Local History

Commermorative Obelisk of the canton and three Bünde,Chur. Photo: TES.

The foundation of Grisons

The foundation of the canton of Grisons (Graubünden) was completed on 23 September 1524. Before this time, the Rhaetian territory was divided into three alliances (Bünde):  The Gotteshausbund, Zehngerichtebund and der Obere or Graue Bund, which later gave its name to the canton. These federations were founded in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The first agreement was concluded on 9 January 1401 between the Gotteshausbund, and the Obere Bund. Step by step further agreements followed, in 1450 between the Gotteshausbund and the Zehngerichtebund, after which the Obere Bund joined in 1471. From then on the three Bünde acted as one state and there was a common foreign policy, including matters of peace and war. That led to the Federal Letter of 23 September 1524. Two originals of this Federal Letter, the formal founding document of Graubünden, have been preserved, one in the Germanic Museum in Nuremberg, the other in the State Archives of Graubünden.

The Bünde consisted of sovereign municipalities (Gerichte), cities, secular and religious lords. In 1524, the Gotteshausbund comprised the bishop, cathedral chapter, Ammann and the city council of Chur, four villages, Bergell, Oberhalstein, Avers, Domleschg, Münstertal, Untercalven/Vintschgau, Obervaz/Greifenstein, Steinsberg, Scuol, Stalla, Poschiavo, Tiefencastel, Bergün, Oberengadin, Unterengadin. The bishop was the lord of the Gotteshausbund but was bound to the decisions of the above members. In 1524 the Obere Bund consisted of the Freiherr  of Räzuns, the abbot of Disentis, the Freiherr  of Sax-Misox, Freiherr of Werdenberg-Sargans, Illanz, Flims, Gruob, Lugnez, Vals, Rheinwald, Schams, Waltensburg-Obersaxen, Domat/Ems and Felsberg (1524 belonging to Räzuns), Heinzenberg, Mesocco, Roveredo, Calanca, Tschappina, Schams, Cazis, Tenna and Safien, Freie von Laax, Trins and Tamins, Löwenberg (Schleuis) The Zehngerichtebund actually consisted of 11 municipalities (Gerichte): Davos, Maienfeld, Langwies, Klosters, Castels, Schiers, Seewis im Prättigau, Malans, St. Peter im Schanfigg, Churwalden and Lenz.

The alliances primarily aimed at mutual (legal and military) aid obligations, legal security and law enforcement, a court of arbitration, peacekeeping, in particular, to secure trade and to determine the rights and duties of secular and religious authorities. Grisons was to become a member of the Swiss Confederation in 1803 under the Mediation Act (drafted by Napoleon). Source: Meyer-Marthaler, Studien über die Anfänge Gemeiner drei Bünde, Chur, 1973.