Rhodanic Republic

Rhodanic Republic
Republique Rhodanique
Client state of France
Capital Sion
Government Republic
Historical era Napoleonic Wars
   Established 1802
   Disestablished 1810
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Canton of Leman
Simplon (department)

The Rhodanic Republic, also known as the Republic of Valais or Vallais, was a French client republic that existed in the French-speaking part of Switzerland during the Napoleonic wars.

Napoleon had long sought to make Switzerland dependent on him in order to facilitate his military operations in Italy and around the Alps. Therefore, he had been trying various options in order to subjugate its territory or at least a part of its territory. The lands of French-speaking and French-oriented cantons of Geneva, Vaud and Valais seemed to him as especially convenient to fulfill these aims. Napoleon planned to form several puppet states in the realm of these three cantons. When the canton of Leman was formed, Napoleon tried to push through his idea of making a part of its territory into the so-called Rhodanic Republic.

In March 1798, the French general Guillaume Brune went to the canton Leman in order to implement the idea of creating of the Rhodanic Republic. The capital of the canton of Leman was Lausanne, with the prefet's residence, the administrative chamber and the judicial tribunal. The canton was divided into 17 administrative districts, each with a sous-prefet. Leman was also one of the five cantons - purely administrative subdivisions - of the Rhodanic Republic planned in March 1798 by the French general Guillaume Brune. However, this idea was temporarily put aside. In 1798, when Napoleon's troops invaded, the Valais people declared a Revolutionary Republique du Valais (March 16) which was swiftly incorporated (May 1) into the Helvetic Republic.

The puppet Helvetic Republic served Napoleon's purposes well for some time, until it became ridden with inner strife and disputes and became unstable. The inner crisis in the Helvetic Republic became especially tangible by 1802. At the very same time, Napoleon felt great need to secure the passages to Italy and stabilise connections between France and Italy. Therefore, the old idea of Rhodanic Republic became revitalized. This time, Napoleon simply made the whole canton of Valais into the Rhodanic Republic, fully independent of the Helvetic Republic which had still a few months to live. Thus, Napoleon's hands were free and he had got a sure method of securing a safe passage into Italy.

In 1810, Napoleon just as abruptly declared this ephemeral state a part of the French empire under the name of Department of the Simplon. Independence was restored in 1813, and, on August 4, 1815, the Valais finally entered the Swiss confederation as a canton. Thus, the Rhodanic Republic lived for 11 years. It was initially planned in 1798, formed in 1802 and lived until Napoleon's full defeat in 1813.

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