J. Reynolds, (1723–1792), Edward Gibbon, c. 1785. Photo/Foto: Wikipedia

The Freedom of the Swiss

The history of the Freedom of the Swiss by Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) appeared in the German language under the title Die Freiheit der Schweizer, two hundred years after the French publication  Introduction à l’histoire Générale de la République des Suisses in 1815.

Gibbon is considered the father of modern historiography and is one of the most important English historians. His best-known work is The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

Gibbon lived five years in Lausanne  (1751 to 1756). He was fascinated by Switzerland, the Confederation of thirteen sovereign cantons and their political systems.

He wrote in French. His first publication was called Journal de mon voyage dans quelques endroits de la Suisse. The Seven Years’ War (1756-1763) ended Gibbon’s stay in Lausanne.

After the end of this war, he went on a trip to Italy. He travelled via Paris and Lausanne, where he stayed for another year.

He continued his trip to Rome in the company of the Englishman Willem Guise (1737-1783). He decided in Rome to write The history of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. The last part of this six-volume story was published in 1788.

Back in England, he wrote l’ introduction à l’histoire Générale de la République des Suisses.

It took two hundred years to publish the German edition.

(Edward Gibbon, Die Freiheit der Schweizer, Zurich 2015).