1901 Hergiswil

Actual 45 mm size by Jean Kauffmann, Luzern


Putting aside all despair, with uttermost iron-willed strength, bravery beyond any fear, Arnold von Winkelried throws himself valiantly forward, knowing that his momentous deed, no matter how intrepid, will mean his mortal end.

His head turned back with a last marshalling cry to his kinsmen, begged armful of pitiless pikes, piercing deeply into his flesh through his armored mail shirt, his eventual tragic fate for all to see.

Leaning over an already fallen fellow Confederacy halberds-man on his last breath of life, the fearless hero's final rallying cry to all his remaining kinsmen revived spirits, culminating in their refreshed assail upon their foes, splintering the pivotal heroic opening thrown forth by stout-hearted Winkelried.

The moment is now! Lurching onward without a single hesitation, the two-handed iron mace towers from above, prepared to shatter ruthlessly with unrestrained wrath, all foes that dared to come its way.

The Arnold von Winkelried Monument, raised in Stans on the town hall square in Stans, 1865 by sculptor Ferdinand Schlöth. 


EIDGENOSSEN, SORGET FUER WEIB UND KIND! - Confederates, care for my woman and children!


Glorious Cross, radiating stylized rays of free liberties and brotherhood, allegory of the Confederacy, raised above the proud couplet blazons emblems of the Nidwalden and Hergiswil is set over an ornate pedestal, with floral laurel branches of paired alpine roses on the sides. Bestowing a champion's garland on him who walks in the footsteps of heroes before him.


Arnold von Winkelried or Arnold Winkelried is the legendary hero of Swiss history, in the Battle of Sempach was fought on 9 July 1386, between Leopold III, Duke of Austria and the Old Swiss Confederacy.

When Old Suisse Confederacy countered the Austrian forces, both armies were in marching columns, and not of readied battle formations. Leopold III had brought with him a sizeable force of estimated 4’000 mostly experienced mercenaries of which 1’500 are heavily armed knights. The Swiss, on the other hand, was heavily outnumbered and at best estimates, consists of only 1’500-2’000 men hailing from the Forest Catons of Lurcerne, Uri, Schwyz, Unterwalden. They had held the wooded high ground close to the village of Hildisrieden.

Seeing the small strength of the confederate forces, the Austrian nobles were concerned that if they sent the mercenaries in front, they might not see any action at all, as the mercenaries would finish the job on their own. Hence, they insisted on taking the front ranks. Since the terrain was not deemed suitable for a cavalry attack, Leopold's knights dismounted, and because they did not have time to prepare for the engagement, they were forced to cut off the tips of their poulaines which would have hindered their movement on foot.

The main body of the Confederation army completed its deployment, and stride purposefully from the wooded highlands down onto the flanks of the Austrian knights aggressively. The much larger Austrian force, then held their grounds and purposefully formed a wide flank, threatening to surround the outnumbered confederates.

The Swiss repeatedly assailed, hurling against the formations of Habsburg pikesmen with their seemingly impenetrable walls of spears. Despite repeated tries, the Swiss were growing in desperation, as they simply could not break the close ranks of the Austrian forces and was in grave danger of being mercilessly routed. At this final critical moment, seeing an momentous opening in the enemy’s formation of spears, Winkelried cried: "I want to open a passage into the line; protect, dear countrymen and confederates, my wife and children..." This broke the Austrian front, and an avenue appear through which the Swiss could exploit, breaching initial hapless Habsburg ranks deprived of their spears, and onwards splintering the entire Austrians forces throughout, routing them expeditiously without leniency.

The Swiss victory was against all odds and expectations, Duke Leopold and with him a large number of nobles and knights were slain, including several members of the noble families, in total Swiss lost 200-600 men, whereas the Austrian estimate 1’500 dead of which 400 of them were nobles.  

In memory of the self-sacrificing heroism of Arnold von Winkelried at the momentous Battle of Sempach, 9thJuly 1386 where against all odds, the Forest Cantons of the Swiss Confederacy were victorious against the vastly larger, more battle experienced and well armored Habsburg army of Leopold III.







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