The Interesting Early History Of Switzerland

Switzerland, a neutral country in the middle of the mountains with beautiful views and fantastic history. It is a special country with 4 different languages spoken there and a special political system that is praised all over the world. Yet, Switzerland was not always as it is today. The country has endured many wars and crises over the course of history.

Switzerland in Ancient Times

Of course, where Switzerland now lies has not always been a federal empire; in prehistoric times it was a landscape buried in snow, ice, and other natural phenomena. Groups of prehistoric people did live there but not much is known about them.

Life in the Alps was tough and difficult for outsiders to reach so much of all the history that took place in the mountain landscape has been lost.

What we know of the Swiss area is that in ancient times groups lived there and eventually merged into the Roman Empire. These times also saw the creation of many mountain trails that we still use today.

It was also during this time that the Romansh began to develop in this area. A small group of people still speak this language today in southeastern Switzerland.

Switzerland in the Middle Ages

Toward the end of the Roman Empire era, Switzerland became increasingly Christian. As in the rest of Europe, this gave rise to many churches and sacred sites. The countries’ current rulers wanted to make their people Christian and were actively taking care of this.

In the early Middle Ages, there was not yet a federal and unified Switzerland. Part of the Swiss territory belonged to the Franks and another part became part of that which we now call Germany.

The Habsburg family also had a lot of influence in Switzerland, they had many fortresses there and made sure that new territories were always added to their country.

Switzerland today consists of 26 Cantons, however, this was not the case in the beginning. When the Swiss territory fell under the Habsburg dynasty a number of areas decided to fight for their freedom and thus a number of “primal cantons” were created.

They wanted to be able to act so strongly against the Habsburgs. The cantons that were part of this group are probably Uri and Schwyz. Later other cantons such as Zurich and Lucerne joined this group. This would be one of the earliest forms in which federal Switzerland would appear.

By Shepherd, William R.: Historical Atlas. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1923 | Public Domain | Via Wikipedia

Just before the year 1500, several wars were fought with the Burgundians, and by the beginning of the 16th century AD, Switzerland officially became independent of the Holy Roman Empire.

The Swiss Guard (Still Exists)

The swiss guard was created in 1506 by the then-elected pope, Julius the second in order to protect the Vatican. Even then, the Switzers played a neutral role within Europe.

In modern history, the Swiss Guard has been dismantled several times but actually returned each time. Since 1814 it has existed continuously under the direction of the Vatican.

The Pope is officially commander-in-chief of this team.

By Willem van de Poll — | CC0 | Via Wikipedia

The Swiss Constitution

It was not until 1848 that the Swiss confederation had 1 constitution. All the misery of the French Revolution was behind them and the Swiss had everything back on track.

But then war broke out between the liberal cantons and the more conservative ones. This war was won by the parties that fought for a federal Switzerland and so in 1948, the Confederation of Switzerland came into being with a federal constitution.

Originally Published on Medium by me (Bryan Dijkhuizen)

Sources & References

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