|French invasion of Switzerland|
|Part of the French Revolutionary Wars|
The Battle of Grauholz. The Last Days of Old Bern. Painting by Friedrich Walthard (1818–1870).
|Commanders and leaders|
|Karl Ludwig von Erlach|| Guillaume Brune |
Philippe Romain Ménard
The French invasion of Switzerland (French: Campagne d'Helvétie, German: Franzoseneinfall) occurred from January until May 1798 as part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The independent Old Swiss Confederacy collapsed, both by this foreign invasion and simultaneous internal revolts, termed the "Helvetic Revolution". Its Ancien Régime institutions were abolished and replaced by the centralised pro-French Helvetic Republic.
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of sweeping military conflicts lasting from 1792 until 1802 and resulting from the French Revolution. They pitted France against Great Britain, Austria, Prussia, Russia and several other monarchies. They are divided in two periods: the War of the First Coalition (1792–97) and the War of the Second Coalition (1798–1802). Initially confined to Europe, the fighting gradually assumed a global dimension. After a decade of constant warfare and aggressive diplomacy, France had conquered a wide array of territories, from the Italian Peninsula and the Low Countries in Europe to the Louisiana Territory in North America. French success in these conflicts ensured the spread of revolutionary principles over much of Europe.
The Old Swiss Confederacy was a loose confederation of independent small states within the Holy Roman Empire. It is the precursor of the modern state of Switzerland.
The early modern history of the Old Swiss Confederacy and its constituent Thirteen Cantons encompasses the time of the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) until the French invasion of 1798.
Before 1798, the modern region of Vaud belonged to the Canton of Bern, to which it had a dependent status. Moreover, the majority of Francophone Catholic Vaudese felt oppressed by the German-speaking Protestant majority of Bern. Several Vaudese patriots such as Frédéric-César de La Harpe advocated for independence. In 1795, La Harpe called on his compatriots to rise up against the Bernese aristocrats, but his appeal fell to deaf ears, and he had to flee to Revolutionary France, where he resumed his activism.
The canton of Bern or Berne is the second largest of the 26 Swiss cantons by both surface area and population. Located in west-central Switzerland, it borders the canton of Jura and the canton of Solothurn to the north. To the west lie the canton of Neuchâtel, the canton of Fribourg and canton of Vaud. To the south lies the canton of Valais. East of the canton of Bern lie the cantons of Uri, Nidwalden, Obwalden, Lucerne and Aargau.
Frédéric-César de La Harpe was a Swiss political leader, scholar, and Vaudois patriot best known for his pivotal role in the formation of the Helvetic Republic, and for serving as a member of the Helvetic Directory.
In the history of France, the First Republic, officially the French Republic, was founded on 22 September 1792 during the French Revolution. The First Republic lasted until the declaration of the First Empire in 1804 under Napoleon, although the form of the government changed several times. This period was characterized by the fall of the monarchy, the establishment of the National Convention and the Reign of Terror, the Thermidorian Reaction and the founding of the Directory, and, finally, the creation of the Consulate and Napoleon's rise to power.
In late 1797, French general Napoleon Bonaparte, who had just successfully conquered northern Italy and founded the Cisalpine Republic, pressed the French Directory to occupy Switzerland; soon 10,000 troops gathered near the city of Genève.Valtellina, Chiavenna and Bormio, dependencies of the Three Leagues, revolted and with French support seceded from the Confederacy to join the Cisalpine Republic on 10 October 1797. In December, the southern part of the Prince-Bishopric of Basel was occupied and annexed to France. The atmosphere inside Switzerland had changed significantly due to these developments, and many pro-French patriots hoped, and anti-French conservatives feared, that the Revolution would now spread to the rest of the Confederacy, with or without direct French military intervention. France used the dissatisfaction of the rural elites in the dependencies and the Enlightened citizenry in the cantons to stimulate revolutionary excitement.
The Cisalpine Republic was a sister republic of France in Northern Italy that lasted from 1797 to 1802.
The Directory or Directorate was a five-member committee that governed France from 2 November 1795, when it replaced the Committee of Public Safety, until 9 November 1799, when it was overthrown by Napoleon Bonaparte in the Coup of 18 Brumaire, and replaced by the French Consulate. It gave its name to the final four years of the French Revolution.
Valtellina or the Valtelline is a valley in the Lombardy region of northern Italy, bordering Switzerland. Today it is known for its ski center, hot spring spas, bresaola, cheeses and wines. In past centuries it was a key alpine pass between northern Italy and Germany and control of the Valtellina was much sought after, particularly during the Thirty Years' War.
The first event of what would become known as the "Helvetic Revolution" happened with a patriot uprising in Liestal in the Canton of Basel on 17 January. The rebels demanded legal equality, erected a liberty tree and burnt down three Vogtei castles by 23 January.On 24 January 1798, the urban elite of Vaud proclaimed the Lemanic Republic (French: République lémanique) in Lausanne, which became its seat of government. Next, citizens and subjects in countless Swiss cities, cantons and their dependencies rebelled, and after the example of Vaud, more than 40 other short-lived republics were proclaimed in February, March and April throughout the country.
Liestal is the capital of Liestal District and the canton of Basel-Landschaft in Switzerland, 17 km (11 mi) south of Basel.
Basel was a canton of Switzerland that was in existence between 1501 and 1833, when it was split into the two half-cantons of Basel-City and Basel-Country.
A liberty pole is a tall wooden pole, often used as a type of flagstaff, planted in the ground, surmounted by a Phrygian cap. The symbol originated in the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Roman dictator Julius Caesar by a group of Rome's Senators in 44 BC. Immediately after Caesar was killed, the leaders of the assassination plot went to meet a crowd of Romans at the Roman Forum; a pileus was placed atop a pole to symbolize that the Roman people had been freed from the rule of Caesar, which the assassins claimed had become a tyranny because it overstepped the authority of the Senate and thus betrayed the Republic. In his "Apotheosis of Venice" (1585) Paolo Veronese has the ascendant Venice flanked by several symbolic persons, one of whom represents Liberty, dressed as a peasant hoisting a red Phrygian cap on a spear. During the French revolution, the Roman pileus was confused with the Phrygian cap, and this mis-identification then led to the use of the Phrygian cap as a symbol of liberal democratic republicanism.
At the invitation of French-speaking factions in Vaud, 12,000 French troops under general Ménard invaded Vaud on 28 January. An alleged incident, in which French soldiers were killed by Swiss soldiers, was cited as an pretext.They occupied Vaud without resistance and were cheered on by the population. A second army under general Schauenburg advanced from Mont-Terrible, the former Prince-Bishopric of Basel, towards Bern and demanded its government to put pro-French Revolutionary parties in power. The Bernese refusal to do so was used by the French to justify war. On 3 February, the Légion fidèle or "Loyal Legion" was formed out of French-speaking volunteers from Vaud who wished to stay loyal to Bern and recapture the Lemanic Republic.
Balthazar Alexis Henri Schauenburg, was a French general who served in the wars of the French Revolution and the Empire. He briefly commanded the Army of the Moselle in 1793 during the War of the First Coalition. A nobleman, he joined the French Royal Army as a sous-lieutenant in 1764. The French Revolution led to rapid promotion and then to arrest for the crime of being an aristocrat. Later restored to command, he commanded Kehl in 1796 and invaded Switzerland in 1798. He served in Jean Victor Marie Moreau's army in 1800 and held commands in the interior under the First French Empire. He retired from the army in 1814 and died in 1831. Schawembourg is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 23.
Mont-Terrible[mɔ̃ tɛ.ʁibl] was one of the 130 departments of Napoleonic France, with its capital at Porrentruy.
The Prince-Bishopric of Basel was an ecclesiastical principality within the Holy Roman Empire, ruled from 1032 by Prince-Bishops with their seat at Basel, and from 1528 until 1792 at Porrentruy, and thereafter at Schliengen. The final dissolution of the state occurred in 1803 as part of the German Mediatisation.
There were minor skirmishes on 2–5 March 1798, leading to the swift collapse of the Old Confederacy. On 5 March, the French attained a clear victory in the Battle of Grauholz over the Bernese forces, confirming Vaud's secession. It led to even more dependencies across Switzerland declaring themselves independent republics. However, the Directory desired a single central republican state at France's eastern border, not dozens of small ones, and steered towards (re)establishment of national unity, though this time with equality for all its subdivisions. A new Constitution had already been written in Paris by Peter Ochs and approved by the Directory. Many Swiss rebels detested it, and the National Convention in Basel passed a modified version, which was then adopted by many other entities, but the French government insisted on the original. A proposal by Supreme Commander Guillaume Brune on 16 and 19 March to divide Switzerland into three republics was also overruled; Paris enforced its design.
The Battle of Grauholz on 5 March 1798 was a battle between a Bernese army under Karl Ludwig von Erlach against the French Revolutionary Army under Balthazar Alexis Henri Schauenburg. The battle took place at Grauholz, a wooded hill in what is now the municipalities of Urtenen-Schönbühl and Moosseedorf in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. The government of Bern had already surrendered the previous day and the Bernese defeat at Grauholz ended their resistance to the French in the north of the canton.
Peter Ochs was a Swiss politician who is best known for drawing up the first constitution of the short-lived Helvetic Republic.
Guillaume Marie-Anne Brune, 1st Comte Brune was a French soldier and political figure who rose to Marshal of France.
On 12 April 1798, 121 cantonal deputies proclaimed the Helvetic Republic, "One and Indivisible". The new régime abolished cantonal sovereignty and feudal rights. The occupying forces established a centralised state based on the ideas of the French Revolution. The clashes of April and May represent the last pockets of resistance against the recently established Helvetic Republic. The Nidwalden uprising (Schreckenstage von Nidwalden) in September was more serious, with 435 dead, including 118 women and 25 children. Its repression confirmed the new political situation.
|2 March 1798||Battle of Lengnau||Lengnau||France vs. Bern|
|2 March 1798||Battle of Twann||Twann||France vs. Bern|
|2 March 1798||Battles of Grenchen and Bellach||Grenchen, Bellach||France defeats Solothurn|
|3 March 1798||Battle of Col de la Croix||Col de la Croix||France vs. Bern|
|5 March 1798||Battle of St. Niklaus||Merzligen||France vs. Bern|
|5 March 1798||Battle of Fraubrunnen||Fraubrunnen||France defeats Bern|
|5 March 1798||Battle of Grauholz||Schönbühl||France defeats Bern|
|5 March 1798||Battle of Neuenegg||Neuenegg||Bern defeats France|
|26 April 1798||Battle of Hägglingen||Hägglingen||France defeats Zug|
|30 April 1798||Battle of Wollerau||Wollerau||France defeats Schwyz|
|1 May 1798||Battle of Stucketen-Chäppeli||Beinwil SO||France vs. Solothurn|
|2 May 1798||Battle of Schindellegi||Feusisberg||France defeats Schwyz|
|2/3 May 1798||Battle of Rothenthurm||Rothenthurm||Schwyz defeats France|
|17 May 1798||1st Battle of Pfyn||Sion||France defeats Valais|
|7–9 September 1798||Nidwalden uprising||Nidwalden||France defeats Nidwalden|
The invasion strained the recently concluded Treaty of Campo Formio (18 October 1797) that had ended the War of the First Coalition against France. Now, the European monarchies once again feared republican France was expanding its grip on the continent, and had to be opposed and driven back. The French conquest of Switzerland, which had maintained its neutrality ever since the outbreak of the French Revolution, was one of the reasons for the formation of the Second Coalition, and would see an Austro-Russian army conduct the Italian and Swiss expedition in 1799 and 1800.
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the Swiss Confederation. The nucleus of the Swiss Confederacy in the form of the first three confederate allies used to be referred to as the Waldstätte. Two further major steps in the development of the Swiss cantonal system are referred to by the terms Acht Orte and Dreizehn Orte ; they were important intermediate periods of the Ancient Swiss Confederacy.
The canton of Vaud is the third largest of the Swiss cantons by population and fourth by size. It is located in Romandy, the French-speaking western part of the country; and borders the canton of Neuchâtel to the north, the cantons of Fribourg and Bern to the east, Valais and Lake Geneva to the south, the canton of Geneva to the south-west and France to the west.
In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic (1798–1803) represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then had consisted of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance.
Each of the 26 modern cantons of Switzerland has an official flag and a coat of arms. The history of development of these designs spans the 13th to the 20th centuries.
During the French Revolutionary Wars, the revolutionary armies marched eastward, enveloping Switzerland in their battles against Austria. In 1798, Switzerland was completely overrun by the French and was renamed the Helvetic Republic. The Helvetic Republic encountered severe economic and political problems. In 1798 the country became a battlefield of the Revolutionary Wars, culminating in the Battles of Zürich in 1799.
Josef Fridolin Vinzenz Aloys Reding von Biberegg was a Swiss patriot, military officer and politician. He is best known for leading an early revolt against the Helvetic Republic.
A sister republic was a republic established by French armies or by local revolutionaries and assisted by the First French Republic during the French Revolutionary Wars.
The Act of Mediation was issued by Napoleon Bonaparte on 19 February 1803 establishing the Swiss Confederation. The act also abolished the previous Helvetic Republic, which had existed since the invasion of Switzerland by French troops in 1798. After the withdrawal of French troops in July 1802, the Republic collapsed. The Act of Mediation was Napoleon's attempt at a compromise between the Ancien Régime and a republic. This intermediary stage of Swiss history lasted until the Restoration of 1815.
The periods of Restoration and Regeneration in Swiss history last from 1814 to 1847. "Restoration" refers to the period of 1814 to 1830, the restoration of the Ancien Régime (federalism), reverting the changes imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte on the centralist Helvetic Republic from 1798 and the partial reversion to the old system with the Act of Mediation of 1803. "Regeneration" refers to the period of 1830 to 1848, when in the wake of the July Revolution the "restored" Ancien Régime was countered by the liberal movement. In the Protestant cantons, the rural population enforced liberal cantonal constitutions, partly in armed marches on the cities. This resulted in a conservative backlash in the Catholic cantons in the 1830s, raising the conflict to the point of civil war by 1847.
The Federal Diet of Switzerland was the legislative and executive council of the Swiss Confederacy which existed in various forms since the beginnings of Swiss independence until the formation of the Swiss federal state in 1848.
The Federal Treaty was the legal foundation for the new Swiss Confederacy of 1815. It came about after interventions by the great powers of the Sixth Coalition that defeated Napoleon.
Léman was the name of a canton of the Helvetic Republic from 1798 to 1803, corresponding to the territory of modern Vaud. As a former subject territory of Bern, Vaud had been independent for only four months in 1798 as the Lemanic Republic before it was incorporated in the centralist Helvetic Republic. Léman comprised all of the Vaud detached from Bernese occupation, apart from the Avenches and the Payerne which, after 16 October 1802, were annexed by the canton of Fribourg until the Napoleonic Act of Mediation the following year, when they were restored to the newly established and newly sovereign canton of Vaud.
Raetia was the name of a canton of the Helvetic Republic from 1798 to 1803, corresponding to modern Graubünden and composed of the Free State of the Three Leagues. Until 1799, the canton was administered by the central government of the Helvetic Republic.
Bourla-Papey was the name given to a popular revolt that took place between February and May 1802 in the Canton of Léman, in Switzerland, during the days of the Helvetic Republic. The uprising was in response to the restoration of feudal rights and taxes that had been abolished following the French invasion of 1798. The Bourla-papey seized archives from castles in the area now known as the Canton de Vaud, which they burned in an attempt to destroy records of what was owned by whom, making it impossible to collect taxes.
Rolle Castle is a castle in the municipality of Rolle of the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland. It is a Swiss heritage site of national significance.