Swiss Watching trivia, No 7: 1476

August 7, 2010, No comments


The year 1476 was a crucial one in Swiss history, thanks to Burgundy (the country not the wine). Back then Burgundy was rich, powerful and ruled by Charles the Bold, who was so bold that he picked a fight with the Swiss. Bad idea. Switzerland in those days had only eight cantons, but it wasn’t the peaceful, neutral country of today. It was a war-machine that defeated the bigger Burgundian army. Twice. In the same year. First in March, the Swiss won at Grandson (a real place, pronounced to rhyme with chanson). Then in June, they won again at Murten, a lovely walled town near Bern which has barely changed from the picture above. You can still walk the walls and climb the towers. Burgundy never recovered from this Swiss double-whammy; Charles died in battle six months later and his country was swallowed by France. How different European history might have been if the Swiss had lost or even just been as conflict-averse back then as they are now.

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