Sonderbund War

Congress Europe

Europe 1847.1103

Sonderbund War

Congress Europe (3 November 1847)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

In the early 1840s, Switzerland was still more a confederation of cantons than a nation state. The leading Radical Party - which was strong in the Protestant cantons - wished to change this, but was opposed by seven Catholic cantons in the Sonderbund alliance. In 1847, the Sonderbund was defeated in a short civil war, allowing for the creation of a federal central government the following year.

Main Events

Great Famine in Ireland

The potato blight - already in Europe in 1844 - reached Ireland in September 1845, destroying three-quarters of the island's 1846 harvest. As some 40% of the Irish population depended on potatoes, the famine which ensued was devastating, killing over a million people and prompting another one to two million to emigrate. As a result, Ireland's population dropped from 8 to 5 million - a fall from which the island has still not recovered (it was 6.4 million in 2011).

Galician slaughter

Polish nobles in Galicia organized a revolt against the Austrian Empire to coincide with the Kraków uprising, but their appeals to the peasantry largely failed. Instead, the peasants, supported and encouraged by the Austrians, turned against the rebel nobles. In what was dubbed the Galician slaughter, peasants destroyed numerous manor houses - about 90% of those in the Tarnów region - and killed over a thousand Polish estate owners and officials, before their revolt was belatedly suppressed by Austrian troops.

Krakow uprising

As part of what was meant to be a wider uprising of Poles against Austria, Russia, and Prussia, Polish nationalists revolted in the Free City of Kraków. Backed by the nobility and middle class, the revolutionaries soon succeeded in seizing control of the city itself, but were unable to win support in the countryside. Over the next week, the Austrian army - aided by Polish peasants who distrusted their revolutionary landlords - crushed the rebellion, bringing an end to Kraków's independence.

Outbreak of Second Carlist War

A Carlist rebellion broke out in Solsona, Catalonia, Spain, with small guerrilla units attacking the government forces of Isabella II. The war began to pressure Isabella to marry the Carlist pretender, Carlos de Borbón, but this unraveled when she married Francisco de Borbón on 10 October 1846. Nonetheless, the insurgency continued for some three years, causing several thousand casualties.

Annexation of Krakow

In response to the failed Kraków Uprising of February 1846, the Austrian and Russian Empires signed a treaty to terminate the Free City of Kraków on 6 November. By the terms of the agreement, Kraków was annexed to Austria ten days later, becoming the Grand Duchy of Cracow.

Inheritance of Parma

Marie Louise, Napoleon Bonaparte's second wife and thus former Empress of France, became Duchess of Parma in 1814 but was forbidden from passing the title on to her offspring by the Allies. She was instead succeeded in 1847 by Duke Charles of Lucca, who was in turn bound to cede Lucca to Tuscany. Upon becoming Duke of Parma, Charles also fulfilled a treaty he had signed in 1844, passing Guastalla to Modena in exchange for Pontremoli.

Sonderbund War

In 1845 seven Catholic cantons formed an alliance - the Sonderbund - to protect their interests against the centralization of power in the Swiss Confederation. In November 1847, the Tagsatzung - the Swiss Federal Diet - ordered the dissolution of the Sonderbund, sending the federal army against them. In a short campaign, the alliance was defeated, leading to the emergence of Switzerland as a federal state the following year.

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