1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Zürich (town)
ZÜRICH (Fr. Zurich; Ital. Zurigo), the capital of the Swiss canton of the same name. It is the most populous, the most important, and on the whole the finest town in Switzerland, and till 1848 was practically the capital of the Swiss Confederation. It is built on both banks of the Limmat (higher up called Linth) as it issues from the lake of Zürich, and also of its tributary, the Sihl, that joins it just below the town. That portion of the town which lies on the right bank of the Limmat is called the "Grosse Stadt" and that on the left bank the "Kleine Stadt." Till 1893 the central portion of the town on either bank of the Limmat formed the "city" and ruled the outlying communes or townships that had sprung up around it. But at that time the eleven outer districts (including Aussersihl, the workmen's quarter on the left bank of the Sihl) or suburbs were incorporated with the town, which is now governed by a town council of 125 members (one to every 1200 inhabitants), and an executive of 9 members, both chosen direct by a popular vote. Much land has been rescued from the lake, and is the site of fine quays, stately public buildings, and splendid private villas. The older quarters are still crowded. But the newer quarters stretch up the slope of the Zürichberg (above the right bank of the Limmat) while the fine Bahnhofstrasse (extending from the railway station to the lake) has the best shops and is in the neighbourhood of the more important public buildings.
Zürich has always been wealthy and prosperous. It has increased enormously, as is shown by the following figures. Its population in 1900 (including the eleven suburbs above named) was 150,703, while (without these) in 1888 it was 94,129; in 1880, 78,345; in 1870, 58,657; in 1860, 44,978; and in 1850 only 35,483. Of the inhabitants in 1900 no fewer than 43,761 (as against 20,928 in 1888 and 3155 in 1850) were not Swiss citizens, Germans numbering 31,125, Italians 5350, Austrians 4210, Russians 683, French 652, British subjects 157, and citizens of the United States 232. In 1900 there were in the town 140,803 German-speaking persons, 5100 Italian-speaking, 2586 French-speaking, ana 415 Romonsch-speaking. In 1888 the corresponding figures were 90,500, 1135, 1320, and 148. In 1900 the town numbered 102,794 Protestants, 43,655 “Catholics” (Roman or “Old”) and 2713 Jews. In 1888 the religious figures were 70,970, 20,571 and 1221 respectively, while in 1850 the numbers were 32,763, 2664 and 56. The international character of the town has thus become much more marked. This is partly due to the immigration of many foreign workmen, and partly to the arrival of Russian and Polish exiles. Both have added a turbulent cosmopolitan element to the town, in which the Socialist party is strong, and is increasing in power and influence, even in matters concerned with civic government.
Of the old buildings the finest and most important is the Gross Münster (or Propstei), on the right bank of the Limmat. This was originally the church of the king's tenants, and in one of the chapels the bodies of Felix, Regula and Exuperantius, the patron saints of the city, were buried, the town treasury being formerly kept above this chapel. The present building was erected at two periods (c. 1090-1150 and c. 1225-1300), the high altar having been consecrated in 1278. The towers were first raised above the roof at the end of the 15th century and took their present form in 1779. The chapter consisted of twenty-four secular canons; it was reorganized at the Reformation (1526), and suppressed in 1832. On the site of the canons' houses stands a girls' school (opened 1853), but the fine Romanesque cloisters (12th and 13th centuries) still remain. There is a curious figure of Charlemagne in a niche on one of the towers; to him is attributed the founding or reform of the chapter. On the left bank of the Limmat stands the other great church of Zürich, the Frau Münster (or Abtei), founded for nuns in 853, by Louis the German. The high altar was consecrated in 1170; but the greater part of the buildings are of the 13th and 14th centuries. It was in this church that the relics of the three patron saints of the town were preserved till the Reformation, and it was here that the burgomaster Waldmann was buried in 1489. There were only twelve nuns of noble family, comparatively free from the severer monastic vows; the convent was suppressed in 1524. Of the other old churches may be mentioned St Peter's, the oldest parish church, though the present buildings date in part from the 13th century only (much altered in the early 18th century), and formerly the meeting-place of the citizens; the Dominican church (13th century), in the choir of which the cantonal library of 80,000 volumes has been stored since 1873; the church of the Austin friars (14th century), now used by the Old Catholics, and the Wasserkirche. The last-named church is on the site of a pagan holy place, where the patron saints of the city were martyred; since 1631 it has housed the Town Library, the largest in Switzerland, which contains 170,000 printed volumes and 4500 MSS. (among these being letters of Zwingli, Bullinger and Lady Jane Grey), as well as a splendid collection of objects from the lake dwellings of Switzerland. The building itself was erected from 1479 to 1484, and near it is a statue of Zwingli, erected in 1885. The existing town-hall dates from 1698, while the gild houses were mostly rebuilt in the 18th century. One of the most magnificent of the newer buildings is the Swiss National Museum, behind the railway station. This museum, which was opened in 1898, contains a wonderful collection of Swiss antiquities (especially medieval) and art treasures of all kinds, some of which are placed in rooms of the actual date, removed from various ancient buildings. There are some fine old fountains (the oldest dating back to 1568). There are several good bridges, Roman traces being seen in the case of the Niederbrücke (now called the Rathausbrücke). The mound of the Lindenhof was formerly crowned by the king's house, which disappeared in the 13th century, and the hillock was planted with limes as early as 1422.
The town is noted for its numerous clubs and societies, and is the intellectual capital of German-speaking Switzerland. Cotton-spinning and the manufacture of machinery are two leading industries, but by far the most important is the silk-weaving industry. This flourished in Zürich in the 12th and 13th centuries, but disappeared about 1420; it was revived by the Protestant exiles (such as the Muralti and Orelli families) from Locarno (1555) and by the Huguenot refugees from France (1682 and 1685). The value of the silk annually exported (mainly to France, the United States and England) is estimated at over three millions sterling. Zürich is the banking centre of Switzerland. Besides the excellent primary and secondary schools, there are the Cantonal School, including a gymnasium and a technical side (opened 1842), and a high school for girls (opened 1875). The Cantonal University and the Federal Polytechnic School are housed in the same building, but have no other connexion. The university was opened in 1833, no doubt as a successor to the ancient chapter school at the Gross Münster, said to date back to Charlemagne's time — hence its name the Carolinum — reorganized at the Reformation, and suppressed in 1832. The Polytechnic School, opened in 1855, includes seven main sections (industrial chemistry, industrial mechanics, engineering, training of scientific and mathematical teachers, architecture, forestry and agriculture, and the military sciences), besides a general philosophical and political science department. The Polytechnic School has good collections of botanical specimens and of engravings. Near it is the observatory (1542 ft.). There are also in Zürich many institutions for special branches of education — e.g. veterinary surgery, music, industrial art, silk-weaving, &c.
The earliest inhabitants of the future site of Zürich were the lake dwellers. The Celtic Helvetians had a settlement on the Lindenhof when they were succeeded by the Romans, who established a custom station here for goods going to and coming from Italy; during their rule Christianity was introduced early in the 3rd century by Felix and Regula, with whom Exuperantius was afterwards associated. The district was later occupied by the Alamanni, who were conquered by the Franks.
The name Zürich is possibly derived from the Celtic dur (water). It is first mentioned in 807 under the form “Turigus,” then in 853 as “Turegus.” The true Latinized form is Turicum, but the false form Tigurum was given currency by Glareanus and held its ground from 1512 to 1748. It is not till the 9th century that we find the beginnings of the Teutonic town of Zürich, which arose from the union of four elements: (1) the royal house and castle on the Lindenhof, with the king's tenants around, (2) the Gross Münster, (3) the Frau Münster, (4) the community of “free men” (of Alamannian origin) on the Zürichberg. Similarly we can distinguish four stages in the constitutional development of the town: (i.) the gradual replacing (c. 1250) of the power of the abbess by that (real, though not nominal) of the patricians, (ii.) the admittance of the craft gilds (1336) to a share with the patricians in the government of the town, (iii.) the granting of equal political rights (1831) to the country districts, hitherto ruled as subject lands by the burghers, and (iv.) the reception as burghers of the numerous immigrants who had settled in the town (town schools opened in 1860, full incorporation in 1893).
The Frankish kings had special rights over their tenants, were the protectors of the two churches, and had jurisdiction over the free community. In 870 the sovereign placed his powers over all four in the hands of a single official (the Reichsvogt), and the union was still further strengthened by the wall built round the four settlements in the 10th century as a safeguard against Saracen marauders and feudal barons. The “Reichsvogtei” passed to the counts of Lenzburg (1063-1173), and then to the dukes of Zähringen (extinct 1218). Meanwhile the abbess of the Benedictine Frau Münster had been acquiring extensive rights and privileges over all the inhabitants, though she never obtained the criminal jurisdiction. The town flourished greatly in the 12th and 13th centuries, the silk trade being introduced from Italy. In 1218 the “Reichsvogtei” passed back into the hands of the king, who appointed one of the burghers as his deputy, the town thus becoming a free imperial city under the nominal rule of a distant sovereign. The abbess in 1234 became a princess of the empire, but power rapidly passed from her to the council which she had originally named to look after police, &c., but which came to be elected by the burghers, though the abbess was still “the lady of Zürich.” This council (all powerful since 1304) was made up of the representatives of certain knightly and rich mercantile families (the “patricians”), who excluded the craftsmen from all share in the government, though it was to these last that the town was largely indebted for its rising wealth and importance.
In October 1291 the town made an alliance with Uri and Schwyz, and in 1292 failed in a desperate attempt to seize the Habsburg town of Winterthur. After that Zürich began to display strong Austrian leanings, which characterize much of its later history. In 1315 the men of Zürich fought against the Swiss Confederates at Morgarten. The year 1336 marks the admission of the craftsmen to a share in the town government, which was brought about by Rudolf Brun, a patrician. Under the new constitution (the main features of which lasted till 1798) the Little Council was made up of the burgomaster and thirteen members from the “Constafel” (which included the old patricians and the wealthiest burghers) and the thirteen masters of the craft gilds, each of the twenty-six holding office for six months. The Great Council of 200 (really 212) members consisted of the Little Council, plus 78 representatives each of the Constafel and of the gilds, besides 3 members named by the burgomaster. The office of burgomaster was created and given to Brun for life. Out of this change arose a quarrel with one of the branches of the Habsburg family, in consequence of which Brun was induced to throw in the lot of Zürich with the Swiss Confederation (1st May 1351). The double position of Zürich as a free imperial city and as a member of the Everlasting League was soon found to be embarrassing to both parties (see Switzerland). In 1373 and again in 1393 the powers of the Constafel were limited and the majority in the executive secured to the craftsmen, who could then aspire to the burgomastership. Meanwhile the town had been extending its rule far beyond its walls — a process which began in the 14th, and attained its height in the 15th century (1362-1467). This thirst for territorial aggrandizement brought about the first civil war in the Confederation (the “Old Zürich War,” 1436-50), in which, at the fight of St Jacob on the Sihl (1443), under the walls of Zürich, the men of Zürich were completely beaten and their burgomaster Stüssi slain. The purchase of the town of Winterthur from the Habsburgs (1467) marks the culmination of the territorial power of the city. It was to the men of Zürich and their leader Hans Waldmann that the victory of Morat (1476) was due in the Burgundian war; and Zürich took a leading part in the Italian campaign of 1512-15, the burgomaster Schmid naming the new duke of Milan (1512). No doubt her trade connexions with Italy led her to pursue a southern policy, traces of which are seen as early as 1331 in an attack on the Val Leventina and in 1478, when Zürich men were in the van at the fight or Giornico, won by a handful of Confederates over 12,000 Milanese troops.
In 1400 the town obtained from the Emperor Wenceslaus the Reichsvogtei, which carried with it complete immunity from the empire and the right of criminal jurisdiction. As early as 1393 the chief power had practically fallen into the hands of the Great Council, and in 1498 this change was formally recognized.
This transfer of all power to the gilds had been one of the aims of the burgomaster Hans Waldmann (1483-89), who wished to make Zürich a great commercial centre. He also introduced many financial and moral reforms, and subordinated the interests of the country districts to those of the town. He practically ruled the Confederation, and under him Zürich became the real capital of the League. But such great changes excited opposition, and he was overthrown and executed. His main ideas were embodied, however, in the constitution of 1498. by which the patricians became the first of the gilds, and which remained in force till 1798; some special rights were also given to the subjects in country districts. It was the prominent part taken by Zürich in adopting and propagating (against the strenuous opposition of the Constafel) the principles of the Reformation (the Frau Münster being suppressed in 1524) which finally secured for it the lead in the Confederation (see Switzerland and Zwingli).
The environs of Zürich are famous in military history on account of the two battles of 1799. In the first battle (4th June) the French under Masséna on the defensive, were attacked by the Austrians under the Archduke Charles, Masséna retiring behind the Limmat before the engagement had reached a decisive stage. The second and far more important battle took place on the 25th and 26th of September. Masséna, having forced the passage of the Limmat, attacked and totally defeated the Russians and their Austrian allies under Korsakov's command. (See French Revolutionary Wars.)
In the 17th and 18th centuries a distinct tendency becomes observable in the town government to limit power to the actual holders. Thus the country districts were consulted for the last time in 1620 and 1640; and a similar breach of the charters of 1489 and 1531 (by which the consent of these districts was required for the conclusion of important alliances, war and peace, and might be asked for as to other matters) occasioned disturbances in 1777. The council of 200 came to be largely chosen by a small committee of the members of the gilds actually sitting in the council—by the constitution of 1713 it consisted of 50 members of the Little Council (named for a fixed term by the Great Council), 18 members named by the Constafel, and 144 selected by the 12 gilds, these 162 (forming the majority) being co-opted for life by those members of the two councils who belonged to the gild to which the deceased member himself had belonged. Early in the 18th century a determined effort was made to crush by means of heavy duties the flourishing rival silk trade in Winterthur. It was reckoned that about 1650 the number of privileged burghers was 9000, while their rule extended over 170,000 persons. The first symptoms of active discontent appeared later among the dwellers by the lake, who founded in 1794 a club at Stäfa and claimed the restoration of the liberties of 1489 and 1531, a movement which was put down by force of arms in 1795. The old system of government perished in Zürich, as elsewhere in Switzerland, in February 1798, and under the Helvetic constitution the country districts obtained political liberty. The cantonal constitution was rather complicated, and under it the patrician party obtained a small working majority. That constitution was meant to favour the town as against the country districts. But under the cantonal constitution of 1814 matters were worse still, for the town (10,000 inhab.) had 130 representatives in the Great Council, while the country districts (200,000 inhab.) had only 82. A great meeting at Uster on the 22nd of November 1830 demanded that two-thirds of the members in the Great Council should be chosen by the country districts; and in 1831 a new constitution was drawn up on these lines, the town getting 71 representatives as against 141 allotted to the country districts, though it was not till 1837-38 that the town finally lost the last relics of the privileges which it had so long enjoyed as compared with the country districts. From 1803 to 1814 Zürich was one of the six "directorial cantons," its chief magistrate becoming for a year the chief magistrate of the Confederation, while in 1815 it was one of the three cantons, the government of which acted for two years as the Federal government when the diet was not sitting. In 1833 Zürich tried hard to secure a revision of the Federal constitution and a strong central government. The town was the Federal capital for 1830-40, and consequently the victory of the Conservative party there in 1839 (due to indignation at the nomination by the Radical government to a theological chair in the university of D. F. Strauss, the author of the famous Life of Jesus) caused a great stir throughout Switzerland. But when in 1845 the Radicals regained power at Zürich, which was again the Federal capital for 1845-46, that town took the lead in opposing the Sonderbund cantons. It of course voted in favour of the Federal constitutions of 1848 and of 1874, while the cantonal constitution of 1869 was remarkably advanced for the time. The enormous immigration from the country districts into the town from the "thirties" onwards created an industrial class which, though "settled" in the town, did not possess the privileges of burghership, and consequently had no share in the municipal government. First of all in 1860 the town schools, hitherto open to "settlers" only on paying high fees, were made accessible to all, next in 1875 ten years' residence ipso facto conferred the right of burghership, while in 1893 the eleven outlying districts (largely peopled by working folk) were incorporated with the town proper. The town and canton continued to be on the Liberal, or Radical, or even Socialistic side, while from 1848 to 1907 they claimed 7 of the 37 members of the Federal executive or Bundesrat, these 7 having filled the presidential chair of the Confederation in twelve years, no canton surpassing this record. Frem 1833 onwards the walls and fortifications of Zürich were little by little pulled down, thus affording scope for the extension and beautification of the town.