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The city of Berne, situated in the west-central section of Switzerland, is the capital of Switzerland as well as of the Bern Canton. It is also the headquarters of the copyright, telegraph, and railway unions. Some of the major industries are

It was founded by Berthold V, Duke of Zahringen in 1191 as a military post between Burgundy and the Germanic Alemanni. The reason for his choosing Bern was the Castle of Nydegg, which had for centuries guarded a crossing over the Aare.

Over the next hundred years, a settlement grew up around the castle and the first city wall was erected. The Zytglogge Clock Tower was arose from the middle of the wall. A natural hollow had formed in front of the wall, and it became the moat.

In 1218, after the end of the Zahringen Dynasty, Bern became a free imperial city. Bern made a habit of acquiring surrounding territory and it became an independent state.

During the 13th century, the territory was extended to the west and a second city wall was built.

Bern entered the Swiss Confederation in 1353.

In 1405, a fire raged throughout Bern, most of which was built of wood. When it was rebuilt, the houses were built of sandstone from nearby quarries instead of wood, using the old foundations. The majority of these houses were rebuilt again in the 16th and 17th centuries, replaced by those which, for the most part, are still there today.

In 1528, the religion of Bern switched from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism.

As part of the French Revolution, France invaded Switzerland, a problem which lasted from 1798 until 1815. The Swiss revolutionaries appealed for help from the french to drive out the Bernese who were in positions of power. In January 1798, the French used this as a reason to enter Bern and the rest of the Swiss Confederacy. Bern was the only canton to put up armed resistance, but despite early wins, the resistance was defeated in March. This victory was the end of the old Confederation.

The French put an end to all Swiss governments, and they set about restructuring the former confederacy. Swiss revolutionaries, with the backing of the French, created a constitution for the Helvetic Republic with centralized governance.

The former cantons, which were originally independent states, became nothing more than administrative entities. The Bernese Oberland, situated in the southern part of Bern, was separated from the rest of Bern and the Helvetican Republic created from it a new canton, the Canton of Oberland.

In 1802, Bern regained control of Oberland was Bern's first step in returning its government to what it once was, and the 1814 Congress of Vienna granted the acquisition of Bernsese Jura (the French speaking part of Bern). The city became the political capital of the Swiss Confederation in 1848.



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