Actual 45 mm size by J. Stauffacher / Franz Homberg, Bern
A distinguished gentleman neatly attired in true Appenzell tradition stands gazing into the distance. His red “Liibli” silk and wool embroidered jacket adorned with square silver buttons, display the fine needlework of the ladies of the region. As do his brown woolen trousers are kept in place by means of decorated suspenders and a short-sleeved embroidered herd-man’s shirt.
As is the custom of his forefathers, he wears a snake-shaped golden earring “Ohrschuefen” only on his left earlobe. Finally, upon his head sits a woollen hand-woven black skull hat.
The ramrod muzzle of his faithful musket in hand, he makes the yearly pilgrimage to Stoss, in faithful remembrance of an ancient oath sworn by all Appenzell men, to give thanks for their hard-fought freedom and to remember the heroes fallen at the Battle of the Stoss in June 1405.
In stark contrast to six centuries hence, his walk crossing the old Wattbach bridge of Teufen, and onward to fulfill his promise at Stoss, is through peaceful meadows among serene alpine roses and fir trees, with nary a drawn sword or the sound of musket shots.
NICHT DAS WORT, DIE WAFFE SCHÜTZT – NOT THE WORD, THE WEAPON PROTECTS
The proud blazon coat of arms, with a noble bear ferocious in his stance, standing between the letters V and R of Appenzell, can be traced back to the medieval standard blazon of the venerable Abbey of Saint Gall. Nestled upon the branches of the alpine fir tree's leaves and its fruit, synonymous with the famed undulating alpine terrain of the canton.
Appenzell had been under the personal control of the abbot of St. Gall. The success of the Swiss Confederation, against the Habsburgs encouraged Appenzell to consider throwing off the Abbot's agents. By about 1360, conflicts over grazing rights, taxes, and tithes were causing concern for both parties. Both the abbot and the farmers of Appenzell wanted to protect their rights and interests by joining the new Swabian League. In 1377 Appenzell was allowed to join the League. With the support of League, Appenzell refused to pay many of the gifts and tithes that the Abbot Kuno von Stoffeln demanded. In response to the loss of revenue from his estates, Kuno approached the House of Habsburg for help. In response, in 1401 Appenzell entered into an alliance with the city of St. Gallen to protect their rights and freedom.
In 1402, St. Gallen reached an agreement with the abbot, and Appenzell could no longer count on St. Gallen's support. Appenzell declared itself ready to stand against the abbot, and in 1403 formed an alliance with the Canton of Schwyz, a member of the Old Swiss Confederation that had defeated the Austrians in the last century. Glarus provided less support, but authorized any citizen who wished to support Appenzell to do so. In response, the League raised an army and marched to St. Gallen before heading toward Appenzell. In May 1403, the abbot's and the League's troops marched toward Trogen. On 15 May 1403, they entered the pass to Speicher and outside the village of Vögelinsegg met the Appenzell army. A small force of about 80 Appenzellers started the attack from a hill over the valley, with about 300 soldiers from Schwyz and 200 from Glarus moving around the flanks of the army. When the League's cavalry charged up the hill, they met 2000 Appenzellers and were forced to retreat. During the retreat, the Appenzell army killed about 600 horsemen and many of the 5000 infantry. The League signed a peace treaty with Appenzell at Arbon, but the peace was short lived.
Along with independence, in the peace treaty Appenzell gained some of the abbot's land in the Rhine valley and around Lake Constance, which angered the abbot. Additionally, over the next two years, the city of St. Gallen and Appenzell drew closer. By 1405 the abbot had found another ally and was ready to retake his land. Frederick IV, Duke of Austria, provided the abbot with two Austrian armies to attack Appenzell.
On 17 June 1405, the main army marched into Stoss Pass on the border of Appenzell and there met the Appenzell army. Following a brutal battle between 400 soldiers from Appenzell and 1200 Habsburg and abbatial soldiers, the Appenzellers were victorious and thereby won their independence from the Abbey of Saint Gall.
After the victorious battle, Appenzell vowed to make a pilgrimage to the site of the battle each year on the feast of St. Boniface (14 May) to give thanks for their freedom and to remember the fallen. The Stoss pilgrimage is one of the oldest and most natural traditions in the Appenzellerland.
In remembrance of the great victory at the Battle of the Stoss Pass in year 1405, where the Appenzellers fought against almost overwhelming odds to win their freedom and independence from the Abbey of Saint Gall.