République des Sept-Dizains

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Republic of the Seven Tithings
République des Sept-Dizains

coat of arms (1623)

Map of the Upper Valais, detail from a 1693 map of the Swiss Confederacy and its associates.
Capital Not specified
Government Republic
Historical era Early Modern period
 •  Established 1613
 •  Disestablished 1798
Preceded by
Succeeded by
Bishops of Sion
Helvetic Republic

The République des Sept-Dizains (German Republik der Sieben Zenden "Republic of the Seven Tithings") was a state in the Upper Valais, in what is now the Swiss canton of Valais, during the Early Modern period.

The seven tithings were Brig, Goms, Leuk, Raron, Sierre, Sion and Visp.


They emerged in the 14th century, and were granted certain privileges by Charles IV in 1353. These territories had enjoyed de facto independence since the later 15th century, seizing much of the Lower Valais formerly controlled by the House of Savoy in 1475. This happened in the context of the Burgundian Wars, and with the agreement of both the bishop of Sion and the canton of Berne.

The tithings gained further autonomy as a result of the conflict with bishop Matthäus Schiner after the Battle of Marignano (1515), and again with the constitutional establishment of the Zendenherrschaft (sovereignty of the tithings) in 1571. The conflict between the prince-bishops and the communes simmered on into the 17th century. In 1613, the bishop was forced to forfeit his claim on the tithings, at first temporarily, then permanently in 1634, marking the beginning of the de jure sovereignty of the tithings and the end of the secular power of the prince-bishops. The communes of the Valais first referred to themselves as a democratic Republic in a document of 1619; the distinctive seven-star coat of arms which forms the basis of the current cantonal coat of arms dates to 1628.

The République des Sept-Dizains was abolished, and united with the Lower Valais, declared as the short lived (16 March to 1 May 1798) République du Valais, which was in turn incorporated as the canton of Valais of the Helvetic Republic, but in 1802 again seceded as the French client state of the Rhodanic Republic, which in 1810 became the French département du Simplon before in 1815 finally emerging as the Swiss canton.


See also[edit]