GRISONS (Ger. Graubünden), the most easterly of the Swiss cantons and also the largest in extent, though relatively the most sparsely populated. Its total area is 2753.2 sq. m., of which 1634.4 sq. m. are classed as “productive” (forests covering 503.1 sq. m. and vineyards 1.3 sq. m.), but it has also 138.6 sq. m. of glaciers, ranking in this respect next after the Valais and before Bern. The whole canton is mountainous, the principal glacier groups being those of the Tödi, N. (11,887 ft.), of Medels, S.W. (Piz Medel, 10,509 ft.), of the Rheinwald or the Adula Alps, S.W. (Rheinwaldhorn, 11,149 ft.), with the chief source of the Rhine, of the Bernina, S.E. (Piz Bernina, 13,304 ft.), the most extensive, of the Albula, E. (Piz Kesch, 11,228 ft.), and of the Silvretta, N.E. (Piz Linard, 11,201 ft.). The principal valleys are those of the upper Rhine and of the upper Inn (or Engadine, q.v.). The three main sources of the Rhine are in the canton. The valley of the Vorder Rhine is called the Bündner Oberland, that of the Mittel Rhine the Val Medels, and that of the Hinter Rhine (the principal), in different parts of its course, the Rheinwald, the Schams valley and the Domleschg valley, while the upper valley of the Julia is named the Oberhalbstein. The chief affluents of the Rhine in the canton are the Glenner (flowing through the Lugnetz valley), the Avers Rhine, the Albula (swollen by the Julia and the Landwasser), the Plessur (Schanfigg valley) and the Landquart (coming from the Prättigau). The Rhine and the Inn flow respectively into the North and the Black Seas. Of other streams that of Val Mesocco joins the Ticino and so the Po, while the Maira or Mera (Val Bregaglia) and the Poschiavino join the Adda, and the Rambach (Münster valley) the Adige, all four thus ultimately reaching the Adriatic Sea. The inner valleys are the highest in Central Europe, and among the loftiest villages are Juf, 6998 ft. (the highest permanently inhabited village in the Alps), at the head of the Avers glen, and St Moritz, 6037 ft., in the Upper Engadine. The lower courses of the various streams are rent by remarkable gorges, such as the Via Mala, the Rofna, the Schyn, and those in the Avers, Medels and Lugnetz glens, as well as that of the Züge in the Landwasser glen. Below Coire, near Malans, good wine is produced, while in the Val Mesocco, &c., maize and chestnuts flourish. But the forests and the mountain pasturages are the chief source of wealth. The lower pastures maintain a fine breed of cows, while the upper are let out in summer to Bergamasque shepherds. There are many mineral springs, such as those of St Moritz, Schuls, Alvaneu, Fideris, Le Prese and San Bernardino. The climate and vegetation, save on the southern slope of the Alps, are alpine and severe. But yearly vast numbers of strangers visit different spots in the canton, especially Davos (q.v.), Arosa and the Engadine. As yet there are comparatively few railways. There is one from Maienfeld (continued north to Constance and north-west to Zürich) to Coire (11 m.), which sends off a branch line from Landquart, E., past Klosters to Davos (31 m.). From Coire the line bears west to Reichenau (6 m.), whence one branch runs S.S.E. beneath the Albula Pass to St Moritz (50 m.), and another S.W. up the Hinter Rhine valley to Ilanz (201 m.). There are, however, a number of fine carriage roads across the passes leading to or towards Italy. Besides those leading to the Engadine may be noted the roads from Ilanz past Disentis over the Oberalp Pass (6719 ft.) to Andermatt, from Disentis over the Lukmanier Pass (6289 ft.) to Biasca, on the St Gotthard railway, from Reichenau past Thusis and Splügen over the San Bernardino Pass (6769 ft.) to Bellinzona on the same railway line, and from Splügen over the Splügen Pass (6946 ft.) to Chiavenna. The Septimer Pass (7582 ft.) from the Julier route to the Maloja route has now only a mule path, but was probably known in Roman times (as was possibly the Splügen), and was much frequented in the middle ages.
The population of the canton in 1900 was 104,520. Of this number 55,155 (mainly near Coire and Davos, in the Prättigau and in the Schanfigg valley) were Protestants, while 49,142 (mainly in the Bündner Oberland, theMesocco and the Oberhalbstein) were Romanists, while there were also 114 Jews (81 of whom lived in Davos). In point of language 48,762 (mainly near Coire and Davos, in the Prättigau and in the Schanfigg valley) were German-speaking, while 17,539 (mostly in the Val Mesocco, the Val Bregaglia and the valley of Poschiavo, but including a number of Italian labourers engaged on the construction of the Albula railway) were Italian-speaking. But the characteristic tongue of the Grisons is a survival of an ancient Romance language (the lingua rustica of the Roman Empire), which has lagged behind its sisters. It has a scanty printed literature, but is still widely spoken, so that, of the 38,651 persons in the Swiss Confederation who speak it, no fewer than 36,472 are in the Grisons. It is distinguished into two dialects: the Romonsch (sometimes wrongly called Romansch), which prevails in the Bündner Oberland and in the Hinter Rhine valley (Schams and Domleschg), and the Ladin (closely related to the tongue spoken in parts of the South Tyrol), that survives in the Engadine and in the neighbouring valleys of Bergün, Oberhalbstein and Münster. (See F. Rausch’s Geschichte der Literatur des rhaeto-romanischen Volkes, Frankfort, 1870, and Mr Coolidge’s bibliography of this language, given on pp. 22-23 of Lorria and Martel’s Le Massif de la Bernina, Zürich, 1894.) Yet in the midst of this Romance-speaking population are islets (mostly, if not entirely, due to immigration in the 13th century from the German-speaking Upper Valais) of German-speaking inhabitants, so in the Vals and Safien glens, and at Obersaxen (all in the Bündner Oberland), in the Rheinwald (the highest part of the Hinter Rhine valley), and in the Avers glen (middle reach of the Hinter Rhine valley), as well as in and around Davos itself.
There is not much industrial activity in the Grisons. A considerable portion of the population is engaged in attending to the wants of the foreign visitors, but there is a considerable trade with Italy, particularly in the wines of the Valtellina, while many young men seek their fortunes abroad (returning home after having accumulated a small stock of money) as confectioners, pastry-cooks and coffee-house keepers. A certain number of lead and silver mines were formerly worked, but are now abandoned. The capital of the canton is Coire (q.v.).
The canton is divided into 14 administrative districts, and includes 224 communes. It sends 2 members (elected by a popular vote) to the Federal Ständerath, and 5 members (also elected by a popular vote) to the Federal Nationalrath. The existing cantonal constitution was accepted by the people in 1892, and came into force on 1st January 1894. The legislature (Grossrath—no numbers fixed by the constitution) is elected for 2 years by a popular vote, as are the 5 members of the executive (Kleinrath) for 3 years. The “obligatory referendum” obtains in the case of all laws and important matters of expenditure, while 3000 citizens can demand (“facultative referendum”) a popular vote as to resolutions and ordinances made by the legislature. Three thousand citizens also have the right of “initiative” as to legislative projects, but 5000 signatures are required for a proposed revision of the cantonal constitution. In the revenue and expenditure of the canton the taxes are never counted. This causes an apparent deficit which is carried to the capital account, and is met by the land tax (art. 19 of the constitution), so that there is never a real deficit, as the amount of the land tax varies annually according to the amount that must be provided. In the pre-1799 constitution of the three Raetian Leagues the system of the “referendum” was in working as early as the 16th century, not merely as between the three Leagues themselves, but as between the bailiwicks (Hochgerichte), the sovereign units within each League, and sometimes (as in the Upper Engadine) between the villages composing each bailiwick.
The greater part (excluding the three valleys where the inhabitants speak Italian) of the modern canton of the Grisons formed the southern part of the province of Raetia (probably the aboriginal inhabitants, the Raeti, were Celts rather than, as was formerly believed, Etruscans), set up by the Romans after their conquest of the region in 15 B.C. The Romanized inhabitants were to a certain extent (The Romonsch or Ladin tongue is a survival of the Roman dominion) Teutonized under the Ostrogoths (A.D. 493–537) and under the Franks (from 537 onwards). Governors called Praesides are mentioned in the 7th and 8th centuries, while members of the same family occupied the episcopal see of Coire (founded 4th–5th centuries). About 806 Charles the Great made this region into a county, but in 831 the bishop procured for his dominions exemption (“immunity”) from the jurisdiction of the counts, while before 847 his see was transferred from the Italian province of Milan to the German province of Mainz (Mayence) and was thus cut off from Italy to be joined to Germany. In 916 the region was united with the duchy of Alamannia, but the bishop still retained practical independence, and his wide-spread dominions placed him even above the abbots of Disentis and Pfäfers, who likewise enjoyed “immunity.” In the 10th century the bishop obtained fresh privileges from the emperors (besides the Val Bregaglia in 960), and so became the chief of the many feudal nobles who struggled for power in the region. He became a prince of the empire in 1170 and later allied himself with the rising power (in the region) of the Habsburgers. This led in 1367 to the foundation of the League of God’s House or the Gotteshausbund (composed of the city and chapter of Coire, and of the bishop’s subjects, especially in the Engadine, Val Bregaglia, Domleschg and Oberhalbstein) in order to stem his rising power, the bishop entering it in 1392. In 1395 the abbot of Disentis, the men of the Lugnetz valley, and the great feudal lords of Räzuns and Sax (in 1399 the counts of Werdenberg came in) formed another League, called the Ober Bund (as comprising the highlands in the Vorder Rhine valley) and also wrongly the “Grey League” (as the word interpreted “grey” is simply a misreading of graven or counts, though the false view has given rise to the name of Grisons or Graubünden for the whole canton), their alliance being strengthened in 1424 when, too, the free men of the Rheinwald and Schams came in, and in 1480 the Val Mesocco also. Finally, in 1436, the third Raetian League was founded, that of the Zehngerichtenbund or League of the Ten Jurisdictions, by the former subjects of the count of Toggenburg, whose dynasty then became extinct; they include the inhabitants of the Prättigau, Davos, Maienfeld, the Schanfigg valley, Churwalden, and the lordship of Belfort (i.e. the region round Alvaneu), and formed ten bailiwicks, whence the name of the League. In 1450 the Zehngerichtenbund concluded an alliance with the Gotteshausbund and in 1471 with the Ober Bund; but of the so-called perpetual alliance at Vazerol, near Tiefenkastels, there exists no authentic evidence in the oldest chronicles, though diets were held there. By a succession of purchases (1477–1496) nearly all the possessions of the extinct dynasty of the counts of Toggenburg in the Prättigau had come to the junior or Tyrolese line of the Habsburgers. On its extinction (1496) in turn they passed to the elder line, the head of which, Maximilian, was already emperor-elect and desired to maintain the rights of his family there and in the Lower Engadine. Hence in 1497 the Ober Bund and in 1498 the Gotteshausbund became allies of the Swiss Confederation. War broke out in 1499, but was ended by the great Swiss victory (22nd May 1499) at the battle of the Calven gorge (above Mals) which, added to another Swiss victory at Dornach (near Basel), compelled the emperor to recognize the practical independence of the Swiss and their allies of the Empire. The religious Reformation brought disunion into the three Leagues, as the Ober Bund clung in the main to the old faith, and for this reason their connexion with the Swiss Confederation was much weakened. In 1526, by the Articles of Ilanz, the last remaining traces of the temporal jurisdiction of the bishop of Coire was abolished. In 1486 Poschiavo had at last been secured from Milan, and Maienfeld with Malans was bought in 1509, while in 1549 the Val Mesocco (included in the Ober Bund since 1480) purchased its freedom of its lords, the Trivulzió family of Milan. In 1512 the three Leagues conquered from Milan the rich and fertile Valtellina, with Bormio and Chiavenna, and held these districts as subject lands till in 1797 they were annexed to the Cisalpine Republic. The struggle for lucrative offices in these lands further sharpened the long rivalry between the families of Planta (Engadine) and Salis (Val Bregaglia), while in the 17th century this rivalry was complicated by political enmities, as the Plantas favoured the Spanish side and the Salis that of France during the long struggle (1620–1639) for the Valtellina (see Jenatsch and Valtellina). Troubles arose (1622) also in the Prättigau through the attempts of the Habsburgers to force the inhabitants to give up Protestantism. Finally, after the emperor had formally recognized, by the treaty of Westphalia (1648), the independence of the Swiss Confederation, the rights of the Habsburgers in the Prättigau and the Lower Engadine were bought up (1649 and 1652). But the Austrian enclaves of Tarasp (Lower Engadine) and of Räzuns (near Reichenau) were only annexed to the Grisons in 1809 and 1815 respectively, in each case France holding the lordship for a short time after its cession by Austria. In 1748 (finally in 1762) the three Leagues secured the upper portion of the valley of Münster. In 1799 the French invaded the canton, which became the scene of a fierce conflict (1799–1800) between them and the united Russian and Austrian army, in the course of which the French burnt (May 1799) the ancient convent of Disentis with all its literary treasures. In April 1799 the provisional government agreed to the incorporation of the three Leagues in the Helvetic Republic, though it was not till June 1801 that the canton of Raetia became formally part of the Helvetic Republic. In 1803, by Napoleon’s Act of Mediation, it entered, under the name of Canton of the Grisons or Graubünden, the reconstituted Swiss Confederation, of which it then first became a full member.
Authorities.—A. Andrea, Das Bergell (Frauenfeld, 1901); Bündnergeschichte in 11 Vorträgen, by various writers (Coire, 1902); Codex diplomaticus Raetiae (5 vols., Coire, 1848–1886); W. Coxe, Travels in Switzerland, vol. ii. of the 1789 London edition; E. Dunant, La Réunion des Grisons à la Suisse (1798–1799) (Basel, 1899); G. Fient, Das Prättigau (2nd ed., Davos, 1897); P. Foffa, Das bündnerische Münsterthal (Coire, 1864); F. Fossati, Codice diplomatico della Rezia (originally published in the Periodico of the Società storica a Comense at Como; separate reprint, Como, 1901); R. A. Ganzoni, Beiträge zur Kenntnis d. bündnerischen Referendums (Zürich, 1890); Mrs Henry Freshfield, A Summer Tour in the Grisons (London, 1862); C. and F. Jecklin, Der Anteil Graubündens am Schwabenkrieg (1499) (Davos, 1899); C. von Moor, Geschichte von Curraetien (2 vols., Coire, 1870–1874), and Wegweiser (Coire, 1873); E. Lechner, Das Thal Bergell (2nd ed., Leipzig, 1874); G. Leonhardi, Das Poschiavinothal (Leipzig, 1859); A. Lorria and E. A. Martel, Le Massif de la Bernina (Upper Engadine and Val Bregaglia) (Zürich, 1894); P. C. von Planta, Das alte Raetien (Berlin, 1872); Die curraetischen Herrschaften in d. Feudalzeit (Bern, 1881); Geschichte von Graubünden (Bern, 1892); and Chronik d. Familie von Planta (Zürich, 1892); W. Plattner, Die Entstehung d. Freistaates der 3 Bünde (Davos, 1895), R. von Reding-Biberegg, Der Zug Suworoffs durch die Schweiz in 1799 (Stans, 1895); N. Salis-Soglio, Die Familie von Salis (Lindau, 1891); G. Theobald, Das Bündner Oberland (Coire, 1861), and Naturbilder aus den rhätischen Alpen (3rd ed., Coire, 1893); N. Valaer, Johannes von Planta (d. 1572) (Zürich, 1888); R. Wagner and L. R. von Salis, Rechtsquellen d. Cant. Graubünden (Basel, 1877–1892); F. Jecklin, Materialen zur Standes- und Landesgeschichte Gem. iii. Bünde (Graubünden), 1464–1803 (pt. i., Regesten, was published at Basel in 1907). See also Coire, Engadine, Jenatsch and Valtellina. (W. A. B. C.)