the families

the Fesch armsFamily of craftsmen, probably original of Brisgovia (Breisgau). The first chronicles of the family report a Hugo Väsch, living in Freiburg in the year 1388, followed by his son Heintzmann, stone-cutter by trade, who moves to Basel, Switzerland, in 1404, finally obtaining  the citizenship of this town in 1409. Ninety years later, in 1494, the Fesches begun to make part of the City Council.

In the beginning they were masters builders, goldsmiths and merchants. From the 17th century the Fesches were represented also in trades related to metals and wines. They could access the city élite thanks to a clever marriage politics that they carried out also in the subsequent times.

Up to the end of the ancien régime each and every Fesch generation was regularly represented in the city institutions. Moreover, starting from mid-16th century at least one member of the family, such as Remigius and Johann Rudolf, belonged to the top political class of Basel. Johann Rudolf (1510-1564) in 1530 refused the communion and since then the family joined the Reform with the exception of Franz Joseph (1763-1839) who lived in France, Cardinal and uncle of Napoleon Bonaparte.

From mid-16th century the family numbered high officers in the army, such as Johann Rudolf, jurists such as Remigius and Sebastian and agronomists such as Andreas. In 1572 the family was formed approximately by 22 members whereas in 1659 they were already 132. Two main branches of the family are still present today: the Remigius line and the one of the bailiff Jeremias (1554-1632). In the 17th century many Fesches emigrated overseas. In the 19th and 20th centuries the family had theologists, jurists, doctors but also engineers such as Jules, architects such as Emil end brewers (up to 1925).

In 1659 the Fesch family, with a capital of 242’000 florints, was the richest family of Basel. Remigius established as a fideicommissum an important art collection, today conserved in various museums and in the university library of Basel. The family foundation, established in the 16th century, is still existing today. A branch of the family, at the beginning of the 19th century, emigrated from Basel to settle in Lahr (Baden) and subsequently in Trieste in the person of Gustav Adolf.

These Fesches operated in Trieste for the whole century as merchants and naval engineers. This family line eventually came to an end with my mother Annamaria, the last “triestina” of the Fesches, to whom this research is dedicated.

Alberto, 2007


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