Battle of Arbedo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Battle of Arbedo
Bellinzona Tschachtlan.jpg
Illustration of the battle from the Tschachtlanchronik of 1470.
DateJune 30, 1422 [1]
LocationArbedo, Ticino, Switzerland
46°13′N 9°02′E / 46.21°N 9.04°E / 46.21; 9.04Coordinates: 46°13′N 9°02′E / 46.21°N 9.04°E / 46.21; 9.04
Result Decisive Lombard Milanese victory [2]

Flag of the Duchy of Milan.png Duchy of Milan
 Old Swiss Confederacy :
  Old flag of Unterwalden.svg Unterwalden
Commanders and leaders
Francesco Bussone [3][4] Ulrich Welker
Roth von Uri 
Kälin von Zug 
Zelger von Obwalden [4]
(including 5,000 cavalry) [5][6]
2,500 Infantry [5][6]
Casualties and losses
1,000 Dead [4] 500 Dead[6]
300 Captured
Including Ulrich [4][7]

The Battle of Arbedo was fought on June 30, 1422 between the Duchy of Milan and the Swiss Confederation.

In 1419, Uri and Unterwalden bought the Bellinzona stronghold from the Sacco barons, but were unable to defend it adequately. When, in 1422, they rejected the Milanese proposal to buy back the fortified town, their troops stationed in Bellinzona were put to rout by the Visconti army under the command of Francesco Bussone, called Il Carmagnola. An attempt to reconquer the fortified area with the support of other confederates led to the battle at Arbedo, a village 3 km (1.9 mi) north of Bellinzona. The Count of Carmagnola led the forces of the Duchy of Milan against the Swiss and was victorious.

An 1869 Swiss shooting thaler depicting Hans Landwing saving the banner during the battle of Arbedo

The Swiss were mainly equipped with halberds and had an initial success against the Lombard cavalry charge. Then Carmagnola brought his crossbowmen forward, while dismounting his cavalry. The dismounted men-at-arms used pikes which outreached the halberds. The Swiss were further under pressure by the crossbow fire on the flanks.

The Milanese force began to push back the Swiss, who were only saved from total disaster by the appearance of a band of foragers, whom the Milanese were convinced represented a major new force. When the Milanese force pulled back to reform, the Swiss fled the battlefield, having taken heavy casualties.

The victory secured Bellinzona and the Leventina to the Duchy. In addition the Duchy gained the Val d'Ossola, thus the Swiss losing all the territorial gains they had made. The defeat discouraged the Swiss expansionist intentions towards Lake Maggiore for a long time. It was the defeat at Arbedo that made the Swiss increase the number of pikemen.

See also[edit]


  • P. Pieri: Il Rinascimento e la crisi militare italiana
  • M. Mallett: Mercenaries and their Masters: Warfare in Renaissance Italy
  • E. Pometta: Come il Ticino venne in potere degli Svizzeri. Bellinzona
  • A. Battistella: Il conte di Carmagnola


  1. ^ Mario Troso - Le fanterie Svizzere
  2. ^ The Castles of Bellinzona | UNESCO World Heritage | The late Middle Ages
  3. ^ Rita da Cascia - La cronologia Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ a b c d Documento senza titolo Archived September 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  5. ^ a b Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz - Schlacht bei Arbedo
  6. ^ a b c Douglas Miller & G.A. Embleton, "The Swiss at War 1300-1500", Men At Arms 094, Osprey Publishing (1979)
  7. ^ E. Pometta: Come il Ticino venne in potere degli Svizzeri. Bellinzona