A Triumph of Diplomacy

An early example of the Pictet family’s philanthropic action was Charles Pictet de Rochemont, who re-entered politics after retirement, ensuring that Geneva joined the Swiss Confederation in 1815 and helping Switzerland’s neutrality to be recognised.
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The Cincinnatus of the Pictet family

It is an odd coincidence that in the same year, 1798, that Napoleon Bonaparte invaded Switzerland, Charles Pictet de Rochemont (1755-1824) acquired 75 hectares of land in Lancy to raise Merino sheep.

Long involved in Geneva politics, he now engaged in scientific cross-breeding, using the latest ploughs to produce fodder, and recruiting spinners and weavers to make the finest garments. By 1806 he has a herd of 9,600 and is keen to expand. Three years later, Charles sends his son Charles-René to Russia with a caravan of 850 Merinos, intending to farm in Odessa, Ukraine. To avoid Franco-Austrian fighting, the five-month voyage has to pass through Nuremberg, Dresden and Cracow.

Three years later, Charles sends his son Charles-René to Russia with a caravan of 850 Merinos, intending to farm in Odessa, Ukraine. To avoid Franco-Austrian fighting, the five- month journey has to pass through Nuremberg, Dresden and Cracow.

As he establishes the farm over the next five years, Charles- René becomes friends with the Duc de Richelieu, governor of Odessa.

So in 1814, when Richelieu makes for Vienna to negotiate a post-Napoleonic settlement, Charles-René is with him. Here he meets his father Charles, representing Geneva, who, like the Roman Cincinnatus, has abandoned his ploughshare to save the republic.

The friendship between the Pictets and Richelieu allows Pictet de Rochemont (following the Congress of Vienna in 1815) to persuade the Great Powers to resolve Geneva’s territorial issues and recognise Switzerland’s neutrality —a great diplomatic triumph.

A Triumph of
Diplomacy

Charles Pictet de Rochemont is an early example of the Pictet family’s responsible actions. Re-entering politics after retirement, he was instrumental in securing Geneva’s place in the Swiss federation.
1798

Charles Pictet de Rochemont acquires 75 hectares of land outside Geneva to raise Merino sheep.

1806

Pictet de Rochemont engages in scientific cross-breeding and employs the latest equipment to grow his Merino herd in addition to recruiting spinners and weavers to make the finest garments.

1809

Three years later, Pictet de Rochemont sends his son Charles-René to Russia with a caravan of 850 Merinos, intending to farm in Odessa.

1809–1814

While establishing the farm, Charles-René befriends the Governor of Odessa, the Duc de Richelieu.

1814

While accompanying Richelieu, Charles-René is reunited with his father Charles who is attending the Congress of Vienna as a representative of Geneva.

1815

At the Treaty of Paris, Charles Pictet de Rochemont helps establish Switzerland’s neutrality and ensures that Geneva joins the Swiss Confederation.

According to family lore, during the long journey Pictet de Rochemont's dog returned to Geneva on his own after being separated from the flock.

To avoid Franco-Austrian fighting, the five-month voyage must pass through Nuremberg, Dresden and Cracow. According to a long-held family story, Pictet de Rochemont's dog, who accompanied the convoy of sheep from Lancy (Geneva) to Russia, returned on his own to his master in Geneva after being separated from the flock in Austria.

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