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History of Switzerland

Swiss history began the year 1291 in the Swiss town of Rütli[?] with a contract, known as the Bundesbrief[?] ("the Eternal Alliance") between leaders of regions called Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden in what is now Switerland.The Bundesbrief united them in the struggle against their foreing rulers, the Hapsburgs. At the Battle of Morgarten in 1315, the Swiss defeated the Habsburg army and secured quasi-independence as the SSwiss Confederation. Before the fourteenth century Switzerland was a collection of loosely organized city-states as cantons - the Bundesbrief and the subsequent Swiss victory at Morgarten paved hte way for indapendance.

However, true indapendance was not to be achieved until three centuries later, at the Peace of Westphalia. In 1648, the Hapsburgs, who continued to dominate Switzerland, were defeated by the French in the Thirty Years' War. As part of the settlement, Switzerland was granted complete indapendance from the Holy Roman Empire.

Their newfound indapendance was again destroyed by another major event, the French Revolution. During the French Revolutionary Wars, the revolutionary armies boiled eastward, enveloping Switzerland in their battles against Austria. In 1789 Switezerland was completely overrun by the French and became the Swiss Republic[?] until Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. At the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Switzerland's indapendance was once again affirmed and the Great Powers of Europe agreed to permanently recognise Swiss neutrality, a promise that has not been broken. In the same year, the provinces of Valais, Neuchâtel[?] and Geneva joined the Swiss Federation, giving Switzerland the boundaries that it has maintained up till the present day.

Unlike most nations, Switzerland was not swept by revolutions in 1848, but fear of liberal revolutionarly elements drove the Swiss government to establish a constiution[?] which established federal responsibility for defense, trade, and legal matters. The constitution was amended extensively in 1874. Since then, Switzerland has developed into an socially, politically, and economically stable European state.

No doubt a large degree of that stability is due to Switzerland's gaurentee of perpetual neutrality, which was honored by the rest of Europe. Switzerland was not militarily involved in either of the two World Wars (World War I nor World War II). However, the political and economic integration of Europe over the later 20th century, as well as Switzerland's role in many United Nations and international organizations, helped to render obsolete the country's concern for neutrality. In 2002, Switzerland was officially ratified as a member of the United Nations.

See also : Switzerland



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