Switzerland History

Switzerland History


Archaeological finds speak for a settlement of today’s Switzerland already in the Paleolithic Age. Findings near La T¨¨ne on Lake Neuchâtel gave the name to the Celtic culture of the younger Iron Age (around the 5th century BC). In the 1st century BC the Helvetians immigrated from southern Germany, the 58th BC. were subjugated by the Romans. The people of the Rhaetians who settled in the eastern Alpine region and whose origins have not been clarified were also subjugated by the Romans (the Romansh ethnic group created the Romans).

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From the 4th century AD Germanic peoples (Alemanni) and Burgundians came to Swiss territory as part of the migration of peoples, the Alemanni mainly settled in the north of the country, the Burgundians in the west. From the 6th century the entire area of ​​today’s Switzerland belonged to the Franconian Empire. Some of the most famous monasteries in Switzerland (eg St. Gallen) date from this period. The Franconian Empire was divided in 843, the Swiss territories were assigned to the Eastern and Middle Kingdom.

Foundation of the Swiss Confederation

From 1033 the area belongs to the “Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation”. Until then, there had been several regional domains. In the 13th century, the opening of the Gotthard Pass (as the shortest connection to Italy, which was still largely under German sovereignty) gave the Swiss regions a new strategic importance. Emperor Friedrich II granted the Uri canton the status of an imperial territory, and 1240 also neighboring Schwyz: This meant that the areas were directly under the German regent, no longer a regional sovereign. Zurich, Bern, Solothurn and Schaffhausen became free imperial cities. In 1273, Rudolf I ascended the German throne from the Habsburg family.After his death in July 1291, the three forest sites of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden merged to form an alliance against the expansive pursuit of the Habsburgs (R¨¹tlischwur).

After the first military successes against the troops of the Habsburgs, the “Eternal Covenant” consolidated and was expanded to include “Lucerne, Zurich, Zug, Glarus and Bern to form the” Covenant of Eight Old Places “. The Habsburgs suffered further defeats at Sempach in 1386 and at Näfels in 1388 when trying to restrict the independence of the Swiss. In the 15th century, other areas and cities joined the Confederation of the Confederates (Aargau, Thurgau, Lower Valais, Freiburg, Solothurn, Graub¨¹nden, Basel, Schaffhausen After the victory over the Roman-German Emperor Maximilian I in 1499 (Swabian War), the Confederation was de facto detached from the German Reich Association. This was only confirmed by international law in the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, which ended the Thirty Years’ War.

After the defeat of a Swiss mercenary army against French troops near Marignano (1515), the Confederation decided to maintain neutrality, the highest maxim of Swiss foreign policy ever since.

Reformation and counter-reformation

The 16th century was marked by the Reformation and Counter-Reformation: in 1523, the program of the cleric Ulrich Zwingli for the reform of the state church was adopted (including the dissolution of the monasteries, the abolition of the images of saints). Many cities followed the example of Zurich, others used arms against the Reformation. In the Kappeler Wars (1529-31) the Protestants succumbed to the Catholics, in the “denominational peace” it was decided that each canton should clarify for itself the question of the religious decision (the municipalities had to bow to the decision of the respective sovereign). Switzerland became an important center of the reformist movement, Zwinglians and Calvinists (Johannes Calvin enforced a Protestant church order in Bern) founded a religious community in 1566. The conflict between Catholics and Protestants continued in the Vilmer Wars (1656, 1712); the reformed cantons of Zurich and Bern were able to take a leading position within the Confederation after their victory.

Not only questions of faith led to wars, but also social tensions between the urban patricians and the peasants in the lowlands, who rebelled against the political patronage of the cities (Swiss Peasants’ War 1653). Despite all the conflicts, the Confederation of the Confederation remained as a loose network of the individual cantons, whereby these remained largely independent. Each canton had its own political leadership and capital.

French occupation and subsequent years

That changed in 1798 after the French occupied the country. According to AbbreviationFinder, the promotionalist structure was dissolved by the newly launched “Helvetic Republic” based on the French model. There were also supporters of the new form of government (Unitarians) within Switzerland, while the so-called federalists campaigned for the traditional form of government of the independent cantons. In 1803, under Napoleon Bonaparte, France converted Switzerland back into a form of government. The new cantons of Graub¨¹nden, St. Gallen, Aargau, Thurgau, Vaud (Vaud) and Ticino (Ticino) now belong to the thirteen old cantons. After the final defeat of the French against the Allied Powers Great Britain, Prussia, At the Vienna Congress in 1814/15, Austria and Russia recognized the statehood of the “Swiss Confederation” under international law by the major European powers, as well as its declared “permanent neutrality”. Wallis (Valais), Neuchâtel (Neuchâtel) and Geneva (Gen¨¨ve) were added as new cantons. On the whole, Switzerland had its current shape.

The period that followed was marked by the conflict between liberal and conservative forces, which culminated in the Special War in 1847. The liberal-anticlerical forces (the so-called “free-spirited”) won, a new constitution was adopted, which essentially corresponds to today’s. The loose confederation of states was transformed into a federal state with central organs (central government in Bern, federal court, federal assembly, federal council). Furthermore, civil equality was laid down and universal and equal voting rights for men (it was only in 1990 that universal and equal voting rights in all cantons of Switzerland also existed for women).

The rapidly progressing industrialization began in Switzerland in the second half of the 19th century, and the Swiss plateau became the country’s economic center. Constitutional changes (1874) anchored the traditional forms of direct democracy (referendums) in Switzerland in the constitution; even today, relevant laws or political decisions can only be enforced after a referendum. After a general strike by the newly industrialized workforce, to which social democracy had called in 1918, social reforms such as the 48-hour week were introduced.

The 20th century

Even in the First World War, the Swiss Confederation was able to maintain its neutrality, which made the country ideal as a seat for international organizations (the International Red Cross had been based in Geneva since 1864). In 1920 the League of Nations met for the first time in Geneva, the declared aim of which was to “promote peaceful cooperation between the nations”. A total of 45 countries took part in the conferences, but key countries such as the USA and the Soviet Union were missing.

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Switzerland also remained neutral in the Second World War, but had to make concessions to the Axis powers (restrictions on press freedom, right of asylum). When the Charter of the United Nations (UN) was signed in San Francisco in June 1945 as the successor to the League of Nations, Switzerland refused to join because of its neutral status, but worked in UN humanitarian sub-organizations (some of which are based in Switzerland)) With. In 2002, the majority of the Swiss finally voted in a popular vote to join the UN. Within Europe, Switzerland became a member of the “European Free Trade Association” (EFTA) in 1960, the Council of Europe in 1963 and concluded a free trade agreement with the European Community in 1972. The Swiss people repeatedly spoke out against the country’s accession to the EC (most recently in 1992). In March 2001, over 70% of Swiss voted against the “Yes to Europe” citizens’ initiative, which called for Switzerland to become a member of the European Union. In 2005, however, at least accession to the Schengen Agreement and thus the – limited – reduction of border controls by the population was approved; accession took place in 2008.

Since the end of the 1950s, a coalition of the four relevant parties (Free Democratic Party FDP, Social Democrats SPS, Christian Democrats CVP, Swiss People’s Party SVP) formed a sound domestic political basis. These four parties shared the seven offices of the Federal Council in a ratio of 2: 2: 2: 1 (so-called magic formula). At the beginning of the 1970s, universal suffrage and voting rights for women were decided at federal level (only in 1990 in all cantons). The relationship between the distribution of ministerial positions among the parties remained unchanged even after the election results in October 1999, when the right-wing national SVP became the strongest party in the National Council elections for the first time. After an increasingly emotional election campaign, the People ‘ s Party and the Greens emerged from the parliamentary elections in October 2007, while the political center – Social Democrats and Free Democrats – suffered losses. Contrary to the custom, the incumbent Minister of Justice of the SVP, Christoph Blocher, was not re-elected when the Federal Council was elected in December 2007; The Federal Assembly elected the liberal SVP politician Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf to his office. Since this was done against the will of the SVP, it excluded its two federal councilors from the parliamentary group and went into opposition. This broke the model of concordance democracy that had been tried and tested for decades.

The global financial crisis of 2007/2008 particularly affected the major banks UBS and Cr¨¦dit Suisse in Switzerland. The world’s largest reinsurance company Swiss Re also had to announce depreciation of CHF 1.2 billion.

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