Local History

Unabhängige Republik Grossbasel/Independent Republic Basel, Bummelsonntag 2019. Photo/Foto: TES.

The Republic of Basel

The new history of Basel (Die neue Basler Stadtgeschichte ) appears in 2024. This book tells the story of the economic, social and cultural successes of the canton Basel-Stadt and the city on the Rhine, but also the missed opportunities.

From an economic and cultural perspective, medieval Basel was mainly focused on the Alsace and the Upper Rhine region (Strasbourg, Freibourg (Germany), Colmar, Mulhouse, Besançon, Rottweil).

The city continued to focus on this trinational hinterland after 1501 when Basel became a member of the Confederation or Eidgenossenschaft of cantons or Orte.

It is perhaps the reason why the canton had only three federal councillors in the Swiss Federal Council (Bundesrat) since 1848.

Basel missed many political opportunities indeed. The first already seven centuries ago.

The Habsburg Empire

For the Roman-German King Rudolf von Habsburg (1218-1291), Basel was the self-evident capital of his territories in the Aargau, Fricktal, Alsace and Southern Germany around 1270 and after his coronation in 1273.

The commercial and episcopal city was the natural centre of his territory at the crossroads of rivers and trade routes. His wife Anna Gertrude (1125-1281) and Rudolf visited Basel twenty-six times until 1274.

However, the city did not want to become the royal residence (too expensive) and in 1272 and 1273 armed conflicts broke out for this reason.

Vienna and Prague were the second choices. They became the most important Habsburg cities, although Queen Anna Gertrude was buried in the Basler Cathedral in 1281. It was not until 1770 that her remains were transferred to the Habsburg monastery of St. Blasien.

The Prince-Bishop also moved to Porrentruy in the years 1525-1529. Solothurn is the seat of the bishopric nowadays.

No emperor, no king, no bishop and only three times represented in the federal government since 1848.

Occasionally, One can still see the flag Independent Republic of Basel (“Unabhängiger Republic Grossbasel”) in the city.

Utopia, dream, joke, identity or even a strange body in the Confederation? A story of missed opportunities or the (economic) spirit of a successful, sovereign and independent republic?

Baseldeutsch (Baaseldytsch, Baseldytsch, Baseldütsch) is, in any case, a Swiss German dialect with exceptional characteristics, even to the standards of other Swiss German dialects.