Switzerland (inc. Liechtenstein); key historical events

Page last modified 14/11/2019


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Click here for map of Lausanne – Thonon area, 1955 and 2000. See also France for more old-new maps.


9/2/2014, In a referendum, 50.3% of voters backed a quota on immigration proposed by the Right-wing Swiss Peoples Party (SVP). Turnout was 56%. A quarter of the Swiss population are immigrants. The Francophone west was opposed to quotas but the German-speaking east backed them. The EU criticised the vote; although Switzerland is not part of the EU it has close economic ties with it, and is part of the Schengen Agreement. The Swiss Government and business leaders opposed the quotas.

12/12/2008, Switzerland became the 25th country to join the Schengen Agreement, eliminating cross-border checks.

5/10/1994, Fifty members of the Solar Temple cult were found dead in Switzerland.

28/7/1984. George Gallup, whose name is synonymous with opinion polls, died in Switzerland aged 62.

1882, The Swiss National Redoubt was finally defined as an outer and inner defensive zone, the concept having been first conceived in the 1820s following a period of French occupation. The outer zone defended the Swiss Plateau; the inner zone was an Alpine refuge area. In 1929 Mussolini bullt a road to San Giacomo, from which the St Gotthard Pass and railway tunnel were within artillery range from. This signal of Italian military capability and territorial ambition spurred the Swiss to build a network of fortifications as soon as Italy entered World war Two.

19/7/1945, Heinrich Wolfflin, Swiss art historian, died aged 81.

31/3/1928, Gustave Ador, Swiss statesman (born 23/12/1845) died.

10/6/1923. Switzerland and Liechtenstein formed a customs union.

20/5/1900, Voters in Switzerland overwhelmingly rejected a law providing for sickness and accident insurance. The Kranken und Unfallversicherungsgesetz (KUVG), sponsored by Ludwig Forrer and passed the Federal Assembly, but was challenged by a referendum, where more than 70% of the voters were against it. Health reform would finally pass in 1911.

11/3/1881, Henri Frederic Amiel, Swiss philosopher, died in Geneva (born in Geneva 27/9/1821).

9/10/1874, The Universal Postal Union was established, with its headquarters in Berne, Switzerland.

13/7/1865, Edward Whymper became the first person to climb the Matterhorn.

11/8/1858, The summit of the Eiger, in the Swiss Alps, was reached for the first time, by Charles Barrington of Bray, Ireland.

12/9/1848, Switzerland adopted a Federal constitution.

8/4/1839, Pierre Prevost, Swiss philosopher, born 3/3/1751, died.

19/2/1833, Elie Ducommun, Swiss journalist and pacifist was born in Geneva, Switzerland (died 7/12/1916 in Berne, Switzerland).

1803, The Canton of Argau joined the Swiss Confereration.

23/1/1719, The Principality of Liechtenstein was constituted.

8/6/1653. A Peasant’s Revolt, the latest in a series of them, was put down in Switzerland.

13/9/1515, The French beat the Swiss at the Battle of Marengo (Marignano).

1513, Appenzel joined the Swiss Confederation.

1501, Schaffhausen and Basel joined the Swiss Confederation.

22/9/1499, Under the Treaty of Basel, Maximilian granted the Swiss independence. Formal independence was not achieved for another century.

22/7/1499, The Battle of Dornach. Swiss Confederation forces defeated the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian. This was the last battle between Switzerland and the Holy Roman Empire.

1481, Solothurn and Freibourg joined the Swiss Confederation.

5/1/1477, Battle of Nancy. Swiss pikemen defeated the Duke of Burgundy’s cavalry. The 43-year old Duke was killed in the battle, and his body was found later, half-eaten by wolves.

22/6/1476, The Battle of Morat. The Swiss again defeated the Burgundians.

2/3/1476, The Swiss defeated a Burgundian Army at Grandson, Switzerland.

1467, First ballad about the Swiss national hero, William Tell, appeared.

1415, The Bernese captured the fortress of Aaarau from the Hapsburgs.

9/7/1386, The Battle of Sempach.

3/3/1353, Bern signed an alliance with the Swiss Confederation.

27/6/1352, Zug joined the Swiss Confederation.

4/6/1352, Glarus joined the Swiss Confederation.

1/5/1351, Zurich joined the Swiss Confederation.

7/11/1332, Lucerne joined the Swiss Confederation with Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden.

15/11/1315. A small army of Swiss foot soldiers routed a Hapsburg army sent to bring the valleys of central Switzerland under Hapsburg rule at the Battle of Morgarten. The Hapsburgs had for long had manorial rights in these valleys but not political control. The Swiss had begun to assert their political independence, fortifying the entrances of the valleys. This conflict was precipitated by a dispute over grazing rights; the men of Schwyz attacked an abbey and took some of the monks hostage.

1/8/1291, According to tradition, the Swiss Confederation was formed by Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden, the "three forest cantons", at Rütli by the Federal Charter.

See Roman Empire for Roman conquest of Switzerland

6,000 BCE, Dogs were domesticated in the Swiss Lakes region (see food), and oxen were being used for ploughing.


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