XI. History. Statistics.
The limits of this work preclude more than a brief historical sketch of
the interesting country the traveller is now visiting, whose inhabitants have
ever been noted for their spirit of freedom and independence. It is ne¬
cessary for a moment to cany the reader back to the conquest of Helvetia
by the" Roman legions. Under the Roman sway Helvetia enjoyed a flourish¬
ing trade, which covered the land with cities and villages. A trace of
that period exists in the Romanic dialect, which is still spoken in some
parts of Switzerland.
Switzerland is believed to have been first peopled by the Rhaeti, who
were driven from the plains to the mountains by the llelvelii, a Celtic
tribe. The latter were conquered by the Romans, U. C. f>S. anil the Rhieti
were subdued in B. C. 15. The Romans made good military roads over
the tireat St. Bernard (p. 2G3) to Bale, and over the Julier (p. 35(1),
Septimer (p. 35G), and Spliigen (p. 347) to Brcgenz (p. ;i!K)), and thence to
Bale. The chief settlements were Aventicuiii. (Avcnches, p. 192} in the Can¬
ton of Vaud, Viudonissa (Windisch, p. 17) at the continence of the Aare,
Keuss, and Limmat, Augusta Ranracorum (Augst, p. 16) near Bale, and
Curia Rhaelorum (Coire, p. 322) in the Orisons. E. Switzerland as far as
I'l'yn (ad fines) in Thurgau, and Pfyn (p. 270) in the Upper Valais, belonged
to the province of Rhsetia, while W. Switzerland formed part of Gaul.
The name Helvetii had become extinct even before the time of Constantine.
About A. D. 400 a great irruption of barbarians swept through the
peaceful valleys of the Alps, and Huns, Burgundians, Alemanni, and
Ostrogoths in succession settled in different parts of the country. The
Aleuiaiuii occupied the whole of N. Switzerland, where Cerman is now-
spoken; the Burgundians the W. part, where French is spoken; and the
Ostrogoths S. Switzerland, where Italian and Romansch are now spoken.
These races were gradually subdued by the Franks, who, however, did not.
take possession of the country themselves, but governed it, by their officers.
During this period Christianity was introduced, the monasteries of ll'nenlis
(p. 337), SI. Gallen (p. 46), Einsiedeln (p. 80), and Beromiinster were
founded, and dukes and counts were appointed as vicegerents of the
After the dissolution of the great Franconian empire, the eastern half
of Switzerland, the boundary of which extended from Eglisan over the
Albis to Lucerne, and the Grimsel, was united with the duchy of Aleman-
nia, or Sicilian, and the western part with the kingdom of Burgundy (912).
After the downfall of the latter (1032} the German Emperors took posses¬
sion of the country, and governed it by their vicegerents the dukes of
Zithringen ip. 127), who were perpetually at, enmity with the Burgundian
nobles anil therefore favoured the inhabitants of the towns, and were
themselves the founders of several new towns, such as Freiburg, Bern,
As the power of the emperors declined, and the nobles, spiritual and
temporal, became more ambitious of independence, and more eager to till
their colters at the expense of their neighbours, the Swiss towns and the
few country people who had succeeded in preserving their freedom from
serfdom were compelled to consult, their safety by entering into treaties
with the feudal lords of the soil. Thus the inhabitants of Zurich placed
themselves under the protection of the then unimportant. Counts of llaps-
bnrg, with whom the 'Three Cantons' of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwablen
were also allied. In 1231 and 1240 letters of independence were granted
by Emperor Frederick 11. to Uri and Schwyz, and alter Count Rudolph of
Ilapsburg had become emperor he confirmed the privileges of the former
in 1274, while Schwyz and Unterwalden still continued subject to the
After the emperor's death in 1201 the Forest Cantons formed their
first, league lor mutual safely and the prolertion ol' their liberty auainst
the growing power of the House of Ilapsburg. Rudolph's son Albert in
particular endeavoured to rear the limited rights he enjoyed in these dis
triefs into absolute sovereignty, and to incorporate Ihem with his empire.