Zurich

Zurich's history

Romans and Schwyzerdüütsch (100BC - X Century)
Though human history in Zurich began before the Romans, it seems it was they who gave the city its name. Around 15 BC they established a military base at the site of today’s Lindenhof which was called Turicum, and as later inhabitants weren’t so fluent in Latin, it gradually became the slightly more callous ‘Zurich’. On Lindenhof you can find a copy of the Roman tomb stone mentioning Turicum. Roman rule ended around 400 AD and nobody really has any idea what went on in Zurich for the next few centuries. One important change that falls into this obscure period is the arrival of the Germanic tribe of the Allemanni, who brought with them the language that was to become today’s Swiss German dialect (Schwyzerdüütsch). By the 9th Century Zurich was part of the Carolingian empire and according to legend the emperor Charlemagne founded Zurich’s main cathedral, the Grossmünster. Maybe the man himself never actually turned up in Zurich, but the kings of the Franks did have a secondary residence, a pfalz, on the Lindenhof.


Zurich in women’s hands (XII-XIV Century)
In the 13th Century Zurich became an imperial city, answering only to the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire which had grown out of the Carolingian Empire. Formally Zurich was now headed by a woman - the abbess of the Fraumünster abbey, who however shared power with an elected reichsvogt, the emperor’s representative. In 1336 times began to change. An uprising of Zurich’s craftsmen made the newly founded guilds the foundation of Zurich’s political structure, weakening the power of the church and the landed gentry.

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