The Prince-Bishopric of Basel after 1813
16 January 2020
The Prince-Bishopric of Basel experienced two major revolutions after 1500.
The title of Prince-Bishopric is a consequence of the status of the Bishop in the Holy Roman Empire. The bishop was a prince (Reichsfürst/Fürstbischof) of the Empire. He headed the hierarchy.
The Reformation in the years 1529-1530 was a clear break. The bishop moved to Porrentruy (Pruntrut in German, present-day canton of Jura). The cathedral is still evangelical-Lutheran nowadays. The chapter settled in Arlesheim (Canton of Basel-Landschaft) in 1678; Solothurn is the episcopal seat nowadays.
The Prince-Bishopric did not survive the second infringement. The French revolutionary troops occupied the northern Catholic part (roughly the canton of Jura) in 1792 and annexed it to France (the department of Mont-Terrible).
The southern Protestant part (the French-speaking part of Bern, Birseck and Laufen in Basel-Landschaft) was protected by the Eidgenossenschaft.
The area was occupied in 1797, just before the French invasion of the Eidgenossenschaft in 1798.
The Prince-Bishopric was formally dissolved in 1803. The territory was divided into new political units. The area of the Prince-Bishopric was assigned to the department of Haut-Rhin in 1800.
The French period came to end in 1813. The cantons of Bern and Basel wanted to restore the old situation. The city of Biel aspired the status of canton and a part of this area. The principality of Neuchâtel, which belonged to the King of Prussia (since 1707), but was also a member of the Eidgenossenchaft in 1815, claimed some areas.
Supporters in the northern part of the Jura (Porrentruy and Delémont) wanted to join France.
These Swiss interests were not relevant for the great powers. at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815). The kingdoms of Sardinia-Savoie and the Netherlands and the expansion of Prussian territories on the right bank of the Rhine were the results. The containment of France was the priority.