Switzerland in Middle Ages

Switzerland in Middle Ages

But for the much larger northern and northeastern Switzerland, Roman civilization was lost – albeit not suddenly. The Alamanni, who also raided it around 455 AD. C. were unconverted pagans. Only the Grisons have retained their latinity to some extent up to the present. The process of Germanization penetrated very slowly into these peripheral provinces. The Latins occupied the country north of Chur until after the 13th century. XI. The today’s capital of the canton was Germanized only in the century. XV, other valleys in the century. XVI. The lex Romana Curiensis appears to have been written on a Roman example, almost still at the time of Charlemagne.

But for the hilly regions and the buttresses of the Aare and Rhine valleys, an uninterrupted work of destruction of Roman culture began. It is true that some islands of Gallo-Latin civilization remained, especially behind city walls, but the definitive dominance of the Germanic element was only a matter of time here. Germanization, that is the return to pagan concepts and customs, became the destiny of those regions, which shared the fate of Württemberg, Baden and Alsace. The Roman civilization, which had always been of a weaker imprint than in the west or in the south, continually fertilized by Gaul and Italy, was certainly not completely annihilated in the north and north-east: however, the decisive factor was the immigration of non-Romanized Germans, from which all future development was to originate.

Christianity was to be propagated again, at the beginning of the seventh century, by Irish missionaries, such as St. Columban and St. Gall.

If in the oldest preserved legislative text, the Pactus Alamannorum (about 650), you can still breathe the crudeness of paganism, the book of laws of Duke Lantfrid, drawn up about 100 years later, demonstrates the evident rapidity of this transformation. The Church, which at that time was also completing its organization in the diocese for the Alamannic region, appears to be very favored. Both with the foundation of monasteries and with the social and political activity of the secular clergy, it already had a decisive importance for the civilization of the whole region. The Benedictine monastery of St. Gall, slowly developing from the cell and sepulcher of St. Gall up to 720, was to acquire European fame a century later. If the Greco-Roman tradition was saved this was largely due to the work of these monks. At the same time, however, they were working for the clearing of the land in the mountainous regions, which are still partly almost inaccessible. The Unterwalden was colonized with the monastery of San Leodegario in Lucerne, founded around 750 by missionaries from the Alsatian town of Murbach.

The Alamanni, who at first enjoyed their autonomy, ruling themselves through their dukes, in the meantime had been annexed – around 536 AD. C. – as the state of the Burgundians, to the kingdom of the Franks. Similar to a kind of basin, it welcomed many scattered Germanic banks of the East and West. With the inheritance of the Merovingians, today’s Switzerland also passed largely to the Carolingian state, which, after the submission of the Lombards in 774, also included northern and central Italy. Consequently, the traffic through the Alpine passes acquired an increasing importance. Chur, for example, was already in the nineteenth century a city of decisive importance for trade beyond the mountains; its bishop made strong customs income from it. For western Switzerland, the the main artery was constituted by the Great Saint Bernard, since it guaranteed the relations of the regions of the Lower Rhine and those of the north of Gaul with the south; while the Gotthard, although practicable, still had no international importance.

The introduction of the Frankish organization based on committees, even in the most remote alpine region, including the Grisons, by removing the primitive Alamanno principality, was one of the main events of the Carolingian period. The other capital event is constituted by the first feudal concessions, which already fall in this era. Certainly very little is known about the influence of Charlemagne in the internal life of the then Swiss territory. But an event of great importance dates back to him: namely the reunion of the various lands into a political whole. The change in the royal policy towards Italy through the Lombard wars also gave back to the country of the most important Alpine passes that importance which it had had under Roman rule. Of course,

From the death of Charlemagne (814) the decline began. In the division of the empire, in Verdun (843), the eastern part of Switzerland, in one with the Grisons, up to the Aare, fell to Charles’s nephew, Lodovico il Germanico; Burgundy, together with Ticino, instead passed to Lotharingia, which also included Italy. The division which had already existed at first between predominantly Roman and predominantly Germanic organisms was thereby confirmed again. Although there was no shortage of even short-lived contacts, it took almost two hundred years for closer political ties to be re-established between the eastern and western parts of today’s Switzerland.

At the same time, the territories between the Jura and the Alps found themselves in critical conditions. As the civilization of the monastery of St. Gall developed more and more, particularly during the 9th and 10th centuries (Tutylus, the different Notker and Ekkehard I-IV), the Lotharingian kingdom was shattered (around 880). With the usurpation of powerful nobles, a new Upper Burgundy was born: in addition to regions of western Switzerland (together with Saint-Maurice, the place of the coronation), Franche-Comté and parts of Lorraine and Savoy belonged to it. Since at the same time irruptions of Hungarians from the outside and internal conflicts turned the region already of the Alamanni upside down, the previous duchy rose from the general disorganization, precisely as among the Saxons, Franks, Lorraine, Bavarians, etc. Raids by Saracens from the Gulf of Toulon completed the lack of security already caused by the Hungarians. In 920 the Muslims penetrated a lot in Valais, in 936 in Rezia, destroying Chur. In 940 they went up into the Rhone valley to burn Saint-Maurice. Only the consolidation of conditions under the Germanic reign of Otto the Great (936-973) seems to have attenuated and finally removed these serious drawbacks.

At the same time the meeting of Burgundy with the general organism of the empire was being prepared, from which in the past it had been torn. Conrad II was crowned in Payerne in 1033, triumphing over other pretenders, as ruler also of the Burgundian feudal state in decline. Although this state encompassed the entire Rhône region as far as the Mediterranean, western Switzerland, with Payerne, Basel, Lausanne and Saint-Maurice, played a very important part in it. With this, a further penetration towards the North and the East of the Romanesque language area was perhaps avoided, that is to say, a corresponding retreat of the Germanic language was avoided. The transfer of the Duchy of Swabia, like that of the territories of Thurgau to the same dynast, Count Rudolf of Rheinfelden – by the widow of Henry III, the Empress Agnes – had to give rise to a certain feeling of union between East and West of present-day Switzerland. With a further split this feeling was broken again.

In the meantime, characteristic medieval forms of existence had formed: a municipal organization reborn from the fragments of the barbarian invasion, with a slowly increasing and perfecting monetary circulation; and on the other hand the definitive formation of feudalism. Southern French, but especially Italians, introduced modern forms of commercial life, despite all the ecclesiastical prohibitions of interest-based loans: they are the Caorsini or the Lombards of documents. If in this it was rather germs of future development, the affirmation of the feudal system instead typically characterized the conditions of the period of the Crusades. Castles and fortresses of the high and low nobility were erected everywhere. The feudal system dominated the entire state.

Sovereign authority became the starting point of new formations, which soon gave a completely new aspect to the ruined state as an entity in itself: since the emperors were hardly able to defend their superior authority. Everywhere the triumph of particular factors. The investiture struggle at the end of the century had a special influence on this scattering. XI. Between the Jura and the Alps, the Zäringer lineage acquired great power; with the foundation of the city (Friborg 1157; Bern, 1191, etc.), it sought for its part to acquire support against the minor nobles; but its extinction (1218) prevented the success of these prescient plans. Once again the situation got mixed up: on the one hand some cities were making attempts to maintain their autonomy on a republican basis; on the other hand, a series of possessions of the Zäringer were considered immediate territories of the empire. The process of dynastic concentration, which had already appeared very close to its goal, had to begin anew.

Among the rival lineages emerged the counts of Kiburg, Savoy and Habsburg. The Kiburg family died out in 1263-1264 to leave its possessions for the most part in inheritance to the Habsburgs: and therefore a real duel was born between them and the Savoy, who in the person of Count Pietro II, the little Charlemagne, obtained, fighting, some successes, which seemed to open the way to the Savoy expansion. The dominion of the Savoy over the Vaud, already obtained at the cost of many efforts, was becoming more and more unquestionably a fait accompli, and Pietro was already beginning to attack the Zäringer heritage, to penetrate further towards the Bernese Oberland as well as into the lower Valais. But with Rudolph of Habsburg, the future king, the rival was already born, who similarly, indeed even more skillfully, he knew how to profit for himself from the favor of circumstances. If it seemed that the Kiburgs and the Savoyards were on the road to establishing a stable power between the Jura and the Alps, the greatest success nevertheless remained reserved for that Habsburg stock, which originally had been inferior to the other two. With the expansion of the Habsburgs, the history of the Swiss confederation began at the same time. Because, historically considered, it is nothing other than the reaction to the dynastic politics initiated by the count and future king Rudolph (1218-1291). The history of the Swiss confederation began at the same time. Because, historically considered, it is nothing other than the reaction to the dynastic politics initiated by the count and future king Rudolph (1218-1291). The history of the Swiss confederation began at the same time. Because, historically considered, it is nothing other than the reaction to the dynastic politics initiated by the count and future king Rudolph (1218-1291).

Switzerland in Middle Ages

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