1897 Sissach

Actual 45 mm size by Franz Homberg, Bern


The armored halberdier fallen at his knees, struck down by a crossbow bolt in the right lower leg and the axe of a carpenter hangs on the belt. He valiantly lifts his half-Arte axe to the top, symbolic of the fight against overwhelming odds.

His bearded wizened face hints a look of desperation and anguish, yet he grasped with both hands firmly on his faithful weapon, grimly with determination and never will submit. For on the chest of his tunic leathery armor carries the emblem of the revered Swiss Cross, he will welcome his destiny whatever it may come.

All around him laid waste, the devastation and remnants of the artillery bombardment by his foes. The ruined remains of the fateful St. Jakob hospital, where at its once peaceful garden, he and his kinsmen will make their last stand till the very end.

Out in the distance, there stands the Basel Minster with distinct twin spires, serving as the most venerable landmark of the canton city Basel.





Majestically on display, the full glory of Schloss Fansburg that was built in 1330 by the Lords of Thierstein and later acquired by the Habsburg barons of Falkenstein. The barons went on to fight in the war against the Swiss, resulting in a siege of the castle in 1444.

The united couplet blazons of Cantons of Basel-Stadt (City) and of Basel-Landschaft (Land).


The Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs was fought between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the French (mostly Armagnac) mercenaries, on the banks of the river Birs. The battle took place on 26 August 1444. The site of the battle was near Münchenstein, Switzerland.

In 1443, seven cantons of the Old Swiss Confederacy invaded Zürich and besieged the city. Zürich had made an alliance with Frederick III, Holy Roman Emperor, who appealed to Charles VII of France to send an army to relieve the siege. Charles sent his son the Dauphin (later Louis XI of France) with an army of about 30,000, mostly Armagnacs, to relieve Zürich. As the French forces entered Swiss territory at Basel, the Swiss commanders stated at Farnsburg decided to send an advance troop of 1,300, mostly young pikemen. These moved to Liestal on the night of 25 August, where a local force of 200 joined them.

In the early morning, they managed to surprise and rout French vanguard troops at Pratteln and Muttenz. Enthused by this success, and in spite of strict orders to the contrary, the Swiss crossed the Birs to meet the bulk of the French army of some 30,000 men, which was ready for battle. Immediately the Swiss forces formed three pike squares of five hundred men each, and they fought well when Armagnac cavalry charged again and again and were repulsed.

The fighting lasted for several hours and was of an intensity evoking awed commentary from witnesses. Describing the battle in vivid details, of how the Swiss ripped bloody crossbow bolts from their bodies, and charged the enemy even after they had been pierced by spears or had lost their hands, and charging the Armagnacs to avenge their deaths. Eventually, the Swiss pike squares weakened. The commander ordered a retreat into the small hospital of St. Jakob. A small Basel reinforcement was repulsed, and its leader, Henman Sevogel, was killed.

The French set their artillery to bombarding the hospital, inflicting heavy casualties. But the Swiss, as the offensive party, categorically refused to surrender and as the Armagnacs moved into the hospital, the remaining Swiss were pressed into the hospital's garden and killed to the last man within half an hour.

Even though the battle itself was a devastating defeat for the Swiss, and a major blow to Bern, the canton who contributed the majority of the force, it was nevertheless a Swiss success in strategic terms. In view of the heavy casualties on the French side, the original plan of moving towards Zürich, where a Swiss force of 30,000 was ready, was now judged unfavorably by the Dauphin and the French turned back, contributing to the eventual Swiss victory in the Old Zürich War. The actions of the Swiss were praised as heroic by contemporary observers and reports of the event quickly spread throughout Europe.

The Dauphin formally made peace with the Swiss Confederacy and with Basel in a treaty signed at Ensisheim on 28 October, and withdrew his troops from the Alsace in 1445. The intervention of the Church Council being held in the city of Basel was crucial in instigating this peace: the Swiss Confederates were allies of the city of Basel, and so the Dauphin's war could also be construed as an aggressive act against the Council housed within its walls. Charles VII of France had implemented the reformist decrees of the Council of Basel in 1438, so it was important for the Dauphin not to appear to be threatening its members.

In recognition of the valiant sacrifics made by the young Swiss pikemen at the Battle of St Jakob de Bir, honoring their courage and determination refusing to surrender against such overwhelming odds and fighting to their very ends.







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