The Full Wiki

History of Berne: Wikis

Advertisements
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on History of Berne

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

(Redirected to History of Bern article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

From her inauspicious beginnings as a Celtic settlement in pre-Roman Central Europe, the city of Bern grew to become an aristocratic city republic and a major power in the Old Swiss Confederacy. During her heyday in the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, her imperial reach extended over large parts of what is today central and western Switzerland. Since 1848, this small but ancient European city is the federal capital of Switzerland.

Contents

Ancient history

See also: Early history of Switzerland

The earliest evidence of human settlements in the Aare valley dates back to the Neolithic period. The earliest settlement in the area of Bern was founded on the Engehalbinsel (the Narrow Peninsula) to the north of the later city centre around 300 to 200 BCE. A zinc plate from this era, the La Tène culture, may indicate the earliest name of the settlement: Brenodor.

This settlement was partially fortified in the 2nd century BCE. It is thought to have been one of the twelve oppida of the Helvetii mentioned by Caesar.[1]

After the Roman conquest of Helvetia, a small Gallo-Roman settlement — a vicus probably called Brenodurum[2] — was re-founded at the same place. The settlement was abandoned between AD 165 and 211.[3]

Bern in the Middle Ages and the Ancien Régime

See also: Old Swiss Confederacy, Ancien Régime of Switzerland

What is now the city area appears to have been sparsely settled in the early Middle Ages. However, evidence for individual settlements as well as a seventh to ninth century church and a ninth to tenth century Burgundian fortified settlement have been found.[4]

Advertisements

The founding of Bern

Berchtold V on the Zähringer Monument in Bern

The history of the city of Bern proper begins with its founding by Duke Berchtold V of Zähringen in 1191. Local legend has it that the duke vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt; as this turned out to be a bear, the city had both its name (Bern can stand for Bär(e)n, bears) and its heraldic beast. At that time, much of today's Switzerland (then considered part of southern Burgundy) was under the authority of the house of Zähringen. The Zähringer leaders, although with no actual duchy of their own, were styled dukes by decree of the German king and exercised imperial power south of the Rhine. To establish their position there, they founded or expanded numerous settlements, including Fribourg (in 1157), Bern, Burgdorf and Morat.[5]

Development of the city

Bern in 1549.
Bern in 1638.

At its founding, the city is estimated to have had some 400 to 600 inhabitants, which grew to 3,000 by about 1300. During the city's rapid growth in the 13th century, the older castle of Nydegg around which the early settlement was built, was demolished, the Aare slopes fortified and the layout of today's Old Town established. The strong Neustadt fortifications, which closed off the peninsula, formed the limit for the city's growth up until the 19th century. After a major blaze in 1405, the original wooden buildings were gradually replaced by half-timbered houses and later the sandstone buildings that came to be characteristic for the Old Town. Despite the waves of pestilence that hit Europe in the 14th century, the city continued to grow mainly due to immigration from the surrounding countryside.[6]

As Bern was not situated at any of the major trading routes, agriculture quickly became of principal economic importance and remained so throughout Bernese history. Tannery also became an important industry, and leather goods one of Bern's main exports. In the 14th century, as the importance of European commerce began to rise, numerous wealthy trading families emerged as the city's aristocracy. They mainly turned to government and mercenary service in the 15th century, though, and trade stagnated as the city's autocratic rule over the countryside strengthened. Bernese commerce and crafts, organised in guilds, bloomed in the 16th and 17th century, with Bernese glass paintings being especially in demand across Europe.[7]

Society and politics

After the founder Berchtold V died heirless, Bern gained her town privileges in the Goldene Handfeste (traditionally dated to 1218) from Emperor Frederick II. Now an Imperial Free City, Bern was a de facto independent city-state republic. Her traditional constitution, which remained largely unchanged until 1798, was established in 1294.[8] It provided for a Grosser Rat (Grand Council) of two hundred members and a Kleiner Rat (Small Council) of 27 members. The latter included the Schultheiss (mayor) as chief executive and the holders of other public offices such as guild representatives, Stadtschreiber (city clerk), Seckelmeister (bursar) and Grossweibel (Grand Bailiff).[9]

In the Middle Ages, upwards mobility and access to public offices was relatively easy for successful traders and craftsmen, but Bernese society became ever more stratified and aristocratic as the power and wealth of the city grew. By the 17th century, citizenship had become an inherited prerogative, all political bodies elected one another and officials were elected for life.[10] In effect, public offices were now the exclusive prerogative of the gnädige Herren, the "merciful lords", as the small number of noble families now ruling Bern came to be called. These offices became very lucrative as the Bernese territories grew. Patrician Landvögte, sheriffs, ruled the politically powerless countryside, often using armed force to put down peasant revolts.

See also

References

Literature

  • See in general: Berne(municipality) in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  • Peter Meyer (ed.), Berner - deine Geschichte, Büchler Verlag, Bern 1981, ISBN 3-7170-0185-X
  • Rainer C. Schwinges (ed.), Berns mutige Zeit: Das 13. und 14. Jahrhundert neu entdeckt, Bern, Schulverlag blmv AG und Stämpfli Verlag AG, Bern 2003

Footnotes

  1. ^ Bern: Pre-Roman Time in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  2. ^ Archeological Service of Bern, 2005
  3. ^ Bern: Roman Era in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  4. ^ Bern: Early Middle Ages in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  5. ^ Zähringen, von in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  6. ^ Bern: Development of the settlement and the population in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  7. ^ Bern: The urban economy in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  8. ^ Bern: Municipal constitution in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.
  9. ^ Fritz Häusler, Von der Staatsgründung bis zur Reformation, in: Peter Meyer (ed.), Berner - deine Geschichte, Büchler Verlag, Bern 1981
  10. ^ Bern: Urban society in German, French and Italian in the online Historical Dictionary of Switzerland.

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message