Local History

Unabhängige Republik Grossbasel/Independent Republic Basel, Bummelsonntag 2019. Photo/Foto: TES.

Independent Republic of Basel

The new history of Basel (Die neue Basler Stadtgeschichte ) appears in 2024. This story not only tells of the economic, social and cultural successes of the canton or the city on the Rhine, but also of the missed opportunities.

From an economic and cultural point of view, the canton and the city have always been important, located in the centre of Europe, where the roads and the Rhine meet.

Until the 15th century, however, Basel was mainly focused on Alsace and the Upper Rhine (Strasbourg, Fribourg, Colmar, Mulhouse, Besançon, Rottweil). Basel continued to focus on this trinational hinterland, even after 1501, when the city joined the Eidgenossenschaft.

Perhaps that is why the canton/city has only been represented three times in the government (Bundesrat) since 1848. But Basel itself has already frustrated political opportunities seven centuries ago.

For the Roman-German king Rudolf von Habsburg (1218-1291), Basel was the evident capital of its territories in Aargau, Fricktal, Alsace and Southern Germany around 1270 and after his coronation in 1273.

The commercial and episcopal city and the traffic routes were the natural centre of its territory. His wife Anna Gertrude (1125-1281) and Rudolf were in Basel 26 times until 1274.

However, the city did not want to become a residence and in 1272 and 1273 even armed conflicts broke out. Vienna and Prague became subsequently the most important Habsburg cities in the 14th century. B

asel did not become an imperial capital and metropolis, although Queen Anna Gertrude was buried in Basel Cathedral in 1281.

It was not until 1770 that her remains were transferred to the Habsburg monastery of St. Blasien. Not only Rudolf, but two hundred and fifty years later (1525-1529) the bishop no longer had a residence in Basel and Porrentruy became his new seat. Nowadays Solothurn is the bishop’s town.

No emperor, no king, no bishop and only three times represented in the government since 1848. The new history of Basel does not come too soon.

One still see the flag Independent Republic of Basel (“Unabhängiger Republic Grossbasel”) in the city. Utopia, dream, joke, identity or still a strange body in the Confederation? Baseldeutsch (Baaseldytsch, Baseldytsch, Baseldütsch) is in any case the only German-Swiss dialect that has some very special characteristics.