In the Swiss city of Thun, the year 2014 will be marked by ongoing festivities, festivals, and cultural highlights. The celebrations have been chosen to highlight and mark the work, cultural contribution, and political development of women in these 750 years. The reason for this extraordinary theme for a basically medieval jubilee lies in the person of the founder of the city: Countess Elisabeth of Kyburg.
The number of cities founded by women can probably be counted on one hand; and those that can prove it with documents are the exception. The city of Thun in the Canton of Bern in Switzerland is this exception. The town received its city charter on the 12th March of 1264 from the hand of Countess Elisabeth of Kyburg. To commemorate this exceptional event, the city has named a place in her honour. The ceremony on March 12 also signaled the start of the jubilee year.
If you search the web, you wont find much about the honoured countess. She was the second wife of Count Hartmann V of Kyburg who was also the heir to the childless Count Hartmann IV of Dillingen, his uncle. When Count Hartmann V died suddenly in 1263, his wife was pregnant. This created legal insecurity and caused several interested parties to hesitate before intervening. Elisabeth on the other hand didn't hesitate and installed herself as regent.
She immersed her court in a flurry of legal work and spent the next seven months of her pregnancy handing out documents detailing the rights of cities, towns, villages, cloisters, monasteries, and other institutions. Most of these rights were just laid down in writing for the first time, but some, like the city charter of Thun, were done under her own steam. With the birth of her son and his death shortly thereafter, and with the death of Count Hartmann IV of Dillingen in the same year of 1264, she returned to her family and disappeared from history.
If you are planning a visit to Switzerland this year, the beautiful city of Thun should be on your travel agenda. Apart from the many cultural teats in store for you there, the city is one of the most beautiful and laid-back in Switzerland commanding excellent views over Lake Thun and the Alps. And once you have become aware of the exceptional Countess Elisabeth of Kyburg, you will find her presence everywhere between Castle Kyburg near Winterthur and the city of Fribourg.
The agenda for all festivities planned for 2014 can be found on the city page of Thun.
Thun: A Gem Among Cities in Switzerland
City on the Language Divide: Fribourg
Bern: Seat of the Swiss Federal Government