Another great figure, but of an entirely opposite character, was Huldreich Zwingli (q.v.), the leader in the Swiss Reformation. He obtained quite an exceptional influence over the decisions of the council. Zurich was later to become the capital of a reformed Swiss League and for the realization of this aim he renewed the fight against the conservative Forest districts of the Swiss League. This war ended again with defeat for Zurich and it deprived the whole Evangelical party in Switzerland for nearly two centuries of its preponderant position.
The fight of the country districts for the grant of equal polit ical rights with the burghers of the ruling class marks the third stage in the history of Zurich. Originally the people in the country had retained a number of political privileges, which had been confirmed by the town herself and in the Reformation period were even enlarged. In the 17th and 18th centuries, however, there was a tendency to limit the privileges of burghership to the actual holders. The reserved rights of the country population were disregarded, the administration centralized, the country ruled solely by deputies from the town. The Great Council came to be mainly chosen by a small committee of members actually sitting in the Council and each gild had the right to fill by itself the seats becoming vacant by decease of its members. Trade was a privilege of the burghers alone. A country man was not allowed to have a business of his own; he could only work in the pay of a burgher as his employee. Some particular crafts were alto gether reserved to the townspeople; an attempt was even made to deprive the town of Winterthur of its flourishing silk trade.
Occasional opposition from the country folk was severely pun ished. In 1794 some inhabitants of Stafa (a rich village on the lake) claimed the restoration of their old privileges (Stafner articles), but it was not until 1798, when the Helvetic Republic was founded, that political and economical liberty was extended to the country districts. In 1803 certain privileges of the town were
restored by giving the town proportionally a much larger repre sentation in the new council than the country. Under the can tonal constitution of 1814 matters became even worse, for the town with about I0,000 inhabitants had 130 representatives in the Great Council, while the country districts with about 200,000 inhabitants had only 82. Reaction lasted till 1830, when a great popular meeting at Uster proposed a radical reform to abolish inequality between town and country. The democratic reform was accepted by the majority of the voters. The following period has rightly been called the "Regeneration Period"; administration was completely reorganized, the school-system reformed and crowned by the establishment of a cantonal university. The last great change in the cantonal constitution occurred in 1867-69, when the rights of the legislative council were reduced in favour of a more truly democratic system. The cantonal Government was to be elected by the people, the power of parliament was re duced by the people's privilege of referendum (i.e. the right to accept or reject bills proposed by parliament) and initiative (i.e. the right to propose bills of its own).
A particular task fell yet on the city proper: the assimilation of the new population which—owing to the rapid development of the town—had by far outgrown the number of the old privileged class and had partly settled in the outlying districts. The town began to open her schools to the newcomers and then facilitated the entrance into burghership. The work was crowned by the incorporation into the town of II outlying districts in 1893. A scheme under revision in 1928 proposed to incorporate a great number of other suburbs. This would bring the city's area within the size of some of the biggest European cities.