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Switzerland Old History

 

The people in three areas at the foot of the Gotthard Mass joined forces in an oath of union in 1291 to protect themselves from outside abuse and claims. It is regarded as the state of Switzerland. The Union of Edge gradually came to include more cantons (states). After a civil war in the mid-19th century, a new constitution was adopted which established that Switzerland was a federal state with a strong position for the cantons. Subsequently, great stability has characterized the country that managed to stay out of both world wars of the 20th century.

The oldest finds of human life in Switzerland date from the older Stone Age, and from around 4000 BC during the younger Stone Age, it is clear that the people living in the area could use the land.

  • AbbreviationFinder.org: Comprehensive guide to and popular abbreviations of Switzerland, covering history, economy, and social conditions.

The centuries before our time count lived Celtic tribes on Swiss soil. The largest tribe was the Helvetia, which gave the country its Latin name Helvetia. Just before the birth of Christ, the land was part of the Roman Empire. In the 4th century AD it was invaded by Germanic Urdu and Alemans, for later incorporation with the Frankish Empire. At the beginning of the 11th century, the area was conquered by the German-Roman Empire, where various feudal princes competed for influence and territory.

In the 13th century, the Gotthard Pass in the Alps became accessible, an economically and strategically important passage that quickly made the area interesting for powers in the outside world. At the same time, various small princes exploited the population in war and weighed it under taxes. The people of Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden (Nidwalden) next to the Gotthard Mass joined forces in an oath of association in 1291 to protect themselves primarily against the Habsburg family's claims and abuses. This is counted as the state of Switzerland's birth, and on August 1, is celebrated as the country's national day in memory of the unification of the three ancient cantons.

Old History of Switzerland

From this time also comes the legend of Wilhelm Tell, the hero of freedom who, according to the story, was forced by a Habsburg bailiff to shoot an apple from his son's head with a bow and arrow. Tell took revenge by killing the bailiff and starting a peasant uprising. Tell probably never existed, but the Swiss defeated the Habsburgs in several kinds and by the end of the 1400s the Eds League had freed itself from the German-Roman Empire. At the beginning of the 16th century, the Swiss tried to conquer parts of northern Italy, but after a severe defeat at the Battle of Marignano in 1515, they stayed out of major politics. Thoughts of neutrality began to emerge. The Union of Oaths had now grown and included a further ten cantons.

During the wars, the Swiss had made themselves renowned as capable soldiers, and Swiss troops were at one time the largest export commodity of the Confederation. Especially France hired mercenaries in Switzerland. During the French Revolution of 1789, the Swiss Guard is said to have been the last to defend the royal family in Paris. Even today, a remnant of these associations remains in the form of the Swiss Guard, which is the Vatican's military force and protects the Pope.

16th century Switzerland was otherwise characterized by the great men of the Reformation Jean Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli (see Religion). During the Counter-Reformation, when the Reformation was forced back into Europe and the Catholic Church persecuted those who did not have the right faith, many Protestants fled to Switzerland from the Catholic neighboring countries. Among them were skilled craftsmen who gave impetus to, for example, the Swiss watch and metal industry.

In the 18th century a cautious industrialization began with the manufacture of, among other things, cloth and watches. The contradictions were sharpened between the city and the countryside and between different classes of society. French ideas of revolution also gained momentum in Switzerland, with unrest as a result. In 1798, French troops under Napoleon crossed the border into a weakened Confederate. With the help of Swiss Republicans, the centrist-controlled "Helvetian Republic" (Latin Confoedaratio helvetica, which gives the country its international abbreviation CH) was established. Although the oath union was re-established by Napoleon in 1803, Switzerland remained a French sound state until 1813.

At the Vienna Congress of 1814-1815, Switzerland was recognized as an independent state and after centuries of war, the country's neutrality was reaffirmed. The Union of Oaths had now been expanded with, among other things, the French-speaking cantons in the west as well as Ticino and the GraubŁnden. The cantons of the union were given increased autonomy and the right to enter into agreements with other countries, while at the same time severely restricting civil liberties and rights.

But conflicts within and between a number of Catholic and Protestant cantons led in 1847 to civil war between federalists and the liberals who wanted a more centrally governed state. The war ended with victory for the Liberals and a new constitution in 1848, which stated that the country was a federal state even though the cantons retained the decision-making power on a number of issues. Bern became the capital, and in 1874 the revised constitution was in force until 1999.

Subsequently, Switzerland was characterized by exceptional domestic and foreign political stability and continuity. The Liberals dominated politics at the federal level. Towards the end of the century, the labor movement began to grow strongly. However, political polarization never became as great as in the rest of Europe, although a major strike in 1918, as a result of deteriorating living conditions during the First World War, created a deep divide between socialists and bourgeois politicians. During the interwar period, Switzerland was ruled by bourgeois governments while the Socialist Party grew in strength.

Switzerland was out of the two world wars, but the country has been accused of escaping World War II by passively cooperating with Nazi Germany on the Jewish issue and allowing its banks to manage gold stolen by the Germans in occupied countries (see Modern History).

 
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