Neuchatel, Or Neufchatel

canton feet jura

NEUCHATEL, or NEUFCHATEL (Germ., Neuenburg), a canton of Switzerland, consisting of a section of the Jura system (see JURA) between the Doubs valley and the Lake of Neuchatel, lies between 46° 50' and 47° 10' N. lat. and 6° 25' and 7° 5' E. long. It is bounded on the N.E. and E. by Bern, on the S.E. by its lake, which separates it from Freiburg and Vaud, on the S. by Vaud, and on the W. and N.W. by France (department of Doubs). The greatest length is about 30 miles, the average breadth 11, and the area 312 square miles. It consists for the most part of the longitudinal ridges and valleys characteristic of the Jura mountains, which here have an average elevation of over 3000 feet, and reach their highest point in the Creux du Vent (4900 feet). The drainage is divided by the Thiele or Zihl, which flows into the Aar, and by the Doubs, the former receiving by far the larger portion. The lowest part of the canton, stretching along the shore of the lake, and known by the name of Vignobles, has, as the name implies, the vine for its characteristic growth. It extends from about 1425 to upwards of 1800 feet above the level of the sea. An intermediate region represented by the Val de Travers and the Val de Ruz, ranging from 1800 to about 2700 feet in height, produces cereals (only a fifth, however, of the total required by the population). The higher valleys are occupied by meadow and forest. About one-fifth of the total area of the canton is under wood, and nearly a fourth is ranked as unproductive. The geological structure is explained under JURA. The most valuable mineral product of the canton is asphalt, of which there is a large and rich deposit in the Val de Travers, from which upwards of 2000 tons are annually taken (see vol. ii. p. 716). The wine of the Vignobles (both sparkling and still) is plentiful and has a good reputation, being exported in large quantities. On the mountain pasture lands large herds of cattle are reared ; in 1876 the number was 19,469, and there were besides 3009 horses, 3433 pigs, 3586 sheep, 2853 goats, and 4723 beehives. Absinthe is manufactured in the Val de Travers, and exported to the extent of 200,000 bottles annually ; lace is also largely made, especially in that valley, but the characteristic industry of the canton is that of watchmaking in all its branches, carried on chiefly in and around the lofty and secluded villages of Chaux-de-Fonds and Le Lode. The former, which is upwards of 3200 feet above the level of the sea, had a population of 22,456 in 1880, the latter (upwards of 3000 above sea-level) had 10,464, - the annual value of the total production of watches exceeding L1,000,000. The population of the canton in 1880 was 103,732 (50,169 males). The proportion of Protestants to Catholics is nearly 8 to 1 ; there are also a small number of Jews. The language of three-fourths of the inhabitants is French.

The territory of Neuchatel was inhabited during the Roman period by the Gallic Sequani. It is not again mentioned in history until the beginning of the 11th century, when it passed from Burgundy to the German empire. In 1288 it was given by Rudolph of Hapsburg to John II. of Chalons, with the title of count. In 1444 the count of Neuchatel joined the Swiss league against Austria, and ever afterwards enjoyed Swiss protection. In the beginning of the 16th century the countship passed to the house of OrleansLongueville, and in 1579, being conjoined with the countship of Valendis, it became a principality, which in the beginning of the 18th century was inherited by Frederick I. of Prussia (his claims being preferred by the people over those of numerous other candidates). In 1806, after the treaty of Tilsit, it was given by Napoleon to Marshal Berthier, but it was restored to Prussia in 1814, though Neuchatel was at the same time recognized as holding a place in the Swiss confederacy, being the only non-republican canton. In 1848 a republican constitution was established, the king of Prussia protesting • and in 1856 an attempt was made by a royalist party to re-establish monarchy, but without success. The ultimate result of the negotiations which ensued was that, by a treaty at Paris in 1857, an amnesty was granted to the insurgents, and the king of Prussia resigned all claim to sovereignty while still retaining the right to bear the title of prince of Neuchatel.

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