Local History

Lucerne, Chapel Bridge (Kapellbrücke), 1365. Photo: TES.

The Rise of a City

There was just a monastery in the beginning, founded around 735, when the Franks (Merovinger and later Carolinger) ruled over the territory . The monastery was connected by a bridge to the other side of the river Reuss. This settlement was one of around 16 so-called Dinghöfe, land and settlements that belonged to the monastery. The name of the monastery was first mentioned around 760 and was called “ monasterium Luciara” . The settlement became the city of Lucerne, because it had the right of organising a market.  The settlement got city rights around 1200.

The lord of the city was the abbot of monastery, which was owned by the monastery of Mulbach in the Alsace. Lucerne gained importance after the opening of the St. Gotthard pass in 1230 and became an important trading city. This attracted the attention of others and Habsburg in particular. King Rudolf I (1218-1291) bought the rights of the city just before his death in 1291. Luzern and its elite of wealthy traders and merchants profited from the Habsburg administration and trading networks, but (fiscal and financial) burdens led to alliances with Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden (the three famous signatories of the oath in 1291), accession to the Eidgenossenschaft in 1332 and military action against Habsburg in 1386. The city got the status of imperial free city (Reichunmittelbarkeit) in 1415.

The reformation divided the Eidgenossenschaft. Lucerne remained devoted to the Catholic faith (and jesuits). The religious segregation was overcome (after the Sonderbundkrieg of 1847) by the constitution of 1848.