1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Thurgau
THURGAU (Fr. Thurgovie), one of the cantons of north-eastern Switzerland, bordering on the Lake of Constance and the Rhine as it issues from that lake. Its total area is 390.4 sq. m., of which 326.9 sq. m. are reckoned as “ productive ” (forests covering 69-3 sq. m. and vineyards 4.4 sq. m.); of the “unproductive” portion most (59! sq. m.) consists of the cantonal share of the Lake of Constance. The canton is partly made up of the central portion of the valley of the Thur (which rises in the Toggenburg), with its affluent the Murg, and partly of the level stretch along the west shore of the Lake of Constance and left bank of the Rhine. Low ranges of wooded hills separate the lake from the Thur valley and the latter from that of the Murg, as well as from the cantons of Zurich and of St Gall, the highest point in the canton being situated at its southern extremity, and forming the northern slope (3271 ft.) of the Hornli (3727 ft.), itself wholly in Zurich. The small outlying district of Horn is an " enclave " in the canton of St Gall, because it was acquired in 1463 by the bishop of Constance, who incorporated it with the bailiwick of Arbon, the fate of which it has followed. In 1798 the lower portion of the Stammheim glen was given to Zurich, as well as the Diessenhofen region to Schaffhausen, but the latter region came back to Thurgau in 1800. The main railway line from Winterthur to Romanshorn (with a branch to St Gall) runs right through the canton, while on its north edge is the direct line along the left bank of the Rhine from Constance to Schaffhausen. A network of well-made roads traverses the canton in every direction, some of them being now served by public motor cars. It is a prosperous region, the population being mainly engaged in agriculture, and in cotton-spinning, which is often combined with it at home. The orchards are so splendid that Thurgau has been called " the garden of Helvetia." The vineyards produce a number of highly esteemed wines (the best known is the red Bachtobler), which are said to retain their strength for eight or ten years, this being attributed to the influence of the east wind to which the vines are much exposed. In 1900 the population was 113,221, of whom iro,845 were German-speaking, 1867 Italian-speaking and 332 French-speaking, while there were 77,210 Protestants, 35,824 Romanists and rr3 Jews. Its capital is Frauenfeld (q.v.), while other important places are Arbon (pop. 5677), Kreuzlingen (4732), practically a suburb of Constance, and Romanshorn (q.v.), the chief port of the canton on the Lake of Constance. Till 1814 it was in the diocese of Constance, and since 1828 in that of Basel. The canton is divided into eight administrative districts, which comprise 2r2 communes. In 1869 the very advanced existing constitution was adopted, by which the " initiative " (or right of 2500 electors to compel the cantonal assembly to take any subject into consideration), and the " obligatory referendum," taking place twice a year (by which all laws passed by the cantonal assembly, and all financial resolutions involving a capital expenditure of 50,000 francs or an annual one of 10,000, must be submitted to a popular vote), were introduced. The cantonal government consists of a legislative assembly or Grossval (one member to every 250 electors, or fraction over r25) and a Regierungsvat or executive council of five members, both elected directly by the people and holding office for three years; 5000 electors can at any time call for a popular vote on the question of the dismissal of either one or the other. Further, to show the very democratic character of the (r869) constitution, it may be added that members of both houses of the Federal assembly are in Thurgau elected direct by the people, and hold office for three years. The " communes " in Thurgau are of no less than eleven or twelve varieties. The division of the lands, &c, of the old " burgher communes " between them and the new communes, consisting of all residents (with whom political power rests), was carried out (1872) in all the 212 communes; but there are still 38 gilds or corporations with special rights over certain forests, &c. The Thurgau originally took in all the country, roughly speaking, between the Reuss, the Lake of Lucerne, the Rhine and the Lake of Constance; but many smaller districts (Zurichgau, Toggenburg, Appenzell, St Gall) were gradually carved out of it, and the county was reduced to about the size of the present canton when in T264 it passed by the gift of the last count of Kyburg to his nephew Rudolph of Habsburg, chosen emperor in 1273. In i4rs the count, Duke Frederick of Austria (a Habsburg), was put under the ban of the empire by the emperor Sigismund for having aided Pope John XXIII. to escape from Constance, and the county was overrun, Sigismund in 1417 mortgaging to the city of Constance the appellate jurisdiction in all civil and criminal matters (" Landgericht " and " Blutbann ") arising within the county, which he had declared to be forfeited in consequence of Frederick's conduct. In r46o some of the Confederates, now becoming very eager for conquests, overran and seized the county. Winterthur was saved, but in r46i Frederick's son, Duke Sigismund, had perforce to cede the county to the Confederates. Henceforth it was ruled as a " subject district " by seven members of the League — Bern occupied in the west, not being admitted to a share in the government till i7r2, after one of the wars of religion. It was only in 1499 that the Confederation (then consisting of ten members) obtained from the emperor (the claims of Constance being passed over in silence) the supreme jurisdiction, through the mediation of the duke of Milan, but there were still 103 minor jurisdictions belonging to various lords spiritual (particularly the bishop of Constance, the abbot of St Gall and the abbot of Reichenau) and temporal, which went on 'till 1798 and greatly limited the power of the Confederates. Thurgau had hoped, but in vain, to be admitted in 1499 a full member of the Confederation.
At the time of the Reformation many of the inhabitants became Protestants, and bitter quarrels ensued between the Protestant and Catholic (the latter having a large majority) members of the Confederation who had rights over Thurgau, with regard to the toleration of the new doctrines in the " subject districts " such as Thurgau. By the first peace of Kappel (r529) the majority in each " commune " was to settle the religion of that "commune," but by the second (1531, after Zwingli's death) both religions were to be allowed side by side in each " commune." Thurgau thus became a " canton of parity," as it is to this day. Its rulers, however, continued to watch each other very closely, and Kilian Kesselring, one of the chief military commanders in Thurgau, was in 1633, on suspicion of having connived at the advance of the Swedes through Thurgau on Constance, seized by the Catholic cantons and severely punished. In 1798 Thurgau became free, and was one of the nineteen cantons of the Helvetic republic, being formally received (like the other " subject lands ") as a full member of the Swiss Confederation in r8o3 by the Act of Mediation. It was one of the very first cantons to revise, in 1830, after the July revolution in Paris, its constitution in a very liberal sense, and in 1831 proposed a revision of the Federal Pact of 1815. This failed, but the new Federal constitutions of 1848 (of which one of the two drafters was Kern of Thurgau) and r874 were approved by very large majorities. In 1848 almost all of the convents in the canton were suppressed, one only (that of the Dominican nuns at St Katharinenthal) surviving till extinguished in 1869 by the new cantonal constitution, which also forbade the erection of any new religious houses. In 1849 the cantonal constitution was revised and the veto introduced, by which the people might reject a bill passed by the cantonal assembly. The castle (modern) of Arenenberg, above the western arm of the Lake of Constance, belonged to the Napoleonic family from r8i7 to 1843, and was repurchased by them in r855. It contains many' relics of Napoleon III., whose widow, the ex-empress Eug6nie, in r9o6 presented it (with provision for annual masses in the chapel) to the canton of Thurgau, which has converted it into an agricultural college.