Zur Verteidigung des »Protestant Cause«: Die konfessionelle Diplomatie Englands und der eidgenössischen Orte Zürich und Bern 1655/56
Keywords:England, Switzerland, Oliver Cromwell, John Pell, John Dury, political Protestantism, transnational politics, diplomatic relations, first war of Villmergen, Waldensians, Popish Plot
The diplomatic relations between the English Republic under Oliver Cromwell and the two Swiss Cantons Zurich and Berne were heavily influenced by the bond of religion, which transnationally connected actors, events and strategies on both sides throughout the investigation period 1655/56. During the residence of the English envoy John Pell in Switzerland two major events occurred – the persecution of the Vaudois in Piedmont and the first Villmergen War – which brought together different actors for the so-called defense of Protestantism. Prominently involved beside the English diplomats and the Swiss magistrates were several leading ministers of the Reformed churches in Zurich and Berne. For both conflicts, very similar strategies were used (days of repentance and prayer, monetary aid, diplomatic and military intervention), which demonstrated a Protestant solidarity across borders and a union in the community of the faith. These measures were intended to overcome confessional differences on the inside and to close ranks against the (Catholic) enemies on the outside. Furthermore, comparable rhetoric strategies were used by both the English and the Swiss to stress a threat to the Protestant body and to generate prompt assistance to the endangered coreligionists. In
the end, the close diplomatic relations turned out to be disappointing for both sides and
remained a temporary episode; Cromwell as well as the Reformed Swiss Cantons increasingly
leaned towards an alliance with France, which made the English-Swiss convergence
more and more obsolete.