GLARUS (Fr. Glaris), the capital of the Swiss canton of the same name. It is a clean, modern little town, built on the left bank of the Linth (opposite it is the industrial suburb of Ennenda on the right bank), at the north-eastern foot of the imposing rock peak of the Vorder Glärnisch (7648 ft.), while on the east rises the Schild (6400 ft.). It now contains but few houses built before 1861, for on the 10/11 May 1861 practically the whole town was destroyed by fire that was fanned by a violent Föhn or south wind, rushing down from the high mountains through the natural funnel formed by the Linth valley. The total loss is estimated at about half a million sterling, of which about £100,000 were made up by subscriptions that poured in from every side. It possesses the broad streets and usual buildings of a modern town, the parish church being by far the most stately and well-situated building; it is used in common by the Protestants and Romans. Zwingli, the reformer, was parish priest here from 1506 to 1516, before he became a Protestant. The town is 1578 ft. above the sea-level, and in 1900 had a population of 4877, almost all German-speaking, while 1248 were Romanists. For the Linth canals (1811 and 1816) see Linth.
The District of Glarus is said to have been converted to Christianity in the 6th century by the Irish monk, Fridolin, whose special protector was St Hilary of Poitiers; the former was the founder, and both were patrons, of the Benedictine nunnery of Säckingen, on the Rhine between Constance and Basel, that about the 9th century became the owner of the district which was then named after St Hilary. The Habsburgs, protectors of the nunnery, gradually drew to themselves the exercise of all the rights of the nuns, so that in 1352 Glarus joined the Swiss Confederation. But the men of Glarus did not gain their complete freedom till after they had driven back the Habsburgs in the glorious battle of Näfels (1388), the complement of Sempach, so that the Habsburgers gave up their rights in 1398, while those of Säckingen were bought up in 1395, on condition of a small annual payment. Glarus early adopted Protestantism, but there were many struggles later on between the two parties, as the chief family, that of Tschudi, adhered to the old faith. At last it was arranged that, besides the common Landsgemeinde, each party should have its separate Landsgemeinde (1623) and tribunals (1683), while it was not till 1798 that the Protestants agreed to accept the Gregorian calendar. The slate-quarrying industry appeared early in the 17th century, while cotton-spinning was introduced about 1714, and calico-printing by 1750. In 1798, in consequence of the resistance of Glarus to the French invaders, the canton was united to other districts under the name of canton of the Linth, though in 1803 it was reduced to its former limits. In 1799 it was traversed by the Russian army, under Suworoff, coming over the Pragel Pass, but blocked by the French at Näfels, and so driven over the Panixer to the Grisons. The old system of government was set up again in 1814. But in 1836 by the new Liberal constitution one single Landsgemeinde was restored, despite the resistance (1837) of the Romanist population at Näfels.
Authorities.—J. Bäbler, Die Alpwirtschaft im Kant. G. (Soleure, 1898); J. J. Blumer, article on the early history of the canton in vol. iii. (Zürich, 1844) of the Archiv f. schweiz. Geschichte; E. Buss and A. Heim, Der Bergsturz von Elm (1881) (Zürich, 1881); W. A. B. Coolidge, The Range of the Tödi (London, 1894); J. G. Ebel, Schilderung der Gebirgsvölker d. Schweiz, vol. ii. (Leipzig, 1798); Gottfried Heer, Geschichte d. Landes Glarus (to 1830) (2 vols., Glarus, 1898–1899), Glarnerische Reformationsgeschichte (Glarus, 1900), Zur 500 jährigen Gedächtnisfeier der Schlacht bei Näfels (1388) (Glarus, 1888) and Die Kirchen d. Kant. Glarus (Glarus, 1890); Oswald Heer and J. J. Blumer-Heer, Der Kant. Glarus (St Gall, 1846); J. J. Hottinger, Conrad Escher von der Linth (Zürich, 1852); Jahrbuch, published annually since 1865 by the Cantonal Historical Society; A. Jenny-Trümpy, “Handel u. Industrie d. Kant. G.” (article in vol. xxxiii., 1899, of the Jahrbuch); M. Schuler, Geschichte d. Landes Glarus (Zürich, 1836); E. Näf-Blumer, Clubführer durch die Glarner-Alpen (Schwanden, 1902); Aloys Schulte, article on the true and legendary early history of the Canton, published in vol. xviii., 1893, of the Jahrbuch f. schweiz. Geschichte (Zürich); J. J. Blumer, Staats- und Rechtsgeschichte d. schweiz. Demokratien (3 vols., St Gall, 1850–1859); H. Ryffel, Die schweiz. Landsgemeinden (Zürich, 1903); R. von Reding-Biberegg, Der Zug Suworoffs durch die Schweiz in 1799 (Stans, 1895). (W. A. B. C.)