Period IV

Hans Asper (1499 -1571), Ulrich Zwingli 1531. Kunstmuseum Winterthur, Photo/Foto: Wikipedia.

The Reformation in Switzerland

500 years ago Ulrich Zwingli (1484-1531) preached his religious ideas from the pulpit of the Grossmünster in Zurich. The Reformation has left its mark on the city, the canton of Zurich and Switzerland and also connects Switzerland with Europe. It can be said that, without the Reformation, there would not have been Switzerland. The Reformation brought together cultures, languages and cantons such as Geneva, Bern, Basel and Zurich. The Reformation was multilingual and multicultural in its present sense.

The break with the Catholic tradition came in 1522 when a public sausage meal in the presence of Zwingli violated the commandment of fasting. Zwingli’s remarks aroused the anger of Pope Hadrianus VI. The Pope called on the city council to banish this priest as a heretic.

However, The Council of Zurich discussed his ideas instead. Contrary to Pope’s instructions, the city council adopted Zwingli’s position and introduced the reformatory reforms.

The implementation of the Reformation was also the beginning of new conflicts with the Catholic opposition, with the German reformer Martin Luther and, on a national level, with Central Switzerland, which remained faithful to the old faith.

There was a rift between Zwingli and Luther and thus a separation between a Reformed and a Lutheran church. The contrasts became sharper and sharper. There was a confessional division in the Swiss Confederation, and in 1529 hostilities between the Catholic and Protestant cantons led to civil war. The last (civil) war (Sonderbundskrieg) on Swiss soil in 1847 was partly a religious conflict as well. (Source and further information:,