1853 Old Suisse Confederacy Luzern Schutzenfest Shooting Silver Medal “The Fallen Suisse Hero - Arnold von Winkelreid of the Battle of Sempach", Thaler 41 mm Mintage < 350.
1853 Old Suisse Confederacy Luzern Schutzenfest Shooting Silver Medal “The Fallen Suisse Hero - Arnold von Winkelreid of the Battle of Sempach", Thaler 41 mm Mintage < 350.

1853 Old Suisse Confederacy Luzern Schutzenfest Shooting Silver Medal “The Fallen Suisse Hero - Arnold von Winkelreid of the Battle of Sempach", Thaler 41 mm Mintage < 350.

1853 Old Suisse Confederacy Luzern Schutzenfest Shooting Silver Medal “The Fallen Suisse Hero - Arnold von Winkelreid of the Battle of Sempach", Mint. < 350 (Book Ref.: Richter 864a) High Reliefs Great Condition Lovely Toned Large 41 mm. Ex.Rare.

- Arnold von Winkelreid: -
Arnold von Winkelried or Arnold Winkelried is a legendary hero of Swiss history. According to 16th century Swiss historiography, Winkelried's sacrifice brought about the victory of the Old Swiss Confederacy in the Battle of Sempach (1386) against the army of the Habsburg Duke Leopold III of Austria.

According to legend, the Swiss initially could not break the close ranks of the Habsburg pikemen. Winkelried cried: "I will open a passage into the line; protect, dear countrymen and confederates, my wife and children..." He then threw himself upon the Austrian pikes, taking some of them down with his body. This broke up the Austrian front, and made an opening through which the Swiss could attack.

- The Battle of Sempach: -
The Confederation army had presumably assembled at the bridge over the Reuss River at Gisikon. It marched from there, hoping to catch Leopold still at Sempach where he could be pressed against the lake. Around noon, the two armies made contact about 2 km outside of Sempach. This was to the mutual surprise of both armies, which were both on the move and not in battle order. But both sides were willing to engage and formed ranks. The site of the battle is marked by the old battle chapel, which was originally consecrated in the year after the battle.

The Swiss held the wooded high ground close to the village of Hildisrieden. 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 Swiss chroniclers report how a huge pile of these shoe-tips was found in a heap after the battle, and they are also depicted in the background of the battle scene in the Lucerne Chronicle of 1513.

The main body of the Confederation army finally completed its deployment from the marching column, formed up, and attacked the knights from the flank aggressively. The Austrian force, on the other hand, formed a wide rank and threatened to surround the outnumbered confederates.

How and at what point the battle turned in favour of the confederates is a matter of debate. It has been suggested that an important factor was the midday heat in July, which wore out the Austrian knights wearing heavy armour much more than the lightly armed confederates (some of which had reportedly no other "armour" than a wooden plank tied to their left arm as a shield). Another factor may have been a fatal underestimation of the confederates on the part of the nobility. According to the account by Tschudi, seeing the small strength of the confederate force, the nobles were concerned that if they sent the mercenaries in front, as would have been common practice, they might not see any action at all, as the mercenaries would finish the job on their own. Therefore, they insisted on taking the front ranks.

Traditional Swiss historiography since the 16th century has attributed the turning of the tide to the heroic deed of Arnold von Winkelried, who opened a breach in the Habsburg lines by throwing himself into their pikes, taking them down with his body so that the confederates could attack through the opening.

As was the custom and a matter of honour in such a battle, each canton had one of their comrades carry their municipal’s flag in the lead. One such recorded was Rudolf Hön (today’s spelling Höhn, English: Hoehn), who represented Arth, a municipality in the canton of Schwyz. Volunteering to do this meant that he did not carry a weapon, either to defend himself or attack the enemy. Thus, by leading his comrades into battle without a weapon, he diverted the attention of the enemy and sacrificed himself for the intended good of the Confederate. For posterity, and recognition of the actual deed, Rudolf Hön’s name can be seen inscribed twice in the list of fallen on the inner wall of Sempach Battle Chapel (situated next to the battleground). One for being a confederate and the other as a flag bearer. His descendants live on today, as recorded in their family tree.

The Swiss did break through the Austrian ranks and routed the enemy army completely. Duke Leopold and with him a large number of nobles and knights were slain.

An armistice was agreed upon on 12 October, followed by a peace agreement valid for one year, beginning on 14 January 1387.

The battle was a severe blow to Austrian interests in the region, and allowed for the further growth of the Old Swiss Confederacy. Already weakened by the 1379 division of Habsburg lands, Leopoldian control of the territories left of the Rhine would collapse over the following years, not least due to the death toll among the local elites loyal to Habsburg. This allowed the confederate cities, especially Lucerne, Bern and Solothurn, an unchecked expansion into the undefended Habsburg lands. Bern, which had not participated in the Sempach war, took the opportunity and began its conquest of what would become the canton of Bern, sending military expeditions into the Jura, the Oberland, Emmental and Aargau. Lucerne by 1389 was able to consolidate its control over the towns around lake Sempach, Willisau and the Entlebuch, largely corresponding to the extent of the modern canton of Lucerne. Glarus also took the opportunity to rebel against Habsburg control and established its independence in the Battle of Näfels in 1388.

A new peace agreement between the confederacy and Austria was concluded on 1 April 1389, valid for seven years, extended to 20 years on 16 July 1394

Not without justification, the Battle of Sempach came to be seen as the decisive turning point between the foundation of the confederacy as a loose pact in the 14th century, and its growth into a significant political and military power during the 15th century. At the peak of the military success of the Eight Cantons in the period of 1470 to 1510, Swiss historiography paid great attention to the Battle of Sempach.. 



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