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Untersuchungen zur Sozialgeschichte der schweizerisch-alpinen Welt (18. Jahrhundert)

Applicant von Greyerz Kaspar
Number 112020
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Departement Geschichte Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Swiss history
Start/End 01.04.2006 - 30.06.2009
Approved amount 140'243.00
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Keywords (6)

Kriminalitätsgeschichte; Soldwesen; Swiss social and cultural history; alpine world; eighteenth century; Engelberg valley

Lay Summary (English)

Lay summary
The new cultural history has so far ventured only a distant look at the alpine-agrarian world of the early modern world. This observation certainly includes central Switzerland. Research to date with a focus on this area still is heavily influenced by the results of older studies mainly concentrating on historical structures. One of their central theses, which is based on assumptions connected with theories of modernisation, is that central Switzerland during the seventeenth and eighteenth lost its momentum in the advance towards modernity. It is further assumed that economic underdevelopment, social inequality, lack of political freedom, as well as cultural backwardness were not only the reasons, but also the consequences of this wrong development. We are faced with a time-honoured interpretation, which draws on the one hand on the Enlightened notion of pastoral life in the Swiss mountains and, on the other hand, is indebted to much older traditions of outside perception, such as in respect of the polemics against the mercenary system of central Switzerland.

The current project aims at a new approach to the alpine world of central Switzerland during the early modern period. Within the framework of a case study, it concentrates on the ecclesiastical territory of Engelberg. The outstanding quality of judicial and administrative sources offers a very reliable perspective on the everyday life of the rural population. The central focus of the project is on the agency of the historical subjects. How did the peasants of the Engelberg valley deal with their time and the space surrounding them?

The presentation of the project will be in four parts: Part One will concentrate on the rural economy and the use of agrarian resources. The second Part will be based on the study of several individual cases in an attempt to illustrate the networks between, and the socially influenced ‚timetables’ of, individual actors. Part Three will focus on the arrangement of leisure times, as well as secular feasts. On the other hand, it will deal likewise with the sacred approach to time and space, as formed by baroque Catholicism. The fourth and final part will draw conclusions from the preceding parts in including their results in an attempt to gain a broad perspective of the system of mercenary service as practiced in the Engelberg valley. The study as a whole will throw new light on the history of mercenary service and demonstrate, at the same time, that the approach of the cultural historian offers an excellent vantage point for a new look at apparently well-known old and often debated historical phenomena.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants


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Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
116034 Untersuchungen zur Sozialgeschichte der schweizerisch-alpinen Welt (18. Jahrhundert) 01.04.2007 Project funding (Div. I-III)