The Swiss Spectator deals with history and culture of Switzerland, a beautiful and remarkable country with a solid business environment, a relatively well-functioning democracy and rule of law. The Spectator aims to put Switzerland into the perspective of surrounding regions, in particular in Northern Italy (Valley of Aoste, Lombardy and Vinschgau (South Tyrol/Alto Adige), Eastern France (Franche-Comté, Alsace, Haute-Savoie and Savoie), Southern Germany (the Lake Constance (Bodensee) region) and Austria ((Voralberg and the eastern part of Tyrol). These regions have always played an important role in Swiss history and culture and are relevant to having a good understanding of the country. Four periods and subjects are of particular importance. The Roman Empire is covered from the perspective of romanization. The Middle Ages cover the time from the Kingdoms of Burgundy to the coming into being of Switzerland in the thirteenth century. The long nineteenth century covers the period from 1815 until about 1918 and the last subject deals with multicultural and cosmopolitan Switzerland. The rubrics news and newsletters cover these issues. There is also an overview of museums, cultural events and topical projects. Attention is also paid to the relationship between Switzerland and the European Union.
The Roman Empire and Romanization
This section deals with the so-called ‘romanization’ of Switzerland compared to the above regions. These territories have a different development of romanization and the aim is to research the differences and similarities. The concept ‘romanization’ is disputed, but it means in so many words the adoption of Roman culture by the conquered peoples in the occupied territories. Switzerland is of great interest because of its central location and (mountain) roads, rivers and lakes from south to north and from west to east Europe.
The Middle Ages, Arts and State Building
Switzerland experienced the gradual disintegration of the western part of the Roman Empire from the third century and the collapse in the fifth century. The region underwent invasions by German peoples, the rise of Frankish kings, the Carolingian Empire, the Burgundian, Habsburg and Savoie dynasties, The Holy Roman Empire, Christianity, cities, trade, Roman an Gothic art and the beginning of the Swiss nation in the thirteenth century, the time limit of this section.
The long nineteenth century 1815-1918
Switzerland got its present borders after the Napoleonic wars. This was not self-evident, but the result of the Vienna Congress and the choice of the Cantons in 1815. Switzerland succeeded in uniting different economies, regions, histories, cultures and languages. This sections puts Switzerland into the European perspective of industrialization, culture, tourism, parliamentary democracy, massa communication, transport, population growth and education.
Multicultural and Cosmopolitan Switzerland
A special point of attention is the development of German, French and Italian regions of Switzerland. The raeto-Roman culture will also be addressed. The Roman Empire is the starting point of this topic. Was the different romanization in western and eastern Switzerland decisive or rather the rise of powerful German speaking cities and the Holy Roman Empire in the later Middles Ages. What is the role and significance of the French Kingdom, the Duchy of Savoie and the Kingdoms and Duchies of Burgundy for example?
The Europeanization of Switzerland
Europe is a name given by the Greeks to a region or continent that stretches from the Ural in the east to Ireland (or Iceland) in the west, and from Scandinavia in the north to Italy in the south. The societies, cultures and languages of the continent have always been highly diverse. Greeks and Romans … Read more » “The Europeanization of Switzerland”
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The Basler Carnival or Fasnacht
1 November 2018
The Basler Carnival or Fasnacht is a folk festival that dates back to the Middle Ages. Religious, social and political motives underlied the development. A few days a year the politically powerless and socially weaker could express their dissatisfaction and (political) views in the strictly hierarchical society and forget the concerns of daily life for … Read more » “The Basler Carnival or Fasnacht”
Direct democracy means much more than occasionally consulting the public. In a sense, each voting citizen is a politician and politically active, just to different degrees. Direct democracy is an embracive, relatively confusing, sometimes time-consuming, delicately balanced, permanently rotating and constantly changing mechanism, whose purpose is to include in the decision-making process all those who must live with the consequences of the decision. It is of immense value, but only functions when everyone who wants to be a part of it has an idea how it functions. W. Thurnherr, The Swiss Confederation. A Brief Guide 2018. Bern, 2018.