Z., vol. ix. (1921) ; etc. (W. A. B. C. ; X.) History.—The earliest inhabitants of the future site of Zurich were the lake dwellers. Later, the Helvetii (a Celtic tribe) had a settlement on the Lindenhof, where the Romans established a custom station. The Romans called it Turicum. The district was later occupied by the Alamanni.
The beginnings of the mediaeval town of Zurich date from the 9th and loth centuries. In the 13th century Zurich was already an important imperial city ; in the 16th century she became the centre of the Swiss Reformation and in modern times, though she lost the dominion over the country-side, she remained the capital of the canton and developed as a commercial, industrial intel lectual and educational centre of the first importance.
Three stages in the constitutional development of the town may be distinguished. First comes the city's fight for freedom from foreign powers. The burghers were originally under the rule of a Reichsvogt, the representative of the emperor (who had a castle on the Lindenhof), but they obeyed also the orders of the abbess of the FraumUnster, a Benedictine convent (endowed in 853 by the Emperor Louis the Pious) which had acquired extensive rights and privileges over the people who had settled round about it. When the council of the abbess, which was composed of the noblemen and rich merchants of the town, became the trusted representation of the townspeople, power actually passed from the abbey to the town (13th century). The Reichsvogtei, which had been in the hands of the most powerful dynasty in the country, was in the same period entrusted to some nobleman of the town and was later (1400) bought off altogether from the emperor.
Thus the city had acquired independence.
The second stage is characterized by the struggle for admit tance of the craft guilds to a share with the patricians in the gov ernment of the town. Naturally, in the age of industrial devel opment and of democratic tendencies in the towns, the guilds tried to secure for themselves a share in the city's councils. They found a leader in Rudolf Brun, a nobleman, who after being elected burgomaster introduced a new constitution (1336) which divided the functions of government between the patricians (the Con stafel) and the representatives of the 13 guilds. The Constafel still retained a privileged position; the head of the Constafel was to be the burgomaster, and in the Little Council the Constafel members alone were invested with the functions of government. In 1393, however, power passed from the Little Council into the hands of the Great Council (about 200 members) and the guild members got the majority on the Little Council with a title to have the burgomaster chosen out of their own ranks. From the 13th to the 15th century Zurich fought for the possession of a considerable dominion—the Zurich country district (which later became the canton). For a long time the town hesitated be tween a pro-Habsburg and a pro-Swiss policy. Brun had induced his followers to join in the Swiss League, which was then (1353) only beginning to develop. When, by purchase or right of suc cession, Zurich had become the ruler of the adjoining lake dis trict, she came in conflict with the territorial aspirations of Schwyz. The "Old Zurich War" (1436-50) broke out between Zurich and all the other members of the Swiss League; Zurich, however, had the assistance of Austria, the old enemy of the League. The war ended with the defeat of Zurich who gave up the Austrian alliance. The authority of the Swiss League was much strengthened. In 1467 Zurich enlarged her dominion by acquiring from the Habsburgs the town of Winterthur. Zurich gained the military leadership in the League under her great burgomaster Hans Waldmann, who led the Swiss to victory in the Burgundian war at Morat (1476). He also fought with the gild masters against the Constafel party. A true adventurer by nature, he was a great reformer, did much to strengthen the ad ministration of the town against the Church and the country districts, and helped to make Zurich a great commercial centre.