Geneva’s Choice in 1815
5 July 2022
On December 30, 1813, the entry of the Austrian general Count Ferdinand Bubna von Littiz (1768-1825) ended fifteen years of French domination of Geneva.
The city welcomed the French revolutionary troops enthusiastically in 1798. After the fifteen years of French annexation, French-speaking Geneva stood at an important crossroads in its two thousand years of existence.
On January 1, 1814, the regents from before 1798 proclaimed the independent republic of Geneva, but there was no turning back. Due to the major powers’ preference at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) and despite resistance from some Catholic cantons, Geneva joined the Swiss Confederation on May 19, 1815, as the twenty-second canton.
The superpowers ratified the agreement in international treaties in 1815 (Paris) and 1816 (Turin). Switzerland got its final borders, neutrality and sovereignty.
Moreover, Geneva was Protestant, a heritage shared with other Swiss cantons. There was also a shared political and economic history with other Swiss cantons, for example, at the time of the Burgundian Kingdom in the Middle Ages, and centuries of common enemies, for example, the Dukes of Savoy, but the city always kept its political independence.
Geneva had never been under French rule until 1798, and this experiment was not to be repeated. It was a good choice. Geneva escaped two world wars, French centralism and the euro. The canton is also embedded in federal, multicultural, decentralised and democratic welfare.