Carl Hilty

Carl Hilty

Carl Hilty, born on 28 February 1833 in Grabs, dead on 12 October 1909 in Clarens, studied jurisprudence at the University of Göttingen (1851-1853) and graduated 1854 with a doctor’s degree from the University of Heidelberg. Afterwards, he went to Paris and London, before founding a lawyer’s chancery in Chur in Graubünden, his native Swiss canton. He was nevertheless more occupied with publishing studies of public law as well as religious and ethical essays, than with defending clients in court.

In 1868, he published “Theoretiker und Idealisten in der Demokratie” and in 1891 his main work “Die Bundesverfassungen der schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft”. In 1874, he was called to the ordinary chair of federal law and Bernese public law at the University of Berne, where after 1882 his lectures covered also the general theory of the state and international law. In 1909, he was nominated as a representative of the Swiss government at the International Court of Arbitration in Den Haag. However, he was also the chief editor of “Politischen Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft”, and he remained so until his death.

Our interest is focusing on his critical considerations of ambiance and sense for legal politics in history and in an intercultural context. In a very pragmatic way, he tried to grasp political institutions and their ethical values in order to render them fecundly again for the needs of his time and his place.

For more information, please consult:

Walther Burckhardt: Carl Hilty (1833-1909), in: Politisches Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, vol. 24 (1910), pp. 405 ss.;

Felix Renner: Der Verfassungsbegriff im staatsrechtlichen Denken der Schweiz im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (Dissertation Universität Zürich), Zürich: Schulthess & Co., 1968, pp. 254 ss.;

Daniel Thürer (together with Karin Spinnler Schmid): Ein typisch-untypischer Schweizer Staatsrechtler – Die Bedeutung Carl Hiltys für das schweizerische Staatsleben, in: Werdenberger Jahrbuch, vol. 2009, Buchs 2008, pp. 204-214 (auch in: Zeitschrift für

Schweizerisches Recht, vol. 2009/ I, pp. 111-129).

Selected Works of the Author

Carl Hilty: Die Bundesverfassungen der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, Bern: K. J. Wyss, 1891 (in französischer Übersetzung: Les constitutions fédérales de la Confédération suisse – Exposé historique écrit sur la demande du Conseil fédéral à l’occasion du sixième centenaire de la première alliance perpétuelle du 1er août 1291, Neuchâtel: Imprimerie Attinger, 1891; reprint Neuchâtel: Les Éditions de l’Aire, 1991); Idem: Fin de Siècle; and Idem: Die Zukunft der Schweiz, both in: Politisches Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, ed. by Carl Hilty, vol. 13 (1899), p. 3-21, resp. vol. 16 (1902), p. 3-39, Bern: K. J. Wyss, 1899/ 1902; Idem: Über das Studium des Rechts in unserer Zeit, in: Politisches Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, ed. Carl Hilty, vol. 23, Bern: K. J. Wyss, 1908; Idem (Ed.): Politisches Jahrbuch der Schweizerischen Eidgenossenschaft, 1886-1909.