Schumacher-Meyer trade

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Jost Niklaus Joachim Schumacher, 1709–1778, main participant in the Schumacher-Meyer trade

The Schumacher-Meyer trade is the name given to the decades-long struggle between the ruling families that raged around the middle of the 18th century in the city ​​and republic of Lucerne against the backdrop of the impending end of the ancien régimes . While the Schumacher family and their supporters represented the conservative ecclesiastical direction, the Meyer von Schauensee and their partisans championed the ideas of the French Enlightenment . Both parties wanted to maintain and consolidate the aristocratic constitution. At the same time, they feared the impending overthrow. The dispute made waves as far as Germany, where tracts and pamphlets appeared.

Two parties

In the 18th century it was mainly young patricians in Lucerne who put their heads together over the writings of Rousseau and Kant . The influence of the reform-loving wing of the Lucerne patriciate, dominated by the ideas of the Enlightenment, grew . The Schumacher family, then at the height of their power, stood with their supporters on the conservative right wing and formed the main goal of the political struggle that the progressive left wing led to them under the leadership of Joseph Rudolf Valentin Meyer , known as the "Divine" . Meyer is considered by many to be the most important personality of the Lucerne Enlightenment. He undoubtedly has great merits in financial and economic policy. In addition to the implementation of his reform plans to preserve the patrician state, Meyer also led a personal campaign of extermination against the Schumacher family, which he hated. The whole thing happened in a time marked by unrest and new beginnings. After the unsuccessful revolts of 1653 ( Swiss Peasants' War ) and 1712, there was a latent disaffection among the rural population because the patrician authorities reacted with tough measures. In addition, there was interest in the French ideas for a new understanding of the state. Only the common concern for the preservation of the aristocratic constitution united the blood-related cousins ​​in the city.

Charges against Franz Plazid Schumacher

Valentin Meyer and his supporters led the fight under the pretext of investigating irregularities in the state administration dominated by the opposing party. In particular, this was directed against Jost Niklaus Joachim Schumacher (1709–1778) and Franz Plazid Schumacher (1725–1793) . The latter reported a deficit of 1,500 guilders in 1757, as chief witness, which was allowed to pass. The family's reputation was too high. Valentin Meyer resorted to this, especially since the Schumacher family had brought about the exile of his father in 1742 because of a similar offense. Franz Plazid was charged with embezzling 6,000 gulden state funds. Without a detailed investigation, he was sentenced to a lifelong loss of office, council and honor, to a ban on weapons and taverns and to damages.

Indictment against Jost Niklaus Joachim Schumacher

Although there were indications of negligent administration when the sack master Jost Niklaus Joachim Schumacher filed his invoices in 1761 , no irregular administration could be proven. But since a large amount of state money was stolen when his house was broken into in 1759, Valentin Meyer claimed that the break-in was fictitious in order to finance his son's lavish lifestyle with the money that had disappeared. Jost Niklaus Joachim Schumacher lost his council position, was declared dishonorable, his assets were confiscated and in 1763 he was banned from the Swiss Confederation for life .

Title page of a publication from 1776: Causes of the death [of] Junker Lorenz Placidus von Schumacher, who was publicly beheaded in Lucern on Wednesday before Pentecost in 1764. With comments against his master, examiner and at the same time process maker.

Charges against Lorenz Plazid Schumacher

After rumors of a planned raid in the Entlebuch area, the council declared the town a state of emergency and made arrests. Among them was Lorenz Plazid Schumacher , the son of Jost Niklaus Joachim, who was seen as the head of the conspiracy and from whom it was feared that he might seek revenge. In fact, he is said to have had contacts with Jean Pierre de Gottrau de Billens from Friborg and some leaders of the central Swiss rural cantons whose aim was to overthrow the aristocracy. He was also charged with helping a pie baker defend himself against the authorities. In a show trial in which Valentin Meyer appeared as plaintiff, examiner and judge, Lorenz Plazid was accused of high treason and executed in 1764 within sight of his father's house.

The turn

With the victory over the Schumacher family, Meyer's reputation increased considerably. But just a year later, a gang of thieves hanged in Germany confessed to the break-in at Jost Niklaus Joachim Schumacher's house, which was extremely embarrassing news for Valentin Meyer. A recalculation also showed that Franz Plazid Schumacher's deficit was only slightly higher than he had stated himself. Ultimately, the realization grew that the trial of Lorenz Plazid Schumacher had been conducted unilaterally and that there were no sufficient reasons for a death sentence. The verdict was based on circumstantial evidence and fear of a subversion. Meyer also knew how to swear by the majority of the councilors, many of whom belonged to his partisans.

Valentin Meyer's fall

With this, the hour of retribution had come for Valentin Meyer, especially since his anti-church Josephine attitude angered the clergy and the pious country folk. The former did not want to give up its financial independence, and Meyer's economic reform had become a burden for the latter. The dreaded uprising against the government threatened. The opposing party used this situation to oust Valentin Meyer from his position under the leadership of Anton Schumacher . Strict security measures had to be taken during the process as the angry people rushed in with force. Meyer was suggested to leave the Confederation for 15 years. He agreed to this on the condition that he would retain his rights and rights. The process has been abandoned, and since it has some service to reform the state, many today cast it in a mild light. But Meyer was an extremely controversial person.

The great peace treaty

The removal of Valentin Meyer enabled the reconciliation of the aristocratic families in the great peace treaty of March 16, 1770. It was seen that the aristocratic form of government could perish in this quarrel. Jost Niklaus Joachim Schumacher had already been pardoned in the previous year, received under magistrate supervision and rehabilitated and compensated with all honors. Franz Plazid Schumacher, who was also allowed to return, had a monumental noble seat, the "Himmelrich" , built in 1772 , which became a symbol of the victory of the aristocratic-church idea. Anton Schumacher, the leader of the Schumacher party, was his third marriage to a Meyer von Schauensee. It is not known whether a posthumous pardon was sought for Lorenz Plazid Schumacher when the peace was concluded. In 1785 Valentin Meyer returned from exile and resumed his council position. But it did not regain its former political weight.

How it went on

The peace treaty of 1770 in no way abolished the split among the aristocratic families of Lucerne, but in 1798, in view of the French threat , enabled the unanimous renunciation of the old form of government at the instigation of the left wing of the patriciate. After the fall of Napoleon, there was a coup in 1814 and the re-establishment of the aristocratic constitution. This was followed by the resurgence of the bourgeois-liberal movement (1830) and the final defeat in the Sonderbund War of 1847. Two patrician statesmen and legal scholars, the conservative Philipp Anton Segesser von Brunegg and the liberal Kasimir Pfyffer von Altishofen, were among the main actors at that time .


  • Das Pekulat: A true state history of the aristocracy from the Republic of Lucerne , by Valentin Meyer and Anton Schnyder. Sursee 1831. Reprint: Kessinger Publishing , Whitefish (MT, USA) 2010, ISBN 978-1161268836
  • Final process or: Causes of the death of Junker Lorenz Plazid von Schumacher; with comments against his examinator and at the same time process maker (1776) . State and Family Archives Lucerne.
  • Thoroughly tested report of the considerable theft committed at the Seckelamt in Lucerne in Switzerland and the miserable consequences for the old Seckelmeister and his son , written in the land of the honest in 1775. Lucerne State and Family Archives.
  • Salvation of honor based on reason and history T. Jkr. Councilor Meyers von Oberstade against the diatribes spread against him since 1773 . From a friend of the truth (Johann Georg Amstein), 1775. [Digitized. ]
  • Kasimir Pfyffer von Altishofen : History of the city and the canton of Lucerne. 1: From the origin to the state upheaval in 1798 . Zurich 1850. Digitized 2: From the state upheaval in 1798 to the new federal constitution in 1848 . Zurich 1852. Digitized
  • Philipp Anton von Segesser : Legal history of the city and republic of Lucerne . Räber, Lucerne 1850–1858. Reprint edition: Scientia, Aalen 1974, ISBN 3511065607 .
  • Hans Schumacher: Outline of a family history of the formerly regimental branch of the Schumacher of Lucerne . Lucerne 1935–37.
  • Hans Wicki: Lucerne patriciate in crisis. A contribution to the political history of the Canton of Lucerne in the Age of Enlightenment . In: Der Geschichtsfreund , 145/1992, pp. 97–114. ( Digitized on retro.seals )


  1. There were parties among the ruling families before, depending on whether the interests of France, Spain or the Habsburgs were represented.
  2. After the victorious First Villmerger War, the farmers did not put their weapons away and wanted to save their threatened land on their own in the Second Villmerger War. At the same time, they strove to strip away urban rule.
  3. Once before, in 1729, the Meyer had to give an account of the state assets administered by them and pay full compensation. Certainly the officers' conflicts in Sardinia-Piedmont contributed to the hatred, where Valentin Meyer was captain in the Lucerne regiment Keller (Colonel Hans Martin Keller, his uncle), and there for a time the secretary of Lieutenant Colonel Anton Schumacher.
  4. It was not customary to keep separate coffers for public and private funds. The state was regarded as a common good and depending on the result of the filing of the accounts, the incumbent was a creditor or debtor of the state. Only insolvency, fraud and embezzlement were severely punished.
  5. Among other things, he advised him to sign a petition with “Citizen of the City of Lucerne” instead of “Most obedient servant”.
  6. increased performance, multiplication and increase in tariffs.
  7. ^ Maria Margaretha, the sister of the composer Franz Joseph Leonti and aunt of the Helvetian Minister of Justice and Police and doctrinal Enlightenment philosopher Franz Bernhard Meyer von Schauensee , brother of Generals Maurus and Friedrich Fridolin and brother-in-law of the Swiss Landammann Vinzenz Rüttimann .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Hans Wicki: Lucerne patriciate in crisis . In: Der Geschichtsfreund , 145/1992, p. 112.
  2. François Joseph Nicolas Baron d'Alt in his work Hors d'oeuvre (cf. Alexandre Daguet: Album de la Suisse romande 2, 1844, pp. 81–87)
  3. ^ Hans Wicki: Lucerne patriciate in crisis . In: Der Geschichtsfreund , 145/1992.
  4. ^ "Thorough and tried and tested report" from 1775
  5. ^ Hans Wicki: Lucerne patriciate in crisis . In: Der Geschichtsfreund , 145/1992.