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Appenzell

[ap-uhn-zel; Ger. ah-puhn-tsel]

Appenzell (or Appenzellerland) is a region in the northeast of Switzerland, entirely surrounded by the Canton of St. Gallen. A former canton of the Old Swiss Confederacy, Appenzell has been divided since 1597 into Appenzell Innerrhoden and Appenzell Ausserrhoden.

History

The name Appenzell (Latin: abbatis cella) means "cell (i.e. estate) of the abbot". This refers to the Abbey of St. Gall, which exerted a great influence on the area. Appenzell became a full member of the confederation in 1513, and religious divisions resulting from the Protestant Reformation culminated in a split in 1597 between the Catholic Innerrhoden and Protestant Ausserrhoden.

After this time, the term Kanton Appenzell continued to refer to both half-cantons, although this usage has since become outdated. Usually die beiden Appenzell ("the two Appenzells") are spoken of in a political context, and Appenzellerland in a geographic context, if the aim is to refer to Innerrhoden and Ausserrhoden collectively.

Appenzell is an alpine region, particularly in the south, where the Alpstein limestone range (culminating in the Säntis, 8216 ft.)is found, though towards the north the surface is composed rather of green hills, separating green hollows in which nestle neat villages and small towns. It is mainly watered by two streams that descend from the Säntis, the Urnasch joining the Sitter (on which is the capital, Appenzell), which later flows into the Thur. There are trams from Appenzell to St Gallen either through Gais or through Herisau, as well as lines from St Gallen to Trogen and from Rorschach to Heiden.

Since 1597 it has been divided, for religious reasons, into two half-cantons, which are quite independent of each other, and differ in many points. The north and west portion or Ausser Rhoden has a total area of 93.6 square miles (of which 90.6 are classed as "productive"; forests covering and glaciers .038 square miles), with a mainly German-speaking, Protestant population. Its political capital is Trogen, though the largest town is Herisau, while Teufen, and Heiden in the north-east corner is the most frequented of the many goats' whey cure resorts for which the entire canton is famous (Urnäsch and Gais are also in Ausser Rhoden). This half-canton is divided into three administrative districts, comprising twenty communes, and is mainly industrial, the manufacture of cotton goods, muslins, and embroidery being very flourishing. It sends one member (elected by the Landsgemeinde) to the federal Ständerath and three to the federal Nationalrath (elected by a direct popular vote).

The south or more mountainous portion of Appenzell forms the half-canton of Appenzell, Inner Rhoden. It has a total area of 66.7 m². (of which 62.8 m². are classed as "productive," forests covering 12.8 m². and glaciers .38 m².), and a total population of practically all German-speaking, and predominantly Catholic. Its political capital is Appenzell, which is also the largest village, while Weissbad (near it) and Gonten are the best-known goats' whey cure resorts. Embroidery and muslins are made in this half-canton, though wholly at home by the work-people. But it is very largely pastoral. Inner Rhoden is extremely conservative, and has the reputation of always rejecting any federal Referendum. For similar reasons it has preserved many old customs and costumes, those of the women being very elaborate and picturesque, while the herdsmen have retained their festival attire of red waistcoats, embroidered braces and canary-coloured shorts. Appenzell's annual New Year's Day festivities are still governed by the Julian calendar and are thus currently held on January 14. It sends one member (named by the Landsgemeinde) to the federal Ständerat, and one also to the federal Nationalrat, while it forms but a single administrative district, though divided into six communes.

To the outer world the canton of Appenzell is best known by its institution of Landsgemeinden, or democratic assemblies held in the open air, in which every male and female citizen (not being disqualified) over twenty years of age must (under a money penalty) appear personally: each half-canton has such an assembly of its own, that of Inner Rhoden always meeting at Appenzell, and that of Ausser Rhoden in the odd years at Hundwil (near Herisau) and in the even years at Trogen. However, in Ausser Rhoden this institution has been given up by a ballot voting on the 29. September 1997 by 54% of the voters (61% of the people did vote). This institution is of immemorial antiquity, and the meetings in either case are always held on the last Sunday in April. The Landsgemeinde is the supreme legislative authority, and elects both the executive (in Inner Rhoden composed of nine members and called Ständekommission, and in Ausser Rhoden of seven members and called Regierungsrat) and the president or Landammann; in each half-canton there is also a sort of standing committee (composed of the members of the executive and representatives from the communes--in Inner Rhoden one member per 250 or fraction over 125 of the population, and in Ausser Rhoden one member per 1000 of the inhabitants) which prepares business for the Landsgemeinde and decides minor matters; in Inner Rhoden it is named the Grossrat and in Ausser Rhoden the Kantonsrat. As various old-fashioned ceremonies are observed at the meetings and the members each appear with his girded sword, the sight of a meeting of the Landsgemeinde is most striking and interesting. The existing constitution of Inner Rhoden dates mainly from 1872, and that of Ausser Rhoden from 1876.

By the middle of the 11th century the abbots of St Gall had established their power in the land later called Appenzell, which, too, became thoroughly teutonized, its early inhabitants having probably been romanized Raetians. But as early as 1377, this portion of the abbots' domains formed an alliance with the Swabian free imperial cities and adopted a constitution of its own. The repeated attempts of the abbots to put down this independence of their rule were defeated in the battles of Vögelinsegg (1403), north-west of Trogen, and of the Stoss (1405), the pass leading from Gais over to Altstätten in the Rhine valley. In 1411 Appenzell was placed under the "protection" of the Swiss Confederation, of which, in 1452, it became an "allied member," and in 1513 a full member. Religious differences broke up the land after the Reformation into two portions, each called Rhoden, a term that in the singular is said to mean a "clearing," and occurs in 1070, long before the final separation. From 1798 to 1803 Appenzell, with the other domains of the abbot of St Gall, was formed into the canton Säntis of the Helvetic Republic, but in 1803, on the creation of the new canton of St Gall, shrank back within its former boundaries. The oldest codes of the laws and customs of the land date from 1409 and 1585, the original MS. of the latter (called the "Silver Book" from its silver clasps) being still used in Inner Rhoden when, at the beginning of the annual Landsgemeinde, the newly elected Landammann first takes the oath of office, and the assembled members then take that of obedience to him, in either case with uplifted right hands. In fact there are two Landamann a so called Regierender Landaman (acting Landamann) and a Stillstehender Landamann (vice Landamann). The terms are for two years and will switch between them after the two year, but they have to be confirmed every year by the voters. In particular the Regierender Landaman has to be confirmed by the voters by actually voting. This actually leaves the voters with the possibility to drop any member of the government during the Landsgemeinde and select someone else.

References

  • Appenzellische Jahrbücher (3 series from 1854, Trogen)
  • G. Baumberger, "Juhu-Juuhu"--Appenzellerland und Appenzellerleut (Einsiedeln, 1903)
  • J. G. Ebel, Schilderung d. Gebirgsvolker d. Schweiz, vol. i. (Leipzig, 1798)
  • W. Kobelt, Die Alpwirthschaft im Kant. App. Inner Rhoden (Soleure, 1899)
  • I. B. Richman, Appenzell (London, 1895)
  • H. Ryffel, Die schweiz. Landsgemeinden (Zürich, 1903)
  • J. J. Tobler and A. Strüby, Die Alpwirthschaft im Kant. App. Ausser Rhoden (Soleure, 1900)
  • J. C. Zellweger, Geschichte d. app. Volkes (to 1597), 6 vols in 11 parts (Trogen, 1830-1838)
  • J.C. Zellweger, junior, Der Kant. App.. (Trogen, 1867)
  • A. Tobler, Das Volkslied im Appenzellerland (Basel, 1906)
  • J. J. Blumer, Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte d. schweiz. Demokratien (3 vols. St Gall, 1850-1859)

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