' (, "forested sites") is a term, which has been used since the early thirteenth century to refer to the ''Stätte'' (singular: ''Statt'', "sites"), or later ''Ort'' (plural: ''Orte'', "lieu") or ''Stand'' (plural: ''Stände'', "estate") of the early confederate allies of Uri
in Central Switzerland
From 13th to 19th centuries, the term ''Waldstätte'' also synoptically referred to the nucleus of the Swiss Confederacy of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden; later, the term was gradually replaced by the term ''Urschweiz''.
The term ''Wald'' ("forest; woods") is to be understood in contrast to ''Forst'', the former in Middle High German
terminology referring to cultivated land of alternating pastures, fields and woods, while the latter referred to deep, uncultivated forests (''silva invia et inculta'').
The Middle High German terms ''Waldstette'' or ''Stette'' (in the sense of "forested site/settlement") is also used alongside ''Stett'' (modern ''Stadt'', or "town, city", in the sense of a powerful, eventually protected settlement with special rights) and ''Lender'' (modern ''Länder'', in the sense of rural countrysides) in reference to the individual confederate allies
into the first half of 15th century and became gradually replaced by the term ''Ort'' ("point; lieu") or ''Stand'' ("state"), which stayed prominent in German-speaking Switzerland until Helvetic Republic
; the term ''canton'' (in German: ''Kanton''), in origin a Romance translation of German ''Ort'', was unknown for the German-speaking allies until around 1650.
The first recorded use of the term specifically as referring to the wooded valleys
of Central Switzerland is in a document dated 1289, mentioning ''ze Swiz in der waltstat'' (i.e. "in Schwyz, in the wooded site").
In 1323, Glarus
is named a ''Waldstatt'' alongside Schwyz. The application to the allies of the early Swiss Confederacy
dates to 1309. In 1310, Duke Frederick the Fair
complains about the king impeding his rights to the ''civitatibus Silvanis''.
With the establishment of the Confederacy in the 1310s, the term is adopted as an exonym, and in the pacts which expanded the Confederacy
, with Lucerne in 1332 and with Berne in 1353.
The inclusion of Lucerne
as a "fourth" ''Waldstätte'' is first mentioned in an addition dated to the 1450s in the ''Silver Book'' of Egloff Etterlin
In the protocols of the Swiss Diet
in the second half of the 15th century, under the presidency of Lucerne, the term ''vier waltstette'' sees frequent use.
Albrecht von Bonstetten
in his ''Superioris Germaniae Confoederationis descriptio'' (1479) suggests that the term ''vier Waldstett'' (latinized ''quatuor Loca Silvarum'') was in common use.
is given the new name of ''Vierwaldstättersee'' (aka Lake of Four Forested Sites) in the 16th century.
* Formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy
* Federal Charter of 1291
* Canton of Waldstätten
Category:Old Swiss Confederacy