Helvetic Republic


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Helvetic Republic

Helvetic Republic (hĕlvēˈtĭk), 1798–1803, Swiss state established under French auspices. In Sept., 1797, several exiled Swiss leaders in France (notably Frédéric César de La Harpe) formally urged the French Revolutionary government (the Directory) to help in liberating the subject districts of Switzerland and in overthrowing the aristocratic cantonal governments. The Directory, eager to secure the Alpine passes as well as the treasury of Bern, 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.
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References in periodicals archive ?
The book under review here, a collection of essays on the Batavian Republic (the Netherlands), the Helvetic Republic (Switzerland), and the various revolutionary regimes in Italy--especially the largest and most durable of them, the Cisalpine Republic--emphasizes constitutional theory, parliamentary practice, and the public sphere.
Summary: The Helvetic Republic, aka Switzerland, is historically a zebra-less zone.
The remaining cantons joined after the Napoleonic re-organisation of the Helvetic republic in 1803, and the aftermath of 1815.
But instead of resulting in a brave new Helvetic Republic, Napoleon's constitution prompted the divided Swiss to come together -- liberal and conservative, Catholic and Protestant -- in unanimous rejection of his imposed new order.
Ticino can hardly be said to have prospered during this period and languished in subservient relative obscurity until the French imposition of the Helvetic Republic in 1798, after which the inhabitants opted to remain in Switzerland by becoming a canton in 1803.