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Helvetic Republic(hĕlvē`tĭk), 1798–1803, Swiss state established under French auspices. In Sept., 1797, several exiled Swiss leaders in France (notably Frédéric César de La HarpeLa Harpe, Frédéric César de
, 1754–1838, Swiss statesman. He went (1782) to St. Petersburg, Russia, where he became the tutor of the future Czar Alexander I, in whom he attempted to instill liberal and democratic ideals.
..... Click the link for more information. ) formally urged the French Revolutionary government (the Directory) to help in liberating the subject districts of SwitzerlandSwitzerland
, Fr. Suisse, Ger. Schweiz, Ital. Svizzera, officially Swiss Confederation, federal republic (2015 est. pop. 8,320,000), 15,941 sq mi (41,287 sq km), central Europe. It borders on France in the west and southwest, with the Jura Mts.
..... Click the link for more information. and in overthrowing the aristocratic cantonal governments. The Directory, eager to secure the Alpine passes as well as the treasury of BernBern
, canton (1990 pop. 937,365), 2,658 sq mi (6,883 sq km), W central Switzerland. The second most populous and second largest canton of the country, Bern comprises three sections—the Bernese Alps, or Oberland [Ger.
..... Click the link for more information. , ordered the invasion of Switzerland (Jan., 1798); resistance was brief. A unified state, the Helvetic Republic, was set up. Lack of funds and constant French political and military intervention proved troublesome; finally, the French Revolutionary Wars shifted (1799) into Switzerland. An Austrian army defeated the French at Zürich (June), but Austro-Russian discord led to the victory (Sept.), again at Zürich, of André Masséna over a Russian army under General Korsakov. General Suvorov, who arrived from Italy to aid Korsakov, was obliged to retreat to Lindau in Germany. The survival of the Helvetic Republic until 1803 was largely due to the presence of French troops, since the Swiss were hostile to centralization. In Feb., 1803, Napoleon, imposing the Act of Mediation, established a confederation of 19 cantons, with a federal diet subservient to France.