for the time being. In the Swiss Federal Constitution the cabinet has no place at all. Each member of the Federal executive is elected by a separate ballot, and holds office for the fixed term of three years, during which he cannot be turned out of office, while as yet but a single instance has occurred of the rejection of a Federal councillor who offered himself for re-election. Further, none of the members of the Federal executive can hold a seat in either house of the Federal legislature, though they may appear and speak (but not vote) in either, while the Federal Council as such has not necessarily any common policy, and never expresses its views on the general situation (though it does as regards particular legislative and administrative measures) in anything resembling the “speech from the Throne” in England. Thus it seems clear that the Federal executive was intended by the Federal Constitution of 1848 (and in this respect that of 1874 made no change) to be a standing committee of the legislature as a whole, but not of a single party in the legislature, or a “cabinet,” even though it had the majority. Yet this rule of a single political party is just what has taken place. Between 1848 and the end of 1908, 38 Federal councillors were elected (24 from German-speaking, 12 from French-speaking and 2 from Italian-speaking Switzerland, the canton of Vaud heading the list with 7). Now of these 38 three only were not Radicals, viz. M Paul Ceresole (1870–1875) of Vaud, who was a Protestant Liberal-Conservative, Herren Josef Zemp (1891–1908) and Josef Anton Schobinger (elected 1908), both of Lucerne and Romanist Conservatives, yet the Conservative minority is a large one, while the Romanists form about two-fifths of the population of Switzerland. But despite this predominance of a single party in the Federal Council, no true cabinet system has come into existence in Switzerland, as members of the council do not resign even when their personal policy is condemned by a popular vote, so that the resignation of Herr Welti (a member of the Federal Council from 1867 to 1891), in consequence of the rejection by the people of his railway policy, caused the greatest amazement and consternation in Switzerland.
The chief political parties in the Federal legislature are the Right, or Conservatives (whether Romanists or Protestants), the Centre (now often called “Liberals,” but rather answering to the Whigs of English political language, the Left (or Radicals) and the Extreme Left (or the Socialists of varying shades). In the Council of States there is always a Federalist majority, since in this house the smaller cantons are on an equality with the greater ones, each indifferently having two members. But in the National Council (167 elected members) there has always (since 1848) been a considerable Radical majority over all other parties. The Socialists long worked under the wing of the Radicals, but now in every canton (save Geneva) the two parties have quarrelled, the Socialist vote having largely increased, especially in the town of Zurich. In the country the anti-Radical opposition is made up of the Conservatives, who are strongest in the Romanist, and especially the Forest, cantons, and of the “Federalists” of French-speaking Switzerland. There is no doubt that the people are really anti-Radical, though occasionally led away by the experiments made recently in the domain of State socialism: they elect, indeed, a Radical majority, but very frequently reject the bills laid before them by their elected representatives.
2. Politics.—The cantons had led the way before 1848, and they continued to do so after that date, gradually introducing reforms all of which tended to give the direct rule to the people. The Confederation was bound to follow this example, though it adopted a far more leisurely pace. Hence, in 1872 a new Federal Constitution was drafted, but was rejected on a popular vote by a small majority, as it was thought to go too far in a centralizing direction, and so encountered the combined opposition of the Conservatives and of the Federalists of French-speaking Switzerland. The last-named party was won over by means of concessions as to military matters and the proposed unification of cantonal laws, civil and criminal, and especially by strong provisions as to religious freedom, since the “Kulturkampf” was then raging in French-speaking Switzerland. Hence a revised draft was accepted in 1874 by a considerable popular majority, and this is the existing Federal Constitution. But it bears marks of its origin as a compromise, and no one party has ever been very eager to support it as a whole. At first all went smoothly, and various very useful laws carrying out in detail the new provisions of the constitution were drafted and accepted. But divisions of opinion arose when it was proposed to reform the military system at a very great expenditure, and also as to the question of the limitation of the right to issue bank-notes, while (as will be seen under 3 below) just at this time grave financial difficulties arose with regard to the Swiss railways, and in consequence of Prince Bismarck's anti-free trade policy, which threatened the prosperity of Switzerland as an exporting country. Further, the disturbed political state of the canton of Ticino (or Tessin) became more or less acute from 1873 onwards. There the Radicals and the Conservatives are nearly equally balanced. In 1872 the Conservatives obtained the majority in this canton, and tried to assure it by some certainly questionable means. The Radicals repeatedly appealed to the Federal government to obtain its armed intervention, but in vain. In 1876 the Conservatives at a rifle match at Stabio fired on the Radicals, but in 1880 the accused persons were acquitted. The long-desired detachment of Ticino from the jurisdiction of the foreign dioceses of Como and Milan was effected in 1888 by the erection of a see at Lugano, but this event caused the Radicals to fear an increase of clerical influence. Growing impatient, they finally took matters in their own hands, and in September 1890 brought about a bloody revolution. The partial conduct of the Radical Federal commissioner was much blamed, but after a state trial at Zürich in 1891 the revolutionists were acquitted, although they loudly boasted of their share in this use of force in political matters.
From 1885 onwards Switzerland had some troubles with foreign powers owing to her defence of the right of asylum for fugitive German Socialists, despite the threats of Prince Bismarck, who maintained a secret police in Switzerland, one member of which, Wohlgemuth, was expelled in 1889, to the prince's huge but useless indignation. From about 1890, as the above troubles within and without gradually subsided, the agitation in the country against the centralizing policy of the Radicals became more and more strongly marked. By the united exertions of all the opposition parties, and against the steady resistance of the Radicals, an amendment was introduced in 1891 into the Federal Constitution, by which 50,000 Swiss citizens can by the “Initiative” compel the Federal legislature and executive to take into consideration some point in the Federal Constitution which, in the opinion of the petitioners, requires reform, and to prepare a bill dealing with it which must be submitted to a popular vote. Great hopes and fears were entertained at the time as to the working of this new institution, but both have been falsified, for the Initiative has as yet only succeeded in inserting (in 1893) in the Federal Constitution a provision by which the Jewish method of killing animals is forbidden, and another (in 1908) prohibiting the manufacture or sale of absinthe in the country. On the other hand, it has failed (in 1894) to secure the adoption of a Socialist scheme by which the state was bound to provide work for every able-bodied man in the country, and (also in 1894) to carry a proposal to give to the cantons a bonus of two francs per head of the population out of the rapidly growing returns of the customs duties, similarly in 1900 an attempt to introduce the election of the Federal executive by a popular vote and proportional representation in the Nationalrat failed, as in 1903 did a proposal to make the elections to the Nationalrat depend on the Swiss population only, instead of the total population of the country.
The great rise in the productiveness of the customs duties (see 3 below) has tempted the Swiss people of late years to embark on a course of state socialism, which may be also described as a series of measures tending to give more and more power to the central Federal government at the expense of the cantons. So in 1890 the principle of compulsory universal insurance against sickness and accidents was accepted by a popular vote, in 1891 likewise that of a state or Federal bank, and in 1898 that of the unification of the cantonal laws, civil and criminal, into a set of Federal codes. In each case the Federal government and legislature were charged with the preparation of laws carrying out in detail these general principles. But in 1897 their proposals as to a Federal bank were rejected by the people, though another draft was accepted in 1905, so that the bank (with a monopoly of note issue, a provision accepted by a popular vote in 1891) was actually opened in 1907. At the beginning of 1900 the suspicion felt as to the insurance proposals elaborated by the Federal authorities was so keen that a popular demand for a popular vote was signed by 117,000 Swiss citizens, the legal minimum being only 30,000: they were rejected (May 20, 1900) on a popular vote by a nearly two to one majority. The preparation of the Federal civil and criminal codes has progressed quietly, drafts being framed by experts and then submitted for criticism to special commissions and public opinion, but finally the civil code was adopted by the Federal Assembly in December 1907. By a popular vote in 1887 the Federal authorities were given a monopoly of alcohol, but a proposal to deal similarly with tobacco has been very ill received (though such a monopoly would undoubtedly produce a large amount), and would pretty certainly be refused by the people if a popular vote were ever taken upon it. In 1895 the people declined to sanction a state monopoly of matches, even though the unhealthy nature of the works was strongly urged, and have also resolutely refused on several occasions to accept any projects for the centralizing of the various branches of military administration, &c., though in 1897 the forests high up on the mountains were placed under Federal supervision, while in 1902 large Federal grants in aid were made to the cantons towards the expenses of primary education, and in 1908 the supervision of the employment of the power derived from rivers and streams was given to the Confederation. Among other reforms which have recently been much discussed in Switzerland are the introduction of the obligatory referendum (which hitherto has applied only to amendments to the Federal Constitution) and the extension of the initiative (now limited to piecemeal revision of the Federal Constitution) to all Federal laws, &c. The first-named scheme is an attempt to restrain important centralizing measures from being presented as laws (and as such exempt from the compulsory referendum), and not as amendments to the Federal Constitution.
Besides the insurance project mentioned above, two great political questions have engaged the attention of the Swiss.
a. State Purchase of the Railways.—In 1891 the purchase of the Central railway was rejected by a popular vote, but in 1898, by the aid of various baits thrown out, the people were induced to accept the principle of the purchase by the Confederation of the five great Swiss railway lines—three in 1901, viz. the Central, the North-Eastern, and the United Swiss lines; one (the Jura-Simplon) in 1903, and one (the St Gotthard line) in 1909, this delay being due to international conventions that still have some years to run. Further, very important economical consequences, e.g. as to strikes, may be expected to result from the transformation of all railway officials of whatever grade into state servants, who may naturally be expected to vote (as in other cases) for their employers, and so greatly increase the strength of the Centralist political party.
b. The “Double Initiative.”—This phrase denotes two purely political reforms that have been coupled together, though in reality they are by no means inseparable. One is the introduction of proportional representation (within the several cantons) into the elections for the National Council of the Federal parliament, the object being thus to secure for several large minorities a number of M.P.’s more in accordance with the size of those minorities in the country than is now possible under the regime of pure majorities: naturally these minorities would then receive a proper share of political power in the senate house, instead of merely exerting great political influence in the country, while if they were thus strengthened in the legislature they would soon be able to claim the right of naming several members of the Federal executive, thus making both legislature and executive a mirror of the actual political situation of the country, instead of the preserve of one political party. The other reform is the election of the members of the Federal executive by popular vote, the whole body of voters voting, not by cantons, but as a single electoral constituency. This would put an end to the “lobbying” that goes on previously to the election of a member of the executive by the two houses of the Federal parliament sitting jointly in Congress; but, on the other hand, it might stereotype the present system of electing members of the executive by the majority system, and so reduce large minorities to political impotence. The “double initiative” scheme was launched in the beginning of 1899, and by the beginning of the following July secured more than the requisite number of signatures (50,000), the first-named item having been supported by nearly 65,000 citizens, and the second item by 56,000. Hence the Federal parliament was bound to take these two reforms into formal consideration, but in June 1900 it rejected both, and this decision was confirmed by a popular vote taken in the following November.
3. Economics and Finance.—Soon after the adoption of the Federal Constitution of 1874 the economical and financial state of the Confederation became very unsatisfactory. The great financial crisis in Vienna in 1873 was a severe blow to Swiss commerce, which had taken a very great start after the Franco-German War of 1870–71. In the later ’seventies, too, the financial position of some of the great Swiss railway lines was very unfavourable: the bankruptcy of the National line ruined for the time (till a Federal loan at a very low rate of interest was forced upon them) the four Swiss towns which were its guarantors; the North-Eastern line had to beg for a “moratorium” (a legal delay of the period at which it had to pay its debts) from the Federal government; the Bern-Lucerne line was actually put up to auction, and was bought by the canton of Bern. Further, the expenses of constructing the St Gotthard railway vastly exceeded all estimates, and in 1876 over 100,000,000 francs more were required. Hence the subventions already granted had to be increased. Germany (which gave originally 20,000,000 francs) and Italy (original contribution 45,000,000 francs) each promised 10,000,000 francs more; the St Gotthard company itself gave 12,000,000, and the two Swiss railway lines interested (Central and North-Eastern) added 1,500,000 to the 20,000,000 they had already agreed to give jointly with the cantons interested in the completion of this great undertaking. But these latter refused to add anything to their previous contributions, so that finally the Federal government proposed that it should itself pay the 6,500,000 francs most urgently required. This proposal aroused great anger in east and west Switzerland, but the matter was ultimately settled by the Confederation paying 4,500,000 francs and the interested cantons 2,000,000, the latter gift being made dependent on a grant of 4,500,000 francs by the Federal government for new tunnels through the Alps in east and west Switzerland, and of 2,000,000 more for the Monte Cenere tunnel between Bellinzona and Lugano. This solution of a most thorny question was approved by a popular vote in 1879, and the St Gotthard line was successfully completed in 1882. Gradually, too, the other Swiss railway lines, attained a state of financial equilibrium, owing to the more careful management of new directors and managers. The completion of the Simplon tunnel (1906), the commencement (1906) of that beneath the Lötschen Pass (q.v.), and the rival claims of projected tunnels under the Splügen Pass (q.v.), besides the struggle for or against a tunnel under the Faucille (supported by Geneva almost alone), show that railway politics play a very prominent part in Swiss national life. They are, too, complicated by many local rivalries, which in this country are of greater importance than elsewhere because of the considerable share of power still legally belonging to the cantons. Another kindred question (owing to the rapid development of electric traction in Switzerland) is the equitable proposal (accepted in 1908) that the utilization of the immense force supplied by the many rivers and torrents in Switzerland should become a Federal monopoly, so as to secure to the Confederation the control over such important sources of revenue as otherwise might easily be unscrupulously exploited by private companies and firms.
Switzerland, by reason of natural conditions, is properly a free trade country, for it exports far more than it imports, in order to supply the demand for objects that it cannot itself produce. But Prince Bismarck's protectionist policy in 1879 was imitated by France, Austria and Italy, so that Switzerland was gradually shut in by a high wall of tariffs. Hence in 1891 the Swiss people approved, in sheer self-defence, a great increase of the customs duties, and in 1903 sanctioned a further very considerable advance in these duties, so that it is now a thoroughly Protectionist country, despite its obvious natural disadvantages. The huge increase in revenue naturally led to increased expenditure, which took the form of lavish subventions to all sorts of cantonal objects, magnificent Federal buildings, most useful improvements in the post and telegraph services, and extensive and Iamentable construction of military fortifications in Uri and the Valais against some unknown foe. In 1894 it was proposed to distribute part of this new wealth in giving a bonus to the cantons at the rate of 2 francs per head of the population, but this extravagant proposal (nicknamed the “Beutezug”) was rejected, owing to the cool common sense of the Swiss people, by a majority of over two to one. These prosperous circumstances, however, contributed mainly to the adoption or suggestion of various measures of state socialism, e.g. compulsory sick insurance, Federal subvention to primary schools, purchase of the five great Swiss railway lines, giving a right to every able bodied man to have work at the expense of the state, subventions to many objects, &c. (W. A. B. C.)