Constitution and Democracy

Graubünden/ les Grisons.

The Canton of Graubünden

The territory of today’s canton of Graubünden was inhabited by the Raetians before and during Roman rule (15. BC – 410 AD). The Raetian-Roman language and culture (Romansh) originated from the languages of these tribes.

The Raetians is a collective name for many tribes which inhabited the area before the arrival of the Romans. Their origin is not known. Roman and Greek authors used the term. The language in the Roman period (13 BC-410 AD) was Raetian-Roman, a mixture of Latin and Raetian. The language still exists and is called Romansh today, one of Europe’s oldest languages!

The influence of German-speaking immigrants from the north after the seventh century, from the west (the Walser) in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, and the tourism and industrial boom in the nineteenth century changed the linguistic landscape. Around 50 000 people still speak Romansh, almost the same as in 1870!

The area was divided into many sovereign territories, abbeys, monasteries, and secular states. The Landsgemeinde played an essential role in becoming increasingly detached from the sovereign. In the highest instance, the emperor and king (usually a Habsburg) ruled the region. The Bishop of Chur was a prince of the Holy Roman Empire and a secular ruler of the Prince-Bishopric of Chur.

Collection: Rätisches Museum 

The canton of Graubünden emerged from the alliance of the three leagues in the 14th and 15th centuries. The area was then formally part of the Holy Roman Empire but acted increasingly independently.

The Gotteshausbund (League of the House of God) was founded in 1367. The Graue or Obere Bund (the Grey League) followed in 1395, and the Zehngerichtebund (the League of the Ten Jurisdictions) in 1426.

These three leagues closely cooperated and concluded treaties with foreign powers and the Swiss Confederation (Eidgenossenschaft). In 1524, the three leagues merged into the Republic of the Freistaat der drei Bünde (Republic of the Free State of the Three Leagues). This republic already had close ties with the Eidgenossenschaft of thirteen members and the status of zugewandter Ort.

In the centuries after 1524, the Reformation, foreign interference (including during the Bündner Wirren 1618-1639) and the constitutional reforms of Napoleon (1798-1813) were decisive in the creation of the trilingual canton of Graubünden in 1803.

In 1803, the new canton became a member of the Confederation (1803-1813). This Confederation was the successor to the Helvetic Republic (1798-1803). Graubünden became a member of the new Confederation in 1815.

Chur, RBB headquarters

The flag

The namesake of the canton is the Graue Bund. However, the canton’s banner shows the heraldry of the three leagues.

(Source: Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz, Kanton Graubünden,