Photo/Bild: Bildarchiv Rottweil.

The Eternal Alliance

The ancient Roman town of Arae Flaviae, present-day Rottweil, has an alliance with the Eidgenossenschaft of thirteen Orte (or cantons) since 1519 and from 1463 already the status of zugewandter Ort. Besides Mülhouse, Rottweil is the only city with this status that is not part of modern Switzerland, as it took shape in and after the French period 1798-1803 and the new Constitution in 1848.

In 1519 twelve of the thirteen Orte ratified the eternal alliance (ewiger Bund) with Rottweil: Zurich, Bern, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, Glarus, Freiburg, Solothurn, Schaffhausen and Appenzell. Only Basel did not sign, although the city was mentioned in the treaty. The reason is still topical: because of the emperor’s court in Rottweil.

The commercial city of Basel was cautious about the jurisdiction of foreign judges (fremde Richter). Also in the Schwabenkrieg or Schweizerkrieg of 1499 this already played an important role and also in the treaty of Westphalia in 1648 this is shown again. Sovereignty and juridical jurisdiction are closely intertwined, as the current Brexit once again shows.

The allies swore eternal trüw, liebe und fründtschafft. Indeed, the eternal treaty was never denounced and Rottweil assisted the Eidgenossen in 1476 (successful in the battle of Murten against the Duke of Burgundy and less successful in the battle of Marignano against the French King and his allies in 1515). The Eidgenossenschaft on the other hand assisted Rottweil after the two world wars of the last century. The relationship was not entirely wrinkle-free either. Here, too, the Reformation and the sphere of influence of the Catholic Habsburg monarchy were the main causes.

When Rottweil was (involuntarily) annexed to the Duchy of Württemberg in 1802, she actually lost her status as an ally. Legally, however, the eternal alliance was never terminated. The ‘Swabian Eidgenossen’ (Schwäbische Eidgenossen) still commemorate and cherish the ties with the old Orte, just as the Orte maintain good ties with Rottweil.

The city of Brugg (canton of Aargau) even closed one of the first international city links in 1913. This relationship has a history dating back to the Roman Empire, when from Vindonissa (nowadays Windisch) the step was taken to found Arae Flaviae. Brugg itself was not an Ort or party to the treaties in 1463 and 1519 and was even a Untertanengebiet, governed by the Orte.