Federal letters

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Federal letter of 1291

As federal letters are from the end of the 19th century alliance records in the Swiss Confederation referred. The term can stand for a single document as well as for its entirety.

Federal letters

Federal letters regulated various matters between the countries in what is now Switzerland. For example, there were agreements on mutual assistance or the mediation of disputes, regulating the control of allies in negotiations with third parties, and a ban on foreign judges who are not country folk or who had bought their office.

The best known today is the federal letter of 1291 , which was signed between Uri , Schwyz and Unterwalden or Nidwalden . It had long been forgotten and was only emphasized from other federal letters from that time from the 19th century. It refers to an older alliance that has not been recorded.

The oldest known and surviving federal letter is the one from 1243 in which the cities of Bern and Friborg commit themselves to mutual assistance. The first federal letter still preserved today in German is the federal letter of 1315 , in which the words "Eitgenoze" and "Eitgenossenschaft" appear repeatedly for the first time. Since then, the terms Confederation , Confederation and country people have been used in all alliances . In Latin, the term "conspirati" is used in the alliance of 1291.

All these letters of the Old Confederation, apart from the one from 1291, can also be found in the White Book of Sarnen . Most of them are reproduced in German in an official manuscript on parchment.

Exhibits of the Federal Letter Museum

In addition to the Federal Letter from 1291, the Federal Letter Museum in Schwyz keeps Schwyz copies of other Federal letters of the Old Confederation :

  • 1315: Federal letter between Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden of December 9, 1315
  • 1332: Alliance treaty between the city of Lucerne and the countries of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden
  • 1352: Alliance treaty with Glarus
  • 1352: Alliance contract with the city of Zug
  • 1451: Protection and umbrella contract between the St. Gallen Abbey and the cities of Zurich and Lucerne as well as the states of Schwyz and Glarus
  • 1454: Eternal castle and land rights of the city of St. Gallen with the cities of Zurich, Bern and Lucerne as well as the states of Schwyz, Zug and Glarus
  • 1464: Protection treaty between the city of Rapperswil and the Swiss Confederation
  • 1481: Alliance agreement with the cities of Freiburg and Solothurn
  • 1501: Alliance agreement with the city of Basel
  • 1501: Alliance agreement with the city of Schaffhausen
  • 1513: Alliance treaty with Appenzell

Web links and references


  • Anton Castell: The federal letters to Schwyz. Popular representation of the most important documents of the early federal period. Benziger, Einsiedeln 1936, DNB 572827695 ,
  • Anton Castell: History of the State of Schwyz. Published by the Historical Association of the Canton of Schwyz, Benziger, Einsiedeln / Zurich 1954, DNB 572827709 .

Individual evidence

  1. e-codice University of Freiburg