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Sonderbund(zôn`dərbo͝ont) [Ger.,=separate league], 1845–47, defensive league of seven Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland; it was formed to protect Catholic interests and prevent the establishment of a more centralized Swiss government. The cantons were Lucerne, Fribourg, Valais, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Zug. The rise of the Radical party in the majority of cantons had resulted in anti-Catholic measures such as the closing (1841) of all convents in Aargau. When Lucerne retaliated (1844) by recalling the Jesuits, armed bandits of Radicals invaded the canton. This action, combined with the Catholic cantons' opposition to the Radicals' program of a more unified federalization (which imperiled the position of the predominantly rural, reactionary, and sparsely populated Catholic cantons), provoked the seven cantons to form a defensive alliance (1845). The Radical majority in the federal diet declared the Sonderbund dissolved (1847) and shortly afterward sent an army, under Gen. Guillaume Henri Dufour, against the separatist forces. Lord Palmerston, the British foreign minister, helped prevent foreign intervention, and in an almost bloodless campaign the Sonderbund was defeated. The adoption (1848) of a federal constitution ended the virtual sovereignty of the individual cantons. The Society of Jesus was banned from Switzerland, and the establishment of new religious houses was forbidden.
(German, “special union”), a reactionary bloc of seven cantons of the Swiss Confederation (Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, Luzern, Fribourg, and Valais), created in 1843–45 with the aim of opposing bourgeois-democratic changes in the cantons and preserving the political fragmentation of the country. The Sonderbund, which united the most backward regions of Switzerland, was led by the Catholic Church and the inner circle of the high bourgeoisie, the so-called patriciate. The Diet of the Swiss Confederation proclaimed the dissolution of the Sonderbund in 1847 and proposed that the cantons expel the Jesuits. The Sonderbund refused to submit to this demand and unleashed a civil war in November 1847. Within one month the federal army crushed the armed forces of the Sonderbund, which had the assistance of the governments of Austria and France. The constitution of 1848 transformed Switzerland from an unstable union of states into a unified federated state.
REFERENCESEngels, F. “Grazhdanskaia voina v Shveitsarii.” In K. Marx and F. Engels, Soch., 2nd ed., vol. 4.
Engels, F. “Dvizheniia 1847 goda.” Ibid.