Sunday, January 3, 2010

Elisabeth Marguerite de Büren 1736-1805

Elisabeth Marguerite de Büren was the first daughter of Victor de Büren (1703-1753) and Anna Maria Tillier (1716-1794). Not much is know about her life apart from the fact that she was not very judicious with her father's personal papers. However, much is known about whom she married and the part he would play at the end of the Ancien Régime of Bern.

Anna Maria Tillier, Elisabeth Marguerite's mother painted by Johann Dälliker in 1742.

In 1756 Elisabeth would marry Nicolas Frédéric de Steiger, who would become the last Mayor of pre-revolutionary Bern.

Nicolas Frédéric de Steiger (1729-1799) by Johann Mottet in 1802

Nicolas held several minor government offices, served as cantonal emissary to Neuchâtel, Aarau, and Geneva, and finally was elected in 1787 Schultheiss (Mayor) of Bern, a position he retained until the fall of the confederation in 1798.

A bitter enemy of the French Revolution, Steiger headed the Swiss party that favored resistance against the French Revolutionary armies, for which purpose he allowed English, Spanish, and Sardinian recruitment of Swiss mercenaries in 1793 and 1795. The French defeat of the Bernese at Grauholz in 1798 ensured the demise of the confederation, and he fled to Bavaria. In exile he continued to lead a party of Swiss émigrés in plotting the overthrow, with Austrian support, of the French-protected Helvetic Republic and the restoration of the old confederation.

He would die in exile in 1799. After the death of Elisabeth in 1805, Nicolas’ mortal remains would be returned to Switzerland, where he would buried to great pomp in the cathedral of Bern.

The Funeral for Nicolas in 1805.

The tomb of Nicolas and Elisabeth in the cathedral.

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