The certificate, which is about 480 years old, is about 60 cm high and over 80 cm wide. Nine seals are attached to the document, presumably made of wax. These probably serve as a kind of signature, proof of identity or also to certify the authenticity of contracts or documents. Wax seals usually bear the coats of arms of their owners, but may also contain a miniature portrait or symbols and iconography that are significant.
This security is currently not on display in the Finance Museum, but is stored in the vault. It was purchased by the Stiftung Sammlung historischer Wertpapiere at an auction in 2006. How this historical document came to be auctioned has not been conclusively clarified. It is a handwritten bond contract between Swiss merchants from Basel, Lucerne, Solothurn and Rheinfelden, dated 25 August 1545. The merchants concluded this contract with nobles from what is now the Savoy region.
Savoy is a historical and cultural region that today includes the departments of Haute Savoie and Savoie in the Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France. The Duchy of the House of Savoy is founded in the 11th century. During the Middle Ages, the House of Savoy builds a considerable state, starting from the region of present-day Savoy and moving eastwards across the Alps to Piedmont. Parts of western Switzerland, Nice and Sardinia belong to the ruling dynasty at times.
In the early modern period, Savoy becomes a target of French expansion due to its strategic location with connections to Italy. Although Savoy is occupied by French troops several times in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dukes of Savoy succeed in reconquering it. At the same time, the predominantly French-speaking Savoy loses its supremacy among the Savoyard lands, as the dukes prefer their Italian territories: the capital of Chambéry is moved to Turin in Piedmont (1563).
During the French Revolutionary Wars, Savoy is annexed by France in 1792 and returned to its traditional rulers in 1815.
As the price for the French Emperor Napoleon III's agreement to the formation of a state encompassing north-central Italy under the rule of the House of Savoy, Savoy, together with Nice, finally becomes part of France in 1860.
The treaty indicates the extensive trade networks of the lords of the Old Swiss Confederacy. It is an eventful time. Parts of what is now western Switzerland are conquered by the Bernese barely 10 years before in 1536. Until then, Savoyard counts live in Chillon Castle on Lake Geneva. The regions around it belong to Savoy's sphere of influence.
The ongoing disputes over regions of the Old Swiss Confederacy and Savoy, do not prevent Swiss merchants from continuing to invest their money abroad. In return, the recipients of the five-year loan of 1545 - the nobles from the Duchy of Savoy - pledge lands including revenues and taxes. Already in the two centuries before, wealthy citizens or Italian bankers from Geneva grant loans to noble Savoyards. Until the 16th century, the subjects of the Duke of Savoy borrow money from Confederate towns. The bond in the collection is an example of this.
Bonds are securities that still exist today and are often traded on the stock exchange. They are agreed between several investors (subscribers) and issuers (issuer). Capital is sold with an interest rate for a specific term. It is therefore a classic means of raising debt capital. In addition, repayment can be demanded. One difference to "normal" loans, for example, is that bonds are issued publicly.
Until the 14th/15th century, important financial transactions are conducted during a short period at Chillon Castle. However, this flourishing period ends with the reorientation to Chambéry. In 1536, the Bernese seize the opportunity: the Savoyards are under pressure due to their geopolitical position between the Habsburgs in Austria and the Valois dynasty in France and are losing strength. So the Bernese take over Vaud from then on.
French-speaking citizens from Montreux and Vevey, with the help of French troops, storm the castle in 1798 and it belongs to the canton of Vaud ever since.