1789 French Revolution. July 14 Storming of the Bastille. Abolition of feudal order, liberation of peasants, freedom of trade, declaration of human rights Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite: personal freedom, equality of rights, cosmopolitanism. Symbol: Liberty trees. 1792 Marseillaise. Aug. 10 Storming of the Tuileries, death of the nearly thousand-strong Swiss Guard. 1793 Execution of King Louis XVI. 1796 The French National Army became unbeatable. National army became unbeatable in the hands of Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821). He became dictator in 1799, hereditary emperor of the French in 1804.Napoleon wanted to take possession of the Alpine country as a kind of central fortress. His revolutionary troops broke into Switzerland in January 1798 and advanced from the Jura via the liberated Vaud towards Bern.

On 14 Feb. 1798, the mobilization of St. Gall auxiliary troops for the defense of aristocratic Bern took place. On Feb. 17, the 1st Company left for Bern, but was left unused in the general confusion at Jegenstorf (E 291).
On March 5, the French (under General Brune) were repulsed at Neuenegg, but at Grauholz (French General Schauenburg) the Swiss front immediately collapsed and the city of Bern surrendered. The 2nd St. Gallen Company had marched on Feb. 19, but only got as far as Bassersdorf. As everywhere else, uncertainty and unrest now spread in St. Gallen. The prince abbey had renounced the Fürsten- land (the Alte Landschaft) and the Toggenburg in February, the city coincidentally released the Untertanenland Bürglen on the same 5 March (E292). On March 14, the St. Gallen company arrived back home.

On behalf of the fleeing prince abbot Pankraz, the spiritual officer P. Placidus Sta- delmann sent a mandate for public pulpit readings in all parishes: "Until now, we saw only from afar how the avenging arm of the Lord did not spare the largest provinces and most powerful empires of Europe. The distant danger did not seem to move us, and although we did not commit lesser sins and vices than other nations, we did not believe that the same punishments would befall us. Now, however, the wrath of the Lord is coming closer and closer to us like a terrible storm. To the soldiers: "To you, then, brave brothers, who stand ready to fight for the holy religion and for the good of the fatherland - and to win or to die - to you we first exhort and entreat: begin the great work with God - purify your hearts and reconcile yourselves with him - strengthen yourselves for the Lord's battle by devotional enjoyment of the most holy mysteries - then go with true Christian courage - and God go with you." The mandate ends with the prayer, "Lord, our strength! our power, our refuge in the time of tribulation! show your power and your might to our enemies and to yours. Let them know that you Alone the Lord our God our Father, are an infinite Beneficent." Fragrance 26f.

Anna Schlatter - Bernet 1773-1826, "deeply religious woman, writing her fingers to the bone in letters" p 234ff; The guilds lost their importance, freedom of trade and commerce was introduced.

From September 1798 to May 1799, the city had to permanently maintain about 500 French occupation troops. Younger people were the most likely to be enthusiastic about the enlightened views and colorful festivities (E 305).

Anna Schlatter-Bernet (1773-1826) was also an eyewitness. She had already written to her husband in 1795:
"In these warlike times I am especially glad that you are such a man of peace and have more taste for dear nature than for weapons (and) military". Schlatters were initially supporters of the old order. Anna thought they didn't need the new freedom, they were happy with the old, they should save themselves the trouble of converting us to France. I see nothing but confusion, but I am still confident; God can create a beautiful world out of chaos.

Nevertheless, when the civic community adopted the new Helvetic Constitution on April 20, 1798, Anna reported:
Almost all the men wept at having to lose this good, faithful, unselfish authority. My usually so calm husband, for whom tears are something rare, came home sobbing. At the beginning of 1799, a French soldier was also quartered in the Schlatter house. Anna praises him as a very orderly, moral, certainly good person who did not become a soldier out of inclination. Hector liked to talk to him in French and kissed him goodbye, while Anna packed him some homemade things against his will, a new shirt and new stockings.

In May 1799, the French retreated and the imperial forces moved in. From the window Anna saw 92 wagons with wounded French soldiers rumbling up the Marktgasse to the military hospital in the monastery. She herself went there all the time: This sight my pen cannot describe, and what I could contribute to relieve it was only a droplet, my heart breaks with pity, how will God's heart break! In 1814, Napoleon's reign came to an end. Anna said: "I don't like it at all that even the best people in Germany are so enthusiastic about war. Even the most just war is ... a plague of mankind, a child of hell, is only a dispute about the earthly rights and freedoms of an earthly fatherland. But our fatherland is above, and the kingdom of God is peace... It is not clear to me that they call it a battle of God in Germany, a battle for the cause of Jesus. "Marianne Jehle-Wildb erger "Anna Schlatter-Bernet" p. 141-144

Abbot Pankraz, however, also hoped for the military liberation of his monastery lands from Emperor Franz in Vienna. In the Rhine Valley, the French actually suffered two defeats in the "2nd Coalition War". Many "Franks", i.e. French soldiers wounded in the Rhine Valley, made it to St. Gall and were now cared for in rooms of the empty monastery. Those who succumbed to their injuries were quickly dumped naked from a cart into a pit in the Linsebühl cemetery.

From the window, Anna Schlatter saw 92 wagons with wounded French soldiers rumbling up Marktgasse to the military hospital in the monastery. She herself went there all the time: This sight my pen cannot describe, and what I could contribute to alleviate it was only a droplet, my heart breaks with pity, how will God's heart break! In 1870, during excavations in the Linsebühl parsonage garden, the remains of at least 44 people were found lying in heaps on top of and through each other, almost all of them under 30 years old men, many with traces of amputations.

In 1809, 7388 Reformed and 730 Catholics were counted in the city, for a total of 8118 persons (E 317). The population now increased by leaps and bounds, but people of other faiths were not admitted until the 1860s. Napoleon was decisively defeated Oct. 16-19, 1813, in the Battle of Leipzig (E 321).


Walter Frei (2012)