The Rütli pact
A lot of people ask us about the history of Switzerland and about integrating into local life, especially those who are looking to make Switzerland their home. Our second blog is about how Switzerland was formed and how it still plays an important role in Swiss culture and politics. It reads a little like a fairytale, and as nothing has actually been proven, that’s exactly what it is. It’s based on a mixture of facts, legends and myths, a true fairytale with goodies and baddies, heroes, morals and the occasional happy ending! So brew some tea, grab a biscuit and get comfortable; this is where our story begins…
Once upon a time there was a farmer called Werner Stauffacher who lived in Schwyz, one of the Swiss counties surrounding the lake called ‘4 Cantons’. He was afraid for his family, his village and his county because there was a very powerful family called the Habsburgs of Austria (the baddies). They were mean and didn’t want the farmers to become too rich. They hated one farmer in particular, Werner Stauffacher, because he had dared to build a stone house.
When the first Habsburg emperor, Rodolphe, died, the poor farmer decided to go and see his neighbours, Walter Fürst from Uri, and Arnold de Melchtal from Unterwald. They created a secret alliance and made a pact to protect each other from the Habsburgs.
The neighbours met in a meadow called Rütli and agreed to create a confederation between the 3 cantons*. And so, on 1 August 1291, Switzerland was founded (and they all lived happily ever after celebrating with fireworks in August each year!) https://www.facebook.com/VerbierSuisse/videos/1489101424516583/
*There are now 26 cantons (a bit like a county or a district) which are self governed.
Did you know that for the 7th Centenary of the Swiss Confederation they created a hiking trail around part of Lake Lucerne and each 5mm represents the inhabitants of each canton? Check out the website and plan a trip – http://www.weg-der-schweiz.ch/en/the-swiss-path
We love this cartoon which helps to explain how the pact came about: https://www.rts.ch/play/tv/helveticus-l039histoire-suisse-racontee-aux-enfants/video/1291-le-serment-du-gruetli?id=8375987