Local History

Neuchâtel, vue de plan 1842. Bild/Photo: TES. Galeries de l'histoire.

A short History of Neuchâtel

Neuchâtel is one of the twenty-six cantons that constitute the Swiss Confederation today.

After the foundation of the castle novum castellum by the Burgundian King in 1011, hence the name Neuenburg/Neuchâtel, the newly formed borough soon expanded to the Jura-upper valleys.

Neuchâtel was an Earldom until 1395. Neuchâtel was subsequently ruled by the German Houses of Freiburg and Hochberg (1395-1504), the French dynasty d’Orléans-Longueville (1504-1706) and by the Prussian King (1707-1856), with short intermezzo’s of the occupation by Swiss Confederates (1512-1529) and the government of the French marshal Alexander Berthier (1806-1813).

Neuchâtel became a Swiss canton of the Confederation in 1815, keeping the status of Principality of the Prussian King, however. The hybrid status threatened European peace in 1856, the so-called ‘Neuchâtel Affair’.

The Swiss Federation mobilized when the King of Prussia, Prince of Neuchâtel, claimed his property.

There had already been an attempt to thwart the Prussian monarchy in 1831. What failed in 1831 was a success in 1848. It provoked a monarchist coup d’etat in 1856, however.

The great powers Russia, England, Austria, Prussia and France concluded the Paris Treaty of Paris on 26 May 1857 and the last monarch left Swiss territory forever, keeping his title of Prince of Neuchâtel and Count of Valangin.