History of Geneva


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.

Update 6/10/2005

Related articles:


Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest Addthis

Recommended Partners

When you move internationally you are taking a big step. Lots of things are changing and you have a million things to think about and take care of. If you are able to select a top of the line moving company that moves for a modest price, it can take a big weight of your shoulders in busy times.

Our network of international removal companies can move your furniture & possessions to Switzerland and anywhere overseas.

Filling in the form at the bottom will allow you to request up to 5 quotes from various moving companies. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Do you have comments or personal information to communicate about this article? Add your comment.

Find more definitions and general answers on expatriation issues in the Expat FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions).

Go to the Forum to talk more about history of Geneva, overview.

Download the full digital PDF expat guide in Geneva

Download the guide: Geneva, Switzerland
  • See in one single booklet all the articles for a city guide for expatriates.
  • Enjoy full colour photos to illustrate each section.
  • Additionnal maps: Region, City view, Neighborhood, Street view.

  • - My Life Abroad -
    A selection of expat stories

    "A fun compulsive read!"
    J. Matcham, Amazon

    "I strongly advise people ready to live abroad to read this book!"
    Patrice, Amazon