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Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt (1737 – 1796)

On 25 September 1792, Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt of Bern was appointed commander-in-chief of the Swiss army, which included troops from all the cantons. Stationed at headquarters in Nyon, von Muralt prepared to defend Geneva from the French threat with 20,000 deployed soldiers and 12,000 reservists under his command. On 27 October, after long negotiations, the French agreed that they would not attack Geneva and withdrew their troops. The last Bernese garrison was able to leave the city on 30 November and the Swiss army was demobilised in December.

25.09.2019 | Communication Defence

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Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt was born in Bern on 19 April 1737. His father Bernhard, was a member of the Bern Grand Council and a bailiff. At the age of 22 years and already an officer, Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt entered into the foreign service of France. In 1772 he returned to Switzerland with the rank of major and having been awarded the cross of merit. Living in Bern, he continued his military service while also pursuing a political career. He became a member of the Bernese Grand Council in 1775, and was bailiff in Gottstatt from 1776 to 1778. In 1782 the Bernese militia promoted him to lieutenant colonel, and in 1786 he was elected member of the Small Council of Bern. Three years later, he was appointed treasurer of the French-speaking Bernese territories, and in 1790 he became colonel of the Bernese militia in the canton of Vaud.

When on 20 April 1792, King Louis XVI of France declared war on Austria, the danger that the French troops would invade the allied Republic of Geneva and possibly the entire Confederation became real. At its meeting on 13 May in Frauenfeld, the Federal Diet declared its neutrality. On 7 September a French battalion took up position on the border close to Geneva. Three days later, the city asked Bern and Zurich for military support. On 25 September Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt was appointed general and on 27 September the Swiss forces prepared their mobilisation. Fortunately, within two months the situation was resolved diplomatically (helped by the deterrent effect of the 22 battalions ready to defend Geneva). The Swiss troops demobilised in December.

After the victory of the First French Republic in 1796, von Muralt chaired the peace commission set up by the Federal Diet to negotiate with France. He died shortly afterwards, on 18 December 1796 at the age of 59; little more than a year later, the French troops successfully invaded the Confederation.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt
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On 25 September 1792, Wilhelm Bernhard von Muralt of Bern was appointed commander-in-chief of the Swiss army, which included troops from all the cantons. Stationed at headquarters in Nyon, von Muralt prepared to defend Geneva from the French threat with 20,000 deployed soldiers and 12,000 reservists under his command. On 27 October, after long negotiations, the French agreed that they would not attack Geneva and withdrew their troops. The last Bernese garrison was able to leave the city on 30 November and the Swiss army was demobilised in December.

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