Local History

Schwyz, Bundesbriefmuseum. Photo/Foto: TES.

Schwyz and Switzerland

The name for Switzerland, die Schweiz in German, la Suisse in French, Svizzera in Italian and Svizra in Romansh, is derived from the canton and the town Schwyz.

This name is derived from the Germanic word Sueit, sengen or to scorch or to burn off grass. Schwyz is not a city in the medieval meaning, but the canton plays an important role in the history of Switzerland.

Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden were the first Eidgenossen and adversaries the Habsburgs and the Einsiedeln monastery (1314 looting monastery, 1315 Battle of Sempach).

In 1513, the Swiss Confederation or Eidgenossenschaft consisted of 13 independent German-speaking cantons. Only Freiburg (Fribourg) was bilingual.

The Confederation was (de fact0) recognized as sovereign German-speaking state in 1648 (Peace of Westphalia).

The Napoleonic era (1798-1813), the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) and the Constitution of 1848 were the essential years of Switzerland.

The remarkable Swiss flag also finds the origin in the Middle Ages and Schwyz. The Eidgenossen distinguished themselves in battle by wearing a white cross on a red background.

This history is shown in two institutes in Schwyz: the Forum Schwyz History (Forum Schweizer Geschichte, www.forumschwyz.ch(www.nationalmuseum.ch), one of the three national museums (the others are situated in Zurich and Prangins) and the Bundesbriefmuseum (www.bundesbrief.ch).