V. The Modern Period, 1789–1914 > B. The French Revolution and Europe, 1789–1914 > 4. Western and Central Europe, 1815–1848 > h. Switzerland
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1813)
h. Switzerland
1815, March 20, 29
The Congress of Vienna laid down the principle of the perpetual neutrality of Switzerland. A constitutional convention drew up a new federal pact, which established a Diet with restricted powers and required the vote of two-thirds of the cantons to ratify any act. Thus, the Swiss cantons maintained their autonomy within the new Swiss government.  1
The Political Institute, established as a law school in 1806, became a major rallying point for liberals within Zürich. These liberals criticized the government and gained support from newspapers within the city. They advocated a constitutional form of government and drew support from a number of newspapers.  2
Economic hardship hurt Swiss industry because it could not compete, initially, with England. The Swiss, however, benefited from their general policy of free trade, which enabled them to purchase relatively cheap grain from Italy and the Ukraine.  3
Industry. The Swiss had a long tradition of cottage industry in textiles, which had flourished under the continental blockade. Unable to compete with England, they worked to obtain the necessary technology to mechanize their industry. They were also able to muster the necessary capital because of the strength of their other industry, watchmaking, which provided abundant capital and low interest rates by the early 19th century.  4
Swiss cantons restricted the press under pressure from the foreign powers.  5
The “Era of Regeneration” was marked by liberal revisions in the constitutions of several cantons.  6
1830, Nov. 22
Snell's Küsnacht Memorial was accepted at a public meeting in Zürich by acclamation. It reiterated basic liberal freedoms and established an electoral system that gave the countryside two-thirds of the votes and the city one-third. This meeting led the leaders in Zürich to establish the Constitution of 1831 based on Snell's principles. Zürich also began construction designed to make traffic through the city much easier and to destroy the visual distinction between city and countryside. This new construction helped to fuel a growth in the building industry.  7
1832, March 17
The Siebener Concordat. The liberal cantons joined together to guarantee their new constitutions. This act was followed by an effort to revise the federal pact in the direction of a stronger central government. The conservative cantons responded by concluding an alliance (League of Sarnen) to maintain the Pact of 1815.  8
1834, Jan. 20
The struggle over the federal pact became a religious quarrel when the liberal cantons adopted the Articles of Baden, which supported freedom of worship and secular education.  9
Social change. The development of industry in Switzerland corresponded to a renewed development in agriculture. Textile mills were located not in huge cities, but in smaller communities where abundant labor could be obtained from the surrounding countryside.  10
Economic hardships developed as the result of the failure of harvests and a crisis within the cotton trade. These hardships seem to have provided the spark for escalation of the clashes between conservatives and liberals and, in Zürich, led to a bloody battle in the streets between peasants supporting the conservatives and the Zürich military and liberals. The conflict brought down the Zürich liberal government.  11
1845, Dec. 11
THE SONDERBUND. The seven Catholic cantons—Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, Freiburg, and Valais—replied to organized armed bands of the liberal cantons by concluding a league (the Sonderbund) for the purpose of protecting their interests. This league would clash with the liberals in the ensuing struggle for a new constitution in 1847 and 1848. (See Switzerland)  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.