Battles of the Old Swiss Confederacy

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List of battles fought by the Old Swiss Confederacy, 1315–1799.

The Battle of Morgarten of 1315 is famous as the first military success of the Confederacy, but it was an ambush on an army on the march rather than an open field battle. The Battle of Laupen of 1339 is an early battle which can be seen as indicating the trend of the dominance of infantry over heavy cavalry during the Late Middle Ages.

The classical period of military successes of Swiss halberd and pike warfare Pike square (in de Gevierthaufen or Gewalthaufen) are the wars of the Eight Cantons (Ten Cantons after 1481) during the 1360s to 1490s. Most notable among these are the Battle of Sempach (1386), the Burgundian Wars (1470s) and the Swabian War (1499).

The string of Swiss victories is broken in the early 16th century, and after a few painful defeats (notably at Marignano 1515), the Confederacy stopped its aggressive expansion. The early modern period is characterized by internal disputes, both religious and social (peasant uprisings). The final French invasion of Switzerland was only marginally a military operation and mostly a collapse due to centrifugal forces within the Confederacy.

Early Confederacy (1315–1351)[edit]

Date Battle Site Notes
Swiss Habsburg Wars
1315–18, 15 November Battle of Morgarten Oberägeri, Morgarten
1315, 15 November Gefecht am Renggpass (1315) Alpnach Unterwalden defeats Habsburg
1331–33 Gümmenenkrieg Gümmenen Bern and Solothurn defeat Fribourg and Habsburg
1332 Gefecht auf der Oberalp Oberalppass Urseren defeats Abbey of Disentis
1337, 21 September Battle of Grynau Linth plain Zürich defeats Habsburg-Laufenburg
1339, 21 June Battle of Laupen Laupen Bern and confederates defeat Fribourg and allies
1340, 24 April Battle of Schönberg Fribourg Bern defeats Freiburg
1351, 26 December Battle of Dättwil Dättwil Zürich defeats Habsburg

Eight Cantons (1353–1477)[edit]

Date Battle Site Notes
1367–68 War between Bern and the Bishopric of Basel
1367–68 Ravaging of Biel Biel and Bishopric of Basel Bern vs. Basel
1375 – Guglerkrieg
1375, 25 December Battle of Buttisholz Buttisholz Lucerne defeats English mercenaries
1375, 26 December Battle of Ins Ins Bern defeats English mercenaries
1375, 27 December Battle of Fraubrunnen Fraubrunnen Bern defeats English mercenaries
1380 Obwalden vs. Entlebuch
1380 Battle of Sörenberg Flühli Entlebuch defeats Obwalden
1383–84 – Burgdorferkrieg
1383–84 Siege of Burgdorf Canton of Bern Bern, Solothurn and allies defeat Neu-Kyburg
Swiss Habsburg Wars
1386, 9 July Battle of Sempach Sempach Eight Cantons defeat Habsburg and allies
1388, 9 April Battle of Näfels Näfels Glarus and Schwyz defeat Habsburg
Valais vs. Savoy
1388, December Battle of Visp Visp Upper Valais defeats Savoy
1403–28 – Appenzell Wars
1403, 15 May Battle of Vögelinsegg St. Gallen Appenzell and Schwyz defeat Abbey of St. Gallen and allies
1405, 16/17 June Battle of Rotmonten St. Gallen City of St. Gallen defeats Habsburg
1405, 1 June Battle of Stoss Gais Appenzell defeats Habsburg and Abbey of St. Gallen
1408, 13 January Battle of Bregenz Bregenz Habsburg and order of St. Jörgenschild defeat Appenzell
1428, 2 December Battle of Letzi Herisau/Gossau Count of Toggenburg defeats Appenzell
1409 Basel War
1409 skirmishes and raids canton of Basel Basel vs. Habsburg
1415 Annexation of Aargau
1415, April–May Annexation of Aargau Aargau confederate conquest of Baden
1418–19 – Raron affair
1419, 29 September 2nd Battle of Ulrichen Ulrichen Upper Valais defeats Bern
1403–1495 – War with Milan
1422, 30 June Battle of Arbedo Arbedo Duchy of Milan defeats confederates
1449, 6 July Battle of Castione Castione Milan defeats Uri and Leventina
1478, 28 December Battle of Giornico Giornico Confederates defeat Milan
1487, 28 April Battle of Crevola Crevola d'Ossola Milan defeats Confederates and Valais
1436–50 – Old Zürich War
1439, 5 May Battle of Etzel Etzelpass Schwyz and Glarus defeat Zürich
1440, November Battle of Pfäffikon Pfäffikon SZ Confederates defeat Zürich
1443, 22 May Battle of Freienbach Freienbach Confederates defeat Zürich
1443, 24 May Battle of Hirzel Horgen Confederates defeat Zürich
1443, 22 July Battle of St. Jakob an der Sihl Zürich Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Glarus and Zug defeat Zürich and Habsburg
1444, 28 May Siege of Greifensee Greifensee Bern, Lucerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden, Glarus and Zug defeat Zürich and Habsburg
1444, 26 August Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs Basel France defeats confederates
1444, 13 October 1st Battle of Erlenbach Erlenbach ZH Zürich defeats confederates
1445, 11 June Battle of Wolfhalden Wolfhalden Appenzell defeats Habsburg
1445, 6 October 2nd Battle of Erlenbach Erlenbach ZH Zürich defeats confederates
1445, 29 October Naval battle on Lake Zürich Lake Zürich Zürich defeats confederates
1445, 16 December Battle of Wollerau (1445) Wollerau Confederates defeat Zürich
1446 Battle of Gams Gams Habsburg defeats Appenzell and Toggenburg
1446, 6 March Battle of Ragaz Bad Ragaz Confederates defeat Zürich and Habsburg
1445–49 – St. Jakoberkrieg
1449 Siege of Rheinfelden Rheinfelden Basel vs. Habsburg
1447–48 – Freiburgkrieg
1448, 29 March Battle of Neumatt canton of Fribourg Bern and Savoyen vs Fribourg and Habsburg
1448, 12 June Battle of Tafers Tafers Fribourg defeats Bern
1460 – annexation of Thurgau
1460 various campaigns Thurgau confederate conquest of Thurgau
1468 – Waldshuterkrieg
1468 Siege of Waldshut Waldshut Confederates defeat Habsburg
1474–77 – Burgundian Wars
1474, 13 November Battle of Héricourt Héricourt Confederates and Lower League defeat Duchy of Burgundy
1475, 13 November Battle on the Planta Sion Confederates and Valais defeat Burgundy
1476, 2 March Battle of Grandson Grandson Confederates defeat Burgundy
1476, 22 June Battle of Murten Murten Confederates, Lothringia and Lower League defeat Burgundy
1477, 5 January Battle of Nancy Nancy Lothringia, Lower League and Confederates defeat Burgundy

Ten Cantons (1481–1500)[edit]

Further information: Swabian War
Date Battle Site Notes
1489–90 – St. Gallerkrieg
1489, 28 July Rorschacher Klosterbruch Rorschach Abbey of St. Gallen, Zürich, Luzern, Schwyz und Glarus vs. City of St. Gallen und Appenzell
1499 – Swabian War
1499, 12 February Battle of Triesen Triesen(FL) Ten Cantons and Three Leagues defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 20 April 1st Battle of Hegau Klettgau, Hegau Confederates vs. Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 22 February Battle of Hard Hard Confederates defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 22 March Battle of Bruderholz Basel Confederates defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 26 March Battle of Hallau Hallau Confederates and Schaffhausen defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 11 April Battle of Schwaderloh Ermatingen Confederates and Schaffhausen defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 17 April 2nd Battle of Hegau Klettgau, Hegau Confederates vs. Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 20 April Battle of Frastanz Frastanz Confederates defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 21 May 3rd Battle of Hegau Klettgau, Hegau Confederates vs. Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 22 May Battle of Calven Taufers Ten Cantons and Three Leagues defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 20 July Battle of Rheineck Rheineck Confederates defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1499, 22 July Battle of Dornach Dornach Confederates defeat Habsburg and Swabian League
1495–1522 – Italian Wars
1500 Treason of Novara Milan re-conquest of Milan for Ludovico Sforza

Thirteen Cantons (1512–1540)[edit]

Date Battle Site Notes
1495–1522 – Italian Wars
1512 1st Battle of Pavia Pavia Confederates defeat France
1513, 6 June Battle of Novara Novara Confederates defeat France
1513, September Dijon campaign Dijon siege of Dijon
1515, 13/14 September Battle of Marignano Melegnano France and Venice defeat the Confederates
1522, 27 April Battle of Bicocca Bicocca, Milan Habsburg defeats France and Confederates
1525, 23/24 February 2nd Battle of Pavia Pavia Habsburg defeats France and Confederates
Rural uprisings
1513 Köniz uprising Köniz Köniz vs. Bern
1513–14 Zwiebelnkrieg canton of Luzern Uprising against Lucene
1515 Lebkuchenkrieg canton of Zürich Uprising against Zürich
1524–26 German Peasants' War Holy Roman Empire, Swabia Widespread peasant uprisings
1525–31 Wars of Religion
1525–26 1st Müsserkrieg Chiavenna Three Leagues vs. Mailand
1529 First War of Kappel Kappel Catholic cantons vs. Zürich
1531–32 2nd Müsserkrieg Lombardy Confederates and Three Leagues vs. Mailand
1531, 11 October Battle of Kappel Kappel Catholic cantons vs. Zürich
1531, 24 October Battle of Gubel Menzingen Catholic cantons vs. Bern and Zürich
1536 – Bernese conquests in Savoy
1536 Conquest of Vaud Kanton Waadt Bern, Fribourg and Valais vs. Savoy

Early Modern conflicts (1550–1712)[edit]

After their defeats in Italy, the Confederacy pledged neutrality and did not engage in further warfare beyond its borders. For the remaining duration of the Old Swiss Confederacy 1540–1798, armed conflicts were internal, either between factions within the confederacy, or peasant uprisings). Also listed are conflicts between associates of the Confederacy (Three Leagues, Geneva) with neighbouring powers even if the Confederacy itself was not involved.

Date Battle Site Notes
Rural uprisings
1550 Trinkelstierkrieg Valais peasant uprisings in Valais
1570 1st Heringskrieg canton of Lucerne Rothenburg vs. Lucerne
1591–94 Rappenkrieg canton of Basel uprising against Basel
1602 – Savoy Wars
1602, 11/12 December Escalade de Genève Geneva Geneva defeats Savoy
1618–48 – Thirty Years' War
1621–39 Bündner Wirren Graubünden Graubünden is occupied and ravaged
1632, 20 September Kluser Handel Balsthal Solothurn vs. Bern
1653 – Swiss Peasant War
1653, 29 May/7 June Battle of Herzogenbuchsee Herzogenbuchsee peasant uprising
1653, 3 June Battle of Wohlenschwil Wohlenschwil peasant uprising
1656 – First War of Villmergen
1656, 7 January/10 February Siege of Rapperswil Rapperswil SG Catholic cantons defend Rapperswil against Zürich
1656, 24 January First Battle of Villmergen Villmergen Lucerne and Zug defeat Bern und Zürich
1712 – Toggenburg War a.k.a. Second War of Villmergen
1712,  ?–22 May Siege of Wil Wil Protestant cantons and rebels defeat prince-abbot of St Gall
1712, 22 May Battle of Mellingen Mellingen Bern defeats Catholic cantons
1712, 26 May Battle of Fischbach Fischbach-Göslikon Bern defeats Catholic cantons
1712,  ?–1 June Siege of Baden Baden, Switzerland Bern and Zürich defeat Catholic cantons
1712, 20 July Battle of Sins Sins, Aargau Catholic cantons defeat Bern
1712, 22 July Battles of Richterswil and Hütten Richterswil and Hütten, Switzerland Schwyz and Zug attack Zürich unsuccessfully
1712, 24 July Second Battle of Villmergen Villmergen Bern defeats Catholic cantons

French invasion (1798)[edit]

Further information: French invasion of Switzerland

These are minor skirmishes on 2–5 March 1798, leading to the swift collapse of the Old Confederacy, the clashes of April and May last pockets of resistance against the recently established Helvetic Republic. The Nidwalden uprising (Schreckenstage von Nidwalden) in September was more serious, with 435 dead, including 118 women and 25 children. The 1799 conflict in the Valais was not a "Battle of the Old Swiss Confederacy" in the narrow sense, as Valais was not a member Old Confederacy. The Valais formed the separate Rhodanic Republic in 1802 and joined the restored Swiss Confederacy only in 1815.

Date Battle Site Notes
1798, 2 March Battle of Lengnau Lengnau France vs. Bern
1798, 2 March Battle of Twann Twann France vs. Bern
1798, 2 March Battles of Grenchen and Bellach Grenchen, Bellach France defeats Solothurn
1798, 3 March Battle of Col de la Croix Col de la Croix France vs. Bern
1798, 5 March Battle of St. Niklaus Merzligen France vs. Bern
1798, 5 March Battle of Fraubrunnen Fraubrunnen France defeats Bern
1798, 5 March Battle of Grauholz Schönbühl France defeats Bern
1798, 5 March Battle of Neuenegg Neuenegg Bern defeats France
1798, 26 April Battle of Hägglingen Hägglingen France defeats Zug
1798, 30 April Battle of Wollerau Wollerau France defeats Schwyz
1798, 1 May Battle of Stucketen-Chäppeli Beinwil SO France vs. Solothurn
1798, 2 May Battle of Schindellegi Feusisberg France defeats Schwyz
1798, 2/3 May Battle of Rothenthurm Rothenthurm Schwyz defeats France
1798, 17 May 1st Battle of Pfyn Sion France defeats Valais
1798, 7–9 September Nidwalden uprising Nidwalden France defeats Nidwalden
1799, 27–28 May 2nd Battle of Pfyn Sion France defeats Valais
Further information: Stecklikrieg, Züriputsch and Sonderbund War

See also[edit]