As there is no dominant national language, the four main languages
of French, Italian, German and Romansch form the four branches which make up a literature of Switzerland
. The original Swiss Confederation, from its foundation in 1291 up to 1798, gained only a few French-speaking districts in what is now the Canton of Fribourg
, and so the German language dominated. During that period the Swiss vernacular literature was in German, although in the 18th century, French became fashionable in Bern
and elsewhere. At that time, Geneva
were not yet Swiss: Geneva was an ally and Vaud a subject land. The French branch does not really begin to qualify as Swiss writing until after 1815, when the French-speaking regions gained full status as Swiss cantons
. The Italian and Romansch
-Ladin branches are less prominent.
Like the earlier charters of liberties, the original League of 1291 was drawn up in Latin
. Later alliances among the cantons, as well as documents concerning the whole Confederation—the Parsons Ordinance of 1370, the Sempach Ordinance of 1393, the Compact of Stans (1481) and all the Recesses of the Diets—were compiled in German. Political documents are not necessarily literature, but these pre-Reformation alliances rested on popular consent, and were expressed in vernacular German rather than in clerkly Latin. Read more...