18th century

Statue of Major Jean David Abraham Davel
Major Jean David Abraham Davel monument in Lausanne (1898). © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

In terms of foreign relations, the 18th century was a peaceful time in which, after the Battle of Villmergen in 1712, religious tensions gradually began to ease. Within the cantons, however, resistance arose in a number of places against the power monopolies of small groups.

The 18th century was marked by major changes in agriculture and the emergence of cottage industries, particularly in textiles and watchmaking. Enlightenment societies addressed economic issues and questions of education and a new form of patriotism that was now linked with the nation rather than the canton. In the process, they overcame confessional boundaries and actively exchanged ideas with like-minded thinkers abroad. A few of them – such as Schaffhausen-born historian Johannes von Müller – even managed to earn a livelihood there, something which was impossible in Switzerland.

18th century (PDF, 217.4 kB, English)