Swabian War

The Swabian War of 1499 (Alemannic German: Schwoobechrieg (spelling depending on dialect), called Schwabenkrieg or Schweizerkrieg ("Swiss War") in Germany and Engadiner Krieg ("War of the Engadin") in Austria) was the last major armed conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the House of Habsburg. What had begun as a local conflict over the control of the Val Müstair and the Umbrail Pass in the Grisons soon got out of hand when both parties called upon their allies for help; the Habsburgs demanding the support of the Swabian League, and the Federation of the Three Leagues of the Grisons turning to the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft. Hostilities quickly spread from the Grisons through the Rhine valley to Lake Constance and even to the Sundgau in southern Alsace, the westernmost part of Habsburg Further Austria.[1]

Swabian War

The battle of Hard was the first major battle of the Swabian War. Illustration from the Luzerner Schilling of 1513.
DateJanuary September 1499
Northern and eastern boundary of Switzerland, southern Grisons.

Swiss victory
Peace of Basel


Swabian League

Forces of the  Holy Roman Empire

 Old Swiss Confederacy

Three Leagues of the Grisons

Many battles were fought from January to July 1499, and in all but a few minor skirmishes, the experienced Swiss soldiers defeated the Swabian and Habsburg armies. After their victories in the Burgundian Wars, the Swiss had battle tested troops and commanders. On the Swabian side, distrust between the knights and their foot soldiers, disagreements amongst the military leadership, and a general reluctance to fight a war that even the Swabian counts considered to be more in the interests of the powerful Habsburgs than in the interest of the Holy Roman Empire[2] proved fatal handicaps. When his military high commander fell in the battle of Dornach, where the Swiss won a final decisive victory, Emperor Maximilian I had no choice but to agree to a peace treaty signed on September 22, 1499, in Basel. The treaty granted the Confederacy far-reaching independence from the empire. Although the Eidgenossenschaft officially remained a part of the empire until the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, the peace of Basel exempted it from the imperial jurisdiction and imperial taxes and thus de facto acknowledged it as a separate political entity.

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