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Early Helvetia

The present territory of Swiss Confederation was colonized by the Romans in the 1C BC and later invaded by Barbarians - Burgundians and Alamans - whose ethnic characteristics and differing temperaments are to be found today among the Romansh and Germanic Swiss. Remnants of Roman civilization can be found today in many Swiss cities, also in Lausanne, originally Roman port Lousonna on the shores of Lake Geneva.Political map. Click to see full-sized picture (213933 bytes)

In the middle Ages present territory of Switzerland was included in the great body of a Holy Roman Empire. The gradual decline of this empire enabled certain feudal dynasties, like the families of Zähringen, Savoy, Kyburg and Habsburg, to emerge as real territorial powers at the beginning of the 13C. Meanwhile, as in Germany, certain cities (Zürich, Berne), which had enjoyed the favor of the distant Emperor, already had the status of free towns, while the small isolated communities in the mountains were almost autonomous.

Founding Pact

In the alpine valleys near Lake Lucerne, the "Waldstätten" (Forest States) of Uri, Schwytz and Unterwalden showed great discontent when the Habsburgs appointed the government by bailiffs. On 1 August 1291, representatives of the three communities signed a pact of mutual assistance "to last, if God will, forever". This pact is the beginning of the Helvetic Confederation.

 

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