Under French Rule (1798–1815)

The lying stone lion of the Lion Monument in Lucerne
The Lion of Lucerne dedicated to the Swiss guards massacred in 1792. © Andrew Bossi

The French Revolution and the subsequent Napoleonic Wars altered the face of Europe. Switzerland, too, was not able to escape these changes. However, the legal equality that was being demanded primarily by the rural subject territories in opposition to the old elite was only established when in 1798 French troops marched in and the political system of the thirteen-canton Confederation collapsed, to be replaced by the centralised unitary state of the Helvetic Republic.

By 1803, Napoleon had passed the Act of Mediation to transform this crisis-ridden entity into a federal state, lending the cantons a geographic form that they retained after he was overthrown in 1814/1815.

Under French Rule (1798-1815) (PDF, 304.1 kB, English)