Princebishopric Basel, 1648-1736

Bishop Reinach, in oder to suppress the rebellious estates, requested military assistance from the Catholic Swiss cantons, later from France and from the Emperor. The rebellion was crushed in 1740 by French troops; the leaders were executed.
Bishop Reinach's successor, J.W. RINCK VON BALDENSTEIN, while openly pursuing a policy of neutrality, secretly leaned towards France. During his rule, the administration was reformed, the road system expanded, the state-run iron industry expanded, steel production introduced. The steel industry's great demand for wood resulted in the creation of planned forest administration (1755). The princebishopric's revenues increased; Porrentruy and Arlesheim saw construction on behalf of the bishop. In 1747 the number of church holidays was reduced by decree, in order to increase productivity. A misharvest in 1770/1771 caused the administration (FRANZ DECKER) to conduct a CENSUS
In 1758 a treaty was signed with Bern regulating contested claims. When France and Switzerland signed an alliance in 1777, the princebishop applied for admission, which he signed in 1780. The abolition of feudal claims in the Alsace in 1789 caused a significant reduction in the bishopric's revenues. Under bishop ROGGENBACH, education and the coinage were reformed, the debt reduced.
In 1790 the inhabitants of Porrentruy revolted against the bishop of Basel and planted a tree of liberty. In 1791, the princebishop, fearing a takeover by the estates, requested Austrian troops; the rebel leaders were arrested. In 1792 the Austrian troops evacuated the territory; bishop and cathedral chapter evacuated Porrentruy, the valuables and documents being transported off. The northern part of the princebishopric was occupied by French troops. The bishop fled, residing in KONSTANZ for a while. Meanwhile, in the occupied territory (together with MONTBELIARD), the RAURACIAN REPUBLIC was proclaimed, which was annexed by France in 1793. The southern part was annexed in 1797 and rejoined with the north in the DEPARTEMENT DU MONT TERRIBLE.
Bishop Roggenbach died in 1794 in Konstanz; the cathedral chapter elected FRANZ XAVER VON NEVEU as his successor; he tried to move into the vicinity of his diocesis, but, at French pressure, had to return to Konstanz and in 1799 moved to Passau. In 1802 the territory of SCHLIENGEN, on the right bank of the Rhine, was annexed by Baden; this was the last stretch of territory belonging to the Princebishopric of Basel. In 1803 the Reichsdeputation proclaimed the secularization of all ecclesiastic territories; the cathedral chapter was dissolved.
After Napoleon's defeat in 1813, the territory of the former bishopric was separated from France. Bishop Neveu undertook diplomatic steps aiming at the restoration of the princebishopric. The diocese was reestablished in her old borders. Yet, at the VIENNA CONGRESS, the territory was allocated to the Swiss Canton BERN.

Princebishops of Basel
Jakob Sigmund von Reinach-Steinbrunn (1737-1743)
Joseph Wilhelm Rinck von Baldenstein (1744-1762)
Simon Nikolaus von Froberg (1762-1775)
Friedrich Ludwig Franz von Wangen (1775-1782)
Franz Joseph Sigismund von Roggenbach (1782-1793)

Geschichte : Das alte Bistum Basel, from Bistum Basel
Le chateau de Porrentruy, from Swiss Castles, in French, illustrated
L'Eveche de Bale : pres de huit Siecles d'Histoire Jurassienne, from Juranet
Article Basle-Lugano, from Catholic Encyclopedia
Das Fürstbistum Basel: Absolutismus (1608 - 1794), from Schweizer Familienforschung auf dem Internet, detailed timetable in German
Der Untergang des Fürstbistums Basel und das Schicksal seines Territoriums (1789 - 1829), from Schweizer Familienforschung auf dem Internet, detailed timetable in German
DOCUMENTS List of Princebishops, from World Statesmen by Ben Cahoon
REFERENCE Territorien-Ploetz : Geschichte der Deutschen Länder, Vol.1, Würzburg 1964, pp.279-280
Coins of Basel, 1701-1800, in : Krause, Mishler, Standard Catalog of World Coins : Eighteenth Century 1701-1800, 2nd ed., 1997, pp.1008-1012
Charles Dandliker, History of Switzerland, The History of Nations Volume XIII. NY : Colliers (1907) 1916, pp.327-594, revised by Elbert J. Benton

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on January 29th 2002, last revised on November 12th 2004

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