Switzerland History

By | January 8, 2023

Switzerland – national flag

Switzerland National Flag

The flag was confirmed as the Swiss flag in 1848 and officially introduced in 1889, but a white cross on a red background is already known from the 1300’s. as a brand for Edsforbundet. The basis of the flag is the flag of the canton of Schwyz. Apart from the Vatican City flag, it is the world’s only square national flag. As suitcase flags on ships on e.g. Lake Constance and the Rhine have flagged the proportions 2: 3.

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Switzerland – prehistory

According to a2zgov, Old Paleolithic finds are poorly represented, while several Middle Paleolithic sites are known. From the younger Paleolithic culture Magdalénia are known settlements where bone and roof tools with carved motifs are preserved; of great beauty is an engraved reindeer from Kesslerloch. The Mesolithic is well represented. The oldest Neolithic find is Castel Grande in Ticino with two square houses from 5400-5000 BC. From approximately 4200 BC pile-building villages are known by the lake shores, where building elements and organic material in the humid surroundings are well preserved. These are villages with rows of square houses, sometimes surrounded by palisades and paved with beams. They existed through the Neolithic and the battle-ax culture, as documented at Zurich, with a break of 900 years in bell goblet culture and oldest Bronze Age and then through the Bronze Age, approximately 1600-800 BC.

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At the beginning of the Iron Age, 800-700 BC, these settlements ceased due to increased rainfall and elevated water levels. From the Hallstatt culture, 750-450 BC, princely tombs with carriages and prestigious equipment as well as high-lying fortifications such as Wittnauer Horn are known. La Tène culture, approximately 450-50 BC, is characterized by many grave finds, but also by sacrificial finds in water such as at La Tène, Cornaux and Port. Seven gold rings from approximately 300 BC from Erstfeld adorned with mythological creatures testify to sacrifices on mountain slopes. Around 100 BC. actual fortified cities arose, the so-called oppida (see oppidum), eg present-day Bern and Geneva; best studied is Basel Münsterhügel with large gates and murus Gallicus. On the other side of the Rhine lay shrines surrounded by square ramparts, where sacrificial gold rings and shafts with bones have been found.

Switzerland – history

I 100-tfKr. forced the Celtic Hell Tigers into present-day Switzerland; the Latin names for the area, Helvetia, are derived from them.

The oldest story

The area was inhabited by Celts, especially Helvetians, and Raetiers, before it came under Roman control. At the Battle of Bibracte in 58 BC. Julius Caesar conquered western Switzerland. Later, the area became part of the province of Germania Superior. In 15 BC. the eastern part of the country was incorporated into the Roman Empire as the province of Raetia, and in the following centuries the Romans built cities and roads in the area.

In the 300’s and 400’s. immigrant Germanic Alemanni pushed the original residents back into northeastern Switzerland; in western Switzerland, the immigrant Burgundians were assimilated with the population, which is why French is the dominant language in western Switzerland; in the southeastern part of the area, the Rhaeto-Romance population managed to preserve its culture and language, ie. Rhaeto-Romance and Italian, and in the 500-t. present-day Switzerland became part of the Frankish Empire.


approximately In 1030, the area fell to the German-Roman Empire, and it then got a feudal structure, where the Swiss were subject to various rival secular and ecclesiastical feudal lords, among others. the Habsburgs. The development met with opposition from a number of free cities and peasant communities, which in 1291 founded an “eternal union”, later called the Swiss Confederation. The alliance was especially opposed to the Habsburgs’ expansionist policy under the German king Rudolf I. The Swiss built up a peasant army armed with spears and halberds to take up the fight with the feudal lords. In 1315, a Habsburg knight army was defeated at the Battle of Morgarten, after which several towns and cantons joined the Confederation, consolidating its power by victories at the Battle of Sempach against Leopold III (1351-86) in 1386, in the Burgundian War 1476-77 and in the Swabian War in 1499. Formally, the alliance remained part of the German-Roman Empire until the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, but after the peace treaty with Emperor Maximilian I in 1499, this no longer played a role in practice.

At the end of the Middle Ages, Edsforbundet included 13 cantons and a number of cities and areas that were under the association’s protection, among others. Geneva. In addition, there were a number of land areas that were either subject to the individual cantons or were jointly controlled by the cantons. The common affairs of the Confederation were discussed at a Bundestag, but otherwise the cantons were self-governing and generally dominated by a small aristocratic elite. Pga. The military success of the Confederacy was highly valued by Swiss mercenaries in the 15th and 16th centuries, and foreign military service became an important source of income for many Swiss, especially from the economically backward forest cantons, see Swiss Guards.

Reformation and counter-reformation

From the beginning of 1500-t. Basel was home to a number of the great figures of humanism, for example Erasmus of Rotterdam lived from 1514 on several occasions in the city. 1523-25 ​​Zwingli carried out the Reformation in Zurich, but as he was more radical than Luther, the Reformation movement soon split between Lutherans and Reformed. In the years that followed, the Reformation was carried out in other cities, including Basel, Bern, and Geneva, while the conservative forest cantons, Uri, Lucerne, and others, remained Catholic. This denominational split led to two civil wars in resp. 1529 and 1531. The latter was settled at the Battle of Kappel, where the Catholics prevailed and Zwingli was killed. After the Peace of Kappel, denominational issues were left to the individual cantons, whereby the Catholics succeeded in putting an end to the further spread of the Reformation. From 1536, Calvin led the Protestants, and he sought to transform Geneva into a Christian model society, making the city an ideal for other Reformed people. The split between the Protestants endedConfessio Helvetica posterior in 1566, when Calvinists and Zwinglians joined together in an alliance; see Swiss confessions. As part of the Counter – Reformation, the Catholic cantons formed in 1586 the Golden League, from 1655 the Borromean League.

Since the Reformation, confessional issues have several times resulted in armed conflicts in Switzerland and made it impossible for the cantons to agree on a common foreign policy, which has laid the foundations for the policy of neutrality characteristic of Switzerland. Thus, the Confederacy largely succeeded in keeping Switzerland out of the Thirty Years’ War, and in 1648 the Peace of Westphalia recognized Swiss neutrality.

1700-t. and the Hellish Republic

1700-t. was characterized by economic growth and the emergence of a home industry within especially textile and watch manufacturing, and within the cultural life provided Pestalozzi and Rousseau make significant contributions to the Enlightenment. Inspired by the French Revolution, a democratic movement arose, and in 1798 internal unrest gave France the opportunity to intervene and transform the Confederacy into a centralist Hellish Republic. Disputes between liberal centralists and conservative federalists, however, again gave Napoleon the opportunity to intervene with the so-called Mediation Act in 1803, whereby the Confederacy was restored. During the rest of the Napoleonic Wars, Switzerland remained a French sound state, and Geneva, Valais and Neuchâtel were incorporated into France, and Switzerland had to contribute 12,000 men to Napoleon’s Russian campaigns.

Restoration and revolution

At the Congress of Vienna in 1814-15, Switzerland’s independence was recognized, the great powers guaranteed the country’s neutrality, and Geneva, Valais became Swiss again. For Neuchâtel – German Neuenburg – special circumstances prevailed. It had been the personal property of the Prussian king since 1707, but in 1814 became the Prussian principality and at the same time included in the oath of allegiance as the 21st canton. In the year of the revolution of 1848, the canton was separated from Prussia and at the same time gained a republican constitution.

The constitution of 1815 confirmed the independence of the now 22 cantons, but did not change the balance of power in the individual cantons; the former conservative rulers continued to have a monopoly on political power. Industrialization, however, strengthened the liberal movement and its political program of democratization, centralization, and limitation of the power of the clergy. The political antagonisms resulted in 1845 in a short-lived civil war between the liberal and conservative cantons, after the conservative Catholic cantons in 1845 had formed a special alliance (Sonderbund). The liberal forces prevailed, after which a constitutional reform became possible.

The federal state

The Constitution was adopted in 1848. Switzerland had hitherto been a federation of independent states, but was now transformed into a federal state with the Federal Assembly in Bern. In 1874, the constitution was revised under the impression of the special democratic constitutions adopted in several cantons. The constitution was an expression of a moderate centralization and had intended to stifle the influence of the Catholic Church, and therefore gave rise to violent strife between church and state and between the central government and the Catholic cantons.

In Zurich, Basel, Geneva and St. Gallen, a significant chemical industry emerged, and in the early 1900-t. was the working class in rapid growth. Central to the economic development was especially the expansion of the railway network and the establishment of the tunnels at Sankt Gotthard and Simplon. In the Alpine regions, the tourism industry grew.

Swiss neutrality during World War I and II

During World War I, Switzerland managed to remain neutral, even though the country was economically dependent on both Germany due to significant exports and the Entente due to imports of raw materials and grain. The economic hardships of the last years of the war led to a radicalization of the working class and major strikes in 1918. This development brought the Liberals and the Conservatives together, and only in 1943 did a Social Democrat get a seat in the Federal Council. In the 1920’s, extensive social reforms were implemented. The economic crisis of the 1930’s was met with a marked deflationary policy, and a political right turn of the middle class and the peasants took place. Switzerland was also neutral during World War II, but had to make certain concessions to Germany. Pga. fear of attacks from Germany and Italy, numerous troops were mobilized throughout the war,

Immediately before the war, many European Jews set up accounts in Swiss banks; after the war, many banks were very reluctant to provide information on these dormant accounts, which is why relatives of the deceased were not paid their receivables. Following strong foreign pressure, in 1997 Switzerland published the names of approximately 5500 holders of dormant accounts to a total value of approximately 49 mio. dollars.

Since 1945

After World War II, Switzerland maintained its strict policy of neutrality and therefore did not become a member of the UN, but joined a number of UN sub-institutions. In 1960 Switzerland became a member of EFTA, in 1966 of GATT, and in 1972 the country got a special agreement with the EC. While attempts by political parties to integrate the country into international economic cooperation in particular have met with strong popular opposition, the country has entered into a partnership agreement with NATO in 1997. In terms of domestic policy, Switzerland has been characterized by political stability and broad coalition governments. However, the creation of the predominantly Catholic canton of Jura, which was separated from Bern in 1979, shows that cultural and religious conditions continue to be a source of conflict. Another sensitive issue in the political debate has been women’s rights;

The controversy over the withholding of money by Swiss banks, which has been one of the victims of Nazi persecution, culminated in 1998 with the creation of a fund to pay out a total of 1.25 billion. dollars to holocaust victims. Payments began in 2001. A referendum in 2001 on the opening of accession negotiations with the EU showed continued skepticism about participation in international associations, with 76.7% of voters voting against joining the EU. However, Switzerland’s traditionally strict policy of neutrality has come under increasing pressure over the years, and in a referendum in 2002, the Swiss voted for accession to the UN, and in September s.å. became a member of Switzerland.

In the 2003 election, the immigrant and EU-critical party SVP won almost 28% of the vote and became the largest party. SVP got another seat in the Federal Council. This changed the balance that had characterized Swiss politics since 1959. SVP managed to maintain its position in the 2007 elections.