Duke Berthold V. of Zähringen founded Bern in 1191 and according to some sources called the city after the German name of Verona. In 1218 Bern became a “Reichsstadt” or Imperial City. During the “Interregnum” Bern joined Savoy. In the struggle against the Burgundian and Austrian nobility, Bern was assisted in the Laupen War by the Waldstätte (the original Swiss states) with which it concluded 1353 an eternal alliance. The city began territorial expansion; in the 14th century, Bern brought most of the surrounding cities and areas into its possession. In 1415 it conquered Aargau; it made treaties with Lucerne in 1421 and with Zürich in 1423. In 1475 together with Freiburg it conquered Vaud and led 1476/77 the Swiss Confederates into the war against Charles the Bold of Savoyen Vaud and made a treaty with Geneva which was threatened by Savoy. Because of the patrician government and the growing disparity between city and country, several insurrections occurred, such as the Peasant War in 1653, 1723, and Insurrection attempt by Major Davel, 1749 Henvi Conspiracy. However, the power of the patricians was not shaken. In 1798 French troops occupied Bern and elevated the Oberland, Aargau in 1803. As compensation of the separated cantons of Aargau and Vaud, bern received a big part of the secularized bishopric of Basel in 1815.
Cantonal population 994,000. German speakers: 80.5%; French speakers: 14.4%, Protestants: 79.9%. It is the second largest canton in Switzerland: 2,657 square miles.