|Farinet, national hero of Valais|
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If the legend of William Tell (for this is only a legend) illustrates the spirit of independence the Swiss have against foreign rulers, the story of Farinet will testify to that of the cantons.
Farinet (born in 1845) was an active counterfeiter in one of the most stubbornly independent cantons, Valais. His coins were recognized by the locals as being counterfeit, but they used them nonetheless. Many people did not like the new federal authority and if they were offered an alternative to the young Swiss franc (created in 1850), they were eager to use it. Farinet minted about 100,000 coins and was always on the run, but people from the Martigny area protected him. To them he was a hero and, even during his life, Farinet was the subject of many songs and even carnival parades.
The game went on for 15 years, but this is no legend, and Farinet was finally found dead in the mountains in 1880. Did the police shoot him? Was he betrayed by a woman? We do not know, but if somebody shot him, he left the SwFr5,000 bounty on Farinet’s head unclaimed. The anarchist became the hero of a book by the famous Swiss writer C.F. Ramuz, La Fausse Monnaie, and enthusiasts promoted him to the rank of Valaisian hero.
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