The fabulous history of Valais

The Valais has been plagued by multiple invasions and occupations, Romans, Alamanes, Burgundians, Lombardes, Saracens, Savoyards, Italians, Bernese, Napoleonic, Austrian…

The conflicts between Upper and Lower Valais were fratricidal. These people fought for their independence and their freedom, just because they were on the coveted crossroads of the Simplon and Grand-Saint-Bernard passes.

 

Whoever knows the Valaisan understands its strong, determined and independent character. The multiple struggles to defend itself from the invaders have forged a solid reputation for it, protector of its values, respectful of its ancestors, as strong people of the mountains and valleys. We will make you discover its roots, its struggles, its torments in order to understand what it has become today.

- Since prehistoric times, traces of Neanderthals have been discovered in the region of Lake Tanay, i.e. 32,000 years ago. Then it was the time of the Würm glaciation during which the glacier covered the whole of Valais (-25,000 to -19,000 BC). After its withdrawal, we discover in the Scex du Châtelard cave some vestiges of the hunter-gatherers who would have colonized the Valais.

- Then the Mesolithic, -8000, with human traces discovered in Vionnaz and Zermatt. - The Neolithic that follows, -6000 BC, suggests that Sion was a site occupied by cattle breeders; in Saint-Léonard ceramics with original decorations are discovered.

- Two important necropolises are found at La Barmaz, in the commune of Collombey-Muraz, attesting to the “civilization of Cortaillod” (Chablaisienne, -4500) and the “civilization of Saint-Léonard”.

- In the Bronze Age (-1800), bell-shaped period, name due to ceramic bell-shaped goblets, discoveries of copper objects, individual tombs, Valais extends from the valleys of the Aar and the Sarine, to the Lausanne region, the French Jura and the middle Rhône valley.

- Then the Iron Age (-800) saw the “Hallstatt civilization” (regions of the Northern Alps, Czech Republic, Austria) which influenced Bas-Valais (discovery of the creation of Valais bracelets).

- 400 BC is the Celtic period during which four Celtic tribes share the region: The Nantuates in Monthey, the Véragres in Martigny, the Sédunes in Sion, the Ubères (German-speaking districts).

- Comes the Roman era. Julius Caesar covets the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass, a major access key. In -15 Tiberius bends the Celtic tribes, and the emperor Augustus incorporates the region into the new province of Rhétie-Vindélicie (province of the Roman Empire Tyrol and Bavaria). In 41, under the reign of Claude, Valais became “Vallis poenina” (Pennine or Valais Alps). Finally, the "Pax Romana" settled for three centuries. The town of Aucunus (Saint-Maurice) becomes a customs post collecting the “fortieth of Gauls” (tax imposed by Rome, taxing goods at 1/40 of the value of the property). The arts and Roman traditions spread in Valais, as well as the thermal baths (in Massongex, Martigny, and Sion).

- Around 275, the Alamans (Germanic tribes) invade and destroy the entire Swiss plateau.

- From the third century, cults of Asian origin (Cybele, Mithra) were discovered in Martigny.

- In the middle of the 4th century, Christianity spread in Valais. The 1st bishop, Theodore, in the year 381 signed the acts of the Council of Aquileia in Martigny. A 4th century Christian chapel has been found there. Théodore created the cult of St Maurice in Agaune (St-Maurice) after discovering the remains of the martyrs, including those of Maurice d'Agaune, leader of the Theban legion (Egyptian region of Thebaid).

- Then, in 434 comes the period of the invasion of Burgundians who arrive on the lands of the Roman Empire.

- In 476, Valais was incorporated into the kingdom of Burgundy (after the fall of imperial power in Gaul).

- In 515, King Sigismond founded the abbey of Saint-Maurice and made it an important place of pilgrimage. (Place that we can show you around).

- In 563, the natural disaster of Tauredunum (perhaps the Grammont), saw a section of mountain collapse, destroying a castle and a hamlet, and created a giant wave on Lake Geneva producing significant damage up to Geneva.

- In 574, the abbey of Saint-Maurice was destroyed by the Lombards who were defeated in Bex by the Franks. King Gontran had the monastery rebuilt.

- In 773, Valais was part of the empire of Charlemagne who crossed the Great Saint Bernard to push back the Lombards.

- In 843, during the Treaty of Verdun, Valais was part of middle Francia.

- In 859, Valais belonged to Louis II, King of Italy.

- In 888, the count of Auxerre, Rodolphe I founded the kingdom of Trans-Juran Burgundy, including Valais, and was crowned king at the abbey of Saint-Maurice.

 

Here is now the explanation of the two Valais languages:

- In the 8th and 9th centuries, part of Valais became Germanized, under the infiltration of populations with dialects of Alamane origin coming from the Bernese Oberland. The linguistic border is defined between Brig and Visp and along the Lonza river around the 9th century.

- In 940, the Saracens went up the Rhône valley from the Mediterranean, plundered Saint-Maurice and occupied it. They were expelled from the kingdom of Arles in 974 by a popular uprising at the Battle of Tourtour.

- In 999, it is the beginning of feudal Valais. King Rudolf III entrusts the county rights to the Bishop of Sion, by the Charter of donation to Cudrefin on the shores of Lake Neuchâtel. Valais becomes a state. At his death, in 1032, the county of Valais was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire; the Bishop of Sion becomes Prince of the Empire.

The great feudal neighbors, the Zähringen in the north and the Savoy in the west, were interested in Valais.

- In 1252, Bishop Henri de Rarogne allied in Bern in the face of the threat of the Counts of Savoy.

- In 1260, Pierre II of Savoy invaded the Valais, took the Château de la Bâtiaz in Martigny, from Crest to Ardon and the château de la Soie in Savièse. The border is established at Morges de Conthey. The Valais is cut in two: the independent Haut-Valais in the hands of the Bishop of Sion, the Bas-Valais and the Hérémence valley become Savoyard possessions.

- In 1348-1349, Valais was devastated by the Great Plague, up to 50% of the population was swept away.

- In 1348, the seigneury of Ardon-Chamoson became Savoyard, as well as the episcopal châtellenie of Martigny in 1384. Wishing to control north-south traffic via the Simplon pass, Savoy aspired to Upper Valais. The fighting was fierce, Sion suffered looting and its bishop Guichard Tavelli was defenestrated in 1375 from the top of the Château de la Soie, by vassals of Antoine I de la Tour, an ally of Savoy. The revolt culminates in the battle of Saint-Léonard where Antoine I is defeated.

- In the Bronze Age (-1800), campaniform period, name due to ceramic goblets
bell-shaped, discoveries of copper objects, individual graves, Valais extends
from the Aar and Sarine valleys, to the Lausanne region, the French Jura and the
Middle Rhône.

- Then the Iron Age (-800) sees the "Hallstatt civilization" (regions Northern Alps, Czech Republic,
Austria) which influences Bas-Valais (discovery of the creation of Valais bracelets).
- 400 BC is the Celtic period during which four Celtic tribes share the
region: The Nantuates in Monthey, the Véragres in Martigny, the Sédunes in Sion, the Ubères
(German-speaking districts).
- Comes the Roman era. Julius Caesar covets the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass, a major access key. In -15 Tiberius bends the Celtic tribes, and the emperor Augustus incorporates the region into the new province of Rhétie-Vindélicie (province of the Roman Empire Tyrol and Bavaria).
In 41, under the reign of Claude, Valais became “Vallis poenina” (Pennine Alps or
Valais). Finally, the "Pax Romana" settled for three centuries. The city of Aucunus (Saint-
Mauritius) becomes a customs post collecting the "fortieth of the Gauls" (tax imposed by Rome, taxing goods of 1 / 40th of the value of the property). The arts and Roman traditions spread in Valais, as well as the thermal baths (in Massongex, Martigny, and Sion).

- Around 275, the Alamans (Germanic tribes) invade and destroy the entire Swiss plateau.
- From the 3rd century, cults of Asian origin (Cybele, Mithra) were discovered in Martigny.
- In the middle of the 4th century, Christianity spread in Valais. The 1st bishop, Theodore, in the year 381 signed the acts of the Council of Aquileia in Martigny. A Christian chapel from the 4th century has been found there. Théodore created the cult of St Maurice in Agaune (St-Maurice) after discovering the remains of the martyrs, including those of Maurice d'Agaune, leader of the Theban legion (Egyptian region of Thebaid).
- Then, in 434 comes the period of the invasion of the Burgundians who arrive on the lands of
Roman Empire.

- In 476, Valais was incorporated into the kingdom of Burgundy (after the fall of power
imperial in Gaul).
- In 515, King Sigismond founded the abbey of Saint-Maurice and made it a place of pilgrimage
important. (Place that we can show you around).
- In 563, the natural disaster of Tauredunum (perhaps Grammont), saw a section of
mountain crumble, destroying a castle and a hamlet, and creates a giant wave on the
Lake Geneva causing significant damage as far as Geneva.
- In 574, the abbey of Saint-Maurice was destroyed by the Lombards who were defeated in Bex by the Franks. King Gontran had the monastery rebuilt.
- In 773, Valais was part of the empire of Charlemagne who crossed the Grand-Saint-Bernard
to repel the Lombards.
- In 843, during the Treaty of Verdun, Valais was part of middle Francia.
- In 859, Valais belonged to Louis II, King of Italy.
- In 888, the count of Auxerre, Rodolphe Ist founded the kingdom of Burgundy transjurane,
including Valais, and was crowned king at the abbey of Saint-Maurice.

Here is now the explanation of the two Valais languages:
- In the 8th and 9th centuries, part of Valais became Germanized, under the infiltration of populations
to dialects of Alamane origin from the Bernese Oberland. The linguistic border is
defines between Brig and Visp and along the Lonza river around the 9th century.
- In 940, the Saracens went up the Rhône valley from the Mediterranean, pillaged Saint-
Maurice and occupy it. They were expelled from the kingdom of Arles in 974 by an uprising
popular, at the Battle of Tourtour.
- In 999, it is the beginning of feudal Valais. King Rudolf III entrusts the county rights to the Bishop of Sion, by the Charter of donation to Cudrefin on the shores of Lake Neuchatel. Valais becomes a state. At his death, in 1032, the county of Valais was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire; the Bishop of Sion becomes Prince of the Empire.

The great feudal neighbors, the Zähringen in the north and the Savoy in the west, were interested in Valais.
- In 1252, Bishop Henri de Rarogne allied in Bern in the face of the threat of the Counts of Savoy.
- In 1260, Pierre II of Savoy invaded the Valais, took the Château de la Bâtiaz in Martigny, from
Crest in Ardon and the Château de la Soie in Savièse. The border is established at Morges de Conthey.
Valais is cut in two: The independent Haut-Valais in the hands of the Bishop of Sion, the
Bas-Valais and the valley of Hérémence become Savoyard possessions.
- In 1348-1349, Valais was devastated by the Great Plague, up to 50% of the population was
carried away.
- In 1348, the seigneury of Ardon-Chamoson becomes Savoyarde, as well as the châtellenie
Episcopal of Martigny in 1384. Desiring to control the north-south traffic by the pass of the Simplon, Savoy aspires to the Haut-Valais. The fighting is fierce, Sion suffers looting and its
Bishop Guichard Tavelli was defenestrated in 1375 from the top of the Château de la Soie, by vassals of Antoine I de la Tour, an ally of Savoy. The revolt culminates in the battle of Saint-Léonard where Antoine Ier is defeated.

- In 1388, after two centuries of bloody struggles between the Bishop of Sion and the Count of Savoy for control of Valais, an agreement was finally made. The count cedes his fiefdoms of Mörel, Niedergesteln and Lötschental in Haut-Valais, the bishop gives up his fiefs of Bas-Valais.
- In 1392, Savoy abandoned Haut-Valais.
- From 1428, in a conflicting political context, the witchcraft trials began in the
Valais. It is the start of the great witch hunt in Europe.
- From 1450, threats were established with the Aosta Valley.
- In 1475, there are the wars of Burgundy, and the "battle of Planta" with Charles the
Bold before the walls of Sion. It is the defeat of the Savoyard troops.
- Then the Bernese invade the Chablais.
- In 1515, these incessant intrigues led Valais and the Confederate cantons in the wars in Italy which ended in the defeat of Marignan.
- In 1516, Valais alongside the Swiss Cantons signed “Perpetual Peace” with France.
- In 1536, the Valaisans invaded the Chablais as far as Lake Geneva, then in the hands of the Duchy of Savoy, as far as Saint-Gingolph and Thonon.
- In 1569, by the Treaty of Thonon, the Duke of Savoy grants the Valaisans the Chablais, but they must restore the French Chablais between Thonon and Saint-Gingolph, as well as the right bank of the Morge de Saint-Gingoplh, marking the border current.
- In 1604, faced with the rise of Protestants in Valais, Capuchins and Jesuits preach the
Counter-Reformation, renewing the alliance with the Swiss Catholic cantons and the Diet
(assembly of deputies of the Swiss cantons). Protestants are ordered to convert or go into exile.
- Then it is the constitution of the "Republic of the Seven Dizens" (sort of districts). Bishop
becomes a true elective prince and power now belongs to the dozen who form
a true federal republic. Originally, the tens are ten: Conches, Brig, Visp,
Rarogne, Loèche, Sierre, Sion, Ardon-Chamoson, Martigny and Massongex. They are no more than
seven.
- On March 16, 1798, a constituent assembly proclaimed at the abbey of Saint-Maurice the
Republic of the Dix-Dizains, the tens of Monthey, Saint-Maurice and d'Entremont join
the seven.
- In 1790, Valais followed the Revolution and the events of the French Empire: the region of
Monthey was shaken by the Gros-Bellet affair (the main initiator of the Lower
Valais to free itself from the tutelage of Haut-Valais) and the following year it is the “conspiracy of hooks” (a group of people who plan to sow trouble in Bas-Valais by looting, including the abbey of Saint -Maurice and the monastery of Collombey, and the assassinations of notables, threatening to hang their bodies by hooks).
- In 1798, on January 28, the first “tree of freedom” was planted in Saint-Maurice.
- In 1800 (from May 15 to 21), during the second Italian campaign, Napoleon Bonaparte
crosses the Grand-Saint-Bernard pass.
- In 1801, Valais was again occupied by the French general Turreau.
- In 1802, Napoleon I prepared the Act of Mediation (attribution of a new constitution to
Switzerland, after the failure of that of the Helvetic Republic. Switzerland is organized according to a confederation of states. He made it a "sister republic", in order to better control the passages to Italy. Valais regains its independence. It became the Republic of Valais (or Rhone Republic) until 1810.
- In 1804, François-René de Chateaubriand was briefly the emperor's representative in
Valais.

- In 1810, Valais was integrated into the First French Empire under the name of "Département du
Simplon ”, and therefore subject to French laws decided by Paris until 1813.
- On December 26, 1813, Valais was again independent with the arrival of the Austrians,
which expels the French nobles. On the 28th, Austrian colonel Joseph-Franz von Simbschen entered Valais via the Saint-Maurice parade and reached Sion the next day.
- In 1815, after the fall of the Ancien Régime, the number of tens was increased to thirteen with
Hérens, Conthey, Martigny. Each decade is headed by a lord, vassal of the bishop of
Sion, himself Prince of the Empire.
- On August 4, 1815, Valais becomes the 20th canton of the Swiss Confederation.
- On August 7, 1815, the two delegates to the Federal Diet, Michel Dufour and Léopold de Sépibus
take an oath to the Federal Pact in the name of the Republic and canton of Valais.
Valais is bloodless, 17 years of unrest impoverished the canton (famine, bad harvests, maintenance of foreign troops, raising of troops). Malaria is endemic. The poor increase and beggars are numerous, crimes against property, theft of food, clothing, tools, leading to a "begging law" in 1827.
- In 1831, there was a rebellion in the Lower Valais.
- In 1840, the township was on the verge of dividing into two.
- 1844, Guillaume de Kalbermatten, commander of the Sion garrison, saves the situation. The troops of "Old Switzerland" defeated the conspirators of "Young Switzerland" during the battle of Trient.
A new constitution is ratified by the people on September 14, 1844. It is the triumph
conservative ideas.
Finally, the strength of this people, their courage and their determination make them bounce back. The new era
Valais settles down through industrialization and modernization:
- In 1850, tourism develops, creation of hotels, Zermatt, Arolla, Lötschental… It is
the golden age of mountaineering.
- In the 19th century, arrival of the train: Tonkin line, Simplon line… The Visp-Zermatt line was inaugurated in 1891, then extended to Brig in 1930.
Sion and Sierre become francophone again.
- In 1904, opening of the Ciba chemical plant in Monthey.
- In 1908, aluminum metallurgy began in Chippis.
- In 1946, an earthquake strongly affected the Valais.
- The embankment of the Rhône is envisaged: 1st phase from 1863 to 1876, following the terrible
floods of 1860, and the railway consequences. A second correction between 1930
and 1960. A third between 2008 and expected completion in 2030.
- In 1961, inauguration of the Grande-Dixence dam, the development of hydroelectricity.
- On April 12, 1970, Valais was the 7th canton to grant Swiss women the right to vote and be elected. In 2009, Esther Waeber Kalbermatten will be the 1st woman elected to the
cantonal government.
- On March 11, 2007, the competence for granting citizenship rights is transferred from the municipality
bourgeoisie to the municipal commune.
- On December 17, 2018, the new Constituent Assembly is sworn in.

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The Valais, this land of struggles and harshness of the mountains, with roads cut on the edge of precipices (Val d'Anniviers) and its constructions of Bisses on the sides of cliffs, knew how to create its freedom. Bold hydro-electric dams have been built defying innumerable difficulties, raccards and granaries that have defied time and railway tracks laid on the mountainsides to reveal to you secret mountain pastures where inalpes and desalps of the "queens of" Hérens ”punctuate the seasons.
When a Valaisan tells you "where do you have the vines?" »You will know that his ancestors have
made the legendary “glacier wine”.
Discover this breathtaking Valais with the beauty of its snow-capped mountains and its
high-altitude lakes under the setting sun ... its rich history and its endearing people.


                                                                        * * *