History : Jul-Aug 2016
16 JULY/AUGUST 2016 MILESTONES Unterwalden, mindful of these evil times, and in order to better defend themselves, have promised in good faith to give one another aid, advice and favor in the form of persons and goods . . . against each and every person that may use force, harm or injury against any of them, or harm their persons or property.” Birth of a Nation A clash with the Austrians was only a matter of time, and in 1315, following a Habsburg attempt to invade the canton of Schwyz, the threeway alliance routed the Habsburg forces at the Battle of Mor garten. The stunning victory by a non professional force against a host of trained Habsburg knights breathed new life into the pact and fanned the flames of antiAustrian sentiments across the whole Alpine region. In 1332 Lucerne joined forces with the rebel cantons, followed in 1351 by Zurich, a city governed directly by the empire. In time, other free cities and cantons also joined what came to be known as the Old Swiss Confederation, the precursor to modern Switzerland. A National Hero The liberation of the territories in what is now central Switzerland, and the cre ation of the first alliance between can tons, were the fruit of patient political negotiations. The Tell story of his re bellion against the tyrannical Habsburg governor provided a common legend around which the patchwork of emerg ing Swiss communities could rally. SMALLDARUMA/GETTYIMAGES LA LOCURA DEL PODER BONIFACIO V. POR ARNOLFO DI CAMBIO. SIGLO XIII. PALACIO DEL VATICANO. WARRIORS OF THE ALPS 18TH-CENTURY WORKS such as Johannes von Müller’s History of the Swiss Confederation popularized the image of the Swiss as a peace-loving people. The reality was very different. The tough conditions in the cantons sparked land disputes, settled by farmers skilled in the use of arms—such as this 15th-century crossbow—a training that helped the Swiss greatly when they faced the disciplined forces of the Habsburgs. BRIDGEMAN/ACI REBEL CITY Modern Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich defied Habsburg control in 1351 to join forces with the central cantons.