Battles of Villmergen

Battles of Villmergen

The Battles of Villmergen (Canton of Aargau, coord|47|21|N|8|15|E|) were two battles between Reformed and Catholic cantons. They occurred on January 24 1656 and July 24 1712.

The first battle followed an attempt at a reform of the federation in 1655, failing due to Catholic resistance. Zurich urged its allies to declare war on the Catholic cantons. Zurichois forces lay in a fruitless siege of Rapperswil while Catholic forces separated Zurich from Berne, beating the Bernese at Villmergen on 24 January, 1656. Hostilities ceased on 20 February and the treaty of Villmergen of 7 March reinstalled the status quo preceding the outbreak of hostilities, to the advantage of the Catholic cantons.

In 1712, Berne and Zurich took advantage of a dispute between St. Gallen and its Protestant subjects in the Toggenburg. This time, in the Toggenburg war, also called the second war of Villmergen, after the decisive battle again fought near Villmergen, on 24 July, the Protestant side was successful, bringing an end to Catholic hegemony in the Swiss Confederation, and staying the conflict until the renewed outbreak of civil war in 1847, the "Sonderbundskrieg" that led to the formation of Switzerland as a federal state.

Both Bernese and Zurich troops took booty from the Abbey Library of St. Gall. While Berne later returned their share, Zurich only returned part of the goods, while a number of manuscripts as well as a large astronomical globe remains in possession of the canton of Zurich. In the 2000s, The canton of St. Gallen prepared for a court case to claim these back, while the Zurich held that ownership had long been passed to the canton of Zurich. The parties agreed to attempt mediation rather than confrontation in court, a possibility for the solution of intercantonal disputes envisaged in the Swiss Federal Constitution of 2000. In the first case of such a mediation, led by Pascal Couchepin, the cantons found an amicable compromise: The ownership of the objects in question remains with Zurich, but a number of manuscripts are given as long term loans to St. Gallen. The globe remains in the Landesmuseum in Zurich, but the canton of Zurich will manufacture an exact copy, and present this to St. Gallen as a gift.


ee also

*History of Switzerland
*Early Modern Switzerland

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