The Forgotten Occupation of Neuchâtel
13 December 2020
d’ Orléans-Longueville and the Prussian King
The county belonged by inheritance to German princes of the Houses of Freiburg and Hochberg (1395-1504) and the French dynasty d’ Orléans-Longueville (1504-1706).
The Swiss Confederation 1512-1529
The Prince of d’Orléans-Longueville rarely showed up in the principality after 1504.
The Confederates (Eidgenossen) were interested in this area. The Burgundian wars (1474-1477) were just over and they were in a winning mood (until 1515, defeat at Marignano). Neuchâtel was ‘French’ territory and therefore a possible threat.
Four cantons (Bern, Solothurn, Fribourg and Lucerne) occupied Neuchâtel in June and July 1512 and took over the administration.
It was not a military occupation, as was the case in Aargau (1415), Thurgau (1460), Tessin (1512) or Vaud (1536).
It was rather a peaceful change of government. The French princes did not intervene. They (and the French king) had other worries, in particular in Italy.
After 1515 (Marignano) and his victory over the Eidgenossen, the French king concluded the Eternal Peace Treaty (der Ewige Bund) in 1516.
The government was handed over to the princes of d’Orléans-Longueville in 1529.
This short intermezzo (1512-1529) strengthened the bond between Neuchâtel and the Eidgenossenschaft.
Vaud (territory of Savoy) was occupied in 1536 by the Eidgenossen (this time by the use of excessive violence).
These centuries of history and close contacts contributed to the choice for the Eidgenossenschaft in 1813-1815.
The Congress of Vienna (1814-1815) was decisive, but the bond between Neuchâtel and the Confederation was centuries old.
The Prussian King formally abdicated as Prince of Neuchâtel in 1857, but kept the titles of Prince of Neuchâtel and Count of Valangin as compensation.