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With the violent death of the youthful King Wenceslas III on 4 August 1306, the ancient dynastic line of the Premyslids became extinct; and the kingdom of Bohemia, which had flourished so splendidly under the last kings of the Premyslid line, was subjected to a severe test. From the foundation of the Bohemian State the Bohemians had chosen their ruler only from the Premyslid family, and from the end of the twelfth century there was no further need for such elections, because the throne came to be occupied always by the eldest, and as a rule the only, son of the previous ruler. Now there was no male Premyslid but only a few princesses of the Premyslid line. These laid claim to a privilege alleged to have been granted by a German king, who was said to have recognised the right of the female descendants of the family of Premysl to the Bohemian throne, but this charter was not regarded as valid. On the other hand, it was certain that, according to the Golden Bull of the Emperor Frederick II (1212), the Bohemians had the right to elect their king freely and that the function of the Emperor was merely to ratify the election by conferring the insignia of royal power. By making use of this right, the Bohemians could call to the throne at least the husband or the betrothed of one of the Premyslid princesses. As a matter of fact the majority of the Bohemian nobility was in favour of Henry of Carinthia, the husband of the eldest daughter of King Wenceslas II.

But by means of the proclamation that Bohemia was a vacant fief of the Empire, and with the help of gifts and promises, entreaties and threats, the German King Albert of Habsburg succeeded at last in causing the majority of the Bohemian nobles, in October 1306, to elect as their king his eldest son Rudolf. Thus the Bohemian throne was occupied for the first time by a member of the family whose lasting rule in Bohemia was not established until 200 years later. And perhaps the Habsburg dynasty might have been established in Bohemia even then on a permanent basis, if it had not been for the sudden death of the young king, who died on an expedition against some of the nobles in opposition to him, in July 1307, not quite nine months after his election.

According to the agreement made by King Albert with the Bohemian nobles, Rudolf’s successor in Bohemia was to have been his younger brother, Frederick the Handsome. But only part of the nobility were willing to accept him. The majority elected as king Duke Henry of Carinthia (1307-10). The King of the Romans, Albert, indeed did not recognise him, for he insisted on the right of his own sons to the throne of Bohemia, but when in the spring of the year 1308 he was murdered, his son Frederick the Handsome, by friendly agreement with Henry of Carinthia, renounced in return for a large sum of money all his rights to the Bohemian crown. Henry, however, did not prove a success in Bohemia and soon lost the favour of the Bohemians. The serious increase in disorder and the conflicts between the Bohemian nobles and the wealthy German burghers undermined all his prestige. Thus there arose in Bohemia the idea of getting rid of Henry of Carinthia with the help of the new King of the Romans, Henry VII, and of inviting to the Bohemian throne a member of his family if the latter took as his wife Elizabeth, the only unmarried daughter of King Wenceslas II. After some hesitation King Henry VII accepted this plan and agreed that his son John, at that time a boy of scarcely fourteen years of age, should become the husband of Elizabeth and ascend the throne of Bohemia. In August 1310 John was married to Princess Elizabeth, and his father granted him the kingdom of Bohemia in fief. Then, driving out Henry of Carinthia from Bohemia with armed force, John seized possession of the government before the end of the year 1310, and his power was soon recognised throughout the country.

The accession of John of Luxemburg (1310-46) meant that the Bohemian throne was now occupied by a new royal dynasty, in whose hands the Bohemian crown remained for more than a century. The election of Henry, John’s father, as King of the Romans had added con­siderable power and prestige to the Luxemburg family, and it was to be expected that the kingdom of Bohemia also would derive advantage from this fact. But Henry VII died in the summer of the year 1313 in Italy, where he was seeking to enforce his imperial rights, and thus the young King of Bohemia was suddenly deprived of the powerful support provided by his father’s personality and particularly by his rank as Emperor. He attempted, indeed, after his father’s death, to gain the German crown, but when the attempt failed, mainly on account of the influence of the Habsburgs, he satisfied himself with supporting the efforts of Lewis of Bavaria to secure the crown against the Habsburg candidate, Frederick the Handsome.

In Bohemia the young and inexperienced King John met with great difficulties from the beginning. When accepting John as king, the Bohemian nobility extracted from him some very onerous promises. It obtained substantial privileges and concessions as to military service and the payment of taxes, and also a considerable restriction of the royal power in the conferring of territorial administrative functions, which in the future were to be given only to men born within the country. Nevertheless, after his arrival in Bohemia, King John was surrounded by the German advisers of his father, and in the government, he leaned chiefly on them, to the great dissatisfaction of the Bohemian nobility. But at last, in 1315, King John was obliged to dismiss all the foreign nobles from his court and to replace them by Bohemian lords. Of the latter, Henry of Lipa, to whom the king entrusted the administration of the royal revenue, in particular gained great power. Owing to the activities of his opponents, among whom was Queen Elizabeth herself, he was for a time deprived of this power and even thrown into prison by order of the king. When he was released from his imprisonment, the hostility between his supporters and those of Queen Elizabeth continued, and culminated in armed encounters and mutual pillaging. Placing himself on the side of Queen Elizabeth, King John made use, in the autumn of 1317, of troops sent to his assistance by the German King Lewis. But he met with the concerted resistance of the entire nobility and was compelled to give way. In the spring of 1318 peace was restored between the king and the Bohemian nobility. The nobles returned to their allegiance when the king promised them that he would send the German mercenaries out of the country, that he would never confer on foreigners any official positions in the country, and that he would govern only with the assistance of a council composed of men born within the country. Through this settlement the Bohemian throne was preserved for the Luxemburg family, which the Bohemian nobility was already beginning to oppose by seeking an alliance with the Habsburgs; at the same time the administration of the country was put entirely into the hands of the Bohemian lords. The deciding power in the kingdom was again acquired by Henry of Lipa, under whose influence the king himself fell so completely that he believed his assertions that Queen Elizabeth was endeavouring to deprive him of the throne and to seize possession of the government as the guardian of their three-year-old son Wenceslas, who later became Charles IV. At the beginning of the year 1319 he separated, by violent means, the mother from the child, and ordered her to be guarded as a prisoner for a few weeks in the fortress of Loket (Elbogen).

But towards the end of that year he decided to leave the country, where his inconstant character, delighting in deeds of knightly prowess, did not find sufficient satisfaction. Entrusting the administration of the country to Henry of Lipa, who in the meantime had been raised to the rank of senior marshal, he crossed the frontier, never again to return to his own kingdom except for short visits. His subsequent restless and mostly magnificent activity is only to a small extent connected with the internal history of Bohemia. Leaving his kingdom entirely in the hands of the Bohemian nobles, with whom up to the year 1320 he had struggled to maintain his rights as monarch, he henceforth regarded it mainly as an important source of revenue. In this way peace returned to the country. The conflicts between the king and the nobility ceased, and the attempts to bring about a change of ruler came to an end. In time the Bohemian nobility even came to feel pride in the knightly fame of John and did not hesitate to take part in his adventurous expeditions. But this reconciliation was effected only because John relinquished the actual government in favour of a few noble families. These, of course, profited by this circumstance to consolidate their class privileges and to enrich themselves at the expense of the power, rights, and property of the king. Thus John’s reign was a period of great decline of the royal power within the county, and also a period of the stabilisation and increase of the class privileges of the Bohemian nobility.

To the political disputes were added, in the very first years of John’s reign, conflicts in the sphere of Church affairs. About the year 1310 there began in the neighbouring duchy of Austria a great persecution of Waldensian heretics, and soon afterwards it was ascertained that there were heretics also in Bohemia. In the year 1315 fourteen heretics, mostly Waldensians, were burnt in Prague. But certainly, there were many more heretics in Bohemia. It was asserted that there were hundreds of them and that they had an archbishop and seven bishops. It is thought that among them there was a physician named Richard (an Englishman?) who wrote a special tractate in defence of their errors. The correctness of all these assertions is rather doubtful. It is certain, however, that John of Drazice (1301-43), Bishop of Prague, who belonged to an old Bohemian family and was a man of education, a lover of art, and an ardent patriot, was more tolerant towards the heretics than was pleasing to certain zealots amongst the Bohemian clergy. For this and other reasons, therefore, he was denounced by them before Pope John XXII, who temporarily deprived him of his office and summoned him before the papal court at Avignon. In 1318 Bishop John departed for Avignon to attend the court, and although he was declared innocent, he was unable to return to his native land for eleven years.

From Avignon Bishop John brought back to Bohemia many important ideas on art and other matters. In the episcopal town of Roudnice he founded a monastery of Augustinian Canons, building for it a magnificent structure with a church. Undoubtedly the builders were French architects called to Bohemia by the bishop. They also constructed a large stone bridge at the bishop’s request across the Elbe at Roudnice. Further, the bishop’s castle in that town was rebuilt in the time of John of Drazice in a manner revealing French influence, particularly that of Avignon. From France Bishop John also brought to Bohemia many rare manuscripts decorated with artistic miniatures, which became the models for the manuscripts illuminated in Bohemia and had a great influence on the development of Bohemian painting.

All this took place without the least assistance on the part of King John, who paid very little attention to the internal affairs of his kingdom. On the other hand, by reason of his knightly deeds and military enterprises he spread the fame of the Bohemian name throughout the whole of Europe, and zealously and very successfully fought for the territorial expansion of Bohemia. In 1314 the German King, Lewis of Bavaria, assigned to him as an imperial pledge the town and territory of Cheb (Eger), which under Premysl Ottokar II and Wenceslas II had been joined for a considerable period to Bohemia. After the battle of Mühldorf, in which King Lewis won in 1322, mainly owing to John’s assistance, a decisive victory over Frederick of Austria, John took charge of the government of the district of Cheb, which never again was to be separated from the Bohemian State and in the later centuries was com­pletely incorporated in the kingdom of Bohemia.

John also added Upper Lusatia to the Bohemian Crown. After the year 1158, when the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa granted this territory as a fief to the Bohemian King Vladislav, it was united to Bohemia for nearly a hundred years. In the middle of the thirteenth century King Premysl Ottokar II pledged Upper Lusatia to his brother-in-law Otto, Margrave of Brandenburg, whose two sons later divided it between them so that it was split up into the Bautzen and Gorlitz sections. After the extinction of both branches of the Margrave of Brandenburg’s family (1317 and 1319), the whole of Upper Lusatia should have reverted to the Bohemian Crown. John succeeded in occupying first the district of Bautzen (1320), and later the town of Gorlitz and its surrounding territory (1329). He secured a hereditary claim also on the remainder of the district of Gorlitz, which had been seized by Henry of Jauer, Duke of Silesia, so that after the death of the childless Henry of Jauer the remainder of the district of Gorlitz was joined to the kingdom of Bohemia (1346). After that period the whole of Upper Lusatia was joined to Bohemia for nearly three hundred years.

King John increased the territories of the Bohemian State much more considerably when he obtained the sovereignty over a large part of the Silesian principalities. Already in the reign of King Wenceslas II four princes of Upper Silesia had accepted the overlordship of the King of Bohemia, who thus became the overlord of the whole of Upper Silesia. Afterwards, however, the feudal bond between Upper Silesia and the Bohemian Crown disappeared, while the disintegration of Upper Silesia into small principalities continued. Separating themselves more and more from Poland to which they originally belonged, these principalities again began to gravitate towards Bohemia. In 1327 Prince Henry of Breslau concluded with King John a treaty of inheritance, according to which the principality of Breslau was, after his death, to belong to Bohemia, and when in the same year King John undertook an expedition to Poland to urge the validity of old Bohemian claims to Poland, a number of other Silesian princes submitted themselves to his overlordship. During the succeeding years further Silesian principalities became fiefs of the Bohemian Crown, so that at the end of John’s reign only two of them, the principalities of Schweidnitz and Jauer, were not under Bohemian suzerainty. In 1335 King Casimir of Poland recognised the overlordship of Bohemia over Silesia in return for the renunciation by King John of the title of King of Poland and of the rights annexed thereto.

The extension and consolidation of John’s rule over Silesia were greatly furthered by the important and successful military expedition which in the winter of 1328-29 he undertook to Lithuania in order to assist the Order of Teutonic Knights against the pagan Prussians and Lithuanians: for during this expedition he was presented with the opportunity of intervening effectively against certain Polish and Silesian princes. In later years he undertook two further similar expeditions against Lithuania (1337 and 1345), but neither of these expeditions, in which his son Charles also took part, met with success.

Soon after his first expedition to Lithuania, his love of fighting took him southwards as far as Italy, where for a time he gained considerable power. He was led to this by his stay in southern Tyrol, where in 1330 he conducted negotiations with Henry, Duke of Carinthia and Count of Tyrol. King John had previously made his peace with this former Bohemian King and one-time rival by marrying his second son John to Henry’s younger daughter Margaret, who was to inherit all her father’s possessions. When in the autumn of 1330, after concluding the treaty of inheritance with Henry of Carinthia, he was staying with his son in the Trentino, he received a deputation from the Lombard city of Brescia which requested his assistance against the powerful lord of Verona, Mastino della Scala. King John set out once more in the winter with an army of mercenaries on an expedition to Italy, where not only Brescia but also many other Lombard cities, including Milan, and various magnates placed themselves under his protection. Thus in the course of the year 1331 the Bohemian king was master of the whole of central Lombardy and of the territories of the later principalities of Parma, Modena, and Lucca. This sudden and dazzling growth of power aroused against John all his powerful neighbours, whose hostility compelled him to accept his Italian territories from the Emperor as vicar of the Holy Roman Empire and after a time to depart from Italy altogether.

When he was not occupied with diplomatic negotiations and military expeditions, King John lived either in Luxemburg or at the court of the French King Charles IV, who had married his sister Mary. There he took part in knightly tournaments and magnificent festivities, and the fame of his bravery, generosity, and chivalrous manners spread throughout the whole of Europe. He came to Bohemia only rarely, generally to obtain money for the purpose of maintaining his luxurious standard of living and of equipping his military expeditions. His attitude towards Queen Elizabeth was always cool right up to her death (1330), and at times his relations with her were very strained. Fearing lest his eldest son Wenceslas might be proclaimed king, he took him away at the age of seven, in 1323, to be educated at the French court. At his confirmation, which took place there, Wenceslas received the name of Charles, which he kept for the rest of his life. In 1331 John called his son, aged fifteen, to Italy and made him governor of his Italian dominions. After the collapse of his rule in Italy, John sent Charles back to Bohemia, gave him the title of Margrave of Moravia, and entrusted him with the administration of Bohemia and Moravia (1333), which he conducted with great success. In 1336 King John sent Prince Charles to Tyrol to the assistance of his brother John Henry, who after the death of his father-in-law Henry of Carinthia fought for his inheritance against the Dukes of Austria and the Emperor Lewis. In the same year John ended this struggle by a treaty with the Dukes of Austria; Carinthia was ceded to them, so that Henry and his wife retained only Tyrol. Five years later, however, when Margaret divorced her husband and married the Emperor’s son Lewis, Margrave of Brandenburg, the rule of the Luxemburgs in Tyrol came to an end for ever. Before then, however, Charles had already in 1338 left Tyrol for Bohemia and had resumed the administration of the country. In 1341 King John also arrived in Bohemia; from an illness which he had contracted during his second expedition against Lithuania in 1337, he had become blind at first in one eye and then in both. At Domazlice the general Diet of all the countries under the Bohemian Crown recognised Margrave Charles as his successor on the Bohemian throne, and at the same time recognised the hereditary right of all the direct male de­scendants of Charles to the throne.

Five years later, when his father was still alive, Charles was elected King of the Romans in place of the Emperor Lewis. The friendship of King John for this Emperor, whom at the beginning he had helped with such self-sacrifice, had grown cool in the course of time. In the great conflicts of the Emperor with the papal Curia, King John sided more and more with the Popes, who at that time resided in Avignon and were in very close relations with the French Court, with which he was on such friendly terms. The consolidation of these friendly relations between the Bohemian King and his son on the one hand and the Papacy on the other was increased later when Clement VI, the former tutor and special supporter of Charles, was made Pope in 1342. Acceding to the desire of Charles, who accompanied by his father paid him a visit at Avignon, Pope Clement VI raised the Prague bishopric in 1344 to an archbishopric and subordinated to it the bishoprics of Olomouc (Olmütz) and Litomysl, the latter being newly established. At the same time he began to exert his influence in favour of the election of Charles to the throne in place of the Emperor Lewis, who had been repudiated by the Curia. At a further meet­ing of King John and his son with Pope Clement VI at Avignon in the spring of 1346, a complete agreement was reached in regard to this question, and on 11 July 1349 five Electors of the Holy Roman Empire elected Charles King of the Romans at Rense.

Precisely at that period France was attacked by the army of Edward III of England. King John of Bohemia and his son Charles at once hastened to the assistance of the French King. Both of them took part in the decisive battle of Crecy on 26 August 1346, where the blind King John together with many Bohemian nobles died an heroic death; his valour could not turn the scales in favour of the French. It is said that, approaching the dead body of the Bohemian King, the victorious English King took from his helmet three ostrich feathers with the motto “Ich dien” (I serve), and gave them to his son the Black Prince who adopted them on his coat-of-arms. This may be a legend only, but it is certain that by his heroic death the blind King John contributed to the glory of the Bohemian State, the territory of which he considerably extended, although he re­mained foreign to the life of the State to the day of his death.

Accession of Charles IV

Charles IV (1346-78) was one of the most remarkable rulers that Bohemia ever had. A later age called him “the Father of his Country, and this title well describes his self-sacrificing and fruitful love for Bohemia, his wisdom and unwearying energy, and his truly paternal solicitude for the welfare of the people. Apart from his rare qualities of statesmanship as head of the Holy Roman Empire, he had also unusual opportunities to further the interests of his Bohemian fatherland, and he made very effective use of those opportunities. He was the first King of Bohemia to wear the German and then the imperial crown, and thereby Bohemia rose to the forefront of the political and cultural life of the Empire and of the whole of Central Europe.

At his father’s death Charles was thirty years of age, but he had already lived through a life packed with stirring events and distinguished activity. He had taken an important share in directing the fortunes of Bohemia even during his father’s lifetime. As representative of his father in the administration of the State, he had introduced good order, restored the declining power of the Crown, and had laboured also in other directions for the improvement of the condition of the country. The raising of the bishopric of Prague to an archbishopric in 1344, whereby the Bohemian State was emancipated from the tutelage of Germany in Church affairs, was due above all to him, although it took place while his father was still alive.

Ascending the throne after his father’s death, he utilised his position in the Empire above all to effect a far-reaching improvement in the con­stitutional conditions of the Bohemian State. At the general assembly of the Estates of the Bohemian Crown held at Prague in the spring of 1348 in the presence of some of the Electors and other magnates of the Empire, Charles issued, after careful deliberations, several important charters (7 April 1348). He confirmed separately the former privileges granted by the German kings and Emperors to Bohemia, especially the privileges granted in the years 1158,1212,1289, and 1290. Then in two charters he regulated the relations of Moravia, and also of Silesia and Upper Lusatia, to the Bohemian State. Moravia, including the bishopric of Olomouc and the duchy of Opava, Silesia, and Upper Lusatia were definitely joined to Bohemia, thus enlarging the Bohemian State to a broader constitutional structure, the size of which was now first stabilised. The individual parts of the extended Bohemian State, the individual components of the Bohemian Crown, could no longer be separated from this larger unit in accordance with the will of the German kings; they could not be assigned as a direct imperial fief to anyone else than the King of Bohemia. Yet the King of Bohemia could assign them as a fief of the Bohemian Crown. They remained in the German Empire only as a part of the territories of the Bohemian Crown.

At the spring assembly of 1348 Charles IV also made an important decision regarding the order of succession in Bohemia. Having confirmed in his capacity as German king the charter of the Emperor Frederick II (1212) on the election of the Kings of Bohemia, he appended to it the explanation that the right to elect the king resided in the Estates of the kingdom of Bohemia and of the territories belonging to it, but only when there was no legal male or female heir of the Bohemian royal family. Thus it was now expressly and clearly laid down that the female descendants of the Bohemian royal family also had the right of inheritance to the Bohemian throne. The term Bohemian royal family was clearly understood to mean only the direct descendants of Charles and not a lateral branch of the Luxemburg family. But soon afterwards Charles endeavoured to extend the right of inheritance to the Bohemian throne to his brother John Henry and to the latter’s male descendants. In accordance with the last will and testament of his father, Charles assigned the margravate of Moravia in 1349 to his brother as a fief of the Bohemian Crown, a fief which could be inherited only by male descendants. By a special charter he fixed, in agreement with the Bohemian Estates, the mutual hereditary precedence of the Bohemian and Moravian branches of the Luxemburg dynasty, so that after the extinction of the Bohemian branch the Kingdom of Bohemia and all the lands belonging to it would pass to the Moravian branch, whilst Moravia would pass to the Bohemian branch after the extinction of the Moravian branch. This provision was confirmed by Charles IV as Emperor at the general Diet of the Bohemian kingdom in September 1355, together with the charters of the year 1348 which regulated the constitutional conditions of the Bohemian Crown.

The relations of the Bohemian kingdom to the German Empire were regulated by the Emperor in the imperial law of 1356 which is known as the Golden Bull of Charles IV. Here the Bohemian king was solemnly proclaimed one of the seven Electors whose duty it was to elect the German king. In addition to the rights which the Golden Bull gave to all the Electors, the kings of Bohemia were granted certain important special rights. The Bohemian king was given the first place amongst the four temporal Electors, and it was laid down that at the meetings of the Diets and on other ceremonial occasions in the German Empire the King of Bohemia should enjoy the position of priority, even if any other king were present. The Golden Bull gave the Bohemian kingdom important privileges before the other electorates in the order of succession. Whereas after the extinction of the direct line of the ruling house other electorates were, as vacant fiefs, at the Emperor’s disposal, the kingdom of Bohemia retained its old rights and privileges, according to which the right to elect the king appertained in such a case to the Bohemian Estates. Thus it was again solemnly proclaimed that the Bohemian kingdom could never fall into the possession of the Empire like any other imperial land, that the Bohemian Crown was not transferable at the will of the German kings, because the Bohemian kings ascended the throne either by hereditary right or on the basis of election by the Estates. Of course even the Golden Bull declared that the Bohemian king, on being elected, acquired his full royal authority only when con­firmed in his position by the Emperor. The Golden Bull ratified the special position of the kingdom of Bohemia also in the sphere of jurisdiction. Laying down that the inhabitants of any electorate were not to be brought before any foreign law-courts, and that they could appeal to the imperial law-court only if justice had been denied them, the Golden Bull declared that no inhabitant of the kingdom of Bohemia and of the territories belonging to it could be forced to appear before any law-court outside the frontiers of his State, and that no appeal whatever could be made from the Bohemian courts to foreign courts. According to the Golden Bull, the Bohemian kingdom differed from other electorates also in the fact that it lay outside the jurisdiction of the Emperor’s lieutenants or administrators, who exercised the rights of the Emperor if the imperial throne was unoccupied.

The Golden Bull, then, did not slacken the old connexion between Bohemia and the German Empire, but recognised to Bohemia the premier position in the Empire before all the other electorates and therefore also before all the imperial principalities. Likewise it recognised and solemnly confirmed the internal independence of the Bohemian State, which in preceding periods certain of the German kings had endeavoured to curtail.

Having ensured by the laws of 1348 and 1355 the unity and integrity of the possessions of the Bohemian Crown, Charles IV did not cease to busy himself with the task of enlarging its territories. Gradually gaining various rights to the possession of Lower Lusatia, he annexed this territory in 1369 to the Bohemian Crown, and a year later he proclaimed its permanent incorporation with the kingdom of Bohemia after the manner of Silesia and Upper Lusatia. At the same time as the incorporation of Lower Lusatia, the Bohemian Crown acquired the two Silesian principalities of Schweidnitz and Jauer which in the reign of King John had not submitted themselves to Bohemian suzerainty. Charles prepared the way to the acquisition of these two territories by marrying in 1353, after the death of his second wife Anna, the fourteen-year-old daughter of the last Prince of Jauer, who was also the niece of the last Prince of Schweidnitz. After the incorporation of the principalities of Schweidnitz and Jauer, the Bohemian Crown was in possession of the whole of Silesia. Through the simultaneous acquisition of these two principalities and of Lower Lusatia, the Bohemian State attained the area which it held until the Thirty Years’ War.

Five years before his death, Charles IV added to this State the Mark of Brandenburg also. In 1363 the Emperor Charles concluded with the two Margraves of Brandenburg, Lewis the Roman and Otto, sons of the deceased Emperor Lewis, a treaty of inheritance, according to which the Mark of Brandenburg was to pass, if they died childless, into the possession of the Bohemian royal family. When subsequently Otto, who after the death of his brother became the sole ruler of Brandenburg, endeavoured in disregard of the treaty of 1363 to transfer Brandenburg to his nephew Frederick of Bavaria, Charles invaded Brandenburg in 1373 with a considerable army and compelled Margrave Otto and his nephew, in their own name and in that of the entire Bavarian dynasty, to renounce the Marks of Brandenburg and to cede them to the sons of the Emperor. The Emperor immediately took over the administration of the Mark of Brandenburg on behalf of his sons, who in 1374, at the request of the Brandenburg Estates, laid down by charter that the Mark of Brandenburg was never to be separated from the Bohemian Crown, even if the Bohemian kings of the Luxemburg family were to die without legal issue. Charles immediately ratified this charter in his capacity as Emperor.

The future enlargement of the Bohemian State was furthered also by the treaty of inheritance concluded in 1364 between the Luxemburg royal family and the Habsburg ducal line, which in the preceding years had added Carinthia and Tyrol to its original Austro-Styrian possessions. The former hostility between the two families had been fed partly by their opposition to each other in the struggles for the throne of Germany in the reign of King John, and partly by the contest for Carinthia and Tyrol after the death of the former Bohemian King, Henry of Carinthia. This hostility afterwards gave place to friendly relations, which were shewn by the fact that Charles’ daughter Catherine became in 1357 the wife of the Austrian Duke Rudolf IV. By the treaty of 1364 which was concluded at Brno (Brünn), with the written consent of the leading Bohemian nobles and of Charles, on behalf of his infant son Wenceslas, it was laid down that, after the extinction of the male and female lines of the Emperor Charles IV and of his brother the Moravian Margrave John Henry, the lands of the Bohemian Crown were to pass into the possession of the Austrian dukes; and conversely, the Bohemian king was to inherit the Austrian lands after the extinction of the male and female lines of the Austrian ducal family and of the Hungarian royal family, with which the Austrian dukes two years previously had concluded a similar treaty of inheritance. Soon afterwards, at the in­stigation of Charles, this Austro-Hungarian treaty of inheritance was denounced by both parties, and the Austro-Bohemian treaty of 1364 was renewed in 1366 with the full consent of the Estates of both countries, and with the omission of the provision relating to the hereditary claims of the Hungarian royal family to the Austrian territories. Owing to the fact that the Luxemburg family was extinct before the Austrian dynasty, all the gains were forfeited which could and, according to the intention of Charles, undoubtedly would have accrued to his family and to the Bohemian Crown from the treaty of inheritance with the Habsburg family. On the contrary, this treaty later became one of the factors that helped the Habsburg family to obtain possession of the Bohemian throne.

His unwearying zeal in the territorial enlargement and external improvement of the Bohemian State did not in any degree prevent Charles from paying fatherly attention to the betterment of its conditions. Indeed, his work in this direction was particularly great and enduring. Even in the period when he acted as his father’s representative, Charles accomplished much for the restoration of order in the country and for the exaltation of the royal power. On becoming king, he made great efforts to rid the country of robbers and violent men who harassed the defenceless common people and attacked and plundered wealthy persons. According to the words of a contemporary chronicler, he introduced into the land “such peace as had not been in the memory of man nor had even been read of in the chronicles.” Crushing violence in general, Charles strove to prevent the violent tactics adopted by the authorities towards the common people. At the Diet of 1356 a special law guaranteed to the latter the right to prosecute their lords before the territorial law-court, a procedure which the nobility of the time opposed. It is said that the Emperor himself was frequently present in person at the sessions of the territorial court in order to see that the lordly assessors did not side with the lords against the common people.

Connected with the endeavour of Charles to put down all violence and to protect the weak from oppression, was the attention which he paid to the improvement of the administration of justice in Bohemia. In the very first years of his government he prohibited, in concert with Ernest, Archbishop of Prague, the superstitious ordeal by hot iron. Again, soon after his accession to the throne, he gave orders for the compilation of the code of laws known as Maiestas Carolina, the purpose of which was to give a firm foundation for the activities of the territorial law-courts. The opposition of the Bohemian Estates, however, frustrated the issue of this code, just as it had frustrated the similar attempts of the earlier kings, Premysl Ottokar II and Wenceslas II. This code contained old and new decrees in the field of public, civil, and criminal law, regulations relating to the system of judicature, and various police regulations. It reflected the endeavour to strengthen and raise the royal power, an endeavour which in places manifested itself also by statements derived from Roman jurisprudence as to the sovereignty of the monarch. This tendency explains why Charles’ proposed code of laws met with such determined opposition on the part of the Bohemian Estates, who were proud of the fact that in the territorial law-courts they did not come within the scope of the written law, and who resisted every attempt to lay down fixed juridical rules in a written code. Yielding to the opposition of the Bohemian Estates, Charles withdrew the proposed code and declared at the same time that its ratification and the bringing of it into opera­tion depended on the good will of the Bohemian princes and lords.

Great attention was paid by Charles to the economic development of his hereditary lands. By a law of the year 1358 he ordered vineyards to be established on the bare heights and slopes around Prague and elsewhere in Bohemia. Further, he ordered excellent vines to be brought from Austria and perhaps also from Burgundy, so that in a short time Prague was provided with a wide belt of vineyards, while elsewhere, particularly in the neighbourhood of Melnik, there was an increase in the cultivation of the vine, and in some places the vineyards have been maintained up to this day. Another novelty was also introduced by Charles into Bohemia when he established large fish-ponds in various places, and by his example he stimulated other landowners to increase the productivity of their estates.

Foundation of the University of Prague

It is to the undying credit of Charles that he greatly furthered the development of intellectual and cultural progress in his State, and especially among the Bohemian people, by the foundation of Prague University. For this purpose he secured in advance the consent of the papal Curia, which was given by the bull of Pope Clement VI in January 1347. In his capacity as King of Bohemia he issued in April 1348 the Prague University foundation charter, which he confirmed in January 1849 in his capacity as King of Germany. By this charter Charles granted to the new university all the liberties enjoyed by the two famous Universities of Paris and Bologna. Immediately afterwards Charles appointed the first professors, who consisted both of men born in Bohemia and of foreigners specially invited for this purpose, so that teaching was commenced at Prague University in the course of the year 1348. The final organisation of the university was perhaps not stabilised until after many conflicts between the members of the young institution. In 1872 the law-students seceded and established a new university which was connected with the remaining three faculties only by the common Chancellor, who was the Archbishop of Prague. Each of the two universities was divided from the outset into four “nations”, Bohemian, Polish, Bavarian, and Saxon. The Bohemian “nation” included also Hungarians and South Slavs; in addition to Poles, the Polish “nation” included Silesians, Lithuanians, and Russians; the Bavarian “nation” included Austrians, Swabians, Franconians, and Rhinelanders; and the Saxon “nation” included students from Meissen, Thuringians, Danes, and Swedes. This distribution was of great importance, particularly on such occasions as the election of the Rector and the appointment of other university officers and officials. In spite of its international character and the great prevalence of foreigners, particularly Germans, both among the professors and the students, the University of Prague soon attained a position of considerable impor­tance for the intellectual life of the Bohemian nation, which after a time took a leading and decisive part in its activities. From the outset the university added brilliance to the life of the Bohemian capital by filling it with crowds of foreigners, who came there in order to study or at least to enjoy the legal privileges of student life.

The external appearance of Prague and Bohemia was considerably improved by the numerous great buildings erected by Charles. During the first period of his rule (1333-35) he began to build at the Castle of Prague on the ruins of the royal palace, which had been burnt down, a new palace on the model of the French royal seat at the Louvre; this building was greatly praised by contemporaries, but has been completely overshadowed by later reconstructions. It was undoubtedly owing to the initiative of Charles that in the lifetime of his father, and in connexion with the establishment of the archbishopric of Prague, the foundation stone was laid of the magnificent structure of St Vitus’ Cathedral in the Castle of Prague. The building operations were directed first by the French architect Matthew of Arras whom Charles brought from France, and after his death in 1352 by the German Peter Parler of Gmünd who worked for over forty years on the building. Although the building operations continued throughout the entire period of Charles’ reign, only part of the new cathedral, namely the magnificent chapel of St Wenceslas, was completed in his lifetime. In addition to this, several other large churches were erected in Prague in the reign of Charles IV. Prague was not big enough for the influx of foreigners, and in order to enlarge the city Charles founded the New Town in 1348. The new stone bridge across the Vltava at Prague was also constructed by Charles’ orders under the direction of the above-mentioned Peter Parler. Further, Charles built in the lands belonging to the Bohemian State several castles, monasteries, and churches. The most celebrated of these buildings is the castle of Karlstejn, which was founded in 1348 and possesses splendid internal decorations. It was here that Charles deposited the State jewels of the kingdom of Bohemia, which he had had made during the lifetime of his father in place of the old jewels which were lost in the reign of King John (the new crown dedicated to St Wenceslas was afterwards known as the Crown of St Wenceslas), all the important State documents of Bohemia, the imperial jewels and German sacred insignia, and many relics of the saints.

The numerous large buildings erected by Charles led to a golden age in the history of decorative ait in Bohemia. Architecture, sculpture, and painting flourished. The mural paintings and pictures executed for the decoration of the chapels and churches attained a high artistic level and had a character of their own, so that we may rightly speak of a special Bohemian school of painting in that period. Great progress was also made in the painting of miniatures and in small artistic objects.

Charles’ endeavours in the direction of the territorial enlargement of the Bohemian State and his internal activities as a founder of institutions necessarily involved a large expenditure. Hence, although he was very economical and a model organiser, he was very often obliged to make extraordinary financial demands on the population of the State and to impose heavy taxes. In addition to this, the financial obligations undertaken by King John and also by Charles himself made it necessary on each occasion to seek the approval of the Estates. Thus whenever Charles wished to impose a tax, he was obliged to enter into negotiations beforehand with the Estates. In this way the Estates acquired a regular and constantly increasing influence on public affairs. All the decrees of Charles regarding the Bohemian throne, all his laws regulating the external and internal conditions of the Bohemian State, were issued with the participation and consent of the Bohemian Estates. And Charles’ great legislative work, the Maiestas Carolina, did not acquire validity, because the Estates did not agree to it. The Estates shewed their agreement or disagreement with the intentions and actions of the king both through their representatives in the highest departments of the State administration and in the territorial law-courts, and also in the general diets which gradually became regular institutions. In addition to the diets of the separate countries, Charles used to summon, when it was a question of matters affecting the interests of the State as a whole, common or general diets of all the lands of the Bohemian Crown. Thus, although he had a great opinion of his royal rights and used to declare his adherence to Roman juridical views of the sovereignty of the monarch, Charles lent his support to the development which tended towards the stabilisation and deepening of the conception that the king was not the sole and unrestricted holder of the supreme power of the State, but shared it with the representatives of the free classes of the nation, i.e. with the Estates. The Bohemian Crown, the Bohemian State, was no longer represented by the king alone, but also by “all the community of the Bohemian Kingdom,” i.e. by the Estates. Both together, the king and the Estates, formed a higher State unit, the symbol of which was the crown of St Wenceslas; supplied in the year 1346 by Charles IV, it rested on the head of the saint in St Vitus’ Cathedral, and only at coronations and on other ceremonial occasions was it worn by the Bohemian kings.

Ecclesiastical affairs. Conrad Waldhauser

The period of Charles’ reign was one of splendid development for the Church and its institutions. Through the raising of the bishopric of Prague to an archbishopric, effected with the help of Charles in 1344, all Bohemia and Moravia were freed, in regard to ecclesiastical affairs, from dependence on the archbishop of Mainz, who up till then had been the metropolitan of the Bohemian Church. To the archbishop of Prague was transferred the existing right of the archbishop of Mainz to crown the Bohemian king. Bishop Ernest of Pardubice, a truly eminent man and one of the greatest ornaments of the Bohemian Church, became the first Archbishop of Prague. Like John of Drazice, his predecessor on the episcopal throne in Prague, Ernest sprang from a Czech noble family. He studied for fourteen years at the celebrated Italian universities of Bologna and Padua, and acquired not only a thorough knowledge of theology and Church law but also a classical education which was unusual for that period. By this, and also by the rare delicacy of his moral conscience, he aroused the admiration of Petrarch himself. Ernest of Pardubice combined a genuine love for the arts and sciences with deep piety, moral earnestness, and zeal in the fulfilment of the great duties of his office. It was only under him that the victory of Church principles was completed in Bohemia in the relations between the spiritual and temporal authorities; it was not until then that all the rights were entirely realised which Premysl Ottokar I had granted in principle to the Bohemian Church after the great struggle with Bishop Andrew.

In addition to great rights the Church at that time possessed enormous wealth; one-half of all the land in Bohemia belonged partly to the secular clergy and partly to the monasteries. This wealth, however, was divided very unequally; there were prebends with immense incomes and also benefices which were quite poor. In that period the proportion of clergy to population in Bohemia was much greater than it is today. It is calculated that in Prague alone, which at that time had less than 40,000 inhabitants, there were at least 1200 clergy and monks. Being almost entirely freed from the jurisdiction of the temporal authorities, they were subordinated only to the ecclesiastical authorities, and thus they had a privileged position as compared with the rest of the population. Combined with the great wealth of the Church, this had a very unfavour­able effect on the morals of the clergy; their conduct was generally on a rather low level. The unhealthy development of Church life in Bohemia was furthered by the Curia itself owing to its excessive and unfortunate intervention in the internal affairs of the Bohemian Church. Having the chief voice in the bestowal of Church benefices in Bohemia and in the appointment of the higher dignitaries, the Curia derived financial profit therefrom and contributed in the highest degree to the accumulation of benefices and other abuses.

These evils were opposed by the Emperor Charles as well as by Archbishop Ernest. In 1352 it was laid down by law in Bohemia that no one could give or bequeath his property to Church dignitaries or institutions without the special permission of the king. The reforming mind and endeavours of Archbishop Ernest are shewn particularly in the statutes which he gave to the clergy in 1349 and later supplemented in the different synods; by these regulations all the evil habits and immoral proceedings of the clergy of that time were prohibited and severely punished.

The Emperor Charles and Archbishop Ernest showed their favour towards the efforts of reform in the Church most clearly by the support which they extended to two eminent preachers. In 1363 Charles called to Prague an Augustinian canon, Conrad Waldhauser (of Waldhaus in Upper Austria), who for many years had been court-preacher to the Dukes of Austria and had gained a great reputation by reason of his moral earnestness. Being a German with no knowledge of Czech, Waldhauser preached in Prague chiefly to the German inhabitants who, owing to their wealth, were particularly addicted to lives of pleasure. The success of Waldhauser’s sermons was very great. Germans and Czechs thronged to hear him, and under the influence of his words many of them turned away from sinful living. Soon, however, the preaching activities of Waldhauser aroused the hostility of the mendicant friars, who were jealous of his success and disturbed by his attacks on the abuses which were prevalent among them. They laid complaints against the bold preacher before the archbishop, and spread rumours that he dealt in heresies. Refusing to desist from his preaching, Waldhauser defended himself, and after a time, in concert with the other Prague priests, he charged all mendicant Orders before the Pope with conducting interments in their convents contrary to Canon Law. For this purpose he travelled to Rome, but returning before the conclusion of the conflict he died in Prague towards the end of 1369.

Almost at the same time as Waldhauser, a native-born preacher began to preach in Prague, whose fame soon outshone that of the Austrian Augustinian and who far surpasses him in the historical significance of his work. This was the Moravian, John Milic of Kromeriz, who after giving up his Church dignities began to preach in Prague about the autumn of 1364. His sermons soon became unusually popular and attracted large congregations, particularly of the Czech population. Surpassing Wald­hauser by his fiery eloquence and soaring enthusiasm, Milic acted even more powerfully than he on the minds of the common people. The effect of his words was enhanced by the splendid example which he gave in his own life. He lived in absolute poverty and exercised the strictest bodily asceticism. He never allowed himself any rest, but devoted himself constantly to prayer, study, and a severely ascetic mode of life; he despised all bodily comfort and fasted often.

This mode of life and the disturbed conditions of contemporary Christendom stimulated in Milic a natural tendency towards mysticism He formed the conviction that in the years 1365-67 Antichrist was to appear in the world in accordance with the prophecy of Daniel. In 1366, while delivering a sermon on Antichrist, he pointed with his finger directly at the Emperor Charles who was present and declared him to be the great Antichrist spoken of in the Scriptures. On account of this statement, Archbishop John Ocko, the successor of Ernest, had Milic put in prison and the monks of Prague laid an accusation against him, but he was not sentenced to any punishment. A year later he departed to Rome, where Pope Urban V was expected to arrive shortly from Avignon. When, however, in May 1367, he announced in Rome a public sermon on Antichrist with the declaration that Antichrist had already come to the world, Milic was imprisoned by order of the Inquisitors and brought before the Court of the Inquisition. In prison he wrote for an inquisitor his “Tractate on Antichrist”, in which he recommended the summoning of an ecumenical council as the only means of removing the evils in the corrupted Church. The same counsel was contained also in a letter which he wrote to Pope Urban V in about the year 1368. After the arrival of the Pope in Rome, Milic was released from prison and returned to Prague. In 1369 he set out on a second journey to Rome, but on receiving news of the death of Waldhauser he quickly returned.

In order to fill the gap left by Waldhauser’s decease, Milic now also began to preach regularly in German; his preaching activities were con­siderably increased, for he used to deliver four or five sermons daily in different languages and before different congregations, becoming at the same time more and more strict in his asceticism. The glamour of his words manifested itself particularly in the year 1372, when under the influence of his preaching a large number of Prague prostitutes abandoned their immoral mode of life and resolved to serve God. Milic established for them a special institution, where they were taught to pray and to work and were prepared for a return to normal life. Having obtained from the Emperor the once famous house of sin called Benátky (Venice) and having secured by purchase and in the form of gifts the neighbouring houses, Milic built there a chapel and homes to house the women, who sometimes numbered over 80. The new institution was named Jerusalem, and as it was freed from duties to the neighbouring parishes, it became practically an independent parish community. This aroused the resentment of the parish-priests of Prague, who joined the monks, the former opponents of Milic, and laid a charge against him, accusing him of heresy. When their attempt failed in Prague, the parish-priests charged Milic with heresy directly before the papal Court, which in the meantime had again moved to Avignon. They found fault with Milic for introducing in Jerusalem the daily receiving of the sacrament, for condemning all trade, for proclaiming that the clergy ought to live in poverty, and for denouncing the study of the liberal arts. As a result of these complaints, Pope Gregory XI instructed the Archbishop of Prague and the other Bohemian bishops to make a strict investigation and to punish Milic as a warning to others of like mind. Milic now set out once more on a journey to the papal Court at Avignon, where he was well received and given permission to deliver ceremonial sermons before the cardinals. But before the suit was concluded, he died in Avignon in August 1374. His influence in his native country, however, did not cease with his death, but became one of the main sources of the great movement which later led to the burning of Hus at the stake and to the revolt of the Czech nation from the Roman Church.

Just as the reign of Charles manifested clearly the beginnings of the later severe religious struggles in Bohemia, so also it prepared and proclaimed the struggle between the Czech and German nationalities, a struggle which developed in connexion with the religious conflicts and for the most part was combined with them. The gradually increasing influence of the Czech element at the University of Prague, which origin­ally was almost entirely in the hands of German foreigners, prepared the way for the later victory of the Czechs in this foremost educational institution of the Bohemian State. In the towns also the Czech element grew stronger, almost entirely unnoticed and by a natural process, through the influx of peasants from the surrounding country districts; for the towns had been founded and at the beginning completely dominated by immigrant families of German burghers. In Prague Charles contributed to this development by establishing the New Town, not exclusively for Germans as had been the custom on previous occasions when towns were founded in the Bohemian lands, but for everyone who wished to settle there. So it came about that from the very outset New Town was overwhelmingly Czech, and thus had an indirect influence on the development of a Czech character in other parts of Prague. Although he liked the German culture and the German language, the Emperor gave many proofs of his genuine love for the Czech nation and the Czech language which was his mother tongue.

The religious and national factors in the history of the period announced the great movement which soon afterwards burst into flame. As a harbinger of the more distant future, we may consider the beginnings of the humanistic predilections and endeavours which we find in the environment of Charles. Their actual seeding-place was his chancery, at the head of which, during a considerable part of his reign, stood Bishop John of Streda (von Neumarkt, de Novoforo), who was an eminent humanist, an enthusiastic collector of classical manuscripts, and a friend of Petrarch. The predilection for humanism spread from Charles’ chancery to the highest levels of Bohemian society. The Emperor himself was strongly influenced by this current of humanism, and had confidential meetings both with the native exponents of humanism and also with the most important foreign humanists. In 1356 Petrarch, with whom the Emperor was in correspondence, paid him a visit in Prague; the Court overwhelmed the distinguished visitor with enthusiastic praise. Six years before that, Prague received a visit from the Roman tribune, Cola di Rienzo, who wished to induce the Emperor to take up his residence in Rome as the sole and absolute monarch of a united Italy and of the whole Christian world. Considering the views of the visionary Roman on Church matters to be obnoxious, the cautious Emperor handed him over to the Archbishop of Prague for instruction and improvement. Thus Cola spent some time in imprisonment in the archbishop’s castle at Roudnice, and afterwards was sent to the papal court in Avignon.

At the end of his life the Emperor concerned himself with the question of the distribution of his hereditary lands among the members of his family. The eldest son Wenceslas, who in 1363 had been crowned King of Bohemia and in 1376 had been elected King of the Romans, was to rule in Bohemia and Silesia, over parts of Upper and Lower Lusatia, and over scattered fiefs of Bohemia in Bavaria and Saxony. The second son Sigismund obtained the district of Brandenburg, while for the third son John a special duchy of Gorlitz was formed from parts of Upper and Lower Lusatia. Jost, the first-born son of Charles’ brother the Margrave John Henry, ruled in Moravia after his father’s death in 1376, while his younger brothers John Sobeslav, later Patriarch of Aquileia, and Prokop received from him subordinate fiefs. Of the Emperor’s daughters, Anne, a child by his last wife Elizabeth of Pomerania, became in 1382, three years after her father’s death, the wife of the English King Richard II, and gained in England the very honourable name of “Good Queen Anne.”

Having lived to see the beginning of the Great Schism in the Western Church, the Emperor Charles IV died on 29 November 1378 in his sixty- third year.

Accession of Wenceslas IV

Wenceslas IV (1378-1419) was not yet quite eighteen when by his father’s death he was called to rule over the territories of the Bohemian Crown and over the German Empire. For the fulfilment of the heavy duties which now fell to his share he possessed not only natural gifts and a considerable degree of education, but also a practical knowledge of State affairs which he had acquired owing to the fact that his father had from his childhood associated him with himself on important occasions in Bohemia and in foreign countries. He certainly had much good will, but he lacked judgment and perseverance. From the outset his passion for hunting prevented him from carrying out his duties as a monarch. In addition, he had a decided tendency towards immoderate drinking, and as the years passed the habit grew on him to such an extent that at times he lost command of his reason, for by nature he was irritable and violent. Thus it happened on more than one occasion that Wenceslas allowed himself, in an excess of rage, to act in a hasty, harsh, and even cruel manner. His actions on these occasions only increased the strife of which the period of his rule was full, and stained his memory in after times.

Not all of the great extent of territory under the rule of the Emperor Charles IV passed into the hands of Wenceslas. According to the dis­positions of his father, the second son Sigismund obtained the district of Brandenburg, the third son John received the district of Gorlitz, while Moravia remained under the rule of Charles’ nephew, Margrave Jost. This wealthy and learned man obtained also, in 1388, the county of Luxemburg from King Wenceslas, who had inherited it in 1382 from Wenceslas, his father’s second brother. In addition, Jost received the district of Brandenburg from Sigismund, who in 1385 had become King of Hungary. Later, in 1401, King Wenceslas, who by the death of his brother John had obtained the district of Gorlitz, ceded to him Upper and Lower Lusatia. After the death of Jost (1411) the two Lusatias returned into the possession of Wenceslas and the district of Brandenburg was restored to Sigismund. The latter, however, immediately pledged the Mark of Brandenburg to Frederick of Hohenzollern, the Burgrave of Nuremberg, in whose family it now remained permanently.

Wenceslas’ rule in the German Empire was by no means of a happy character, for his heavy task was rendered still more difficult both by the schism in the Church and by the internal dissensions of the Estates in the Empire. Although he strove hard to obtain the recognition of the Pope in the Empire and in his own lands, and constantly prepared to set out on an expedition to Rome in order to obtain the imperial crown, he did not succeed either in contributing towards the removal of papal dualism or in realising the plan of a Roman expedition. And although his intervention in the disputes between the Estates of the Empire was often timely and justified, it produced for him in the Empire many enemies who in 1384 began to intrigue for his deposition. This took place in 1400, when King Wenceslas was deprived of the German throne by the Electors, who chose Rupert of the Rhine as king.

This inglorious end of Wenceslas’ reign in the German Empire was prepared in no small measure by the unfavourable development of internal conditions in Bohemia. For some time, indeed, Wenceslas’ reign appeared to be a worthy continuation of the excellent reign of his father, but later serious unrest arose from the conflicts of the king both with the Bohemian lords and also with the dignitaries and officials of the Church.

While King Wenceslas was popular among the common people on account of his good nature and because he did not exact such heavy taxes as his father, he soon incurred the displeasure of the higher nobility by choosing for his advisers mainly members of the lower nobility and burghers, and by staffing the public offices with persons devoted to him­self and belonging to these classes. After a while the dissatisfied nobles formed against the king a conspiracy which was joined even by the king’s cousin Jost, Margrave of Moravia. In the spring of the year 1394, Jost entered quite formally into a union with the leading Bohemian nobles, the aim of which was declared to be the removal of various defects in the territorial administration and in the law-courts. With a large number of armed men they took the king by surprise at his country-seat near Prague, cast him into prison in the Castle of Prague, and after a time even removed him to a castle in Austria. About three months later the king’s brother John of Gorlitz compelled the rebellious nobles by armed force to release the king from imprisonment, on the promise that a decision would be made with reference to their complaints. New conflicts, however, soon arose between the king and the nobles, who towards the end of 1394 organised a new coalition against him. In addition to Margrave Jost, the conspiracy was joined by the Dukes of Austria. The complaints and demands which the rebellious nobles submitted to the king involved an unheard-of limitation of his power. When the king hesitated to comply with these demands and the nobles began to wage open war against him, he requested his brother Sigismund, the Hungarian King, to undertake, after the death of John of Gorlitz, the office of mediator between the parties. Sigismund induced the parties to entrust the decision regarding their complaints and demands to him and to Margrave Jost. Their award, made in the spring of the year 1396, signified a great success for the nobles. Almost all the highest offices of the land were adjudicated to them, and at the side of the king was established a council composed of the Bohemian and Moravian nobles and bishops. Without this council the king was not to undertake any action in internal affairs.

Owing to the fact that King Wenceslas submitted only with unwilling­ness to this award and that the nobles did not cease to strive to obtain a further restriction of the king’s power, new disputes arose between the king and the nobles in the course of time and became exceedingly embittered. In 1397 certain of the nobles who were members of the king’s council murdered four of the leading advisers of King Wenceslas at Karlstejn. All attempts at a reconciliation were in vain, and in the winter of 1400 the Bohemian nobles headed by Margrave Jost formed an alliance with King Rupert and his German adherents. In the spring of 1401 King Wenceslas was besieged in Prague for more than eight weeks by the armed forces of the native and German members of this association. In the summer the king and the Bohemian nobles concluded a treaty, whereby King Wenceslas agreed to accept a standing council consisting of four nobles and enjoying great powers. Thus was established a permanent committee of nobles whose task was to govern in common with the king; they had a deciding voice also in the administration of the royal estates and revenues which up to that time had been under the control of the Bohemian kings alone. At the beginning of 1402, however, the power of this council was transferred to King Sigismund of Hungary, whom King Wenceslas appointed administrator of the kingdom of Bohemia while he himself was preparing to go on another expedition to Rome, which once more did not take effect. Soon conflicts again arose between the royal brothers, and Sigismund, whom Wenceslas had a short time before generously assisted to gain his release from imprisonment in Hungary, gave orders for his brother to be arrested in the spring of 1402 and to be imprisoned in Prague Castle, where he had been incarcerated eight years previously. After a time, however, on leaving the country, he brought King Wenceslas with him, and finally, in August 1402, took him to Vienna, where he was kept under the protection of the Dukes of Austria. Only in the autumn of 1403 did King Wenceslas succeed in escaping from his imprisonment at Vienna and returning to Bohemia. In the meantime the party which supported him had grown in strength, so that he was received practically as a deliverer, even by many of his former opponents. Wenceslas made use of this favourable state of things to abolish the new regulations by which his royal power had not long before been limited, and to restore the former method of government.

In the last years of Wenceslas’ reign the conflict over the boundaries of the royal power and that of the Estates was replaced by great disputes in the field of ecclesiastical affairs. These disputes were preceded by numerous and mostly very serious conflicts between King Wenceslas and the Church authorities. The first collision was that between the king and the cathedral chapter in Breslau, the capital of Silesia. When King Wenceslas visited the town in the summer of 1381, it had just been placed under an interdict by the cathedral chapter (the bishopric being then vacant), because at Christmas 1380 some barrels of foreign beer had been confiscated which had been ordered for the canons in defiance of the general regulations of the municipal authorities. When the chapter re­fused to comply with the king’s request that the interdict should be removed at least for a time, he felt that his royal authority was flouted and caused the chapter’s estates in the vicinity of Breslau to be occupied and pillaged. At the request of the king the interdict was removed shortly afterwards by order of the Pope, and the dispute with the Breslau chapter was settled in the spring of 1382, so that the power of the Bohemian Crown over the bishopric of Breslau was considerably strengthened.

More serious and more fateful were the disputes between the king and John of Jenstejn, the Archbishop of Prague. Conspicuously gifted and possessed of an extensive education which he had acquired through his studies at several Italian and French universities, particularly at Paris, this young man (he was scarcely twenty years old when in 1379 he took over the administration of the archbishopric of Prague) lived at first in an effeminate and worldly manner. But his severe illness and the terrible death of the Archbishop of Magdeburg at a dancing entertainment brought about a change in his mind and manner of living. He turned away from the world and lived like a penitent, devoting himself to fasting and bodily mortification, prayer, religious meditation, and the writing of religious treatises of a mystical tendency. At the same time, however, he had an excessively high opinion of his ecclesiastical authority and did not cease to surround himself with splendour, being convinced that this was required for the maintenance of his dignity. He was very sensitive about the rights of his office, and thus found himself engaged in numerous conflicts with the higher clergy of his diocese as well as with several lay­men and with the temporal authorities. In 1384 he had a very sharp dispute with King Wenceslas himself over a dam on the River Elbe, and thus incurred his displeasure. This fact was exploited by some of the favourite officials and advisers of the king, who began to interfere more boldly with matters belonging to the sphere of the ecclesiastical authorities and did not always respect the rights which had previously been granted to the Church in Bohemia. Thus in 1392-93, on the order of one of these officials, two priests were executed in Prague for various base crimes; and in other directions also the temporal authorities disregarded the liberties which were claimed at that time by the Church. In view of these circumstances the archbishop presented a complaint to the king in 1393, and also summoned before the archiepiscopal court the royal official who had ordered the execution of the two priests. This action greatly enraged the proud and irascible king against the archbishop and his officials. The king, however, lost his self-control completely over another event which happened soon afterwards.

Murder of John of Pomuk

Intending to establish a new bishopric in western Bohemia and to endow it with the estates of the Benedictine monastery at Kladruby, Wenceslas desired that after the death of the abbot his position should remain vacant. But when the abbot died, the monks at Kladruby elected a successor and Archbishop John, although he knew of the king’s intention, gave instructions for the election to be confirmed by his vicar-general, John of Pomuk. The news of this enraged the king to such an extent that during the negotiations regarding the archbishop’s complaints he ordered the arrest of the archbishop and his three advisers, including the vicar-general John of Pomuk. The archbishop was released, but his advisers remained in the power of the king, who cross-examined them and then ordered them to be tortured; in particular John of Pomuk was burnt with torches and lighted candles so that he almost lost consciousness. Finally, the king ordered them all to be drowned, but on reflection promised to grant them their lives on condition that they undertook on oath to tell no one that they had been imprisoned and tortured. The others did so, but John of Pomuk, exhausted by his tortures, was unable to sign the document presented to him. The king then ordered him to be taken away to his death. John of Pomuk was dragged away to the stone bridge built by the Emperor Charles IV, and bound hand and foot was thrown into the Vltava on 20 March 1393.

When his rage had passed, the king tried to make amends. Making use of the advantages of the quinquagenary year which was just then proclaimed in Prague by permission of the Pope, he obtained absolution from the Church by carrying out the prescribed acts of penitence. He also invited the archbishop to enter into negotiations with a view to a reconciliation. The archbishop accepted the invitation, but when the negotiations fell through, he began to entertain fears as to his safety; he fled from Prague and went to Rome. There he presented to the papal Court a lengthy report containing all his complaints against King Wenceslas, and requested the Pope to appoint judges to try the king and his assistants and to inflict ecclesiastical penalties on them as sacrilegious persons and murderers. However, he achieved no success at the papal court; none of his complaints, not even the report on the cruel death of the vicar-general John of Pomuk, induced Pope Boniface IX to take action against King Wenceslas in defence of the rights of the Church. At that time the Pope was expecting the king to arrive in Italy and to help him to gain a final victory over his enemies there and over the Pope at Avignon. Hence the Curia turned a favourable ear towards the king’s request that Archbishop John should be removed from his position. In these circumstances Archbishop John considered it advisable to give up his office of his own free will towards the end of the year 1395; he remained in Rome, where five years later he died. Thus if the Curia abandoned without hesitation such a distinguished prelate as Archbishop John of Jenstejn in his struggle against the king for the liberty and rights of the Church, it is little wonder that it passed over in silence the martyrdom of his vicar-general, John of Pomuk, a man otherwise of small importance, who was given a martyr’s halo only on account, of the religious struggles of a later date, and was raised to the position of a great national saint under the name of John of Nepomuk (for in the meantime the name of his birth-place had been changed from Pomuk to Nepomuk) by the victorious Counter-Reformation. The attitude of the Pope towards the king changed when the latter endeavoured to bring about the end of the papal schism by the resignation of both Popes. Then Pope Boniface IX took the side of Wenceslas’ opponents in the German Empire and contributed considerably towards his deposition.

In all these conflicts with the dignitaries and officials of the Church, King Wenceslas appears to us as determined an upholder of royal rights as he was an opponent of Church principles and claims that affected the power of the king. It might be thought that a king who so energetically defended his rights against priests and Church institutions at home would also have resisted no less resolutely the excessive interference of the Curia with the ecclesiastical administration in his lands, and have stopped the abuses which arose therefrom in the Church of his time. Wenceslas, however, not only did not do this; he tolerated and even supported the growth of the Pope’s influence on the ecclesiastical administration in Bohemia and willingly reconciled himself to the harmful sides of the papal administrative system; it was precisely at this period that this harmfulness reached its zenith, and the king did not hesitate to draw benefit for himself from the fact. Perhaps the greatest culprit in respect of accumulation of benefices in territories governed by Wenceslas was one of his foremost advisers and favourites, Wenceslas Králik, who probably obtained all his benefices by the Pope’s favour. The Pope’s tithe was exacted year by year in the early part of Wenceslas’ reign, and the collection of the plenary indulgences, authorised at the occasion of the quinquagenary year of grace given to Wenceslas’ territories in 1393, was likewise permitted and supported by the king, who did not fail, of course, to secure a share for himself. Thus while the Bohemian clergy and ecclesiastical institutions were engaged in disputes with the temporal authorities, there existed between King Wenceslas and the Curia a full agreement, which both parties bought, of course, by making mutual political but morally very doubtful concessions.

Reform movements in the Bohemian Church

There is no wonder that in such circumstances as these the moral deficiencies and abuses, the beginnings of which may be observed in the reign of Charles IV, greatly gained ground in the Church of Bohemia. But the resistance to them also increased, for it was strengthened by the genuinely moral movement which was stimulated in the reign of Charles IV by the activities of the famous preachers Waldhauser and Milic, and grew wider and deeper during the reign of Wenceslas IV. Milic was succeeded in his labours by Thomas of Stitny and Matthias of Janov, two distinguished Czech thinkers of the first period of Wenceslas’ reign. Thomas of Stitny (ob. c. 1401), a devout and educated landowner, wrote in Czech, and mostly following foreign models, a number of works of a moralising and religious character; they clearly demonstrate the influence of Milic’s thought and spirit. Some of the masters of arts of the university found fault with him for writing on difficult religious and philosophical questions in the language of the common people, but Stitny paid no heed to such reproaches. Genuinely devoted to the Church, he avoided all dogmatic deviations from Church doctrine and disagreements with the Church authorities. Matthias of Janov (ob.1394) obtained the degree of master of arts at the University of Paris and studied theology there. As a preacher and writer in the spirit of Milic, he followed his example by recommending frequent attendance at the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, but he also condemned an excessive worship of the saints, relics, pictures, and miracles, and opposed in general external and ostentatious manifestations of piety. His views aroused the anger of the Church authorities. At the Prague synod in 1388 it was strictly forbidden to give the Holy Eucharist to the laity more frequently than once a month. A year later Matthias of Janov, together with two priests of the same way of thinking, was compelled at the synod to recant in public his views concerning the worship of the saints, their relics and pictures, and the frequent receiving of the Holy Eucharist. He recanted, of course, unwillingly, nor did he give up his views afterwards. But he soon died, leaving a great Latin work entitled De regulis veteris et novi testamenti. This work makes a comparison between true and false Christianity and contains a severe criticism of the Church and its abuses at that time; later, in the time of John Hus, by reason of its explanation of the need for frequent Communion, it provided the impulse for the introduction of the habit of receiving the Eucharist in both kinds.

The movement of reform aroused by the work of Milic continued to live amongst the common people even after his death. The proof of this may be seen in the predilection of the people of Prague for sermons dealing with the need for moral improvement. It was for this reason that the Bethlehem Chapel was founded in the year 1391. Its founders, a knight and a burgher, imposed on the administrators of this chapel the duty of preaching in Czech twice on every feast day, and it was certainly their intention that the preaching should be in the spirit of Milic. This, however, was only completely fulfilled a few years later when in 1402 the Bethlehem Chapel was placed under the charge of John Hus.

This moral and intellectual movement arose and developed outside the Prague University, which was the highest cultural institution of the Bohemian State. The international character and special purpose of the university did not allow it to influence directly the moral and spiritual life of the country. Nevertheless, the university could not remain entirely shut off from the questions and problems of the day in Bohemia. Several of the foreigners who taught at the University of Prague were famous as writers and preachers of a reforming tendency. The celebrated Heidelberg professor, Nicholaus Magni de Javor, a Silesian, who was in Prague during the years 1378-1402, not only wrote there religious works of a reforming character, but was also the German preacher in the church where Waldhauser used to preach. In the years 1365-90 there lived in Prague the celebrated Matthias of Cracow, who is generally recognised as the author of two famous works, Speculum aureum de titulis beneficiorum and De squaloribus curiae Romanae, in which he criticises with extraordinary sharpness the system of Church administration adopted by the Curia. Albert Engelschalk of Straubing, who is considered by some to be the author of the first of these works, lectured at the University of Prague in the years 1373-1402. The two works in question were only finished after the departure of these two scholars from Bohemia, but it seems that their origin was in Prague.

Although it is difficult to imagine that the activities of these men produced no effect upon their environment in Prague, it is impossible to ascertain their direct connexion with the Bohemian religious movement. A direct connexion between this movement and the University of Prague was only formed when the foreign and mainly German element at that institution (at the beginning the foreigners formed the absolute majority began to give way before the Czech element). This was brought about partly by the gradual departure of the foreign professors and students to other universities which were established in Central Europe during the years following the foundation of Prague University (the Universities of Cracow, Vienna, Heidelberg, Cologne, and Erfurt), and partly by the natural development of learning in the Czech nation. From the steady strengthening of the Czech element at the university, and from its growing national consciousness, there naturally arose the endeavour to provide the Czech masters of arts with a greater degree of influence over the administration of the university and with a larger share of its income than they had received at its foundation. Hence arose the conflicts between the Bohemian “nation”, and the other three “nations” at the university. For example, a dispute arose in the year 1384 over the places in the university colleges of the Emperor Charles IV and King Wenceslas IV. In order to settle the dispute, it was decided to grant the Czech masters of arts five places out of six in each of the two colleges, the sixth being reserved for the foreign masters of arts. In the succeeding years the Czech influence at the university became still stronger. There was an increase in the number of Czech professors, and their influence over the administration of the university grew in consequence of the fact that more and more of the higher offices within it were given to Czechs. At the beginning of the fifteenth century the number of Czech masters of arts at the University of Prague was only a little lower than that of the foreign masters, while in the most important Faculty, Theology, the Czech masters were now beginning to form the majority.

It was just at this time that a confidential relationship developed between the university and the Bohemian movement of reform. The connecting link in this relationship was John Hus. A special chapter will be devoted to this great figure of Bohemian history in the next volume of this work. There, in due connexion with historical events in Bohemia, a detailed account will be given of his great conflict with the Church of Rome, a conflict which brought him in 1415 to a martyr’s death at the stake at Constance. Here it is sufficient to say that King Wenceslas, who survived Hus by four years, lived to see the beginnings of the great struggle which the Czech nation was preparing to wage in memory of Hus against almost the whole of Christendom. The king’s death was accelerated by the first revolutionary outbursts that accompanied this decision by the Czech people. Excited by the news of the violent treat­ment meted out by the riotous crowd to the Prague councillors who opposed the ideas of Hus, the king had an apoplectic seizure to which he succumbed on 16 August 1419.





The Swiss Confederation was the product of that tendency towards co­operation which, with varying success, inspired the medieval communes of all lands. The league formed by the co-operation of several small districts succeeded in preserving local autonomy from the destruction which else­where followed the establishment of a central and unified power in the heart of a great nation; while, at the same time, it awakened in the members of the league a new sentiment of solidarity capable of giving birth to a real State. This principle of union in diversity, of cohesion in independence, has become the modern idea of “federalism”; thanks to the common interest which united them, populations of varying origin and different tongues became members of a single nation.

The history of the territory which now composes Switzerland can be traced back to a very ancient civilisation; vestiges of human habita­tions dating from the Stone Age have been found, and the palafittes prove that there were extensive lacustrine settlements. The Roman conquest assimilated the natives, whether of Celtic or Ligurian origin, on both slopes of the Alps: the Helvetii who, driven southwards by the Germans, crossed the Rhine and reached the plateau and the valleys between the Alps and the Jura, but were stopped by the Rhone, where Geneva, the chief city of the Allobroges, commanded the way across the river; the Rhaeti, who occupied the upper valley of the Rhine and the mountains of the Grisons; and, finally, on the southern slope of the Alps, the Lepontii of the Ticino valley. The subjugation of the Helvetii, which was begun in 58 b.c. by Caesar’s first expedition into Gaul, was accomplished before the Christian era, and Roman civilisation advanced, under the protection of the limes, eastward into Rhaetia, westward as far as the Valais, and even into the heart of the country, in the mountainous region of Lake Lucerne, as also along the routes of the Oberalp and the Furka Pass.

In the third century this country, intersected by fine Roman roads, became a frontier land shielding Italy from the German barbarians; the fortifications on the Rhine prevented invasions, but when they were no longer defended by Roman garrisons, the Germans in their turn oc­cupied the Alpine provinces, and either shared the land with the former Helvetio-Roman proprietors or else colonised districts hitherto sparsely populated.

The Burgundians, the first of whom had arrived from the south, by way of Sapaudia (Savoy), in 452, had by the end of the century advanced to the Valais, to Avenches, and even to the river Reuss and the neighbourhood of Basle. The Alemanni had often crossed the river in their marauding expeditions; early in the sixth century they checked the advance of the Burgundians and drove them back to the Aar; with a steady pressure they pushed up the valleys to the snow-covered Alps; they advanced into Rhaetia and left to the Roman population only a constantly diminishing territory. Finally, in 569, the Lombards made their appearance on the southern slope of the Alps.

This expansion of the Alemanni from the Rhine to the summit of the Alps, on the Swiss plateau, was the work of centuries. But by the end of the sixth century, the territory formerly held by the Helvetii and the Rhaeti had become divided into regions of varying culture, according to the degree in which Roman civilisation had survived or succumbed to the new settlement.

In the Burgundian sphere, the German colonists adopted the language of the Roman provincials and their institutions respected Latin civilisa­tion. Burgundian Switzerland became Romance Switzerland. The Alemanni, more barbarous and still pagans, effaced all traces of the Roman conquest in country districts; in a few urban centres only, the old Christian communities still survived; and even when Alemannic Switzerland had been converted to Christianity, the impress of the recent conquerors remained apparent; it became German Switzerland.

To the east, Chur-Rhaetia, which was in contact with Lombard Italy, preserved her Roman institutions and language; although she was en­croached on in the north by the advance of the Alemanni, her ancient traditions were saved from destruction by the protection of her lofty mountains and the convolutions of her high valleys.

The domination of the Merovingian and Carolingian Frankish kings hardly modified the state of affairs caused by the Germanic invasions. Although the name of the Burgundians, or Burgundy, was revived in a new independent kingdom between 888 and 1033, it was no solid and homogeneous State which established itself astride the Jura from Provence to the Rhine. The duchy of Alemannia, which had been destroyed about 748, re-appeared in the tenth century and, under the name of the duchy of Swabia, included the Alemanni on both banks of the Rhine. In 1033 the new Germanic Empire included all the region of the Alps, Transjurane Burgundy, the Valais, Alemannia, Rhaetia, and the Lepontine valleys of Italy; the linguistic frontiers still remained, but the Empire brought fresh bonds to unite regions of diverse civilisation; thus, under the Salic Emperors, the temporary institution of a Rectorate of Burgundy es­tablished direct contact between the duchy of Swabia and the kingdom of Burgundy.

It was on the frontiers of Alemannia and Burgundy, where the two languages met, that the first consolidation of seignories and feudal powers was attempted by the house of Zahringen in the twelfth century. Having inherited large estates between the Rhine and the Lake of Geneva, the Zahringen endeavoured to transform their rectorate into a permanent power; westward they encountered the growing influence of the Counts of Savoy, and, to counteract the hostility of secular and ecclesiastical lords, they founded towns, Fribourg and Berne. But in 1218 their line died out, the rectorate of Burgundy reverted to the Empire, and no new power again intervened between the Emperor and the cities or dynasts who were his immediate subjects.

The house of Habsburg. The Forest Cantons

The progress of feudalism occasioned an ever more marked subdivision of authority as well as the gradual disappearance of the class of freemen. The Kiburgs, heirs to the Zähringen, engaged in struggles with the urban communities of Berne and Morat, as well as with Peter II of Savoy. The Savoyard power penetrated as far as Alemannia; it was, however, checked at the Aar, and did not succeed in emulating the example of the Zähringen between the Alps and the Rhine. That achievement was reserved for the Habsburgs, heirs to the Lenzburgs, counts of Zurichgau and landgraves in Thurgau; in the days of Count Rudolf III, they seized the land of the Kiburgs and contested with Savoy the possession of the territories and ecclesiastical advocacies on the left bank of the Aar.

After the death of Peter II of Savoy in 1268, Rudolf of Habsburg obtained Fribourg, and forced Berne to perform its duties to the Empire. In 1278 he secured for his sons wide lands to the east: Austria, Styria, and, tem­porarily, Carinthia and Carniola. In central and north-eastern Switzerland from the Uchtland to Thurgau, from the Rhine to the shores of Lake Lucerne and as far as Urseren, he took possession of fiefs and advocacies, rights and jurisdictions, on a thousand different pretexts; when he was elected king in 1273, he established throughout his domains a uniform administration and a burdensome system of taxation. When he died at Spires on 15 July 1291, everything seemed to point to the definite con­solidation of the feudal rights of the Habsburgs into a strong territorial power on the northern slope of the Alps, reaching beyond the Jura in the west, and beyond the Sarine on the borders of the Savoyard lands to the south-east.

Resistance to the establishment of this monarchical and centralised State did not originate among the rich burgesses or urban centres of Zurich, Basle, or St Gall. It was peasant communities who first united in defence of the local liberties threatened by the Habsburgs. Here, as elsewhere in the Empire in the thirteenth century, the class of small free land-holders had become much impoverished and had dwindled in number; it had nevertheless survived in various proportions on the soil of the Waldstaetten, or Forest Cantons washed by the Lake of Lucerne. The free­men subject to the count’s jurisdiction followed him to war; they assembled, as in the centena or hundred-court, to exercise petty justice. Beside them were other classes of the population, of various conditions: nobles, “ministeriales” (ennobled by their office) who were often recruited from the ranks of the serfs, the tenants on monastic domains whose personal rights lessened their original serfdom, and men who were pro­tected by some ecclesiastical or secular lord.

The three Forest Cantons differed not only in their geographical position, but also in the distribution of social conditions and feudal tenures.

Uri consisted of the valley of the Reuss, from the end of Lake Lucerne to the foot of the St Gothard. The upper valley of Urseren formed no part of it, but belonged to the Rhaetian abbey of Disentis. Even in the days of the Romans, Urseren was in communication with Valais by the Furka Pass, and with Chur-Rhaetia by the Oberalp; the road to Ticino was open; but throughout long centuries Urseren and Uri were sundered by the impenetrable gorges of Schollenen; the road to the St Gothard was not open in this direction until a bridge had been constructed along the face of the rock, and this was not done until a comparatively late period, although, according to recent researches, it took place before 1140. The district of Uri, which led to the St Gothard, thus became a place of much resort, and a strategic point on one of the best roads between Italy and Germany; and the Emperors attached great importance to its possession. In 835 the valley belonged to the abbey of Fraumunster in Zurich; the Counts of Rapperswil, the barons of Attinghausen, and the monastery of Wettingen participated in the seignorial rights; but the freemen formed an economic association, the “Markgenossenschaft”, for the exploitation of the common pastures, or “Allmende”; and their neighbours, the men of Fraumunster, had almost attained personal liberty.

The policy of the Emperors, even in the thirteenth century, dis­played a tendency to conciliate Uri; on 26 May 1231 King Henry of Germany, who was administering the country beyond the Alps in the absence of his father Frederick II, emancipated the people of Uri from the authority of the Count of Habsburg; he promised that they should never be alienated from the Empire, and took them under his protection. The whole valley was thus constituted imperial territory. The “Mark­genossenschaft.” corresponded to a single legal and administrative division, and prepared the way for the political transformation of the country. The ammann, or “free judge”, became the landamann, the leader of the community, whose members met in a landsgemeinde.

Originally the district of Schwyz only extended from the foot of the Mythen, or Rigi, to the valley of the Muota. The Habsburgs as heirs of the Lenzburgs exercised the higher justice; the monasteries of Einsiedeln, Cappel, Muri, Schännis, and Engelberg, shared the land with them; but the characteristic feature of Schwyz was the preponderance of freemen, who formed two-thirds of the population, and the association of freemen and serfs in a single “Markgenossenschaft.” The natives of Schwyz were hemmed in by their lofty mountains; in the twelfth century they cleared the northern slopes of the Mythen and thus came into violent conflict with the abbey of Einsiedeln. In the thirteenth century, the abolition of serfdom by the Habsburgs encouraged the fusion of social classes; and the agricultural association betrayed an increasing tendency towards the formation of an established political assembly.

At Unterwalden (Inter Silvas) the freemen had originally a single tri­bunal, one centre of jurisdiction for the whole district, but they were in a minority of perhaps a third of the population; local interests predominated, and the two valleys Ob and Unter dem Kernwald (Obwald with Sarnen, Nidwald with Stanz) no longer maintained their former cohesion. The feudal rights and landed properties were in the hands of petty local nobles, and especially in those of the monasteries of Engelberg, Muri, Murbach, Lucerne, and Beromünster; the freemen were subject to the courts of the Habsburgs, who were moreover the advocates of the various monasteries, except Engelberg. In Unterwalden there are no traces of a “Markgenossenschaft.”

In 1231 the opening of the road across the St Gothard had brought about the recognition of Uri as territory under the direct control of the Empire. The Hohenstaufen strove everywhere to command the passes across the Alps; when the Emperor Frederick II was excommunicated in 1239 he was unable to control as he wished the Guelf bishoprics of Chur and the Valais; the St Gothard remained his only way to Italy; he retained Leventina for the Empire and converted Urseren into an imperial vogtland; in 1231 he became master of Uri. Schwyz and Unterwalden mark farther stages on the same road. Thus the three Forest Cantons assumed a place in the foreground of imperial policy; and the struggle with the Papacy conferred on them an equally great strategic importance. Mean­while the road across the St Gothard brought them into contact with the outer world by the continual succession of merchants and knights, convoys and soldiers, who passed to and fro.

This outer world was agitated by the new ideas resulting from the revolution of the communes; to the north in France, in Flanders, and on the Rhine, and to the south in Italy, the towns were fighting for the maintenance of their privileges. On the southern slope of the Alps com­munal emancipation had reached the country districts; the “communes'” in the valleys and villages of the Ticino were resisting feudal rights; they were shaking off serfdom, they administered freely the “Allmende” and seized on the lower jurisdiction. There, as among the Forest Cantons, the original organisation was that of the “Markgenossenschaft”; in the thirteenth century it became a political autonomy and gave birth to a peasant commune. This gradual emancipation, legal and economic, of the Milanese valleys of the Ticino, their struggles against feudalism with the help of men from the ‘northern side of the Alps—all this contest, alike local and heroic, was not without influence on the thoughts and actions of the men of the Forest Cantons.

Finally, the sense of political union between the three valleys received great encouragement from the very formula which first expressed it—the legal act of an oath. The coalition so common in the Middle Ages in Italy, in France, and in Flanders, under the form of the conspiratio, or coniuratio, united, at first personally, by a common act, the inhabitants of the Forest Cantons; then, under the stress of the conflict, this oath became an alliance of communes, and, later, a real Confederation, the “Eidgenossenschaft.”

At first the Forest Cantons relied on the Empire to support them in their resistance to the claims of the Habsburgs. Rudolf of Habsburg, nicknamed the Silent, had sided with the Holy See, whereupon the natives of Schwyz addressed their petitions to the Emperor Frederick II; on 20 December 1240 they obtained from him in his camp outside Faenza a charter guaranteeing their position as freemen directly subject to the Empire. From documents we surmise that in the years 1239 and 1240 there was armed resistance by Schwyz and Unterwalden to the agents of the Habsburgs; the Ghibelline League spread to the Romance districts, Estavayer and Fribourg, and to Berne and Morat. In the Forest Cantons the pact of 1291 refers to an antiqua confederatio, which was an alliance of a personal character under the form of an oath; for the maintenance of public peace the men of Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Uri undertook to supply each other with mutual help, and also jointly admitted the elements of a common local law. This alliance, of which the probable date is 12401 or thereabouts, also included Lucerne.

Struggle with the Habsburgs

In 1252 the Habsburgs were again masters of Schwyz and Unterwalden; Rudolf the Silent was reconciled with the Emperor, and Lucerne had already submitted in 1244. In 1249 Como was gained by the papal party, and, when Frederick II died in 1250, the St Gothard was lost to the Empire. The accession of Rudolf of Habsburg, of the elder branch, to the imperial throne on 24 October 1273 reversed the situation; the immediate dependency of Uri on the Empire was not contested, but in 1274 the court at Nuremberg revoked the charter enfranchising Schwyz. In 1283 Rudolf, having acquired the possessions of the Kiburgs and Laufenburgs and the city of Lucerne, bestowed on his sons the imperial advocacy of Urseren. Thus Schwyz and Uri could no longer oppose the advocacy of the Empire to the rights of the count. Under Rudolf they indeed enjoyed a position similar to that which they had acquired by im­mediate dependence on the Empire, and the fiscal policy of the Habsburgs encouraged the union of their subjects of every category; but the in­corporation of the three valleys into a solid State, though still under the Austrian government and administration, was inevitably in process of development, in spite of the military assistance lent by the men of Schwyz to Rudolf at the siege of Besançon in 1289, in return for which he guaran­teed to them anew that they should remain independent of any outside tribunal.

It is therefore not surprising that when Rudolf died at Spires on 15 July 1291 a movement of resistance began among the inhabitants of the Forest Cantons. Possibly the conspirators planned their action against the house of Habsburg in secret conferences which took place on the shores of the Lake of Lucerne, especially in the meadow of Grütli; in any case, the decisive step was taken at the beginning of August: Uri, Schwyz, and Nidwald revived the former Confederatio in a new alliance.

The federal pact of 1291 is the historical foundation of the Confedera­tion. It constituted an alliance for the maintenance of public peace solemnly consecrated by the oath of the contracting parties; although it had originally been purely personal, in 1291 this oath tended to include the whole of the three cantons, just as the agricultural and legal associations were approximating to real political organisms. The three cantons guaranteed mutual help and succour against any aggressor from without or any fomenter of trouble from within; difficulties which might arise between the contracting parties were to be settled by arbitration; seignorial courts of justice were recognised, but no judge was to be accepted who had bought his office with gold, or who was not a native of the valley; and detailed regulations provided for the apprehension and punishment of any criminals amongst the Confederates, and for the execution of sentences. The prohibition of outside judges seems to have been aimed at the appointment of Austrian officials; furthermore, resistance to Austria is proved by the conclusion on 16 October 1291 of an offensive and defensive alliance which for three years bound Uri and Schwyz to Zurich. Zurich, an imperial town, combined with Constance, Lucerne, and the Swabian and Burgundian princes in the movement which opposed the claims of Albert of Habsburg, Rudolf’s son, over the territory between the Alps and the Jura; while the Forest Cantons supported the revolt of the men of Leventina against Milan, and thus sought to regain free passage across the Alps.

In 1292 Albert defeated the coalition, but vainly laid siege to Zurich; and Lucerne, having fallen into Austrian hands, closed her markets to the Forest Cantons. But the three valleys were not discouraged: the liberty of Schwyz was re-affirmed by the Landrecht of 1294, while about the same time Obwald and Nidwald amalgamated, thus restoring their former community of origin. In 1297 the new German King, Adolf of Nassau, renewed to Uri and Schwyz the exemption granted to Schwyz by Frederick II; but when he died at Göllheim on 2 July 1298, the Empire passed to his rival, Albert of Austria, son of Rudolf of Habsburg.

During the reign of Albert of Austria, Rudolf’s strict methods of government were revived in the Forest Cantons, which were restored to order in 1299; the imperial privileges were not confirmed, but there is no proof that the Austrian bailiffs were as tyrannical as has been depicted in legend. Albert endeavoured to encourage traffic by the St Gothard and levied heavy taxes on the country. But matters were abruptly altered when he was murdered by his nephew, John of Swabia, on 1 May 1308. The new Emperor, Henry VII of Luxemburg, had no objection to the renewal of the immediate dependency of Uri on the Empire (3 June 1309), as also of the charters of Frederick II and Adolf of Nassau in favour of Schwyz; he went even farther, confirming Unterwalden in liberties which had never yet rested on any written charter. The three cantons were freed from all external jurisdiction except the imperial courts of law, and were converted into an independent bailiwick; the office of imperial advocate of the bailiwick was entrusted to Count Werner of Homberg, and was shortly extended to Leventina. The St Gothard still remained the centre of this administrative and political district. But the Austrian Dukes did not acknowledge their defeat; and in 1311 they obtained the promise of an impartial enquiry into their claims.

The interregnum which followed Henry VII’s death in 1313 was skilfully employed by the Forest Cantons. The violent measures to which they resorted can hardly be justified as a mere defence of their rights: on the night of 6 January 1314 the men of Schwyz pillaged the monastery of Einsiedeln, with which they had an old quarrel about Alpine pastures; elsewhere, the Confederates constructed entrenchments of stone and earth, called letzi, at vulnerable points on their frontiers; and they supported Lewis of Bavaria in his struggle for the imperial crown with Frederick the Handsome, Duke of Austria and son of Albert. Ere long Austria subjugated all the region round Zurich, Berne, Glarus, the Bernese Oberland, and Lucerne, which closed its markets to the Forest Cantons. Frederick’s brother, Duke Leopold of Austria, considered this a favourable opportunity for conquering these rebellious peasants; having assembled a mighty army of knights and footmen at Zug, he attempted the invasion of the country by the pass of Morgarten, beside the Lake of Egeri, while Count Otto of Strassberg invaded Obwald by the Brünig Pass, and the men of Lucerne landed in Nidwald. On 15 November 1315 the brilliant Austrian column was held up in the narrow pass of Mor­garten, on the frontier of Schwyz; attacked on flank and front by the men of Schwyz and Uri, the Austrian knights were put to flight, the footmen driven back or cast into the lake. Duke Leopold hastily fled, leaving on the field of battle between 1500 and 2000 men, the flower of his nobility; the very tidings of his defeat caused the Count of Strassberg to retire, and delivered Unterwalden from all fear of invasion.

This overwhelming victory of the Forest Cantons proved the superiority of the Swiss infantry armed with halberds over the heavy feudal cavalry; but its immediate result was the confirmation of the alliance between the three cantons. On 9 December 1315 the new pact of Brunnen accentuated the transformation of a sworn union between private individuals into a union of States, as also its federal character; it was aimed at Austria, as it provided for a refusal of obedience to any lord who might attack anyone of the three contracting parties, and it also prohibited any foreign alliance without the permission of the confederates.

The fact that King Lewis of Bavaria in 1316 transferred to the Empire the rights and subjects of Austria in the Forest Cantons, and confirmed the liberties of Uri and Unterwalden on the same footing as those of Schwyz, accentuates the legal emancipation of the three valleys after the victory. And when, on 1 March 1317, a native of Uri was appointed imperial bailiff of Leventina and Urseren, King Lewis rendered Uri secure in the possession of the St Gothard; the pass was open, and the blockade which threatened the victors of Morgarten became impossible. Duke Leopold, prevented from organising a punitive expedition by reasons resulting from the policy pursued elsewhere by the house of Austria, was obliged to conclude a truce with the Forest Cantons on 19 July 1318: the frontiers were thrown open to trade; the Austrian Dukes recovered only the feudal rights which they had enjoyed in the days of the Emperor Henry; in fact the Confederates now formed independent circumscriptions within the Empire.

New adherents: Lucerne, Glarus, Zug, Berne

The alliance of the Forest Cantons soon distinguished itself from the other coalitions of the German Empire by its capacity for gaining new adherents. After the death of Frederick the Handsome in 1330, Lewis of Bavaria became reconciled with the Habsburgs, and prepared to restore their comital rights in the three valleys and to annul the privileges granted to their detriment. The Forest Cantons realised their danger; they therefore sought new allies. Their natural market, easily accessible by the lake, was the town of Lucerne, which also desired to protect itself from Austrian despotism. The town, which had been ceded to King Rudolf of Habsburg by the abbey of Murbach, formed a sworn com­munity, constantly in conflict with the Austrian bailiff at Rotenburg. On 7 November 1332 the burgomaster, the council, and the burgesses of Lucerne concluded a perpetual alliance with the peasants of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden; the rights of the overlord were reserved, but the con­tracting parties promised mutual assistance in case of danger and resort to arbitration in the settlement of differences, and prohibited the formation of alliances without each other’s knowledge. This first treaty involved the men of Lucerne in hostilities which did not always result in their favour; an arbitrator’s award on 18 June 1336 annulled the alliances concluded by the burgesses, but could not definitely put an end to the union of 1332. Tradition has preserved the memory of an Austrian plot which was discovered and suppressed in 1343; this at least proves the victorious progress of the federal policy.

During the course of the thirteenth century the town of Zurich had reached a high pitch of development and prosperity. As the metropolis of the silk industry, and a town alike commercial and intellectual, it enjoyed an advanced state of self-government with regard to the imperial advocate, the chapter of canons of Grossmünster, and the nunnery of Fraumünster; but after a temporary alliance with the Forest Cantons in 1291, it had been forced to submit owing to defeat at Winterthur, and to remain faithful to Austria. It was an internal revolution which drove it to join the Confederates.

A knight, Rudolf Brun, having overthrown the old council, on 16 July 1336 promulgated a sworn declaration which, after the model of that of Strasbourg, gave the artisans a share in the government; having been proclaimed burgomaster for life, he sought to obtain support for his policy from the Forest Cantons. On 1 May 1351 Zurich concluded a perpetual alliance with Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden: the town was to remain free to contract other engagements of the same sort, but the new alliance was to have preference over all others; public peace was to be assured throughout a wide region, from the course of the Aar to that of the Thur, from the Rhine to the Alps, so that the trade routes remained free; and the assistance promised mutually by the allies referred not only to defensive but to offensive measures. The devastation of the March by Brun’s troops and the encroachments of the Confederates on the rights of Austria determined Duke Albert to settle accounts with his old adversaries. The first siege of Zurich in 1351 led to the opening of peace negotiations, but the duke having been summoned to Vienna by his wife’s death, the Confederates took the offensive, after having refused to submit to the arbitration of Queen Agnes of Hungary.

The district of Glarus, with the upper valley of the Linth, belonged to the nunnery of Säckingen; about 1264 Rudolf of Habsburg inherited its advocacy, and King Albert united Glarus in a single bailiwick with the districts of Gaster and Wesen. In 1351 the men of Zurich and their allies occupied the valley, whose inhabitants appeared favourable to the Confederates; on 2 February 1352 the men of Glarus repulsed an Austrian army at Nafels, and on 4 June they concluded a perpetual alliance with Zurich and the three Forest Cantons. In this new pact, Glarus was placed in a slightly inferior position, inasmuch as it was bound to assist the Confederates in all their wars, and was not allowed to conclude any alliance without the assent of Zurich and the Forest Cantons; while, on the other hand, the latter were only bound to assist it under certain conditions.

On 27 June 1352, Zurich, Lucerne, and the three Forest Cantons contracted an alliance similar to the pact of Zurich with the council and burgesses of Zug and the people of that bailiwick. On 23 June they had taken the town after a fortnight’s siege. The territory of Zug possessed, for them, great importance, as it established a link between the Forest Cantons and Zurich; Austrian rights were reserved in the alliance, but even so the position of Zug appeared superior to that of Glarus. The large army assembled by Duke Albert of Austria in the same year (1352) was not homogeneous enough to storm Zurich; and, by the mediation of the Margrave Lewis of Brandenburg, peace with Austria was concluded on 14 September 1352. Austria retained numerous advantages: Lucerne promised her obedience; Schwyz and Unterwalden renounced their attempts to hinder the exercise of feudal rights within their territory; Lucerne and Zurich surrendered the Austrian subjects who had been made burgesses without domicile. Zurich became reconciled with the nobles of her district; but while Glarus and Zug were excluded from the alliance of the Confederates, the alliance with Lucerne was recognised.

After the extinction of her founders, the Zähringen, Berne had become a free imperial city, and, during the fourteenth century, had acquired very appreciable autonomous and territorial powers; by means of agree­ments and conquests, she had established herself at Laupen, Gümmenen, in the Häsli, and in the upper valley of the Aar, which formed an inde­pendent rural community contiguous with Unterwalden. The whole basin of the Aar up to the Alps had thus become dependent on Berne, and the local nobility was perturbed at the surprising growth of its power. Resistance was soon offered by Fribourg, Berne’s rival, and involved the nobles of the Swiss plateau, from Gruyeres to Neuchatel, from the Kiburgs to the Bishop of Basle. This coalition collected a formidable army which laid siege to the stronghold of Laupen. But on 21 June 1339 the Bernese troops, reinforced by men from the Forest Cantons, Häsli, and Simmenthal, won an overwhelming victory near Laupen itself. Mistress of her fate, Berne obliged Fribourg again to recognise her alliance and renewed that which had bound Solothurn; in 1342 she came to terms with Austria, but retained her freedom to remain at peace with the enemies of the Habsburgs.

The earliest alliances of Berne with the Forest Cantons date from 1323 and 1341. Fearing the too democratic influence of Unterwalden on her territory of Häsli, after the victory of Laupen the city decided to conclude a pact of eternal alliance with Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden at Lucerne, on 6 March 1353. Its alliance with Austria prevented Berne from treating with Zurich or Lucerne, and from promising military aid to the Forest Cantons against the Habsburgs; a call for help was not to take effect until after the decisions of a Diet to be assembled at Kienholz near the Lake of Brienz; but the Confederates were bound to answer this appeal against any who might injure or attack, not only the Bernese themselves, but also their subjects or vassals.

The future of Zurich was not so quickly decided. In 1354, to escape the assault of an army which included contingents from the Emperor Charles IV as well as those of the Habsburgs, the town hoisted the imperial standard, intending thus to shew its direct dependence on the Empire. The peace of Ratisbon in 1355 gave, as a whole, satisfaction to Austrian demands. Zurich had to relinquish its conquests; the federal alliances were only maintained when they did not interfere with the fulfilment of the engagements made by the city. The death of the burgomaster, Rudolf Brun, in 1360, at the moment when he had suc­cumbed to Austrian influence, brought about a change of attitude on the part of Zurich which coincided with a state of tension between the Empire and the house of Austria; on 31 March 1361 the Emperor Charles IV confirmed to Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden all their new privileges, especially those which concerned the lake. In 1365, 1367, and 1368, the town refused to take the oath of fidelity to Austria which had been agreed on in the renewed peace of Ratisbon. Then in 1364 or 1365 Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden conquered the town and suburbs of Zug; they governed this little district while agreeing to pay Austria her dues; and in 1368 a general war was only averted by the truce of the knight Peter of Torberg on 7 March, by which Austria relinquished Zug to the Confederates.

These incessant struggles had tested the pacts of alliance between the Confederates; their union emerged therefrom strengthened. In itself this unequal league of country districts and towns did not differ essentially from the associations which had elsewhere been called into being by the insecurity of the Empire; each member of the league retained its liberty of action, and the Austrian party possessed powerful adherents, especially in Zurich. But the three Forest Cantons, since they were the only participants in the Confederation who were allied to all its members, represented a principle of unity, a power of co-ordination which may vainly be sought for among other organisms of the same kind; Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden were resolute adversaries of Austria, they possessed a formidable warlike force, and, from the middle of the fourteenth century, the name of Schwyz began to be applied to the whole Confederation.

The “Swiss" Confederation: the Priests’ Charter

In 1370 a concordat of great importance united the six cantons, with the exception of Berne; this was the Pfaffenbrief, or Priests’ Charter, which was drawn up on 7 October 1370 as a result of the violent measures taken by the clergy in opposition to the advocate of Lucerne. The Pfaffenbrief may be regarded as establishing a common public law among the members of what it definitely styles “our Confederation”: it imposed various punishments on priests who dared to cite the Confederates before foreign courts of law; above all, it obliged anyone inhabiting the territory of the Confederates to work for the advantage of the allies, even though he remained an Austrian subject. Moreover the Confederates undertook to protect all the roads from the “stibende Brug” of the St Gothard as far as Zurich.

The truce of Torberg remained precarious. In 1375, however, Duke Leopold III of Austria was himself obliged to seek assistance from the Confederates in repelling the incursions of French and English freebooters known by the name of Gugler, whom Enguerrand de Coucy had launched against the Austrian states in support of his claims to the inheritance of his grandfather, Duke Leopold I of Austria. Only Berne and Zurich consented on 13 October to the conclusion of a defensive alliance with Leopold. De Coucy’s bands having advanced as far as Lower Aargau, the men of that district took up arms and expelled the pillagers by a series of victorious engagements at Büttisholz, at Ins, and, finally, during the night of 26 December, at Fraubrünnen, where the Bernese behaved gallantly. In the spring of 1376 Enguerrand de Coucy retreated by way of the Jura, but the duke’s inaction before this danger and the systematic devastation of Aargau caused profound resentment against the Habsburgs throughout the countryside; nevertheless, on 28 March 1376, the truce of Torberg was prolonged until 23 April 1387.

It was about this time that the decline of the house of Kiburg caused an increase in the power of Berne. On the night of 10 November 1382, to rid himself of his numerous law-suits, Count Rudolf of Kiburg attempted a surprise attack on Solothurn; the Bernese, who were Solo­thurn’s allies, called for help from the Forest Cantons under the terms of the treaty of 6 March 1353; thanks to their intervention, the Kiburgs were forced to surrender Burgdorf and Thun to Berne. Their house became extinct in 1417; but this final conflict damaged the cause of Austria, inas­much as it strengthened the union between Berne and the Forest Cantons.

The Habsburgs had not been able to intervene in the quarrel between Berne and the Kiburgs; but the ambition of the young Duke Leopold III soon led to a new war. When, in 1379, Albert III received as his share Austria proper, Leopold inherited Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, as far as the Italian frontier, from his brother Rudolf IV; he very soon also asserted his authority over Rhaetia, and even beyond, by the acquisition of the county of Feldkirch, the domains of Nidau, Buren, and Little Basle, and the advocateship of Upper and Lower Swabia. The first re­sistance came from a union of Swabian and Rhenish towns, which was joined on 21 February 1385 at Constance by Berne, Zurich, Zug, and Solothurn. But the final rupture was caused by the action of Lucerne, which continued to admit numerous burgesses who were Austrian subjects. On 28 December the men of Lucerne seized the Austrian stronghold of Rotenburg; then, in the spring of 1386, with the help of the Forest Cantons, they destroyed the castle of Peter of Torberg at Wolhusen, and freed the whole of Entlebuch up to Escholzmatt from the Austrian domination. The Confederates did not follow the Swabian towns in concluding a truce with Austria on 17 July 1386; they seceded from the Swabian league, trusting to their own powers to defend the interests of their cause.

Berne was exhausted by the war with the Kiburgs, and did not seem anxious to fulfil the obligations undertaken in the alliance of 1353. But the men of Zurich, Glarus, and Schwyz deliberately started the campaign. The duke assembled a formidable army of mercenaries and knights at Brugg in Aargau; at the end of June i386 he took and burnt Willisau, and on 9 July his army, under the command of John of Ochsenstein, advanced on Sempach, a little town recently allied with Lucerne. At Meierholz, north-eastward from Sempach, it encountered the fifteen hundred men assembled under the banners of Lucerne. Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden; some of the knights having dismounted, the Confederates succeeded, after many efforts, in battering their way through the lances by the blows of their halberds, thus spreading panic throughout the Austrian army; the duke was slain during a charge, and the dismounted knights were cut to pieces by the peasants. In the north, the men of Zurich and Glarus took the offensive, seized Wesen, and on 11 August the Bernese declared war on Fribourg. The imperial towns of Germany succeeded in restoring peace, which was concluded on 12 October, and renewed till 2 February 1388, with the adhesion of Berne and Solothurn.

Hostilities nevertheless continued in the district of Glarus, which had recently revived the old alliance, and was freeing itself from its feudal overlord, the monastery of Säckingen. After surprising Wesen, the army of Duke Albert III, Duke Leopold’s brother, on 9 April 1388 stormed the entrenchments barricading the valley. The mountaineers, reinforced by a contingent from Schwyz, stood firm on the heights to the south-west of Nafels; then, falling on the enemy, they drove them back to the bridge over the Maag, inflicting sanguinary losses. The victory of Nafels was the signal for a fresh campaign by the Confederates, at Rapperswil in Aargau, at Buren, and at Nidau, until by the mediation of the Swabian towns the treaty of Zurich was initiated (1 April 1389), and ratified by Duke Albert under the form of a truce which lasted until 23 April 1396. The Confederates retained the castles and lands they had taken from Austrian nobles, and the federal alliances were maintained.

The Confederates realised the necessity of strengthening their union in view of the dangers which might recur at any moment; therefore on 10 July 1393 all the members of the league, with the addition of Solo­thurn, concluded the Covenant of Sempach. The Sempacherbrief settled the military measures which were to be shared by the Confederates: it established a strict discipline of the contingents, apportioned the booty, and suppressed pillage; no military action was to be taken save in defence of a just cause.

Even though all the Confederates had agreed to this new pact, all hostile efforts could not at once be overcome, and the alliance was still precarious. When, between 1393 and 1395, the two Dukes, Albert and Leopold IV, united in a new series of treaties all the bishops, princes, and cities of South Germany, the Austrian party, which was in a majority in the council at Zurich, involved the city in this union, and on 4 July 1393 undertook that for twenty years Zurich should remain neutral in case of a war with the Confederates. Envoys from Lucerne and Schwyz there­upon incited the burgesses to rise against the Austrian faction; Rudolf Schorro, the burgomaster, was forced to leave the city; and a third sworn declaration placed the supreme authority of the State in the hands of the Grand Council, or Council of the Two Hundred, in which the gilds were dominant. This abortive attempt led to a fresh demonstration of union in the renewal of the alliances on 10 August 1393, and the attitude of the Confederates convinced the Austrian Dukes that it would be advisable to make peace with them. On 16 July 1394 a twenty years’ peace was concluded: Glarus was recognised as an autonomous member of the Con­federation ; Zug was to pay only a modest tribute to her former overlord; Schwyz retained possession of the Upper March and the advocacy of Einsiedeln; Berne retained Unterseen, Nidau, and Buren; Lucerne was freed from its vassalage and secured Entlebuch, Sempach, and the bailiwick of Rotenburg; freedom of trade and arbitration were re-established; while the Confederates promised no longer to harbour burgesses not domiciled among them, and undertook not to molest the possessions of the house of Austria.

About the same time the league of the Rhine towns was dissolved; the Counts of Wurtemberg checked the development of the league between the towns on Lake Constance; north of the Rhine, the power of the princes triumphed. South of the river, on the contrary, country districts and towns retained their traditional rights, their local govern­ments, and their democratic institutions; having consolidated their union, they were organising their forces to defend the liberties they had acquired in common, respecting only the suzerainty of the Empire.

Peace with Austria having been assured, the Confederates took advan­tage of their security to consolidate their territory and extend the system of their alliances. By gradual purchase Berne had extended her possessions on the right bank of the Bielersee, in the valleys of the Kander and the Simme, the districts of Signau, Wangen, and Aarwangen. Lucerne, a fortified town, established itself securely in Entlebuch, and also at Weggis and Gersau. Glarus repurchased the feudal rights of the monastery of Sackingen. New bonds of friendship sought to guarantee the main tenance of peace and the security of the trade routes. Alliances and treaties of combourgeoisie united Berne and Solothurn with the Margrave of Hochberg and the city of Basle; and Berne alone with the Counts of Aarberg-Valangin, the Counts of Gruyeres, and the town of Fribourg.

Eastward, Zurich admitted the Count of Toggenburg as one of her burgesses. In Rhaetia, a land of lofty mountains, the league of Caddee (Maison-Dieu) in 1367 brought together the burgesses of Chur and the ecclesiastical subjects of Bregaglia, Oberhalbstein, the Engadine, and Domleschg. On 24 May 1400 the people of Glarus concluded their first alliance with the other Rhaetian league—the “Upper” or “Grey” League —which included the popular communities and nobles of the Upper Rhine valley, and also with the Abbot of Disentis, the barons of Raezuns and Sax, and their people.

On the southern slope of the lofty Bernese Alps, in the Valais, the Bishop of Sion, invested with the rights of count, had been obliged to yield the low country as far as the Morge to the Counts of Savoy. Many feudal landholders were hesitating between the two powers; in the four­teenth century the burgesses of Sion and the rural communes, or “dizains”, elected a general council for the whole of the Valais; on 3 June 1403 Bishop William V de Rarogne and the peasants of the Valais, who had recently rebelled against the La Tour family but had been weakened in 1392 by a burdensome peace imposed by Savoy, concluded a combourgeoisie and perpetual alliance with Uri, Unterwalden, and Lucerne.

About this time there began the transalpine conquests of the Forest Cantons, notably those of Uri, which even before 1331 exercised the advocacy of Urseren. In 1403, as a result of certain incidents at the fair of Varese, a band of men from Uri and Unterwalden descended into the Leventina and forced the subjects of the Duke of Milan to swear obedience; the inhabitants of the Leventina entrusted themselves to the protection of the two cantons, who established a joint administration on the other side of the St Gothard. On 12 June 1410 the natives of Urseren were admitted as burgesses of Uri.

To the north-east, the city of St Gall had, by the middle of the four­teenth century, attained great material prosperity based on the textile industry and the cloth trade. It had been granted the rank of an imperial town, and the Council gradually emancipated itself from the tutelage of the abbey, which was falling into decadence; the trade-gilds were becoming political associations and shared in the government.

Not far from St Gall, the district of Appenzell, which derived its name from its largest commune, consisted of legal and political communities of a markedly democratic character, which in 1345 were placed under the imperial advocacy of the Abbot of St Gall. On 17 January 1401 the conflict with their advocate and overlord induced eight communities of Appenzell to enter into an alliance of seven years with the burgesses of St Gall. The mountaineers destroyed the abbatial fortress of the Clanx, then, abandoned by St Gall, they had recourse to the Forest Cantons; Schwyz admitted them to her citizenship early in 1403, and sent them a landamann. Relying on this support, the men of Appenzell, on 15 May 1403, repelled contingents from the towns of the Empire who opposed them at the defile of the Speicher. In 1405, with the help of the Count of Werdenberg-Heiligenberg, they defeated the troops of Duke Frederick IV of Austria, who had espoused the cause of the Abbot of St Gall; after victories near St Gall and at the Stoss, they instituted a campaign of singular violence against the feudal lords. The League of “Above the Lake” was joined by the burgesses of St Gall, Feldkirch, and Bludenz, and the peasants of Rheinthal, Walgau, and modern Lichtenstein; the expedi­tions of the mountaineers advanced as far as Thurgau, and beyond the Arlberg; Duke Frederick of Austria was obliged to come to terms with the League, and the Abbot of St Gall placed himself under its protection.

The dissolution of this ephemeral coalition was brought about by the failure of the siege of Bregenz and the resistance of Constance with the help of the Knights of the Cross. When King Rupert condemned them to return to the suzerainty of the Abbot of St Gall, the men of Appenzell, on 24 November 1411, obtained the combourgeosie of the seven cantons of Zurich, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zug, and Glarus. This first alliance did not ensure them complete equality of treatment; ex­peditions in their aid were carried out at their expense, and the consent of the cantons had to be obtained for the execution of any military operation. On 7 December 1412 the city of St Gall in its turn concluded a treaty of combourgeosie for ten years with the seven easterly cantons, but without securing the armed support of the Confederates.

Expansion of the Confederation. Appenzell, St Gall, Aargau

On the other side of the Alps the increasing strength of the Confederates continued to carry all before it. In 1407 Uri and Unterwalden obtained from the barons of Sax-Misox free admission to the fortresses of Bellinzona and exemption from customs for their goods; in 1410 a quarrel about Alpine pastures caused the occupation of the valley of Ossola, between the Ticino and Valais; but in 1414 Count Amadeus VIII of Savov succeeded in wresting their latest conquest from the Confederates. It was King Sigismund who deterred the men of Uri from their intention of avenging this reverse; he had summoned to Constance for Christmas 1414 a great Council intended to restore peace to the Church and to end the Schism. At this time the Confederates were on more peaceful terms with Austria; but on 20 March 1415 Pope John XXIII abruptly retired from the Council and went to Schaffhausen to join Duke Frederick of Austria, who had espoused his cause. Sigismund promptly put the duke under the ban of the Empire on 30 March, and handed over his states to his vassals and enemies. In the course of a few weeks the duke lost his possessions from Alsace to the boundaries of Tyrol. Sigismund declared to the Swiss that they ought to obey the Emperor, in spite of the peace which bound them to Austria; he abolished the seignorial rights still possessed by the Habsburgs in the cantons, and confirmed the latter in their privileges.

Thus relieved from their just scruples, in April 1415 the Confederates proceeded to conquer Aargau, a district of pastures, full of castles and large market-towns. The Bernese, reinforced by men from Biel and Solothurn, advanced from the west; from the south and east came the men of Lucerne and Zurich, and strongholds and little towns quickly fell into their hands. Then the united Confederates laid siege to Baden; the Austrian bailiff resisted in the castle of Stein for a week after the surrender of the town; on 20 May the fortress was burnt. Meanwhile Frederick of Austria had made his peace with Sigismund, and the king summoned the Confederates to cease their operations and to restore Aargau. But they insisted on the assurances they had received, and, in spite of the slender justice of their claims, Sigismund had to accede to their wishes; he mortgaged some of the conquered territory to Berne, and yielded the rest to the men of Zurich in return for an indemnity. The final division did not take place until ten years later: Zurich retained the Freiamt to the east of the Reuss as her share; Lucerne obtained Sursee, Munster, and St Urban. The county of Baden and the rest of the Freiamt became a bailiwick under the joint jurisdiction of all the Confederates. Berne, however, had no share in the Freiamt, and Uri kept aloof from the conquered territory and insisted that it should be surrendered to the king. Thus the country which separated Zurich from Berne was now in the hands of the Confederates; instead of admitting the inhabitants of Aargau to their combourgeoisie, they treated them as subjects and governed them by means of bailiffs. And while the conquest of Aargau averted the Austrian danger from the cantons, it likewise accentuated their emanci­pation from the Empire itself; thanks to the privileges so lavishly bestowed by Sigismund, the cantons shewed an increasing tendency to become a State, the Landleute und Städte in der Schweiz.

So far Berne had been only indirectly allied with Lucerne and Zurich; this peculiar position ended when, on 1 March 1421 and 22 January 1423, all details of the military support and economic relations between Berne and each of the other two cities were fully settled by treaties of agreement and friendship. In consequence of this, Berne and Zurich assumed parti­cular importance in federal policy. This was very soon proved by the Italian expeditions, which in September 1416 were resumed by way of the Upper Valais. Ossola, Vai Verzasca, and Vai Maggia were quickly occupied and administered jointly by the Confederates, with the exception of Scliwyz and Berne. On 1 September 1419 Uri and Obwald purchased the town and feudal domain of Bellinzona from the lords of Sax, in order to have free scope in Leventina. On 4 April 1422 Filippo Maria Visconti, Duke of Milan, retaliated by abruptly seizing the place. Uri and Obwald did not succeed in obtaining the unconditional support of their allies, and the Duke of Milan recaptured all the valley of the Ticino as far as the St Gothard. In view of the danger, most of the cantons determined to take the field; the first contingent, consisting of men from Unterwalden, Uri, Lucerne, and Zug, reached Bellinzona, but on 30 June 1422 they were overcome by the Milanese troops at Arbedo. Vai d’Ossola was lost, and the Milanese obtained a firm hold in Leventina and the valleys of Maggia and Verzasca. The defeat was caused by a lack of co-operation between the Confederates, and by the fact that the pact of alliance with Zurich limited its assistance within a definite zone. After various attempts at reprisal, the struggle was ended, in July 1426, by the two treaties of Bellinzona, which did not safeguard any ancient privileges, except that for ten years there were to be no tolls on the roads to Milan and Varese.

Conflict between Schwyz and Zurich

The difficulties experienced by the Confederates in their association appeared even more clearly in the opposition between Schwyz and Zurich. During the fifteenth century Zurich acquired from various nobles vast feudal domains, which gave it a very important territorial position. Schwyz, which was a rural community, pursued a forward, and a much more democratic policy. In 1408 Zurich formed a separate alliance with Glarus on the basis of perfect equality of rights, with the intention of arresting the influence of Schwyz; soon the two tendencies clashed in a grave difference caused by the inheritance of the last Count of Toggenburg, who died in 1436. Relying on promises made by the count, the men of Schwyz occupied a large part of his territory, formed combourgeoisies with his subjects, and barred the road to Zurich, which was intent on rounding off its bailiwicks near the Upper Lake. A conference of the cantons, on 9 March 1437, decided the matter in favour of Schwyz, which retained the Upper March, and—jointly with Glarus—obtained on mortgage Uznach, Windegg, Gaster, Amden, Wesen, Walenstadt, and the bailiwick of Schannis. Zurich, which had to remain satisfied with a combourgeoisie with Sargans, closed its markets to Schwyz and Glarus, and, abandoning legal methods, rejected all arbitration. Ital Reding, landamann of Schwyz, replied to this obstinacy by joining with Glarus in the occupation of Sargans and Lachen; on 2 November 1440 he declared war on Zurich; contingents from Uri and Unterwalden arrived at the Etzel and supported Schwyz, so that Rudolf Stüssi, burgomaster of Zurich, was obliged to withdraw his army to the town. Thus humiliated, Zurich had no alternative but to submit to the decisions of the Diet.

After the death of Sigismund of Luxemburg, the imperial crown reverted in 1438 to the house of Austria. The Confederates had good reason to fear that the imperial power might further the dynastic interests of their old adversaries. And indeed, King Frederick III, who wished to recover the hereditary lands of his family in Switzerland, made skilful use of the resentment felt by Zurich against her Confederates; on 17 June 1442 the city yielded the county of Kiburg to Frederick, in his capacity as Austrian prince, and also recognised his right to recover Aargau. In return, the king undertook to reconquer Toggenburg and Uznach for Zurich, which, in alliance with Austria while still retaining its alliances with the Confederates, was to become the leader of a new Confederation extending from the Black Forest to Tyrol. The king’s attitude was re­warded by an oath of fidelity from the inhabitants of the city, which led to a rupture with the Confederates, with whom Solothurn was associated. On 20 May 1443 Schwyz and Glarus declared war against Zurich and Austria, and the other cantons joined in this decision.

From the start of operations, contingents from the Forest Cantons and Glarus laid waste the territory round Zurich and threatened the town; on 22 July 1443, at St Jakob on the Sihl, the forces of Zurich were put to flight and the burgomaster Stüssi killed. Rapperswil was successful in defending itself; then, as a result of mediation by Constance and by a great Diet summoned at Baden, Zurich agreed to abandon all alliance with Austria and to submit to arbitration. But the Austrian faction caused the rejection of all conciliatory proposals, and executed those  members of the Council who were likely to agree to them; the cantons resumed the campaign, with the assistance of Solothurn and Appenzell; the stronghold of Greifensee was carried on 27 May 1444, the garrison being put to the sword, and on 21 June the city of Zurich was besieged by an army of 20,000 Confederates.

In these circumstances Frederick III appealed to a new ally, the King of France. Charles VII was only too pleased to dispatch to the Rhine the troops whose task in France had been ended by the truce with England, and who bore the significant names of Écorcheurs or Armagnacs; while he cherished the hope of profiting by the weakness of Germany to seize Basle, a rich commercial city which excited the envy of the nobles possessing land in her vicinity. The Dauphin of France, Louis, himself took command in Champagne of 40,000 men, horse and foot, armed with cannon and provided with siege-material. At this time 15,000 men from Berne and Solothurn were investing the fortress of Farnsburg. The nobles of southern Alsace, the Sundgau, facilitated the advance of the French army, whose vanguard on 23 August penetrated beyond Basle to Pratteln and Arlesheim; on the opposite bank of the Rhine the Austrian troops advanced to Sackingen. When the arrival of the Armagnacs was announced, the Swiss reinforcements on the way to Farnsburg marched straight on the enemy; 1300 men from the seven cantons, Solothurn, and Neuchatel, and two hundred armed peasants from Liestal reached Pratteln on 26 August, and put the French cavalry to flight; crossing the Birs, they opposed great masses of cavalry under Jean de Bueil near Basle; then, exhausted by the struggle and their retreat cut off, they entrenched themselves in the Leper’s Hospital of St Jakob on the Birs, where they died gloriously, after refusing to surrender.

The fine resistance offered by this little body of Confederate troops made a great impression on contemporaries. The sieges of Farnsburg and Zurich were immediately raised, but garrisons remained in Aargau and outside Rapperswil. The dauphin was unsuccessful in his attempt to occupy Basle, which was protected by its alliance with the Confederates; and on 21 October 1444 the French plenipotentiaries concluded a final peace at Zofingen with the seven cantons, Basle, and Solothurn, which was signed by Louis at Ensisheim on 28 October. By this first peace between the throne of France and the Leagues, the dauphin guaranteed security to the persons and property of the Confederates, the people of Basle, and members of the Council; he undertook not to invade the territory of the Confederates; on both sides, trade was to remain free. Frederick III, thus abandoned by his ally, experienced great difficulty in clearing his territory of the French freebooters; but the war was prolonged in Switzerland with much tenacity.

Peace with France and Austria

At last the wearied belligerents agreed to have the points at issue settled by arbitration at the peace of Constance on 12 June 1446. Subsequently the court of arbitration intervened between the Confederates, and after fresh conferences at Einsiedeln, both parties abandoned their claims to indemnities and agreed to restore Zurich’s conquered possessions; and on 13 July 1450 the chief arbitrator, Henry von Bubenberg, decided that the alliance between Zurich and Austria was inadmissible. As regards Austria, negotiations ended on 24 June 1450, in the conclusion of a formal alliance of three years with the young Duke Sigismund: the former treaties were recognised; Sigismund undertook not to wage war against the Confederates in future, and tacitly abandoned Austria’s claims to Aargau. At Breisach, on 14 May 1449, peace was assured to Basle, by which the autonomy of the city was guaranteed. Finally, Fribourg also was lost to Austria; when that city attacked Savoy in 1447, Berne supported the duke and imposed on her ancient rival the peace of Morat on 16 July 1448. Fribourg was condemned to pay an indemnity of 40,000 florins to the Duke of Savoy, and to cede Grasburg to Berne. After this defeat, which involved a financial and social crisis, the Savoyard party took the upper hand; on 10 June 1452 the assembly of burgesses proclaimed the abolition of Austria’s suzerainty, and accepted Louis of Savoy as their overlord, while retaining the rights and liberties of the city. Thus, by the application of the judicial regulations of confederate law, was ended an extremely dangerous crisis in the history of the Confedera­tion. Zurich was delivered from a policy which tended to separate her from her allies; in 1450, in concert with the three cantons, she renewed her alliance with Glarus, and owing to her influence the people of Glarus became members of the League almost on the same conditions as the other Confederates.

The insecurity of the times and the long wars coincided with a great economic change in the allied districts, which became obvious at the middle of the fifteenth century. Switzerland never produced enough to support her inhabitants; in the very early days martial expeditions be­came necessary to secure the means of livelihood. In the Forest Cantons industry had not yet assumed any importance. In Appenzell and St Gall, as also in Berne, economic activity was increasing; but at Zurich the silk industry was in jeopardy; trade had been affected by the intestine quarrels, and transit dues brought in more to the public revenue than indigenous trade. The constant disturbances, caused by war, and the shipwreck of fortunes encouraged adventurous expeditions and mercenary service; the pursuit of indemnities and of booty replaced normal labour; by their military renown the Confederates spread terror around them; organised campaigns were undertaken on very slight pretexts; confederate free-lances entered the service of the highest bidder; lack of work favoured this martial trade of mercenary service; and very soon the consequences of this moral and economic transformation became evident in all parts.

The first years of peace were, however, marked by an immense move­ment of expansion. The Abbot of St Gall sought protection from the Confederates in his difficult position; on 17 August 1451 he concluded a perpetual treaty of combourgeoisie with the four cantons of Zurich, Lucerne, Schwyz, and Glarus. On 15 November 1452 the seven easterly cantons granted a more favourable charter of alliance to Appenzell. On 13 June 1454 Zurich, Berne, Lucerne, Schwyz, Zug, and Glarus recognised the burgesses of St Gall as confederates in perpetuity, and placed them on the same footing as the men of Appenzell. On 1 June 1454 Schaff­hausen, which had resumed its immediate dependency on the Empire in 1415, obtained an alliance on terms of complete equality with Zurich, Berne, Lucerne, Schwyz, Zug, and Glarus. In 1459 Stein-am-Rhein followed this example, allying herself with Zurich and Schaffhausen. Finally, on 18 June 1463 the imperial town of Rottweil on the Neckar associated herself with the eight cantons by a provisional alliance of fifteen years. In 1440 the men of Uri again took possession of Leventina. The new dynasty of the Dukes of Milan, the Sforza, left them un­disturbed, and granted exemption from the customs at Bellinzona to Berne, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden; in 1467 the importation of goods as far as the moats of Milan was guaranteed to the seven easterly cantons.

As regarded Austria, all causes of difference had not yet been removed. In 1452 Zurich succeeded in regaining the county of Kiburg by means of a mortgage. In September 1458 an expedition against Constance was undertaken in consequence of a quarrel at a shooting-match; a few thousand Confederates got no farther than Weinfelden, but on their return they seized Rapperswil. Duke Sigismund demanded that the peace of fifty years should be respected, but was obliged to conclude a truce on 9 June 1459.

The war of aggression was presently revived by Pope Pius II (Aeneas Sylvius), who invited the Confederates to intervene in his quarrel with Austria; in the course of a few days Swiss contingents, from which the Bernese were absent, seized Thurgau and Frauenfeld and crossed the Rhine (October 1460); the siege of Winterthur was interrupted by a truce, and, despite the Pope’s displeasure, on 1 June 1461 a fifteen years’ peace was signed at Constance. Thurgau was to be retained by the Confederates, and became a subject district; the advocacy, i.e. the suze­rainty, was retained by the duke, and the higher jurisdiction devolved on the city of Constance. This new possession brought the frontier of the Confederate States right up to the Rhine; in 1460 Appenzell had purchased the Rheinthal, and in 1467 Sigismund ceded Winterthur to Zurich in exchange for a sum of money; on the left bank of the Rhine there now only remained in Austrian hands Rheinfelden and Laufenburg with their dependencies.

The peace of Constance did not at once end all antagonism between Austria and the Confederates, especially between the Austrian and Swabian nobles and the towns and communities of the Leagues. In 1467 a Confederate garrison went to protect Schaffhausen from the local nobles. On 17 June 1466 Mühlhausen formed an offensive and defensive alliance with Berne and Solothurn; an act of violence on the part of the burgesses led to the investment of the city by the Austrian bailiff, Turing von Hallwil the Younger, whereupon the Confederates on 25 June 1468 invaded Sundgau in force and drove back the nobles. Berne wished to proceed to an occupation of the Black Forest, but the other Confederates would not consent to this plan, and peace was signed at Waldshut on 27 August 1468. The duke promised the Swiss an indemnity of 10,000 florins, in guarantee whereof he pledged the homage of the people of Waldshut and the Black Forest if the said sum were not paid by 24 June 1469.

To escape from these financial embarrassments, Duke Sigismund now had recourse to the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, son of Philip the Good, who, although a vassal of the King of France and of the Empire, reigned over an autonomous State consisting of Burgundy, Franche Comté, the Netherlands, and Flanders. By the treaty of St Omer on 9 May 1469 Sigismund mortgaged to Charles the territory he had pledged to the Confederates, in addition to the towns of Laufenburg, Rheinfelden, Säckingen, and Breisach, the landgravate of Upper Alsace, and the county of Ferette, in exchange for 50,000 florins and his protection against all enemies, especially against the Confederates. By means of this alliance Sigismund hoped to deprive the Swiss of their pledge. Charles, for his part, was impelled by his ambition and his political designs; he was ex­tending his possessions beyond the Vosges, and preparing the marriage of his daughter Mary to Maximilian, son of the Emperor Frederick. In 1469 the Burgundian administration took possession of the territory on the Upper Rhine; but the harsh measures of the bailiff, Peter von Hagenbach, provoked so much discontent among the towns and nobles that, in October 1473, the towns of Basle, Colmar, Celestat, and Stras­bourg formed the association called the “Basse Ligue” in defence of their liberties. This League at once entered into relations with the Confederates, who considered the alliance between Charles and Sigismund as an in­fraction of a treaty concluded with them by the Duke of Burgundy when he was Count of Charolais; they regarded as provocative the threats aimed at Mühlhausen and the violence done to Swiss merchants.

Louis XI, having emerged victorious over the League of the Public Weal, was delighted to secure Swiss support against his implacable enemy the Duke of Burgundy, who personified the resistance of feudal power to the monarchy. Foreseeing an attack, he concluded a treaty of neutrality with the Confederates in 1470; in 1471 he presented each canton with a sum of 3000 livres, subsequently encouraging them to make peace with Sigismund and to attack Charles the Bold. At first negotiations hung fire, but in 1473 the Emperor took the part of the King of France against the Burgundian. In Switzerland, Nicholas von Diesbach and Jost von Silenen, provost of Beromünster, actively espoused the cause of Louis XI; the Diets of January and February 1474 consented to make peace with Austria subject to the condition that the districts pledged should be re­deemed, and negotiations began at Constance. On SO March a project of Perpetual Peace was agreed on: it secured the contracting parties in the possession of their present territories, and provided for the settlement of disputes by arbitration; the Confederates undertook not to conclude fresh combourgeoisies with Austrian subjects; they promised armed assistance to the Duke of Austria, and all old disputes were settled. On 31 March, still at Constance, a defensive alliance for ten years was signed between the Confederates and the Bishops of Strasbourg and Basle, and the four towns of Strasbourg, Colmar, Celestat, and Basle; finally, on 4 April Duke Sigismund joined the Basse Ligue with the aforesaid bishops and cities, and on 6 April he denounced the treaty of St Omer. Louis XI sanctioned the “recess” of Constance, and decided that the duke ought likewise to support the Swiss, and that his heirs should be bound by the treaty as well as himself. The actual confirmation of the agree­ment between the King of France, Duke Sigismund, and the Eight Cantons was signed at Sens on 11 June 1474.

The tidings of the Perpetual Peace was hailed with joy in Switzerland; with the help of French diplomacy, the prevailing insecurity was to come to an end. The Confederation was recognised as independent by its hereditary enemy, and it was guaranteed in the full possession of its conquests.

The “Perpetual Peace” with Austria, 1474

The treaties of Constance necessarily involved war with Burgundy. The revolt of the Alsatian towns started hostilities; Peter von Hagenbach was seized at Breisach by the enraged burgesses, and was beheaded on 9 May 1474. Sigismund again took possession of Alsace, which was then laid waste by Charles the Bold.

Louis XI saw that this was a favourable opportunity for exerting all his diplomatic efforts to win the Swiss over to his plans; he worked mainly by means of Nicholas von Diesbach, promising his aid and substantial sub­sidies to the cantons and to Fribourg and Solothurn, in return for a contingent of hired troops. Following Berne’s example, all the cantons on 21 and 26 October accepted the clauses of a treaty signed at Feldkirch; at the same time Sigismund ratified the Perpetual Peace. In a secret declaration of 2 October, Berne had agreed that the king’s help should only be summoned in case of dire necessity; on the other hand, the can­tons undertook to supply a fixed number of 6000 mercenaries. The first petition for their aid came from the Emperor Frederick, whom Charles the Bold attacked at Neuss; this was followed by appeals from Duke Sigismund and the members of the Basse Ligue, and the Confederates declared war on the Duke of Burgundy on 25 October.

They won their first success at Hericourt on the Lisaine, where, on 13 November, 8000 Swiss put to flight the relieving army of Henry de Neufchatel, lord of Blamont, and likewise captured the town. In 1475 Nicholas von Diesbach carried on the campaign; at the head of an army of free-lances, he seized Pontarlier, Grandson, Orbe, Jougne, and Échallens. In July 1475 15,000 men from Berne, Fribourg, Solothurn, and Lucerne, together with contingents from the Basse Ligue, captured Isle on the Doubs, and Blamont.

After the death of Nicholas von Diesbach, which occurred at Porrentruy during the siege of Blamont, the Vogt Nicholas von Scharnachtal continued to prosecute Berne’s warlike policy in the same direction. Duchess Yolande of Savoy and her brothers-in-law, John-Louis, Bishop of Geneva, and James, Count of Romont and Baron of Vaud, were bound to the party of the duke by an understanding with Galeazzo Maria Sforza, Duke of Milan; on 14 October 1475 the Bernese declared war on the Count of Romont and summoned aid from Fribourg and Solothurn. In less than three weeks the district of Vaud was conquered, after the surrender of Avenches, Cudrefin, Payerne, Estavayer (the population of which was massacred), Moudon, La Sarraz, and Les Clées. Geneva herself was threatened by the Confederates, reinforced by men from Zurich and the Forest Cantons, and only saved herself by paying a ransom of 26,000 écus de Savoie, on 13 November the men from Upper Valais, supported by troops from Gessenay, repulsed the attack of the Savoyards near Sion and occupied all the country up to Martigny.

Meanwhile a reconciliation had taken place between the Emperor and the Duke of Burgundy, and on 13 September Louis XI concluded a truce with Charles the Bold, abandoning the Swiss to his tender mercy. Charles began by putting out of action the Duke of Lorraine, whose capital, Nancy, he occupied; then, at the head of an army of 20,000 men he laid siege to Grandson, the only place in Vaud still garrisoned by the Swiss; on 28 February 1476 he took the castle and hanged the garrison. In these straits Berne called for the assistance of her allies; on 1 March contin­gents of Confederates assembled round Neuchatel, over 18,000 men commanded by the Bernese leaders, Nicholas von Scharnachtal and Hans von Hallwil. On 2 March the vanguard came into contact at Vaumarcus with a Burgundian outpost. The whole Burgundian army thereupon left the camp at Grandson and marched to meet the Swiss, who advanced in two successive columns and quickly spread panic through­out the duke’s troops; the whole force fell back in disorder to Grandson, their camp was taken with enormous booty, and only darkness and the lack of cavalry checked the pursuit. The Swiss infantry had overcome the cavalry and artillery of Charles the Bold, and the moral effect of this success was considerable; but the Confederates were not anxious to carry on the war and to maintain Bernese interests; they retired, after placing garrisons in Morat and Fribourg.

Charles the Bold retired to Lausanne to prepare his revenge, and with surprising energy assembled a new army. On 10 June the town of Morat was invested by numerous contingents, amounting to over 23,000 men. Adrian von Bubenberg, who was in command of the Bernese garrison, repulsed all assaults, and patiently waited for reinforcements. Fresh appeals by the Bernese caused the Confederates to assemble their forces, first near Berne, later at Gümmenen and Ormey; with the Confederates were associated 1800 mounted men of the Basse Ligue and the garrison of Fribourg under the command of Hans Waldmann of Zurich. On 22 June 1476 an attack was delivered on the centre of the Burgundian lines; it was at first checked by artillery fire, but later broke all resistance by the effect of its compact masses, and the whole Burgundian army was caught in a trap. The army corps of the Count of Romont to the north­east of Morat made its escape; elsewhere the Swiss slaughtered without mercy; between eight and ten thousand of the duke’s army were left on the field of battle. Charles hastily fled through Morges to Gex; with some hesitation the Confederates pursued him as far as Lausanne, where the intervention of Louis XI arranged a preliminary truce with Savoy on 29 June. The Congress of Fribourg, which sat from 25 July to 16 August, did not achieve the results anticipated by Berne and Louis XI. The Con­federates only retained a provisional jurisdiction over Vaud in pledge for an indemnity of 50,000 florins; Berne only the Savoyard seignories of Grandson, Orbe, and Échallens; pending a final decision, the men of Upper Valais were allowed to establish themselves beyond St Maurice.

In the same year Charles the Bold resumed hostilities against René of Lorraine; on 22 October he laid siege to Nancy. The Swiss mercenaries, numbering over 8000, under Hans Waldmann, encouraged the Lorrainers and Alsatians to advance towards Luneville. The Duke of Burgundy was defeated at Jarville by these forces, which were superior to his own; and he was found dead on the battlefield, where, for the last time, he had valiantly and tenaciously opposed adverse fate. Louis XI, delivered from his old enemy, took possession of the duchy, and announced his intention of requiring homage from Franche Comté. Berne wished to occupy this territory, but the other cantons were opposed to any fresh conquest. Finally, they agreed to the proposals of the Emperor, whose son Maximilian had married Mary of Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold; a definitive peace was signed at the Congress of Zurich on 24 January 1478. Thereby the Confederates renounced all right to Franche Comté; Maxi­milian, as lord of the Burgundian lands, undertook to pay an indemnity of 150,000 florins to the contracting parties, the Confederates, the Basse Ligue, Austria, and Lorraine.

The Burgundian wars did not change the territorial or political situation of the Confederation; they secured for the Confederates great consideration and caused their alliance to be much sought after. Berne did not abandon its policy towards Savoy. It obtained from Duchess Yolande the release of Fribourg from the suzerainty of Savoy (23 August and 10 September 1477). The town thus remained directly subject to the Empire. On 14 November 1477 Berne and Fribourg concluded a treaty of combourgeoisie with John-Louis of Savoy, Bishop of Geneva, and with the town of Geneva, but only for the duration of the bishop’s life; in the Valais, the bishop and the dizains, as a result of a truce in 1478, retained the Lower Valais as far as St Maurice and the valleys of Bagnes and Entremont.

As regards France, the treaty, which specifically promised armed as­sistance, was annulled when the king died on 30 August 1483. The peace of Arras between France and Austria bestowed Franche Comté as dowry on Maximilian’s daughter, who was betrothed to the French dauphin; and the treaty of Senlis, in which the Confederates acted as mediators, on 23 May 1493 secured the return of this province to the house of Habsburg.

In Italy, the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza, the ally of Charles the Bold, having been killed on 26 December 1476, his widow, Duchess Bona, renewed the old capitulations with the Confederates on 10 July 1477. Encouraged by Pope Sixtus IV, and by local conflicts in Leventina, the men of Uri decided to intervene in Italy. In November 1478 they crossed the St Gothard and summoned to their aid an army of 10,000 Confederates, in which Hans Waldmann commanded the men of Zurich and Adrian von Bubenberg those of Berne; an attack on Bellinzona, badly led, failed; and a retreat was undertaken in the very heart of December. But the ducal troops found out their mistake when they attempted to profit by this event; they were abruptly stopped at Giornico by a rear-guard of Confederates supported by the inhabitants of the country. The peace agreed on in September 1479 and ratified in March 1480 assured Uri in the possession of Leventina. The lack of union between the Confederates caused the loss of Biasca and the valley of Blenio, which commanded the passage across the Lukmanier Pass.

Henceforward the Confederates displayed a tendency to avoid inter­vention in foreign affairs. It was this prudent reserve which enabled them to reconcile the frequently contradictory clauses of the treaties to which they agreed, and which, in particular, assured their friendship and the recruitment of mercenaries to Duke Sigismund of Austria (13 October 1477), to the King of Hungary, Matthias Corvinus (26 March and 18 October 1479), and to Pope Sixtus IV (18 October 1479).

Conflict of urban and rural cantons

In the midst of these successes, the Confederation passed through an acute crisis. The thirst for gold aroused by the fabulous booty taken from Burgundy had excited violent passions in the populace; the measures adopted by the cantons to combat the system of foreign subsidies were everywhere nugatory; and venality shewed itself to be the predomi­nant vice of the period. Moreover, in spite of the regulations forbidding private expeditions, mercenary service was becoming the national industry. The lawlessness of the mercenary bands was most scandalously exhibited in the expedition called la Folle Vie, which launched two thousand adven­turers from Schwyz, Uri, Unterwalden, Zug, Lucerne, and Fribourg on Savoy; Geneva was threatened, and had to pay down the sum of 8000 florins and to hand over hostages in order to secure the withdrawal of these free-lances. The cantons which possessed urban centres, such as Berne, Zurich, and Lucerne, were dismayed at the revolutionary ex­uberance of the country districts. Against their advice, the five cantons of Uri, Zug, Schwyz, Unterwalden, and Glarus had, on 12 January 1477, concluded a combourgeoisie with the Bishop of Constance; on this occasion the towns determined to act; and at St Urban, on 23 May 1477, they signed an offensive and defensive alliance, which included Zurich, Berne, Lucerne, Fribourg, and Solothurn.

The antagonism thus declared degenerated into a serious conflict, which a diet assembled at Stanz between 22 and 30 November 1481 attempted to avert. The suggested arrangement was that both parties should re­nounce their private alliances and that Fribourg and Solothurn should he admitted into the pact; but all hopes of conciliation gradually vanished, and on 22 December a rupture seemed imminent, when the parish priest of Stanz, Henry am Grund, repaired to Ranft to take counsel with the hermit of Obwald, Nicholas von Flue, who enjoyed a reputation of miracle-working sanctity among all the Confederates, and who was greatly respected for his judicious advice. The intervention of Nicholas von Flüe secured an immediate reconciliation, and the agreement resulted in a perpetual alliance of the eight cantons with Fribourg and Solothurn, and the compromise which takes its name from Stanz (22 December 1481). The two cities became members of the Confederation; they were bound to send assistance wherever it might be required, and were forbidden to conclude other alliances without the consent of a majority of the eight cantons. On the other hand, the Covenant of Stanz confirmed the Charter of the Priests (1370) and that of Sempach (1393), and strengthened the common alliance for the maintenance of public peace, while providing various measures for the repression of sedition and for the division of booty and of conquered territory. The Federal bond was renewed more firmly than ever by this happy ending of a crisis which had for a time seemed mortal and irremediable.

Within the cantons, equally grave conflicts aroused the violent passions of the period and proved the necessity of a more stable government and administration. At Berne a democratic movement triumphed in 1471 over the Twingherren, the feudal lords and possessors of ancient rights; an agreement henceforward regulated the exercise of justice in opposition to the feudal system.

At Zurich, the burgomaster, Hans Waldmann, autocratically inclined the policy of the government in the direction of reforms imposed by coercion on the nobles, clergy, and peasants. He was violently attacked by his political opponents on account of the ostentatious luxury of his private life and his arbitrary tendencies, and allowed himself to be bribed into an Austrian alliance. On 14 September 1487 Maximilian concluded a closer alliance with seven cantons, among which were Berne and Zurich. Lucerne, Schwyz, and Glarus, who were in favour of a French alliance, were much incensed. Waldmann was accused of treachery and was held responsible for a defeat sustained at Ossola by volunteers from Lucerne; in retaliation the burgomaster, on 20 September 1487, seized and executed his chief accuser, Frischhans Teiling, at Zurich. But the country districts round Zurich rebelled against Waldmann’s edicts against dogs; the in­surrection spread to the city; and Waldmann was in his turn imprisoned, sentenced, and executed on 6 April 1489. Peace was restored to Zurich by the mediation of the federal deputies; the fourth charter on 14 January 1498 modified the constitution while retaining certain regulations which had been introduced by Waldmann.

The fall of the powerful burgomaster led to certain consequences in the Confederation. In Lucerne the populace obtained some changes in the law of the State. In the north-east, the men of Appenzell, in con­junction with those of St Gall and Rheinthal, destroyed the preparations made by Abbot Ulrich Rosch for the transference of his monastery to Rorschach; relying on the support of Uri, Zug, and Unterwalden, the townsfolk of St Gall, those of Appenzell, and the subjects of the former ecclesiastical principality united in the alliance of Waldkirch, on 27 October 1479. The cantons which had undertaken to protect the abbot—Zurich, Lucerne, Schwyz, and Glarus—were obliged to inter­vene; the town of St Gall surrendered on 15 February 1480; the alliance of Waldkirch was dissolved, and the abbot regained his authority over his subjects and lands. Nevertheless, he abandoned his intention of transferring the abbey to Rorschach, and in fact recognised the protec­tion and intervention of the Confederates in his affairs.

After the Burgundian wars, the Confederates had achieved an almost complete emancipation from the German Empire, which no longer retained either their respect or their confidence. In 1487 and 1488 Frederick III combined the states, princes, knights, and urban communities of Swabia in a league to preserve public peace, which was designed not only to strengthen imperial power, but also to support the house of Habsburg against that of Wittelsbach. The Diet of the cantons refused to join the league; in 1491 eight cantons concluded a treaty of neutrality with the Dukes of Bavaria; in 1495 a majority of the cantons accepted a renewal of alliance with Charles VIII, King of France.     .

Maximilian I, who succeeded his father Frederick III in 1493, attempted a widespread reform of the Empire based on the power of the house of Austria; at Worms, in 1495, he instituted an Imperial Chamber and a general system of taxation. The Confederates refused to carry out the decisions of Worms, and did not send delegates to the imperial assemblies. When the three leagues of the Grisons were threatened by Austria, they approached the Confederation; on 21 June 1497 the seven easterly cantons signed a treaty with the Grey League, and on 13 December 1498 with the League of the Maison-Dieu and the town of Chur. At the beginning of 1499 contingents from Uri and other federal cantons supplied help to the Grisons, who had been attacked by the Tyrolese with the encouragement of the Swabian league; on 11-12 February 1499 the Grisons and the Swiss took the offensive against Vaduz and Walgau, and the League of the Ten Jurisdictions in the Grisons made common cause with the other two.

War thereupon broke out with terrible violence from Rhaetia to Sundgau; for the Swiss it was the war of the Swabians, for the Swabians the war of the Swiss. After the first campaign in Hegau, all the cantons and allied districts gradually engaged in the struggle, except Basle and Rottweil. Louis XII, King of France, promised help or monetary support to the Confederates, and the German armies were successively defeated, in March at Bruderholz near Basle, in April at Schwaderloo near Con­stance and at Frastenz in Walgau. Maximilian then formally placed all the Confederates under the ban of the Empire; on 22 May his attack on Rhaetia failed at Calven, but the Austrian troops laid waste the Engadine. In western Switzerland, Count Henry of Fürstenberg laid siege to the fortress of Domeck on the Birs, which commanded the territory of Solo­thurn; contingents from Berne, Zurich, and Solothurn assembled at Liestal, and, with the help of reinforcements from Zug and Lucerne, surprised the German army, and on 22 July inflicted on it a sanguinary defeat. Maximilian prepared to embark on fresh attempts, but the Empire and the League were at the end of their resources; Lodovico il Moro of Milan took the first steps towards mediation, and difficult negotiations terminated in the peace of Basle on 22 September 1499. Galeazzo Visconti played the part of intermediary between Maximilian and the Swiss, and the treaty rendered the latter entirely independent of the imperial courts of law; on other matters, the preliminaries arranged on 25 August formed the basis of the agreement; the alliance between the Rhaetian Leagues and the Confederation was recognised, and means of arbitration were provided to ensure the settlement of difficulties between the Swabian League and the Confederation; on both sides conquests, law-suits, and indemnities were relinquished. The treaty did not formally declare the separation of the Confederates from the Empire, or their reconciliation with the Emperor, but the latter virtually renounced his rights of suzerainty, and the Swiss thenceforward remained independent of the imperial power.

Another result of the Swabian war was the admission of Basle and Schaffhausen into the Confederation. Basle had been a free city since 1386 and had become enriched by her trade and industry; although allied with Berne and Solothurn since 1400, she had remained neutral during the Swabian war. On being attacked by the Austrian nobles of her vicinity, she returned a favourable reply to the advances of the Con­federates, and a formal alliance was signed at Basle on 13 July 1501. Its clauses forbade the city to declare war or conclude an alliance without the preliminary consent of the Confederates; but at the same time she was appointed to act as arbitrator in case of disagreement among the Confederates. At Schaffhausen the treaty of 1 June 1454, which had rendered the city an allied district, was converted into a perpetual alliance on 10 August 1501; like Basle, Schaffhausen was to exercise mediation in cases of dispute between members of the League. Ill spite of a revival of distrust between the Forest Cantons and Fribourg, Solothurn, and Schaffhausen, these three new cantons were placed on the same footing as the others in 1502. Finally, on 17 December 1513 Appenzell’s persistent efforts were crowned with success; it was granted the posi­tion of thirteenth canton, with the same rights as the three preceding ones.

The federal constitution

At the beginning of the sixteenth century the “Great League of High Germany” was an aggregate of districts differing widely in their political conditions. The thirteen cantons, or Orte—Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Zurich, Lucerne, Glarus, Zug, Berne, Fribourg, Solothurn, Basle, Schaff­hausen, and Appenzell—were the Confederates; they sat in the Diet, had full right to vote, took possession of conquered territory, and acted externally as Sovereign States of the League.

The allied districts, or Zugewandte, enjoyed the protection of the Confederates and owed them military support; they were linked by treaties or combourgeoisies to one or more of the cantons. The Valais and the Grisons were themselves, like the Confederation, federal groups; to a certain extent they acted externally as autonomous. The towns of Biel, St Gall, Rottweil, and Mühlhausen, the abbey of St Gall, and the county of Neuchatel, temporarily administered by the cantons, were also allied districts. There may also be included in this category the abbey of Engelberg, the republic of Gersau, the county of Toggenburgcombourgeois of Schwyz and Glarus—the subjects of the Count of Gruyeres who were allies of Berne and Fribourg, and Rapperswil which was under the protection of the Forest Cantons and Glarus.

Moreover the thirteen cantons had actual subjects. Schwarzenburg, Morat, Grandson, Orbe, and Échallens were owned jointly by Berne and Fribourg; Uznach and Gaster by Schwyz and Glarus. The county of Baden, the Freiamt, Thurgau, Rheinthal, and Sargans were subject to seven or eight cantons; the county of Bellinzona was dependent on Uri, Schwyz, and Nidwald, and Leventina on Uri; the other bailiwicks beyond the mountains from Vai Maggia to Mendrisio were subject to twelve cantons. In conformity with contemporary ideas, the Confederates did not dream of putting these possessions on the same footing as their own territories; they respected local privileges, especially in the towns, but regarded themselves as legitimate successors of the former lords.

From the internal point of view, the members of the League were bound by no written constitution; in 1515 it was proposed that a minority should yield to the decisions of a majority of the cantons in matters affecting the weal of the Confederation and not interfering with alliances, but this plan was not adopted. Various pacts and agreements laid down rules for the maintenance of peace and the prosecution of war, such as the Charter of the Priests (1370), the Charter of Sempach (1393), and the Covenant of Stanz (1481). The only federal authority was the Diet, an assembly of delegates or envoys from the sovereign cantons who tended to become actual representatives of the various members of the League; the deputies were provided with instructions, and the execution of the decisions arrived at and expressed in the official reports (abschied or recess) depended on the good will of the States. Although the legal capacity of the Diet was never defined, this institution actually acquired the position of the directing power of the Confederation, and foreign countries regarded it as such.

Notwithstanding such slight legal bonds, the Confederates were inspired with a common sentiment of cohesion and solidarity which was developed during the course of their wars. Their military organisation, which became remarkable in the fourteenth century, rested on compulsory service from the age of sixteen to that of nearly sixty, on the training of the young men, and on pike-drill; periodical inspections ensured the use and upkeep of weapons; marksmanship began to be greatly esteemed, but artillery was still much neglected in the fifteenth century. The Diet and the government of cantons acted as a General Staff at the beginning of a campaign; by an elaborate system of signals and intelligence the army, when required, could be rapidly mobilised; in the latter half of the fifteenth century the Diet could call up between 50,000 and 60,000 men, though in practice never more than half of these were summoned. Dis­cipline was not always perfect, but their warlike spirit and the sense of danger generally saved the situation and averted the gravest catastrophes. The military preparedness of the Confederation was the chief reason of its power; its infantry easily overcame the foot-soldiers of other European countries.

Even after Marignano (1515) the conquests of the Confederates had not attained what they regarded as their natural frontiers: on the left bank of the Rhine Austria still retained Frickthal; she commanded the river at Kaiserstuhl and Laufenburg, and held certain important parts of the Grisons. Constance still held aloof from the League. Southward and westward Ossola had been lost, Geneva was not yet attained, and the house of Savoy was in occupation of Vaud; in this direction Berne had not yet relinquished all hopes of extension. The perpetual alliance of 1516 put an end to the position of the Confederation as a great military power; whenever permitted to do so by the French alliance, henceforward in the conflicts of her neighbours Switzerland adopted and cherished a policy of neutrality which suited her political situation.

Popular sentiment increasingly tended to encourage the Confederates in keeping out of great international politics and in restricting themselves to their own affairs. Moreover a violent reaction shewed itself against the evils which had unquestionably enfeebled this strange little body politic, namely venality, incapacity for reform, military agreements, and discord between towns and country districts. Her security being now attained, Switzerland was faced with the task of arriving at a national conception of her political and social life, so as to become an actual State.