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§ 59. The Condition of French Switzerland before the Reformation.

The losses of the Reformation in German Switzerland were more than made up by the gains in French Switzerland; that is, in the three Cantons, Vaud, Neuchàtel, and Geneva.332332    La Suisse française orla Suisse romande. Vaud has 1244 square miles; Neuchâtel, 312; Geneva, 109. The first numbered, in 1889, 251,000 inhabitants; the second, 109,000; the third, 107,000. Protestantism moved westward. Calvin continued, improved, and completed the work of Zwingli, and gave it a wider significance. Geneva took the place of Zürich, and surpassed in influence the city of Zwingli and the city of Luther. It became "the Protestant Rome," from which proceeded the ideas and impulses for the Reformed Churches of France, Holland, England, and Scotland. The city of Calvin has long since departed from his rigorous creed and theocratic discipline, and will never return to them; but the evangelical faith still lives there in renewed vigor; and among cities of the same size there is none that occupies a more important and influential position in theological and religious activity as well as literary and social culture, and as a convenient centre for the settlement of international questions, than Geneva.

The Reformation of French Switzerland cannot be separated from that of France. The inhabitants of the two countries are of the same Celtic or Gallic stock mixed with Germanic (Frank and Burgundian) blood. The first evangelists of Western Switzerland were Frenchmen who had to flee from their native soil. They became in turn, through their pupils, the founders of the Reformed Church of France. The Reformed Churches of the two countries are one in spirit. After the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, many Huguenots found an asylum in Geneva, Vaud, and Neuchâtel. The French Swiss combine the best traits of the French character with Swiss solidity and love of freedom. They are ever ready to lend a helping hand to their brethren across the frontier, and they form at the same time a connecting link between them and the Protestants of the German tongue. Their excellent educational institutions attract students from abroad and train teachers for other countries.

The territory of the French Cantons, which embraces 1665 square miles, was in the sixteenth century under the protection of the Swiss Confederacy.

Vaud was conquered by Bern from the Duke of Savoy, and ruled by bailiffs till 1798.333333    See Vulliemin, Le canton de Vaud, Lausanne, 3d ed., 1885. Verdeil, Histoire du canton de Vaud, Lausanne, 1854-’57, 4 vols.

The principality of Neuchâtel and Valangin concluded a co-burghery with Freiburg, 1290, with Bern, 1307, and with Solothurn, 1324. In 1707 the principality passed to King Frederick I. of Prussia, who confirmed the rights and liberties of the country and its old alliance with Switzerland. The connection with Prussia continued till 1857, when it was dissolved by free consent.334334    See the historical works on Neuchâtel by Chambrier, Matile, Boyve, Majer, Benoît.

Geneva was originally governed by a bishop and a count, who divided the spiritual and secular government between them. Duke Charles III. of Savoy tried to subdue the city with the aid of an unworthy and servile bishop, Pierre de la Baume, whom he had appointed from his own family with the consent of Pope Leo X.335335    Pierre de la Baume was bishop of Geneva from 1523 to 1536, became bishop of Besançon 1542, and died 1544. Bonivard (as quoted by Audin, who praises the bishops of Geneva) says of him: "He was a great dissipator of goods, in all things superfluous, esteeming it a sovereign virtue in a prelate to have his table loaded with large dishes of meat and all sorts of wines; and when there he gave himself up so completely as to exceed thirty-one courses." Audin adds (p. 116): "This shaft would have been much more pointed, had not Bonivard often seated himself at this table and drank far otherwise than became the prior of St. Victor." But a patriotic party, under the lead of Philibert Berthelier, Besançon Hugues, and François Bonivard (Byron’s "Prisoner of Chillon") opposed the attempt and began a struggle for independence, which lasted several years, and resembles on a small scale the heroic struggle of Switzerland against foreign oppression. The patriots, on account of their alliance with the Swiss, were called Eidgenossen,—a German word for (Swiss) Confederates, which degenerated by mispronunciation into Eignots and Huguenots, and passed afterwards from Geneva to France as a nickname for Protestants.336336    Merle D’Aubigné, I. 119: "Until after the Reformation, this sobriquet had a purely political meaning, in no respect religious, and designated simply the friends of independence. Many years after, the enemies of the Protestants of France called them by this name, wishing to stigmatize them and impute to them a foreign, republican, and heretical origin. Such is the true etymology of the term." There are, however, two other etymologies,—one from Hugh Capet, from whom descended Henry IV., the political and military leader of the Huguenots. The party of the Duke of Savoy and the bishop were nicknamed Mamelukes or slaves. The patriots gained the victory with the aid of the German Swiss. On Feb. 20, 1526, Bern and Freiburg concluded an alliance with Geneva, and pledged their armed aid for the protection of her independence. The citizens of Geneva ratified the Swiss alliance by an overwhelming majority, who shouted, "The Swiss and liberty!" The bishop appealed in vain to the pope and the emperor, and left Geneva for St. Claude. But he had to accept the situation, and continued to rule ten years longer (till 1536).337337    For the details of these political struggles, which have little interest for Church history, see Merle D’Aubigné, I. 1-426; the Histories of Geneva, and Am. Roget, Les Suisses et Genève, ou l’emancipation de la communautégenevoise au XVIesiècle, Genève, 1864, 2 vols. Also Kampschulte, l.c. I. 3-90.

This political movement, of which Berthelier is the chief hero, had no connection with the Reformation, but prepared the way for it, and was followed by the evangelical labors of Farel and Viret, and the organization of the Reformed Church under Calvin. During the war of emancipation there grew up an opposition to the Roman Church and the clergy of Geneva, which sided with Savoy and was very corrupt, even according to the testimonies of Roman Catholic writers, such as Bishop Antoine Champion, Bonivard, the Soeur de Jussie, and Francis of Sales. Reports of the Lutheran and Zwinglian reformation nursed the opposition. Freiburg (Fribourg) remained Roman Catholic338338    It is famous for the organ in the Church of St. Nicolas, for a suspension bridge, and a Catholic university. It is the seat of the bishop of Lausanne, and must not be confounded with Freiburg-im-Breisgau in the Grand Duchy of Baden, which is also a stronghold of Romanism. and broke the alliance with Geneva; but Bern strengthened the alliance and secured for Geneva political freedom from Savoy and religious freedom from Rome.


For the understanding of the geography and history of the Swiss Confederacy, the following facts should be considered in connection with the map facing p. 1.

1. The original Confederacy of the Three Forest Cantons (Urcantone, Waldstätte), Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, from Aug. 1, 1291 (the date of the renewal of an older covenant of 1244) to 1332. Victory at Morgarten over Duke Leopold of Austria, Nov. 15, 1315. (After 1352 the number of Forest Cantons was five, including Luzern and Zug.)

2. The Confederacy of the Eight Cantons (Orte) from 1353 to 1481.

Luzern joined the Forest Cantons in 1332 (thenceforward the Confederacy was called the Bund der Vier Waldstätte, to which in 1352 was added Zug as the Fifth Forest Canton; hence the Fünf Orte or Five Cantons).

Zürich joined 1351.

Glarus joined 1352.

Zug " 1352

Bern " 1353.

Victories over the Austrians at Sempach, July 9, 1386 (Arnold von Winkelried), and Näfels, April 9, 1388. Battle against the Dauphin of France (Louis XI.) Aug. 26, 1444, at St. Jacob near Basel (the Thermopylae of the Swiss), and victories over Charles the Bold of Burgundy, at Grandson, June 22, 1476, and Nancy, Jan. 5, 1477.

3. The Confederacy of the Thirteen Cantons, 1513–1798.

Freiburg joined 1481.

Schaffhausen joined 1501

Solothurn " 1481

Appenzell " 1513

Basel " 1501.

4. The Confederation under the French Directory, 1798–1802. Vaud, with the help of France, made herself independent of Bern, 1798. Valtellina Chiavenna, and Bormio were lost to the Grisons and attached to the Cisalpine Republic by Napoleon, 1797. Neuchâtel separated from Switzerland.

5. The Confederation of Nineteen Cantons from 1803–1813, under the influence of Napoleon as "Mediator."

6. Modern Switzerland of Twenty-Two Cantons from the Congress of Vienna, 1815, to date.

The new Cantons are: Ticino, Valais, St. Gall, Aargau, Thurgau, Grisons, Geneva, Vaud, Neuchâtel. They were formerly dependent on, and protected by, or freely associated with, the Thirteen Can

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