Georg von Wyss

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Georg von Wyss, 1889

Georg von Wyss (born March 31, 1816 in Zurich ; † December 17, 1893 ibid) was a Swiss politician and historian.


Georg von Wyss came from a family of politicians. Both his father David von Wyss and his grandfather David von Wyss the Elder were mayors of Zurich, his father was Chairman of the Diet from 1815 and President of Switzerland from 1821 to 1827. His mother Anna Barbara (* 1785 in Zurich) died in childbed and left behind his older sister, about 10 years old, Regina Dorothea. His father then married Johanna Sophia von Mülinen, the eldest daughter of his political friend, the Schultheissen von Bern, who gave birth to Friedrich von Wyss in November 1818 . The two boys had a lifelong friendship.

At the age of five, Georg received his first lessons in a private institute in Zurich, from 1824 he went to the community school and soon afterwards to the institute of Johann Christian Lippe , who ran an educational institution at Lenzburg Castle . There Georg met the aged Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi . His strong political and historical interest only arose during his studies, which he took up in 1834 at the University of Zurich , which had been newly founded the year before . He attended lectures from various faculties without knowing what to study. During this time he won Rudolf Wolf and Johannes Wild as friends. Beyond the actual study contact, their relationship strengthened above all in the Wildschen, rural family in Richterswil and in their work in the Zofingia student association . At the age of 19 he moved to Geneva to study natural sciences. One of his teachers was Auguste Arthur de la Rive , whom he held in high regard . Four semesters later he returned to his hometown as a Bachelier dès sciences . The following academic year - together with his half-brother Friedrich - at the Humboldt University in Berlin , he retrospectively judged as lost time, and he began to work as a journalist.

Von Wyss was in Göttingen in 1840 to attend magnetic observations initiated by Carl Friedrich Gauss . Wyss' goal was to help set up an observatory in Zurich. In the autumn of the same year he became a founding member of the Allgemeine Naturforschenden Gesellschaft in Baden , and a year later he became an actuary of the Antiquarian Society in Zurich . This clearly developed his interest in historical topics.

In 1843 he married his cousin Anna Regina von Wyss, who partly co-authored his works.

At the age of 23 he entered the civil service , was only second state clerk from 1842 to 1847, from 1845 a member of the Grand Council of the City of Zurich, from 1848 a cantonal councilor in the cantonal parliament and belonged to the conservative opposition. In addition to his membership in the Protestant-conservative Federal Association founded in 1875 , he was one of the founding members of the General History Research Society of Switzerland in 1841 and was its president until his death in 1854. In 1852 he gained experience in the railway industry for a year by holding the position of director of the Swiss Northern Railway . But with the merger with the Swiss Northeast Railway , this task became obsolete; Alfred Escher became director of the merged company . Now he devoted himself entirely to history.

In 1850 he completed his habilitation at the University of Zurich for Swiss history, in 1957 the university awarded him an honorary doctorate, the following year he became an associate professor, and in 1871 he was ordained, which his political opponents had previously prevented. In 1872 he was appointed rector of the university. In the last year of his life he resigned from his professorship and received the title of honorary professor. In the Constitutional Council and temporarily in the 35th Commission, he had great influence on the total revision of the Swiss Federal Constitution of 1874.

Works (selection)


  • Gerold Meyer von Knonau : Georges de Wyss à Genève: 1835–1837. Librairie Georg, 1895.
  • Gerold Meyer von Knonau:  Wyß, Georg von . In: Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB). Volume 44, Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig 1898, pp. 417-423.
  • Gerold Meyer von Knonau: Life picture of Professor Georg von Wyss. In: Hundert Jahre: Pictures from the history of the city of Zurich from 1814–1914. Zurich 1914.

Web links

Commons : Georg von Wyss  - Collection of Images
Wikisource: Georg von Wyß  - sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. Family overview , Bernese families.
  2. a b Regula Etter-Jaeggli: The "three W" of Zurich. In: Librarium. Journal of the Swiss Bibliophile Society, Volume 16, 1973, Issue 1, pp. 48–62.
  3. ^ Daniel V. Moser: Federal Association. In: Historical Lexicon of Switzerland . April 24, 2002 , accessed December 16, 2018 .