Appenzell Wars (1403–1411)


Battle of Vögelinsegg (May 15, 1403)

Following the Covenant of Sempach (1393), the Canton of Appenzell sought to break free from the control of its feudal liege lord, the Abbot of St. Gallen. Appenzell won the initial fight at Speicher, or Vögelinsegg (May 15, 1403), where the Swiss forces used ‘‘Letzinen’’[1] palisades to great effect, not by defending from behind the barricades but by leaving them undefended to lure the enemy into a trap. Once the troops of St. Gallen crossed over the earthworks, concealed Swiss closed behind them and a slaughter commenced. The Swiss employed the same tactic at Stoss (June 17, 1405), where the men of Appenzell, fighting under their Banner of an angry standing bear, similarly trapped and defeated an Austrian army behind Letzinen. Appenzell was defeated at Bregenz (January 13, 1408) by the Austrians, but it was saved by alliance with the Swiss Confederation (1411). Appenzell formally joined the Swiss Confederation a hundred years later (1514).

[1]Letzinen. Earth and log palisades and earthworks employed by the Swiss in defense. They were used to great effect at Morgarten (1315), Näfels (1388), Vögelisegg (1403), and Stoss (1405).

Mordax. A small Swiss battle axe, cousin to the halberd. It was mainly used by the close guard of the Banner in the midst of a Swiss square. It was swung or thrown as need and opportunity dictated. It also proved useful in felling trees and rough construction of defensive earthworks and palisades (Letzinen).


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