Period III newsletter

Arlesheim. Birseck castle, Ermitage, Cathedral. Photo/Foto: TES.

Arlesheim and the Congress of Vienna

The village of Arlesheim (Canton of Basel-Landschaft) is best known for the English Garden built in 1785, the Ermitage, and the cathedral inaugurated in 1681. Arlesheim reads like a Swiss history book. The medieval castles of Birseck and Reichenstein are still prominently visible on the surrounding hilltops as a symbol of their strategic importance in this period. The cathedral in a village of a few hundred inhabitants, mainly farmers and winegrowers, was the result of political and religious quarrels of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. During the Reformation in Basel (1525-1529) the bishop and his Dom Lords were expelled from Basel. The bishop went to Porrentruy, the cathedral chapter after many wanderings ended up in the catholic Arlesheim in 1678. The cathedral (Baroque and Rococo style) and the cathedral square and its four large city palaces give the village a big-city allure. The English garden was laid out according to the fashion of the time by Sabina von Andlau-Staal (1739-1817). In June 1814, Conrad von Andlau (1766-1839) made Arlesheim the administrative centre of the Allied occupying forces of part of France and of the prince-bishopric of Basel. Von Andlau had been appointed General Governor of these territories by the Allies on 15 January 1814 (the old French departments of Doubs, Jura, Vosges, Haute-Saône, the county of Montbéliard and the prince-bishopric).

After the defeat of Napoleon, Arlesheim was a village of European political importance. However, decisions were taken in Vienna, Paris, London, Berlin and Moscow, the capitals of the victors. The Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) and various treaties concluded, including those of Paris (30 May 1814 and 20 November 1815) and Turin (16 March 1816) would ultimately be decisive for the political future of Switzerland and the division of the territory of the prince-bishopric of Basel. Arlesheim was prominent on the political map during these years. The European rulers visited Arlesheim even before the Napoleonic Wars because of the famous Ermitage. Clemens von Metternich, Tsar Alexander, the former wife of Napoleon Marie-Louise and the Habsburg Archdukes Johann and Maximilian visited Arlesheim one or more times before 1792 or after 1814.