Commemorations

The Craddle of Switzerland

Switzerland will be 729 years old as of 1 August 2020. Or is it not? On the first of August, Switzerland celebrates the alliance between the three Orte Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden. The document itself does not give an exact date, but speaks of the beginning of August of the year 1291. The first commemoration of the then 600th anniversary took place in 1891.

It would take until Napoleon and his Helvetic Republic (1798-1803) and the Confederation of 19 cantons (1803-1813) before the current external border of Switzerland was established. The new Constitution of 1848, which followed the Sonderbundkrieg of 1847, is the constitutional basis of present-day Switzerland. Several constitutional changes would follow, as would the formation of the twenty-sixth and last canton of Jura in 1979. This area belonged to the diocese of Basel until the arrival of Napoleon (1792-1798). After the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) Bern took over this territory.

The only question is whether 1291 is indeed the beginning of the Eidgenossenschaft. Several other dates of similar alliances between towns and cities circulate, among others between Bern and Fribourg (1243), Valais and Solothurn (1295), the Pact of Brunnen (1315), with Lucerne (1336), with Bern (1351) and so on. It is certain that in 1501 thirteen cantons were members. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) means a (de facto) recognition of the Eidgenossenschaft. Or is the confederation of 19 cantons in 1803 or the confederation of 1814 with twenty-two cantons the beginning, or is 1848 the year of its creation with twentyfive (half) cantons? Either way, Switzerland is one of the oldest European states and in a good shape.