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The name of Geneva, Genua in latin (then later Genava), appeared for the first time in the writings of Julius Caesar in De Bello Gallico (comments on the Gallic Wars).

The city developed under the Roman empire and was ruled by bishops from 400. Until the 9th century the city was contested by the Burgundians and Franks (it is part of Charlemagne's empire) and the Roman Emperors.

Geneva grows with international roles developing during the 15th century, alongwith fairs and an important financial and banking business. The Escalade (nowadays it is the symbol of their independence for the people of Geneva) marks the final attempt in a series of assaults mounted throughout the 16th century by Savoy which wanted to annex Geneva as its capital north of the Alps. In practice it stays under the rules of bishops and the region of Savoy until 1536 when it became a Republic lead by John Calvin and sometimes dubbed the Protestant Rome, welcoming numerous protestants. Geneva was the center of Calvinism and gained prosperity and international audience throughout the 18th century.

In 1798, the Republic of Geneva lost its independence and was annexed by France. The defeat of the Napoleonian army gave back its freedom on the 31st December 1813: it is the Restauration, today a patriotic day. In 1815, in order to stop being isolated, it joined the Helvetic Republic.

During the 19th and 20th centuries, Geneva welcomed loads of political refugees (Switzerland is a neutral country during the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century). The city became the host of the Red Cross organisation, and is nowadays hosts the headquarters for several international institutions.


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