The Old Swiss Confederacy was the precursor of modern-day
Switzerland. The Eidgenossenschaft of the Swiss, as the confederacy
was called, began as an alliance between the communities of the
valleys in the central Alps to facilitate the management of common
interests such as free trade and to ensure the peace along the
important trade routes through the mountains. In the late Middle
Ages, this region belonged to the Holy Roman Empire, and because of
its strategic importance the Hohenstaufen emperors had granted it
reichsfrei status in the early 13th century. As reichsfrei regions,
the cantons (or regions) of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden were under
the direct authority of the emperor without any intermediate liege
lords and thus were relatively autonomous. With the rise of the
Habsburg dynasty, the kings and dukes of Habsburg sought to extend
their influence over this region and to bring it under their rule,
and as a consequence, a conflict ensued between the Habsburgs and
these mountain communities who tried to defend their privileged
status as reichsfrei regions. The three founding cantons were joined
in the early 14th century by the city states of Lucerne, Z�rich,
and Berne, and they managed to defeat Habsburg armies on several
Read the rest of this article:
Today's selected anniversaries:
1492 - Christopher Columbus became the first European to set foot on
the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic).
1560 - Francis II of France died and was succeeded by Charles IX of
1848 - California Gold Rush: In a message before Congress, U.S.
President James K. Polk confirms that large amounts of gold had
been discovered in northern California.
1979 - Sonia Johnson was formally excommunicated by the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints for her outspoken criticism of the
church concerning the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S.
Wikiquote of the day:
"Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the angels' hierarchies?
and even if one of them suddenly pressed me against his heart, I
would perish in the embrace of his stronger existence. For beauty
is nothing but the beginning of terror which we are barely able to
endure and are awed because it serenely disdains to annihilate us.
Each single angel is terrifying." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke