FRIBOURG [Ger. Freiburg], the capital of the Swiss canton of that name. It is built almost entirely on the left bank of the Sarine, the oldest bit (the Bourg) of the town being just above the river bank, flanked by the Neuveville and Auge quarters, these last (with the Planche quarter on the right bank of the river) forming the Ville Basse. On the steeply rising ground to the west of the Bourg is the Quartier des Places, beyond which, to the west and south-west, is the still newer Pérolles quarter, where are the railway station and the new University; all these (with the Bourg) constituting the Ville Haute. In 1900 the population of the town was 15,794, of whom 13,270 were Romanists and 109 Jews, while 9701 were French-speaking, and 5595 German-speaking, these last being mainly in the Ville Basse. Its linguistic history is curious. Founded as a German town, the French tongue became the official language during the greater part of the 14th and 15th centuries, but when it joined the Swiss Confederation in 1481 the German influence came to the fore, and German was the official language from 1483 to 1798, becoming thus associated with the rule of the patricians. From 1798 to 1814, and again from 1830 onwards, French prevailed, as at present, though the new University is a centre of German influence.
Fribourg is on the main line of railway from Bern (20 m.) to Lausanne (41 m.). The principal building in the town is the collegiate church of St Nicholas, of which the nave dates from the 13th-14th centuries, while the choir was rebuilt in the 17th century. It is a fine building, remarkable in itself, as well as for its lofty, late 15th century, bell-tower (249 ft. high), with a fine peal of bells; its famous organ was built between 1824 and 1834 by Aloys Mooser (a native of the town), has 7800 pipes, and is played daily in summer for the edification of tourists. The numerous monasteries in and around the town, its old-fashioned aspect, its steep and narrow streets, give it a most striking appearance. One of the most conspicuous buildings in the town is the college of St Michael, while in front of the 16th century town hall is an ancient lime tree stated (but this is very doubtful) to have been planted on the day of the victory of Morat (June 22, 1476). In the Lycée is the Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts, wherein, besides many interesting objects, is the collection of paintings and statuary bequeathed to the town in 1879 by Duchess Adela Colonna (a member of the d'Affry family of Fribourg), by whom many were executed under the name of "Marcello." The deep ravine of the Sarine is crossed by a very fine suspension bridge, constructed 1832-1834 by M. Chaley, of Lyons, which is 167 ft. above the Sarine, has a span of 808 ft., and consists of 6 huge cables composed of 3294 strands. A loftier suspension bridge is thrown over the Gotteron stream just before it joins the Sarine: it is 590 ft. long and 246 ft. in height, and was built in 1840. About 3 m. north of the town is the great railway viaduct or girder bridge of Grandfey, constructed in 1862 (1092 ft. in length, 249 ft. high) at a cost of 2 million francs. Immediately above the town a vast dam (591 ft. long) was constructed across the Sarine by the engineer Ritter in 1870-1872, the fall thus obtained yielding a water-power of 2600 to 4000 horse-power, and forming a sheet of water known as the Lac de Pérolles. A motive force of 600 horse-power, secured by turbines in the stream, is conveyed to the plateau of Pérolles by "telodynamic" cables of 2510 ft. in length, for whose passage a tunnel has been pierced in the rock. On the Pérolles plateau is the International Catholic University founded in 1889.
History. - In 1178 the foundation of the town (meant to hold in check the turbulent nobles of the neighbourhood) was completed by Berchthold IV., duke of Zähringen, whose father Conrad had founded Freiburg in Breisgau in 1120, and whose son, Berchthold V., was to found Bern in 1191. The spot was chosen for purposes of military defence, and was situated in the Uechtland or waste land between Alamannian and Burgundian territory. He granted it many privileges, modelled on the charters of Cologne and of Freiburg in Breisgau, though the oldest existing charter of the town dates from 1249. On the extinction of the male line of the Zähringen dynasty, in 1218, their lands passed to Anna, the sister of the last duke and wife of Count Ulrich of Kyburg. That house kept Fribourg till it too became extinct, in 1264, in the male line. Anna, the heiress, married about 1273 Eberhard, count of Habsburg-Laufenburg, who sold Fribourg in 1277 for 3000 marks to his cousin Rudolf, the head of the house of Habsburg as well as emperor. The town had to fight many a hard battle for its existence against Bern and the count of Savoy, especially between 1448 and 1452. Abandoned by the Habsburgs, and desirous of escaping from the increasing power of Bern, Fribourg in 1452 finally submitted to the count of Savoy, to whom it had become indebted for vast sums of money. Yet, despite all its difficulties, it was in the first half of the 15th century that Fribourg exported much leather and cloth to France, Italy and Venice, as many as 10,000 to 20,000 bales of cloth being stamped with the seal of the town. When Yolande, dowager duchess of Savoy, entered into an alliance with Charles the Bold, duke of Burgundy, Fribourg joined Bern, and helped to gain the victories of Grandson and of Morat (1476).
In 1477 the town was finally freed from the rule of Savoy, while in 1481 (with Soleure) it became a member of the Swiss Confederation, largely, it is said, through the influence of the holy man, Bruder Klaus (Niklaus von der Flüe). In 1475 the town had taken Illens and Arconciel from Savoy, and in 1536 won from Vaud much territory, including Romont, Rue, Châtel St Denis, Estavayer, St Aubin (by these two conquests its dominion reached the Lake of Neuchâtel), as well as Vuissens and Surpierre, which still form outlying portions (physically within the canton of Vaud) of its territory, while in 1537 it took Bulle from the bishop of Lausanne. In 1502-1504 the lordship of Bellegarde or Jaun was bought, while in 1555 it acquired (jointly with Bern) the lands of the last count of the Gruyère, and thus obtained the rich district of that name. From 1475 it ruled (with Bern) the bailiwicks of Morat, Grandson, Orbe and Echallens, just taken from Savoy, but in 1798 Morat was incorporated with (finally annexed in 1814) the canton of Fribourg, the other bailiwicks being then given to the canton of Léman (later of Vaud). In the 16th century the original democratic government gradually gave place to the oligarchy of the patrician families. Though this government caused much discontent it continued till it was overthrown on the French occupation of 1798.
From 1803 (Act of Mediation) to 1814, Fribourg was one of the six cantons of the Swiss Confederation. But, on the fall of the new régime, in 1814, the old patrician rule was partly restored, as 108 of the 144 seats in the cantonal legislature were assigned to members of the patrician families. In 1831 the Radicals gained the power and secured the adoption of a more liberal constitution. In 1846 Fribourg (where the Conservatives had regained power in 1837) joined the Sonderbund and, in 1847, saw the Federal troops before its walls, and had to surrender to them. The Radicals now came back to power, and again revised the cantonal constitution in a liberal sense. The Catholic and Conservative party made several attempts to recover their supremacy, but their chiefs were driven into exile. In 1856 the Conservatives regained the upper hand at the general cantonal election, secured the adoption in 1857 of a new cantonal constitution, and have ever since maintained their rule, which some dub "clerical," while others describe it as "anti-radical."
AUTHORITIES - Archives de la Société d'histoire du Canton de F., from 1850; F. Buomberger, Bevölkerungs- u. Vermögensstatistik in d. Stadt u. Landschaft F. um die Mitte d. 15ten Jahrhunderts (Bern, 1900); A. Daguet, Histoire de la ville et de la seigneurie de F., to 1481 (Fribourg, 1889); A. Dellion, Dictionnaire historique et statistique des paroisses catholiques du C. de F. (12 vols., Fribourg, 1884-1903); Freiburger Geschichtsblätter, from 1894; Fribourg artistique (fine plates), from 1890; E. Heyck, Geschichte der Herzoge von Zähringen (Freiburg i. Br., 1891); F. Kuenlin, Der K. Freiburg (St Gall and Bern, 1834); Mémorial de F. (6 vols., 1854-1859); Recueil diplomatique du Cant. de F. (original documents) (8 vols., Fribourg, 1839-1877); F. E. Welti, Beiträge zur Geschichte des älteren Stadtrechtes von Freiburg im Uechtland (Bern, 1908); J. Zemp, L'Art de la ville de Fribourg au moyen âge (Fribourg, 1905); J. Zimmerli, Die deutsch-französische Sprachgrenze in d. Schweiz (Basel and Geneva, 1895), vol. ii., pp. 72 seq.; Les Alpes fribourgeoises (Lausanne, 1908).
(W. A. B. C.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)