Period IV

Hans Holbein the Younger (1497/98-1543), Erasmus, 1523. Kunstmuseum Basel, photo Wikipedia.

The Heart of Europe

The city of Basel represents and confirms at micro level the existence and identity of Switzerland. A crossing and spring of rivers to the north and to the south of Europe, roads and mountain passes that connect Italy with Germany, the United Kingdom and the Low Countries. Basel experienced the Celtic tribe of Rauraci, Romans, Burgundians, Alemans, the Carolingian Empire, the Holy Roman Empire and finally the accession to the Swiss confederation of cantons in 1501.

The industrial, trading and intellectual city hosted Erasmus (1456-1536), who is buried in the Basler Münster, witnessed the protestant fury and rage in 1529 (Basilea reformata). Basel became an agent of humanism, the printing press, tolerance, ideas and civilization afterwards. This is also expressed by the ecclesiastical organization: the bishop of Basel was the frontier of two archbishoprics: Besançon in France, to which belonged the territory of Basel-city,  and Mayence in Germany, that ruled over the bishopric of Constance and the territories of minor-Basel (Klein-Basel), on the right bank of the Rhine.

Basel was also the city of the Council (1431-1449), that followed on the Council of  Constance (1411-1418). Famous artists, such as Holbein the Younger (1497-1543), scholars (Jacob Burckhardt for example, 1818-1897), or politicians, for example the French socialist Jean Jàures (1859-1914) in 1912,  had their finest hour in this city.