The count’s bankruptcy has an effect to this day (long version)

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Source: Gstaad Saanenland Tourism

The Saanenland once belonged to the territory of the rulers of Greyerz 

Version Winter 2010/11

The count’s bankruptcy has an effect to this day

The crane (in French: la grue), the heraldic animal of the counts of Greyerz, today adorns the coat of arms of the municipality of Saanen. It is thus one of the most prominent indicators of the region’s historic roots. The connection of the population to the predominantly Vaud territory of the former rulers is much more deep-rooted than their affiliation to the territory of the current Canton of Bern. The reasons for this are rooted in history.

From the 11th century until 1555, the county of Greyerz was an important dominion and comprised the upper Saane valley. In 1555, it was divided into the protectorates of Greyerz and Saanen. The core area of the county extended from the source of the River Saane near the Sanetsch Pass to the currentday Lac de la Gruyère in the area of Broc and La Tour-de-Trême. The Jaun valley was also part of it.

In the 10th century, the future territory of the county of Greyerz belonged to the kingdom of Burgundy. The first count of Greyerz was Wilhelm I. who was born in the second half of the 11th century. The territory was situated in the foothills of the Alps and enjoyed farreaching independence for an extended period thanks to its remoteness; that is until Count Rudolf II. joined the feudality of Savoy in 1246, which lasted until 1536.

Since the 13th century, the counts of Greyerz had engaged in several conflicts with the cities of Bern and Fribourg. In 1401, the first burgage tenure contract was entered into with the city of Bern – mainly at the request of Saanen. When in 1404 Anton became the Count of Greyerz as a minor, the Savoys appointed an administrator. He was against renewing the burgage tenure contracts, which is why Bern subsequently invaded the Saanenland and the Paysd'Enhaut and destroyed the castles there. In 1407, the territory was given back to the county of Greyerz following a peace accord with Bern.

The County of Greyerz’s heyday was in about 1400. However, the counts’ extravagant way of life brought about financial difficulties. After 1500, various territories had to be sold. On 9 November 1554, the county was declared bankrupt at the Swiss Tagsatzung (executive and legislative council) in Baden. The creditors divided the county among themselves. The Saanenland and the Pays-d'Enhaut were ultimately claimed by Bern.

One good source for further details about the region’s history is the Historische Lexikon der Schweiz (Historical Dictionary of Switzerland).

Note for the editorial teams 

The following person will be happy to answer any questions you may have:
Kerstin Sonnekalb
Public Relations Manager
Gstaad Saanenland Tourism
Promenade 41
CH-3780 Gstaad (Switzerland)
Tel. +41 33 748 81 20
Fax +41 33 748 81 83

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