Karl von Müller-Friedberg

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Karl Müller von Friedberg on a portrait by Felix Maria Diogg , 1802

Karl von Müller-Friedberg or correctly Karl Müller von Friedberg (born February 24, 1755 in Näfels , † July 22, 1836 in Konstanz ) was a Swiss politician, diplomat and statesman. He is best known as the organizer and first governor of the canton of St. Gallen .

Life and career in the Ancien Régime and in the Helvetic Republic

Bust in St. Gallen

Müller-Friedberg was born as the son of the doctor Franz Joseph Müller Edler von Friedberg from Näfels. His father was Landshofmeister (i.e. Prime Minister) of the Prince Abbey of St. Gallen and was made noble von Friedberg by the German emperor in 1774, and even baron in 1791 . After studying in Besançon and Salzburg , the son followed in his father's footsteps as a court cavalier in the service of the Prince Abbot of St. Gallen. He was appointed Palatinate , in 1782 he took over the Obervogtei Rosenberg ( Berneck ) in the Rhine Valley , 1783–1792 the Obervogtei of the Oberbergeramt in Fürstenland . The high point of his career in abbotical service was his appointment as governor of Toggenburg in 1792. In addition to his official duties, Müller-Friedberg wrote dramas and writings on the philosophy of the state.

His career took a dramatic turn in 1798 when, in the wake of the collapse of the old order in the Swiss Confederation, on January 1, 1798, without consultation and against the will of Prince Pankraz Vorster, he released the Toggenburg region into independence. As a thank you, he was granted honorary citizenship of the city of Lichtensteig , but his career prospects in the event of a possible restoration of the old order were clearly there, as he was considered a faithless traitor in the eyes of the prince. From 1798 to 1800 he represented the interests of the aristocratic Schänis dynasty as protector and tried in vain to apply to the court in Vienna .

As a representative of the Party of Unitarians (centralists), Müller-Friedberg entered the politics of the Helvetic Republic , which had existed as a French subsidiary republic on the territory of the old Confederation since 1798. In 1799 he became a member of the Helvetic Finance Commission, then head of the state domains, 1801 a member of the Helvetic Diet for Glarus, 1802 provisional State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and finally a senator. In the same year, the Swiss Senate sent him to the Swiss Consulta in Paris.

Müller-Friedberg as the founding father of the Canton of St. Gallen

At the Consulta in Paris, Karl Müller-Friedberg once again demonstrated his political agility when, despite his centralistic stance, he sided with the federalists when Bonaparte made it clear that he wanted a federalist Switzerland. When Napoléon Bonaparte created the canton of St. Gallen with the act of mediation from the remnants of the Helvetic cantons Linth and Säntis , Müller-Friedberg was personally appointed President of the government commission that was supposed to constitute the canton by Bonaparte on February 14, 1803. Müller-Friedberg was able to count on the support of the influential Zurich-born Paul Usteri and the French Foreign Minister Talleyrand .

Müller-Friedberg organized the new canton with skill and an iron hand. For 28 years he was the determining figure in the Small Council (government) of the canton of St. Gallen and, according to the constitution, alternated with a reformed colleague in the office of President of the Small Council and the Grand Council (Canton Parliament), since 1815 with the title of one Landammanns. At the same time he was also a member of the federal assembly .

His main political opponent was the former prince abbot of St. Gallen, Pankraz Vorster, who tried in vain to restore the prince abbey. Since the restoration of the monasteries was anchored in the mediation constitution, Vorster did not have unfounded hopes. However, Müller-Friedberg saw the return of the extensive monastery property, even without restoring the political sovereignty of the monastery, a great danger for the new canton. In fact, the monastery property formed the basis for the state property of the new canton. In 1805, Müller-Friedberg enforced the final abolition of the St. Gallen monastery by law and had the monastery assets ruthlessly liquidated.

In 1814 Müller-Friedberg managed to defend the mediation canton of St. Gallen against particularist interests, sometimes only through the use of armed force. He wrote an authoritarian, centralistic and undemocratic canton constitution tailored to his needs in the spirit of the Restoration period . His authoritarian, sometimes almost dictatorial style of government made him - despite the previous abolition of the monastery - the enemy of the radical-liberal opposition, which in 1831 brought about its overthrow in the course of regeneration .

Constance time

Konstanz main cemetery, Riesenbergweg. Gravestone Carl Reichsfreiherr Müller von Friedberg (1755–1836)

Karl Müller-Friedberg bitterly retired to Constance in 1831, where he put his memories on paper and died in 1836. He is buried in the main cemetery in Konstanz . The tomb is a cultural monument. It consists of a man-high obelisk made of pink sandstone with a bronze family coat of arms. His estate is in the St. Gallen State Archives.


  • Karl Müller-Friedberg: About the Confederate State's interest in the principality of Neuchâtel and Vallendis. Huber and Compagnie, St. Gallen 1789.
  • Karl Müller von Friedberg: Biographical memories from my life: 1755–1836, edited by Josef Denkinger, Fehr, St. Gallen 1936, DNB 575182458 .


Web links

Commons : Karl von Müller-Friedberg  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. An obelisk for the canton founder. In: Südkurier , June 5, 2019. Author abbreviation (pm / phz).