Battle of Morgarten, November 1315 (Switzerland)

Battle between the Swiss and an army lead by Duke Leopold, brother of Frederic of Hapsburg, part of his struggle with Lewis of Bavaria for the Imperial crown. The Hapsburg forces probably outnumbered the Swiss by two to one, but to reach the Swiss heartland, they had to use one of two mountain passes. Duke Leopold chose the longer pass, via Morgarten, possibly because the other pass had been fortified. However, the Swiss were aware of his movements, and were able to block the Morgarten pass themselves. Duke Leopold does not appear to have checked the pass, and his army arrived at the blockage strung out along the narrow mountain pass. The Swiss, whose army was composed of peasant infantry, largely armed with the Pike, were waiting, hidden, on the slope above the Imperial force, and when they launched their attack, downhill, in a dense column, their momentum, combined with the uselessness of the knight's warhorses in mountain terrain, led to a slaughter of the Imperial forces. Duke Leopold himself was one of the few men to escape from the disaster. The impact within the Empire was dramatic - this was the first time that a feudal host had been destroyed by peasant troops, and like Bannockburn and later Crecy marked the end of the tactical supremacy of feudal cavalry.
How to cite this article: Rickard, J. (4 October 2000), Battle of Morgarten, November 1315,

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