1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Winterthur

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

WINTERTHUR, a flourishing industrial town in the Töss valley, canton of Zürich, Switzerland, and by rail 17 m. N.E. of Zürich. It is 1450 ft. above sea-level, and has a rapidly increasing population (in 1870, 9317; in 1880, 13,502; in 1888, 15,805; and in 1900, 22,335), all German-speaking and nearly all Protestants. It is the point of junction of seven lines of railway, and is therefore of considerable commercial importance. Its main industries are cambric-weaving, cotton-printing, the manufacture of machinery, and wine-growing, Stadtberg being the best variety of wine grown in the neighbourhood of the town. It is a modern, well-built town, with a fine town-hall and well-arranged school buildings. It suffered severely from the disastrous financial enterprise of the National Railway of Switzerland which it promoted. In 1878 it had to sell its property in that line, and from 1881 to 1885 it was in great difficulties in the matter of a loan of nine million francs guaranteed in 1874 by the town, together with three others in Aargau, to that ill-fated railway. As the three co-guarantor towns were unable to pay their share, the whole burden fell on Winterthur, which struggled valiantly to meet its liabilities, and was helped by large loans from the cantonal and federal governments.

The Roman settlement of Vitudurum [Celtic dur, water] was a little north-east of the present town, at the place now known as Ober Winterthur. It was there that in 919 Burkhard II., duke of Alamannia, defeated Rudolf II., king of Transjuran Burgundy. It was refounded in the valley in 1180 by the counts of Kyburg (their castle rises on a hill, 4 m. to the south of the town), who granted it great liberties and privileges, making it the seat of their district court for the Thurgau. In 1264 the town passed with the rest of the Kyburg inheritance to the Habsburgs, who showed very great favour to it, and thus secured its unswerving loyalty. In 1292 the men of Zürich were beaten back in an attempt to take the town. For a short time after the outlawry of Duke Frederick of Austria, it became a free imperial city (1415-1442); but after the conquest of the Thurgau by the Swiss Confederates (1460-1461) Winterthur, which had gallantly stood a nine-weeks' siege, was isolated in the midst of non-Austrian territory. Hence it was sold by the duke to the town of Zürich in 1467, its rights and liberties being reserved, and its history since then has been that of the other lands ruled by Zürich. In 1717-1726 Zürich tried hard by means of heavy dues to crush the rival silk and cotton industries at Winterthur, which, however, on the whole very successfully maintained its ancient rights and liberties against the encroachments of Zürich.

See H. Glitsch, Beiträge z. ältern Winterthurer Verfassungsgeschichte (Winterthur, 1906); J. C. Troll, Geschichte d. Stadt Winterthur (8 vols., 1840-1850).  (W. A. B. C.)