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Friday, 2 June 2017



Long Description:
The Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs took place on 26 August 1444 between the Old Swiss Confederacy and French mercenaries. The Swiss troop of 1,500 attacked the French army of 20,000 men. The battle lasted several hours; in the end the smaller, but offensive Swiss forces were weakened and forced to retreat in a small hospital. They refused to surrender and all but 16 were killed by the overwhelming superiority. The French troops lost up to 6,000 men and were forced to stop their advance to Zürich. The battle became very famous but there was no symbolic connotation until the early 19th century after the collapse of the Napoleonic Helvetic Republic when the battle was stylized as a heroic and selfless rescue of the Swiss Confederacy from a French invasion.

The hospital was just next to this church, but the current church building was rebuilt in 1894. There are two murals depicting battle scenes on the front wall of the church and a stone plaque.


                           FROM A GLOBAL CHRONOLOGY OF CONFLICT


In 1410 the daughter of Count Bernard VII of Armagnac (d. 1418) was married to Duke Charles I of Orleans. Charles' father had been killed by supporters of the duke of Burgundy, who resented Orleans' influence on the king. After the marriage, the Armagnac family became associated with the part of King Charles VI against Burgundy, and the royal faction came to be called Armagnacs. Until his death in 1418, Count Bernard remained a bitter enemy of Burgundy. When Burgundy allied itself with England during the later stages of the Hundred Years' War, the friction between the two parties greatly increased. The two factions engaged in a bloody civil war that ended in 1435.
After peace was established, many veterans originally recruited by Count Bernard VII formed mercenary bands that also became known as the Armagnacs. Although they were in the service of King Charles VII, the Armagnacs became notorious for their rapacious plundering in the north of France. In 1444 they were sent to Switzerland on an expedition known as the Armagnac War, which culminated in a battle between the Swiss and the Armagnac mercenaries on August 26, 1444. Although the Swiss were badly defeated, their determined resistance persuaded the Armagnacs to withdraw from Switzerland. Soon after, the Armagnacs were incorporated into Charles VII's regular army.

During the Middle Ages, Burgundy was the seat of some of the most important Western churches and monasteries, among them ClunyCîteaux, and Vézelay.
During the Hundred Years' War, King John II of France gave the duchy to his youngest son, Philip the Bold. The duchy soon became a major rival to the crown. The court in Dijon outshone the French court both economically and culturally. In 1477, at the battle of Nancy during the Burgundian Wars, the last duke Charles the Bold was killed in battle, and the Duchy itself was annexed by France and became a province. However the northern part of the empire was taken by the Austrian Habsburgs.

Pope Pius II (LatinPius PP. IIItalianPio II), born Enea Silvio Bartolomeo Piccolomini (LatinAeneas Silvius Bartholomeus; 18 October 1405 – 14 August 1464) was Pope from 19 August 1458 to his death in 1464. He was born at Corsignano in the Sienese territory of a noble but impoverished family. His longest and most enduring work is the story of his life, the Commentaries, which is the only autobiography ever written by a reigning pope.

Early life[edit]

Aeneas was born to Silvio, a soldier and member of the House of Piccolomini, and Vittoria Forteguerri, who had 18 children including several twins, though most died at a young age.[1]He worked with his father in the fields for some years and at age 18 left to study at the universities of Siena and Florence. He settled in the former city as a teacher, but in 1431 accepted the post of secretary to Domenico Capranicabishop of Fermo, then on his way to the Council of Basel (1431–39). Capranica was protesting against the new Pope Eugene IV's refusal of a cardinalate for him, which had been designated by Pope Martin V. Arriving at Basel after enduring a stormy voyage to Genoa and then a trip across the Alps, he successively served Capranica, who ran short of money, and then other masters.[2]
In 1435 he was sent by Cardinal Albergati, Eugenius IV's legate at the council, on a secret mission to Scotland, the object of which is variously related even by himself.[3] He visited England as well as Scotland, underwent many perils and vicissitudes in both countries, and left an account of each. The journey to Scotland proved so tempestuous that Piccolomini swore that he would walk barefoot to the nearest shrine of Our Lady from their landing port. This proved to be Dunbar; the nearest shrine was 10 miles distant at Whitekirk. The journey through the ice and snow left Aeneas afflicted with pain in his legs for the rest of his life. Only when he arrived at Newcastle, he felt he had returned to "a civilised part of the world and the inhabitable face of the Earth", Scotland and the far north of England being "wild, bare and never visited by the sun in winter".[4] In Scotland, he fathered a child but it died.[5]
Upon his return to Basel, Aeneas sided actively with the council in its conflict with the Pope, and, although still a layman, eventually obtained a share in the direction of its affairs. He supported the creation of the Antipope Felix V (Amadeus, Duke of Savoy) and participated in his coronation. Aeneas then was sent to Strasbourg where he sired a child with a Breton woman called Elizabeth. The baby died 14 months later.[5] He then withdrew to the court of Holy Roman Emperor Emperor Frederick III in Vienna. He had been crowned imperial poet laureate in 1442, and he obtained the patronage of the emperor's chancellor, Kaspar Schlick. Some identify the love adventure at Siena that Aeneas related in his romance The Tale of the Two Lovers with an escapade of the chancellor.
Aeneas' character had hitherto been that of an easy and democratic-minded man of the world with no pretense to strictness in morals or consistency in politics. He now began to be more regular in the former respect, and in the latter adopted a decided line by making his peace between the Empire and Rome.[citation needed] Being sent on a mission to Rome in 1445, with the ostensible object of inducing Pope Eugene to convoke a new council, he was absolved from ecclesiastical censures and returned to Germany under an engagement to assist the Pope. This he did most effectually by the diplomatic dexterity with which he smoothed away differences between the papal court of Rome and the German imperial electors. He played a leading role in concluding a compromise in 1447 by which the dying Pope Eugene accepted the reconciliation tendered by the German princes. As a result, the council and the antipope were left without support. He had already taken orders, and one of the first acts of Pope Eugene's successor, Pope Nicholas V (1447–1455), was to make him Bishop of Trieste. He later served as Bishop of Siena.
In 1450 Aeneas was sent as ambassador by the Emperor Frederick III to negotiate his marriage with Princess Eleonore of Portugal. In 1451 he undertook a mission to Bohemia and concluded a satisfactory arrangement with the Hussite leader George of Poděbrady. In 1452 he accompanied Frederick III to Rome, where Frederick wedded Eleanor and was crowned emperor by the pope. In August 1455 Aeneas again arrived in Rome on an embassy to proffer the obedience of Germany to the new pope, Calixtus III. He brought strong recommendations from emperor Frederick and Ladislaus V of Hungary (also King of Bohemia) for his nomination to the cardinalate, but delays arose from the Pope's resolution to promote his own nephews first, and he did not attain the object of his ambition until December of the following year. He did acquire temporarily the bishopric of Warmia (Ermeland).

After the conclusion of the war, France was again free to pursue its desire to reach the Rhine and in 1444 a French army appeared in Lorraine and Alsace. It took up winter quarters, demanded the submission of Metz and Strasbourg and launched an attack on Basel.

Burkhard VII. Münch (died 29 August 1444) was a knight and life peer, a renowned late member of the Landskron branch of the Münch family. His reputation rests primarily on his death at the Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs. Burkhard's death spelled the end of the family Münch of Landskron, which ended completely when his brother Johann IX. died in 1461.

St. Jakob an der Birs[edit]

Burkhardt falling off his horse, hit by a rock. Detail of the St. Jakob an der Birs scene in the Tschachtlanchronik of 1470
Being a Habsburg faithful, Burkhard rode as knight with Dauphin Louis XI and Jean V de Bueil. He was also named by the French as Bourgeamoine. He joined the Armagnacs in the battle against the Swiss Eidgenossenschaft as negotiator, translator and guide. His demeanour following the Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs is a theme in Swiss patriotic historiography.
The Battle of St. Jakob an der Birs was fought on 26 August 1444. The Swiss had attacked a much larger force of Armagnac mercenaries, and as the offensive party categorically refused to surrender. They retreated to a last stand in a small hospital of St. Jakob, where they were decimated by artillery.
As the Dauphin's translator, Burkhard was sent as negotiator to the decimated Swiss in the hospital to offer them the chance of honorable surrender and safe conduct. But as he rode into the hospital, and the many dead and wounded among the Swiss he is said to have raised the visor of his helmet and mocked the Eidgenossen in a phrase that would become famous in Swiss historiography: Ich siche in ein rossegarten, den min fordren geret hand vor 100 [hunderd] joren ("I gaze out into a rosarium, that my ancestors planted one hundred years ago").[1] Provoked by this arrogant phrase, one of the dying Swiss, one Arnold Schick of Uri, hurled a rock into the open visor. The equally famous answer that accompanied the throw was reported as: Da friss eine der Rosen! ("Here, eat one of the roses").[2] Burkhard fell from his saddle and was dragged from the battlefield. He died from his wounds three days later. The Swiss refusal to surrender led to the storming of the hospital, in which the defenders were killed nearly to the last man.

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