Zurich This, of course, is the capital of the canton of Zurich, and Europe's major banking center. It is Switzerland's commercial and industrial capital, and the largest in population (500,000). The chief historical figure of Zurich was Ulrich Zwingli, one of the Protestant Reformers, who established his movement in the city. As pastor of the cathedral, he regularly denounced the sale of indulgences, the selling of Swiss mercenaries to fight the battles of other countries, and the laxity of the clergy. In 1523, at a Town Council meeting, he persuaded the city fathers to back his movement, and made Zurich a leading Protestant city. Zwingli himself was killed in 1531 in a religious riot, but his movement continued. In spite of the hospitality of the Catholic cantons, and the general strife, the Swiss Confederation held together, but Zwingli's ideas were here to stay in Zurich.
The commercial growth of the city: In 1800, Zurich was still a small town, with only 17,000 inhabitants. But the 19th century saw tremendous growth. Originally Zurich had been the federal capital of Switzerland, but that title went to Berne in 1848, as a result of the revolutionary movements of that year. Still, Zurich marched ahead on the commercial front. The famous Polytechnic School was established in the city, making Zurich the leading city for science and technology. Its city constitution of 1869 became the model for other Swiss cities, as well as for the Swiss national constitution of 1874. Physically, the city sprawled outward, with many industrial suburbs built. Today it is Europe's center for finance: its banks control much of the currency of the Continent. In fact, one could say that Britains' solvency as a nation is dependent on decisions made by Zurich bankers, and that England is "owned" by the city.
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