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 Helvetians

The Helvetians (Helvetii in Latin) was the name for some Celtic tribes. They inhabited the Swiss Plateau. The names of some of the tribes are known, the Tigurini, Ambrones, Verbigeni and Tugini. The Rauraci and Suebi inhabited the regions of Basel, Southern Alsace and Baden during the same period. The other tribes in present-day Switzerland … Read more » “The Helvetians”

European Affairs

The Union and the Disunion on the first of August

Switzerland is a small country (the size of the Netherlands) in the middle of Europe. The Swiss Confederation The fascinating history and culture, the (direct) democratic, the economic, monetary, political and multicultural accomplishments are (too) often overlooked and neglected by other (neighbouring) European countries. Switzerland and the centuries of state-building (not always peaceful and neutral) … Read more » “The Union and the Disunion on the first of August”

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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Swiss Bishoprics and their Cultural Heritage

In the centuries between the (slow) dissolution of the Roman Empire (5th century) and the rise of the great Monarchies and dynasties (10th thru12th centuries), the Church and the bishop were the most dominant social, economic and political institutions with secular power. The diocese was the new sovereignty based on an ecclesiastical (diocese) territory, and … Read more » “Swiss Bishoprics and their Cultural Heritage”


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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 Vienna Congress

In 1814 and 1815, the great 19th-century powers (Prussia, Russia, France, Austria and the United Kingdom) sought to restore the European balance and the old regimes. After the end of the Holy Roman Empire in 1806 (dissolved by Napoleon) and the fall of Napoleon (1813), the Continent was not to be dominated by one power … Read more » “The Vienna Congress”

From Zweig to Bodmer

Stefan Zweig (1881 – 1942) was a successful author a collector of literary manuscripts. He managed to amass an eclectic range of texts that reflect his keen interest in the diversity of European literature, a collection of several hundred autograph texts by the authors he most admired. This trove includes rough drafts of famous or … Read more » “From Zweig to Bodmer”

Multicultural and Cosmopolitan Switzerland

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The Aubette in Basel

The Aubette in Strasbourg ? Wrong, the Museum of Art (Kunstmuseum) in Basel. The museum pays attention to Sophie Taeuber (1889-1943). The Swiss born artist (Davos) studied applied arts in St. Gall and Munich. The British Arts and Craft Movement strongly influenced her and she was committed to the manual craftsmanship and the beauty of … Read more » “The Aubette in Basel”

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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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