these free peoples, in their efforts towards national unity, were led to frame federal unions, and one of these political achievements is, from the stand-point of universal history, of very great significance.
The old League of High Germany, which earned immortal renown at Morgarten and Sempach, consisted of German-speaking cantons only.
But in the fifteenth century the League won by force of arms a small bit of Italian territory about Lake Lugano, and in the sixteenth the powerful city of Bern annexed the Burgundian bishopric of Lausanne and rescued the free city of Geneva from the clutches of the Duke of Savoy.
Other Burgundian possessions of Savoy were seized by the canton of Freiburg; and after awhile all these subjects and allies were admitted on equal terms into the confederation.
The result is that modern Switzerland is made up of what might seem to be most discordant and unmanageable elements.
Four languages— German, French, Italian, and Rhaetian— are spoken within the l