Rapperswil. Foto/Photo: TES

Rapperswil, Habsburg and the Confederation

The original residence of the Counts of Rapperswil was in Altensdorf (Schwyz Canton). The counts profited from the important trade route over the mountain passes in Graubünden to Lombardy and Venice.

The Counts settled on the hill of today’s castle in Rapperswil in 1220. It is the origin of the town. The opening of the Schöllenschlucht around 1220 opened up a more direct transit route over the Gotthard and probably played a role in this change. The lucrative pilgrimage route to Einsiedeln via Rapperwil may also have been a motive.

Rapperswil has been an independent city parish since 1253; previously, the church was under the control of the Pfäfers monastery. The first (Romanesque) church was built on castle hill in 1229. The dukes of Austria, the Habsburgs, took control of the city in 1354.  Rapperswil became a free imperial city in 1415.

The town allied with the Confederation (Eidgenossenschaft) in 1458. The Orte Schwyz, Glarus, Uri and Unterwalden (1464-1712) and later Bern, Glarus and Zurich (1712-1798) were the ‘supervisors’ (Schirmorte).

The canton of St. Gallen was founded in 1803, and the town of Rapperswil became the owner of the castle. The neo-Gothic church with the dissimilar Romanesque-Gothic towers was built after the fire in 1882.