a republic on the territory of Switzerland from 1798 to 1803; its name is derived from the Latin name of Switzerland, Helvetia.
The Helvetian Republic came into existence after the invasion of the country by the army of the French Directory and its conversion into a state dependent on France. The invasion was made under the pretext of aid to the uprising prepared in the canton of Waadt by the Swiss petit-bourgeois revolutionaries and aimed at the oligarchical regime. On Mar. 5, 1798, the French army took Bern. On April 12 the “one and indivisible” Helvetian Republic was proclaimed and a constitution was introduced, based on the French Constitution of 1795. Class differences and feudal rights were abolished. Freedom of conscience, the press, trade, occupation, and so on were proclaimed. At the same time, power was centralized and handed over to the henchmen of the French. Geneva, Basel, and other territories were annexed to France. On Aug. 18, 1798, the Helvetian Republic concluded a defensive and offensive alliance with France and thus found itself involved in war with the Second Coalition. In 1802, after the withdrawal of the greater part of the French army from the Helvetian Republic, an insurrection against the government and its French protectors broke out in almost all the cantons. This compelled Napoleon on Feb. 19, 1803—on the basis of the so-called Act of Mediation—to restore in the territory of the Helvetian Republic the state system in existence until 1798.
IU. P. MADOR