Canton of Neuchâtel

After the Burgundian King founded the castle novum castellum in 1011, hence the name Neuenburg/Neuchâtel, the newly formed borough soon expanded to the Jura-upper valleys.


The county of Neuchâtel was founded in the 12th century.  The county reached around 1500, the size of the present-day canton of Neuchâtel. Colombier, Valangins, Corcelles, Môtier, Auvernier, (Val de) Travers, Nugerol, Boudry, Le Landeron, Bevaix and other towns and villages were autonomous seigneuries or towns with monasteries.

La Chaux-de-Fonds, Le Locle, La Brévine, La Sagne, Les Verrières and other towns in the upper Jura region were founded in this period.

Neuchâtel was strategically located at the foot of the Jura and Lake Neuchâtel and the trade routes to the Franche-Comté and Burgundy, the route to (the Prince-Bisdom) Basel, Morat and Seeland.

Neuchâtel became part of the Holy Roman Empire in 1032 and was ruled by the dynasty of the Counts of Neuchâtel until 1395.

Neuchâtel was an Earldom until 1395. Neuchâtel was subsequently ruled by the German Houses of Freiburg and Hochberg (1395-1504), the French dynasty d’Orléans-Longueville (1504-1706) and by the Prussian King (1707-1856), with a short intermezzo of the occupation by Swiss Confederates (1512-1529) and the government of the French marshal Alexander Berthier (1806-1813).


Neuchâtel became a Swiss canton of the Confederation in 1815, keeping the status of Principality of the Prussian King however. This hybrid status threatened European peace in 1856, the so-called ‘Neuchâtel Affair’.

The Swiss Federation mobilized its troops when the King of Prussia, Prince of Neuchâtel, claimed his property. There had already been an attempt to thwart the Prussian monarchy in 1831. What failed in 1831 was a success in 1848. It provoked a monarchist coup d’etat in 1856.

The great powers Russia, England, Austria, Prussia and France concluded the Paris Treaty of Paris on 26 May 1857, and the last monarch left Swiss territory forever. He kept the titles Prince of Neuchâtel and Count of Valangin as compensation.

Source: Dictionnaire historique de la Suisse, Canton de Neuchâtel,