The Roman Empire and Romanization

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A Roman Road without Borders.

The approximately 400 km long road follows the course of the old Via Romana, which connected the Roman legionnaire’s camp Vindonissa (Windisch, canton Aargau, Switzerland),  with the settlement Grinario (Köngen near Stuttgart in Germany). This road is also designated by the Tabula Peutingeriana, a Roman road map. The original map is lost, but a medieval … Read more » “A Roman Road without Borders.”

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The amphitheatre of Martigny

During the reign of Emperor Claudius (41-54 AD), Martigny, a small village of the Celtic tribe of the Veragres, was turned into a Roman city. When he became emperor, the emperor undertook the conquest of Britain. He made accessible the most direct route to Britain: the Great St Bernard Pass. At the same time, he … Read more » “The amphitheatre of Martigny”

European Affairs

The United Nations of Europe and Switzerland

Introduction The citizens of Switzerland rejected closer (institutional) cooperation with the EU in 1992 (50.3%) and 2001 (71%). In 2015, the Swiss National Bank broke off a partnership with the ECB. In 2016, the government withdrew its application to join the EU. On 26 May, the government of Switzerland broke off negotiations with the EU … Read more » “The United Nations of Europe and Switzerland”

The Middle Ages, Arts and State Building

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Swabians become Swiss

Thurgau was first mentioned as a region in the Duchy of Swabia in the 9th century. After the extinction of the Counts of Kyburg in 1264, the Habsburgs inherited the rights. Medieval Thurgau was not yet a clearly defined region and it included large parts of the present-day cantons of St. Gallen, Zurich and the … Read more » “Swabians become Swiss”

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Habsburg and the Confederation 1386-1499

(Eidgenossenschaft) tried to expand their influence. Lucerne, Zurich, Schwyz, Obwalden, Nidwalden and Glarus undertook raids and war campaigns against the Habsburgs. Leopold III then marched on Lucerne. On 9 July, he met troops from Lucerne and the Waldstätten above Sempach. Little is known about the course of the battle. Only Leopold’s death and defeat are … Read more » “Habsburg and the Confederation 1386-1499”


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The long nineteenth century 1815-1918

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The Freedom of the Swiss

The history of the Freedom of the Swiss by Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) was recently published, two hundred years after the original French publication in 1815, in a German version entitled Die Freiheit der Schweizer. Gibbon is considered the father of modern historiography and is still one of the most important English historians. His best-known work … Read more » “The Freedom of the Swiss”

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The Helvetic Republic and Nidwalden

In January 1798, the French troops invaded the Swiss Confederation (Eidgenossenschaft) from Western Switzerland and the Jura. The territory of the Basel diocese had already been confiscated in the years 1792 and 1797. The Swiss cantons and cities capitulated. On 6 April 1798, the (French) Directorium proclaimed the Helvetic Constitution of the new unitary republic: … Read more » “The Helvetic Republic and Nidwalden”

Building a City Part I

Aldo Mozzini is building a city into the Haus für Kunst in Uri. His city, like every city, will be in flux, it will be built and rebuilt.. The construction of the city takes place in two stages. The first city will be built in part I, in the intermediate phase a major structural change … Read more » “Building a City Part I”

Multicultural and Cosmopolitan Switzerland

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Laser Lightning Rod

In its capacity as national weather and climate service, MeteoSchweiz carries out weather and climate measurements at any time on the entire Swiss territory. The complex topography of the Alps represents a major challenge. The Säntis also has a station (SwissMetNet). Switzerland’s complex alpine topography presents a particular challenge. A new project on the Säntis … Read more » “Laser Lightning Rod”

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The Alemannic Language

The Alemannic Language refers to (German) dialects in the south of the German-speaking region. The area of Lake Constance has never been a linguistic unity (leaving aside the present-day German language and the Latin Language in the Roman period). A distinction is made between Schwäbisch (north of Tuttingen and Immenstadt in Baden-Württemberg), Oberrheinalemannisch (Alsace), Bodenseealemannisch … Read more » “The Alemannic Language”


The Swiss Confederation was a functioning composite polity, but it was not a state and of course, it was not a monarchy. Yet the Confederation embraced territories that retained a feudal-hierarchical structure, albeit only as associated members (the abbacies of Engelberg and St. Gallen, the prince-bishopric of Basel, the county of Neuchâtel). How, therefore, did the Confederation survive?

Before the Burgundian Wars (1474-1477) no one gave the Confederation much chance of survival. Yet these wars did help to create a sense of collective identity manifest not in institutions but in patriotic narratives of Swiss valour and heroism of city-led republic. This vision was shattered in the Swiss wars of religion, but in the end, pragmatism and flexibility ensured that the discord did not lead to disaster. Ultimately, aggression yielded to accommodation. (T. Scott, The Swiss and Their Neighbours 1460-1560. Between Accommodation and Aggression, Oxford 2017).

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