In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Open to public view.

In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 02 Jul 2011 00:50

More urban patriotism, this time from Berne in Switzerland.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... nkrieg.jpg
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Thearos » 02 Jul 2011 03:27

Lovely. Is there one of fighting bulls of Uri (or whichever canton it is which has the bull's head on its flag) ?

What's the date of this ? late C15th ?

Just some things that struck me: the lovely representation of the shape of the grips of the longswords; the bear handgunner with a longsword; the big bear standard-bearer, with both longsword and basilard (if that's what one should call the dagger). Behind, I suppose, are pikebears.

~Grey and brown bears too !
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1306
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Thearos » 02 Jul 2011 03:27

The handgunner bear also has a basilard. And so does the bear with a zweihander.
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1306
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 02 Jul 2011 04:36

It's from a chronicle printed around 1480

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Categ ... er_Chronik

That style of grips on the longswords are typical of the Swiss Confederation at this time. There is one in a museum there I think in Lucerne with grips like that.

No I don't know of any depicting Uri though I will continue to search. I heard an interesting anecdote about two of the rural cantons though, I think they were Uri and Schwyz. The two cantons each had a great big horn, like the kind from the riccola commercials only longer, one was called 'The Cow' and one was called 'The Bull'. They only blew these horns when the entire Canton was at war. The first time was at Morgarten in 1315 when they wiped out the Hapsburg army, the last (I think) was at Nancy when they wiped out the Burgundian army and killed Charles the Rash in 1477. In both battles and some others they blew the horns just as they suddenly attacked.

So not too many people ever got to hear those horns, and if you did you may not have survived it.

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Thearos » 02 Jul 2011 12:06

Not quite sure how to frame this question without it sounding very stupid. But here goes: what makes these Swiss warbands and militias different from the S German late Med. civic militias which you talk about in other posts ? I mean, I assume they are qualitatively different, because Swabian warbands and militias don't conqur their neighbours or destroy ducal armies.
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1306
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 02 Jul 2011 17:17

I am probably one of the few folks around here who would not think that was a stupid question in the least, but a lot of folks think I am a bit daft, and I'm not University educated so what this looks like to me may be very different from how it appears to people with real training in this field.

Personally, I don't think there is that much difference, it's more a matter of degree, and terrain. And how long a given region has or hasn't been under Aristocratic authority. You did have networks or leagues of towns in the HRE, called Stadtbund, but most of the autonomous zones in Germany were trading towns. There were a few rural areas where the local peasants were very strong, such as in Frisia and in the Dithmarshen in Saxony

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dithmarschen

But I think the main achievement of the Swiss was that the initial confederation of rural cantons was able to gradually link together with various city-states. Alone, neither the towns nor the rural zones had what they needed to be strong; the towns had to have the countryside for supplies, the countryside had to have access to towns for things like guns and armor, and to trade.

The Germans (Prussians, Czechs, Belgians, Dutch etc.) achieved the first part of the puzzle with the stadtbund and less formal groups like the Hanseatic League in which groups of cities could act in their mutual interests for greater strength. In this they surpassed the much more powerful cities of Renaissance Italy or those of ancient Greece, in that they were able to make a horizontal alliance without being dominated by a particular town. Very important step. But there were tensions and not completely compatible economic and political interests between town and country. In Germany the towns often repressed the peasants in the countryside just as the Princes and the Gentry did.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St%C3%A4dtebund

The Swiss revolt started with some very tough rural peasant groups, they did what the cities had feared to do (take on the Hapsburgs) and won. So this put them in a stronger position, and the cities were gradually willing to join in the Eidgenossenschaft. But it wasn't easy or 'clean', there were wars between the various elements of the Swiss Confederacy and specifically between the towns and the rural cantons, more than once.

But it all happened on a smaller scale throughout Central Europe. There were many more or less permanent town leagues such as the Lusatian League, the Prussian Confederation, the Pentapolitana, plus of course the Hanse.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lusatian_League
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prussian_Confederation
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentapolitana

I think this kind of thing was spreading in Europe, the spread of the Free Cities and the Swiss Confederation had clearly begun to alarm the Princes toward the end of the 14th Century, for example in the Golden Bull of 1356 outlawing "conjurationes, confederationes, and conspirationes" which led to a concerted effort by the Princes to break up Stadtbunds. When I first read this statement i thought it was odd. I found out much later that the oaths sworn by Guilds were called conjurations, of course we know what a confederation is, and the leaders of certain republics were called "con-spirators".

I think Switzerland got lucky by being a backwater area with difficult terrain, and had the imagination to see their own enlightened self-interest. Switzerland was one of those zones which had not been very much under the control of strong Princes before the middle ages, and by the time they got around to trying to annex the area it was too late. There also seems to be some correlation between some degree of freedom or autonomy and very good infantry, it was the same in Bohemia, or Athens. Just as good heavy cavalry seems to require having an aristocracy.

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Thearos » 02 Jul 2011 17:58

V. interesting, I'll reread this post several times. I'm interested in the question because 1. I'm very interested in city-states in history 2. I lived in Switzerland for some years, admittedly in the French-speaking part-- I don't think the Bernese bears are very popular even now. Very amazing how many museums had really good collections of Med. weapons-- these really impressive late 15th working halberds, I mean the ones with the simply, functional shapes, or pikes, or two-handed swords: I suppose it comes from all those militias. Bern Historical Museum, which I visited twice, was really great. I went to Zurich once but missed the National Museum. I did visit a great museum in a small castle once, Lenzburg, with some exhibits done by Gerry Embleton.

I did a bit of reading (on the internet) about the personnel fighting in the Burgundian wars-- and there are some Swiss aristocrats, doing the leading, the cavalry work, or commanding castles, if I'm not mistaken.

Are you writing a book on this subject, did I read that in one of these posts ?

Man for man, did a Swiss militiaman, or one of the participants in these Swiss warbands drawn from militiamen in the C15th, really know how to fight as well as a feudal knight ? (yet another stupid sounding question of the "would Count Dookoo beat Dracula" type)
Last edited by Thearos on 03 Jul 2011 01:33, edited 1 time in total.
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1306
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Lyceum » 02 Jul 2011 20:07

That is such an awesome picture. Never before have I so desperately wanted a tattoo.
No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself"

Mind now changed...
User avatar
Lyceum
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 4208
Joined: 16 Nov 2007 00:02

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Thearos » 02 Jul 2011 21:40

Good idea, the central standard bear
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1306
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 03 Jul 2011 03:00

Ok, "stupid" questions require Looooooong answers so bear with me.. (no pun intended hahaha)

Man for man, did a Swiss militiaman, or one of the participants in these Swiss warbands drawn from militiamen in the C15th, really know how to fight as well as a feudal knight ? (yet another stupid sounding question of the "would Count Dookoo beat Dracula" type)


Of course this would depend wildly on the knight; many knights were not warriors at all. There were many landowners, clergy, even burghers who held the status but did not ever fight or participate in tournaments.

The term 'Knight' (Rietter, Chevalier, Caballero etc.) had many meanings in the Medieval period but two of the most common were a type of legal status which meant, as far as I can tell, that ones honor had legal weight. Which meant that your word counted as evidence in a court of law, you might be forgiven legally if you responded to an insult with violence, and you were much more likely to be released if captured in battle (though not by the Swiss).

The second meaning referred, to some extent euphemistically to a 'knight' on the battlefield, also described in period documents as a 'Lance', or a 'Gleve' or a 'Helm' was actually a unit of 3-5 horsemen. The "knight" himself could be a knight, a Konstafler (burghers who had the equivalent status of knights) a ritterbruden (brother Knight such as of the Teutonic Order or the Knights of St. John) a simple mercenary with a good horse and some armor, or a ministeriales, who is technically a slave-knight. To my rather surprise there were quite a few of those.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ministerialis

It also depends a lot on what time period you are talking about of course. Heavy cavalry seemed to have more of an advantage over infantry from roughly 1100 AD - 1300 AD than afterword.

My very broad estimate though with all these caveats is that a Lance was roughly the equivalent of ten ordinary trained heavy-infantry or light cavalry, or maybe as much as 100 light infantry.

But mounted crossbowmen, dopplesoldners might be roughly equivalent to 1/3 to 1/2 of a knight (and they may include attendants of their own).

I did a bunch of research and came up with this composite table (based on 3 period sources in 1350, 1470, and 1505) of pay for Mercenaries in the late 15th Century in the Baltic region:

Servant (Footman) 10 Kreuzer per month
Servant (Mounted) 20 Kreuzer per month
Foot soldier 30 Kreuzer per month
Pikeman 1 Florin per month (60 Kreuzer per month)
Halberdier 2 Florin per month (120 Kreuzer per month)
Leutzule (guide) 2 Florin per month (120 Kreuzer per month)
Light Cavalry 2 Florin per month (120 Kreuzer per month)
Gunner or Crossbowman 3 Florin per month (180 Kreuzer per month)
Doppelsöldner Halberdier 3 Florin per month (180 Kreuzer per month)
Feldwebel (Infantry Sergeant) 4 Florin per month (240 Kreuzer per month)
Demi-Lancer 4 Florin per month (240 Kreuzer per month)
Lancer / Sergeant (no horse) 6 Florin per month (360 Kreuzer per month)
Mounted Arbalestier 8 Florin per month (480 Kreuzer per month)
Lancer (with horse and armor) 10 Florin per month (600 Kreuzer per month)
Knight (‘Lance’)* 20 Florin per month (1200 Kreuzer per month)
Knight Banneret** 100 Florin per month (6000 Kreuzer per month)

* Includes a Demi-Lancer, a mounted Crossbowman, and a mounted Servant
** Includes a Squire, two Demi-Lancers, a mounted Arbalestier, and an unarmed valet

Swiss got paid sometimes double what ordinary soldiers made, so a Swiss Doppelsöldner might be paid 6 Florins which is about one third the cost of a Lance. Of course the Lance is a whole unit of 3 or 4 men. A Swiss Mounted Arbalestier (crossbowman) might draw nearly the same pay as a Lance, (though he would also have some attendants probably a Demi-Lancer and a valet.)

But putting aside all that complexity for a moment, I would say it would depend on how they were fighting, i.e. on foot or if the knight was on horseback ... on foot in a personal dispute (or judicial combat) between a 'Knight' and an elite Swiss soldier it might be fairly even. At least some of the Swiss were trained in the KDF (we know of Swiss Fencing manuals) and quite a few had experience in war. Probably the ordinary Swiss peasant did not have this king of individual training, but from the unusually high number of Swiss infantry who you see in period artwork carrying longswords, a fair number of them obviously did, particularly those from the urban militias. A longsword is not a weapon you would use untrained.

Mounted in his armor on an armored horse, I'd give the edge the knight for sure. But in the battles you'd typically have something like a 300 or 400 knights facing three or four times that number of infantry. As a unit 100 Swiss halberdiers can maybe handle 30 knights, depending on the terrain of course. With more even odds, I'd give the edge to the cavalry.

So the short answer is no I don't think the individual Swiss militiaman is equivalent, but his equipment and his lifestyle cost vastly less than the Knight, so there could never be as many knights as Swiss militiamen, even when bankrolled by the huge fortunes of a Kingdom like France, there could never be enough. So the Swiss village which is having a beef with the local Gentry could with some confidence threaten violence, knowing that his 30 or 40 mounted henchmen do not necessarily have an edge over their 100 or 150 militia. This is what made the Swiss so dangerous, because in most other parts of Europe 30 or 40 horsemen and a minor Prince could easily roll over 150 rural militia. There were certain places where the commoners were tough; quite a few of the Free Cities and Free Imperial Cities throughout Europe proved that they were, the Saxons of the Dithmarshen did, the Frisians did, the Bohemian Hussites certainly did. But once the rural community had been disarmed and lost that fighting culture it was hard to get it back again.

I'm also very interested in City- States myself. Yes I'm working on a book, it's a bit of a muddle which will probably never be finished as I'm basically doing the whole thing myself, with a little help in terms of proof-reading (I may have landed a rather prominent proofreader recently who could improve the book a great deal). It's just a hobby though, and it's set in the Baltic in the 15th Century so it doesn't deal directly with the Swiss.

But I've done a lot of research on the Swiss over the years as I find them fascinating, in spite of the fact that all my French relatives (and seemingly everyone in Europe) hate them. I have been there, to Lucerne and to Berne and the castle at Grandson briefly, back in the 1980s. Yes the Swiss held on to a lot of this wonderful old kit in their armouries, one town was selling a bunch of their pikes they finally decided to liquidate on Ebay a couple of years ago. I would love to go back to Switzerland and explore those old castles and armouries and town museums. I'd also like to go to Poland, to Burgundy, to Sweden, to Ireland, to the Greek Islands, to Spain, to Lombardy, to Turkey and a half dozen other places but I'll probably just remain stuck in New Orleans due to my lower middle class pay grade.

Of course you never know I may rob an armored car one day...

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Chiron » 03 Jul 2011 16:16

You are correct in your assumption that in Switzerland even the bears carry longswords in point of fact the bear on club's logo is holding a longsword (and there's a club in the Jura that we met at Dijon that has a very similar one). The coat of arms of a village near us that goes back to the time of Kampf am Stoss that has the Appenzell bear carrying a vulge/halberd on it. In the St.Gallen museum there is a picture of Appenzell bears marching to war against the Burgundians along with the Bernese. I can tell the ones in the foreground are appenzeller for three reasons, they're wearing black and white livery, they're outdistancing the Bernese (this was a cheapshot to find out why ask a swiss), they look more kickass. If I remember correctly several are armed with longswords but most of them are armed with pikes and halberds. The fact that the bears in the picture are surrounding the banner BEARer probably has something to do with the amount of longswords since allot of store was set by the banner. If you look around at the amount of burgundian banners in the collected loot just in the St.Gallen museum it tends to get kind of mind boggling (In the St.Gallen we have the banner of a troop of burgundian horse archers), just the fact that the booty made all the way back to St.Gallen is kind of amazing. @ Thearos It is not a stupid question it is a very important question, BD answered very well however I would like to ad a couple points. Switzerland maintained quite allot of autonomy because a) it was in the holy roman empire and in the empire power was never as central as in France or England b) the fact that it controlled allot of the passes, and most of the emperors thought it would better for business if Switzerland or at least the passes stayed neutral territory, I think (my memory on this is hazy so don't quote me) some point I can't remember the date, one of the emperors the legal rights of princes (except of course being able to vote for emperor, and it didn't count for those under the control of the prince abbot of St.Gallen or the bishop of Chur) Secondly we were pirates (here I'm speaking mostly for appenzell) switzerland has very few natural recourses so we took other people's recourses, and when we got good at doing that other people paid us fight their enemy so we stayed in practice, and when we weren't fighting other people we fought among ourselves for control of the Gotthard. But mostly we got a couple lucky breaks and then built on them, and after that we followed the most effective strategy a country in it's position could, don't be prey. I will repeat this quote because I like it that much.

"you are refractory members of the Empire; some day I may have to pay you a visit, sword in hand"
Maximilian the 1st

I humbly beseech your imperial majesty to dispense with such a visit, for our swiss are rude men, and do not even respect crowns."
swiss deputy to Maximilian the 1st in the oncoming wars called the swabian wars germany got its ass kicked
Last edited by Chiron on 05 Jul 2011 14:35, edited 1 time in total.
nay king, nay quin we willnae be fooled again!
Terry pratchet, the wee free men:
User avatar
Chiron
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 483
Joined: 18 Aug 2010 20:30

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 03 Jul 2011 18:11

Yes, the Swiss seemed to have 'the number' of the Germans the way the Germans had the number of the French in the 20th Century.

It's interesting where you see this bear symbol cropping up round Europe. The Samogitian coat of arms also has a bear, and they were probably the single biggest problem for the Teutonic Order and the Livonian Order, in some respects quite similar to the Swiss.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samogitia

Image

It's a good point about the HRE being more decentralized; but that is also a bit of a question of 'which came first'; Was HRE more decentralized due to policies or philosophy or simply because of the de-facto reality? The political and legal system seemed to develop the de jure rules alongside (or sometimes, trailing after) the de-facto situation on the ground.

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 03 Jul 2011 18:19

But the situation on the ground also adapted itself to the laws and customs...

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Chiron » 07 Jul 2011 17:34

I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that the HRE was comprised of lands that were fairly unromanized, the germanic tribes tended to not be a centralized in the same way as the romans (I'm speaking of post Republic rome) and was comprised of multiple tribes. A chieftains power was not usually absolute and there was a council as well if I remember correctly (if I'm talking out my ass feel free to call bull). So this in combination with the amount of land that had to be ruled led to a decentralized form of government with a few factions vying for the honor of becoming the holy roman emperor. This kept people happy because the princes had a say and the different provinces had a chance that one of the ruling family of their province become emperor, thus a saxon emperor was not always ruling the Czechs, and a Czech was not always ruling the saxons giving everybody theoretically a stake in the empire.

BTW our club coat of arms
LogoACT_Org.gif
LogoACT_Org.gif (7.29 KiB) Viewed 17139 times

the sword is not 100 pro, but we knocked it up ourselves and I think it looks good
nay king, nay quin we willnae be fooled again!
Terry pratchet, the wee free men:
User avatar
Chiron
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 483
Joined: 18 Aug 2010 20:30

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 07 Jul 2011 20:08

No it's a good point I think, though of course the irony is that the HRE styled itself after the Romans, and latin was their main administrative language, and a lot of their law was based on Roman law. But you are right a lot of it was old traditional tribal law and the Germanic barbarians had a sort of pseudo democracy or 'warrior' democracy and elected their leaders and so on.

But I think the difference in the laws is probably key, and it's also apparently a lot to do with which areas went lutherin / calvinist and which ones stayed Catholic. I once saw a map of the Roman Occupation of Europe laid over a map of the Catholic / Protestant divide and they were almost the same map.

BD

eDIT: Yeah cool logo I think I want to make a bear logo for our club now come to think of it. There is a really cool one from some Swiss canton, maybe Berne, in the Osprey military book 'The swiss at war', it's a really skinny bear with enormous claws and fangs.
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Chiron » 07 Jul 2011 21:40

Nah, come on dude you can't go with Bern. They're imperialist pigdogs who smell of Holunderbeeren (elderberrys) we fought wars against the Bernese (admittedly we fought everybody at least twice, and I wouldn't be talking to you if you were thinking about the Züricher Wappen), plus a Bernese bear would be to slow to reach the battlefield. The Bernese were to arrogant to let us into the confederacy event hough we had already fought for our FREEEEeedommm against the prince abbot and the Habsburgs (they maintain that we were to drunk to safely let into the confederacy, and if let in we would have probably stolen the cutlery. Despite the truth of the matter it was a grave insult for which we stole their cutlery anyway) until 1513 when we had distinguished ourselves in battle (we are not sure of this but it is doubtless true).

Yes, it is true that protestantism caught on very quickly in the HRE and was very popular among the princes, but the thing is that protestantism gave much more power to the princes for various reasons. However it would of been hard to gain support from the emperor because, of the seven electors three were ecclesiastical princes, four were worldly princes, and the king of bohemia was traditionally catholic. If you really want to find out about roman and medieval law it would be best to ask my father who rather specializes in that sort of thing.
Last edited by Chiron on 07 Jul 2011 21:41, edited 1 time in total.
nay king, nay quin we willnae be fooled again!
Terry pratchet, the wee free men:
User avatar
Chiron
Lieutenant
 
Posts: 483
Joined: 18 Aug 2010 20:30

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 07 Jul 2011 22:38

It was also very popular in a lot of the cities, particularly most of the Hanse cities, which I think is due to direct conflicts between the towns and the local Archbishops, Abbeys and Convents. like I think there was a Convent which owned Zurich for a long time right? Can you imagine being terrorized by the ruthless abess hahahaha.

The earlier thread about Bremen and the Rolands and the 'biships needle' underscores the very difficult relation between the Church and the trading towns.

It was also kind of the same with the Hussites of course.

I think much as the English initially adopted Protestantism as a convenience for Henry VIII, they latched on to Luther and Calvin simply as an alternative to Catholicism ... without realizing at that it was at least equally the time some of these places would go down the road toward Puritans :shock:

But I think underlying that is this whole cultural thing, that seems to have created the sharpest divides in Europe. The whole Catholic / Christian Orthodox schism is really just all about Latin and Greek cultural diferences if you ask me.

By the way when I was researching the Baltic book I've been working on I learned that John Calvin, St. Ignatius Loyola and St. Francis Xavier all attended the Sorbonne at the same time. Man to be a fly on the wall when they ran into each other in the bathroom (or the pub.. or the whorehouse...)

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Thearos » 08 Jul 2011 01:49

Yes, the joke is that the Bernese are slow.

I had wondered if local autonomy in the HRE had in fact come not from Germanic traditions, but on the contrary from Roman traditions of municipal identity and free cities ? It's not as if the Germanic tribes had a tradition of city-states.
Thearos
Colonel
 
Posts: 1306
Joined: 30 Apr 2011 10:16

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby bigdummy » 08 Jul 2011 03:52

It depends what (and when) you mean by Germanic precisely. Most of the tribes that the Romans thought of as 'German' certainly didn't, they seem to have been fairly disorganized certainly based on the Roman descriptions. And we don't know of any significant urban centers that I'm aware of in Scandinavia other than fairly small trading centers.

But there were some fortified towns in the Baltic and in Bohemia, and in certain parts of Germany. The Halstatt culture in Central Europe had some small 'proto-urban' centers as early as the 8th Century BC, and the overlapping La Tene culture of the later Iron Age had something which look a lot like small city-states by the 3rd Century, or at any rate they had significant town centers which the Romans called Oppidae which were comparable in size to Medieval towns. Some were gradually taken over by the Romans such as Noricum which was one of the worlds first steel producing centers. (Another sophisticated one was Numantia in Spain, of the Lusitani culture although that is outside of the Germanic zone).

There were several (about 25) sites in Germany which were of a size comparable to Medieval and early Renaissance towns (which tended to be pretty small). They tend to be overlooked in English languages histories of early Europe, why that is I don't know. But they were definitely there. Here are a few examples:

Manching oppidum, population circa 8,000
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oppidum_of_Manching

The Heidetränk-oppidum (population isn't known but the size of the complex at 130 hectares is roughly similar to a typical Medieval town)
http://translate.google.com/translate?h ... rmd%3Divns

Dünsberg, circa 2000 inhabitants
http://translate.google.com/translate?h ... md%3Divnsb

Dorestad in Flanders was a significant trading town of some type, the Romans said it was 3km long which would have been quite a large town or emporium as they called it. There were quite a few in the low-countries and Switzerland, (not to mention of course Spain and France but they are in more Romanized areas of course). A (to me) surprising number of other cities we know today in Central Europe were actually originally significant "oppidium" or pre-Roman urban centers which later became Romanized. For example Prague was originally a pretty large settlement of the Boii and later the Marcomaani called oppidium Závist by archeologists. They estimate a permanent population of about 3,000 people, though it also served as a fort for larger numbers in times of trouble:

http://translate.google.com/translate?h ... rmd%3Divns

I'm not sure if the later Medieval cities actually owed anything to these Iron Age towns, I kind of doubt it, the Migration era had really reduced urban living a great deal throughout Europe by the end of the first Millennium. But there was this legacy and it was at least as significant as any lingering Roman Republican remnants.

I actually think the Roman legacy on Medieval Europe was largely to feudalism. They introduced serfdom with the Latifundia, they established the idea of Primogeniture in much of Europe (both culturally and legally), and established many of the hereditary European aristocracies just to mention three major aspects. Most of the Roman cities left throughout Europe, the Civitas or the Colonae, were explicitly not City States in their organization, that is why so many of them kind of collapsed when the Central Roman administration went away. And most of the old Republican traditions were long gone ... centuries gone, by the time Rome was in serious decline. I don't think it was until the Renaissance, or at least the beginning of the Humanist movement when they started to get really into the Greek and Roman ideas about Politics, but by then the towns had already been established. In fact some of the Italian cities designed more consciously in emulation of Platos ideals of the Republic ended up kind of authoritarian Oligrachies. Like Venice.

But on the other hand there are apparently some links between the Northern European Guilds and the old Roman Collegia, and some aspects of urban Roman culture did obviously effect the Medieval city States. They referred to the upper class burghers as Patricians (Patrizer).

BD
"In the case of an ailing social order, the absence of an adequate diagnosis... is a crucial, perhaps decisive part of the disease." -Zygmunt Bauman

"With any luck we'll be in Stalingrad by winter. " - Anyonymous German soldier
User avatar
bigdummy
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 15127
Joined: 06 Mar 2007 20:32
Location: New Orleans

Re: In Switzerland, even the bears carry longswords

Postby Lyceum » 08 Jul 2011 11:10

BD, I think the Orthodox Church is massively more linked to what we know of Roman culture than the RC.
No language is justly studied merely as an aid to other purposes. It will in fact better serve other purposes, philological or historical, when it is studied for love, for itself"

Mind now changed...
User avatar
Lyceum
Field Marshal
 
Posts: 4208
Joined: 16 Nov 2007 00:02

Next

Return to Arms & Armour, History, Militaria, Archaeology, Art

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Google [Bot] and 4 guests