3. FRANCE AND THE SWISS: TRADE, THE PAMPHLET WAR, AND A DUCHY IN DISPUTE 47
CHAPTER 3 France and the Swiss: Trade, the Pamphlet War, and a Duchy in Dispute Economic factors had been prominent determiners in French relations with the Swiss Confederation since the start of the personal reign of Louis XIV in 1661, although trade on the whole played a minor part in the king's foreign policy. 1 For the Swiss, this relationship usually entailed dependence upon France, especially among the Protestant cantons in the west. 2 In the late seventeenth century, the flourishing commerce and artisanal industry of the cantons of Basel and Zurich and of the Abbacy of St. Gall particularly enjoyed markets in France far superior and on better terms than in other foreign lands. 3 The French generally had the upper hand in the opposite direction as well. The poverty and primitive economies of certain regions of Switzerland compelled their more-substantial inhabitants to rely largely upon imports, principally of the luxury goods in which France was dominant. 4 At times, the French commercial advantage over the Swiss resembled a form of economic blackmail, even in such prosaic necessities of the age as salt. 5 Throughout the last third of the seventeenth century, the Helvetic Body lived with recurrent anxiety over Louis XIV's proprietorship of the saline beds of the Franche-Comte, which had been ceded by the Spanish Habsburgs to the French crown at the Peace of Nijmegen of 1678-1679.6 The magistrates of the Protestant Canton of Bern had been the first to be courted and pacified, as early as...
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