I.   An Early History of Zurich and Northeast Switzerland

Numerous lake-side settlements along Lake Zurich from the Neolithic and Bronze Age have been found, in what is Zurich today. These ancient settlements were discovered in the 1800s, previously submerged in Lake Zurich.  In 2004, traces of a previously unknown pre-Roman Celtic settlement were discovered.

Switzerland in Roman Times

Click to see the area of our ancestral Brubaker home.
Photo credit: Wikipedia.com, Marco Zanoli.

These Celtic Helvetians had a settlement on the Lindenhof hill in old Zurich, when they were succeeded by the Romans, who established a customs station there for goods going to and coming from Italy.

Roman Turicum (Zurich) was not fortified, but there was a small garrison at the tax-collecting point, set up not exactly on the border, but downstream of Lake Zurich, where the goods entering Gaul (pre-France) were loaded onto larger ships.

Christianity was introduced early in the 3rd century in Zurich by the (Roman Catholic and Coptic Christian) brothers Felix and Regula. According to legend, Felix and Regula were executed on an island in the Limmat River, present site of the location of the Wasserkirche (Water Church) in 286.

With the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the late 400’s AD, Germanic tribes entered the area of what is Switzerland today.  In the area around what is now Zurich, Alamanni (early Germanic) settlers slowly forced the earlier Celto-Roman population to retreat into the mountains.  In the Alaman-controlled region, only isolated Christian communities continued to exist and Irish monks re-introduced the Christian faith in the early 600’s .

During the 800’s, the feudal system proliferated; Roman Catholic monasteries and bishoprics were important bases for maintaining rule.  The Treaty of Verdun of 843 assigned the eastern part of today’s Switzerland to the eastern kingdom of Louis the German (grandson of Charlemagne) which would become part of the Holy Roman Empire.

It wasn’t until the 10th Century that many of the Swiss territories (similar to today’s cantons) integrated into a confederation, which lasted until the late 1200’s.

Next:  II. Zurich and the Old Swiss Confederacy, 1291-1523

1. Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911).“Zürich (town)”. Encyclopaedia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
2. Encyclopedia Britannica.com Alemanni
3. Fahrni, Dieter. An Outline History of Switzerland. From the Origins to the Present Day (8th ed. 2003, Pro Helvetia, Zurich).
4. Luck, James Murray. A History of Switzerland. The First 100,000 Years: Before the Beginnings to the Days of the Present. ….SPOSS, Palo Alto CA. (1985)
5. Wikipedia.org History of Switzerland
6. Wikipedia.org Louis the German