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Lucerne, City Of

LUCERNE, CITY OF, the capital of the Swiss canton of the same name. It is one of the principal tourist centres of Switzerland, being situated on the St Gotthard railway line, by which it is 59 m. from Basel and 180 m. from Milan. Its prosperity has always been bound up with the St Gotthard Pass, so that the successive improvements effected on that route (mule path in the 13th century, carriage road 1820-1830, and railway tunnel in 1882) have had much effect on its growth. It is beautifully situated on the banks of the river Reuss, just as it issues from the Lake of Lucerne, while to the south-west rises the rugged range of Pilatus, balanced on the east by the more smiling ridge of the Rigi and the calm waters of the lake. The town itself is very picturesque. On the rising ground to its north still stand nine of the towers that defended the old town wall on the Musegg slope. The Reuss is still crossed by two quaint old wooden bridges, the upper being the Kapellbriicke (adorned by many paintings illustrating the history of Switzerland and the town and clinging to the massive Wasserthurm) and the lower the Miihlenbriicke (also with paintings, this time of the Dance of Death). The old Hofbriicke (on the site of the Schweizerhof quay) was removed in 1852, when the process of embanking the shore of the lake began, the result being a splendid series of quays, along which rise palatial hotels. The principal building is the twin-towered Hofkirche (dedicated toStLegeror Leodegar) which, though in its present form it dates only from 1633-1635, was the centre round which the town gradually gathered; originally it formed part of a Benedictine monastery, but since 1455 has been held by a college of secular canons. It has a fine 17th-century organ. The 16th-century town-hall (Rathhaus) now houses the cantonal museum of antiquities of all dates. Both the cantonal and the town libraries are rich in old books, the latter being now specially devoted to works (MS. or printed) relating to Swiss history before 1848. The Lion monument, designed by Thorwaldsen, dedicated in 1821, and consisting of a dying lion hewn out of the living sandstone, commemorates the officers and men of the Swiss Guard (26 officers and about 760 men) who were slain while defending the Tuileries in Paris in 1792, and is reflected in a clear pool at its foot. In the immediate neighbourhood is the Glacier Garden, a series of potholes worn in the sandstone rock bed of an ancient glacier. Among modern buildings are the railway station, the post office and the Museum of War and Peace, all in the new quarter on the left bank of the Reuss. In the interior of the town are many quaint old private houses. In 1799 the population numbered but 4337, but had doubled by 1840. Since then the rise has been rapid and continuous, being 29,255 in 1900. The vast majority are German-speaking (in 1900 there were 1242 Italian-speaking and 529 French-speaking persons) and Romanists (in 1900 there were 4933 Protestants and 299 Jews).

The nucleus of the town was a Benedictine monastery, founded ab out 7 50 on the right bank of the Reuss by the abbey of Murbach in Alsace, of which it long remained a " cell." It is first mentioned in a charter of 840 under the name of " Luciaria," which is probably derived from that of the patron saint of the monastery, St Leger or Leodegar (in O. Ger. Leudegar or Lutgar) the form " Lucerrun " is first found in 1252. Under the shadow of this monastery there grew up a small village. The germs of a municipal constitution appear in 1252, while the growing power of the Habsburgs in the neighbourhood weakened the ties that bound Lucerne to Murbach. In 1291 the Habsburgs finally purchased Lucerne from Murbach, an act that led a few weeks later to the foundation of the Swiss Confederation, of which Lucerne became the fourth member (the first town to be included) in 1332. But it did not get rid of all traces of Habsburg domination till after the glorious victory of Sempach (1386). That victory led also to the gradual acquisition of territory ruled by and from the town. At the time of the Reformation Lucerne clave to the old faith, of which ever since it has been the great stronghold in Switzerland. The papal nuncio resided here from 1601 to 1873. In the 16th century, as elsewhere in Switzerland, the town government fell into the hands of an aristocratic oligarchy, whose power, though shaken by the great peasant revolt (1653) in the Entlebuch, lasted till 1798. Under the Helvetic republic (1798-1803) Lucerne was the seat of the central government, under the Act of Mediation (1803-1814) one of the six " Directorial " cantons and from 1815 to 1848 one of the three ruling cantons. The patrician government was swept away by the cantonal constitution of 1831. But in 1841 the Conservatives regained power, called in the Jesuits (1844) and so brought about the Sonderbund War (1847) in which they were defeated, the decisive battle taking place at Gisikon, not far from Lucerne. Since 1848 Lucerne has been in disfavour with the Radicals who control the federal government, and has not been chosen as the site of any great federal institution. The Radicals lost power in the canton in 1871, after which date the Conservatives became predominant in the canton, though in the town the Radicals were in the majority.

See J. J. Blumer, Staats-und Rechtsgeschichte d. schweiz. Demokratien (3 vols., St Gall, 1850-1859); A. L. Gassmann, Das Volkslied im Luzerner Wiggerthal u. Hinterland (Basel, 1906) ; Geschichtsfreund (organ of the Historical Society of the Forest Cantons) from 1843. A. von Liebenau, CharakterbUder aus Luzern's Vergangenheit (2 vols., Lucerne, 1884-1801); T. von Liebenau, Das alte Luzern (Lucerne, 1881) and " Der luzernische Bauernkrieg vom 1653 " (3 articles in vols. xviii.-xx., 1893-1895, of the Jahrbuch f. Schweizerische Geschichte); Heimathkunde fur den Kanton Luzern (6 vols., Lucerne, 1867-1883); A. Ltttolf, Sagen, Brauche, Legenden aus d. Funf Orten (Lucerne, 1862); K. Pfyffer, Der Kanton Luzern (2 vols., 1858- 1859) and Geschichte d. Stadt u. Kanton Luzern (2 vols., new ed., 1861); A. P. von Segesser, Rechtsgeschichte d. Stadt u. Republik Luzern (4 vols., 1850-1858) and 45 Jahre (1841-1887) im Luzernischen Staatsdienst (Bern, 1887); J. Sowerby, The Forest Cantons of Switzerland (London, 1892).. (W. A. B. C.)

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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