Buck war

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Buck war
Horgen Buckenkrieg Ball.JPG
date March 24, 1804 to April 3, 1804
place To Horgen
output Military victory of the insurgents
consequences Political defeat, occupation of the rebellious part of the canton on April 3rd
Parties to the conflict

Coat of arms of Switzerland.svg Switzerland
coat of arms City of Zurich Bern Aargau
coat of arms
coat of arms

coat of armsZurich landscape


Colonel Jakob Christoph Ziegler
Landammann Niklaus Rudolf von Wattenwyl

Hans Jakob Willi
Jakob Schneebeli
Heinrich Häberling
Jakob Kleinert

Troop strength
about 1000 about 600

The Buck War was a civil war that took place in Switzerland in the Horgen area in 1804 . It was fought between the rebellious rural population and federal troops under the leadership of the city of Zurich .

Historical background

From time immemorial, the rural population had to hand over the tenth part of the agricultural income to the spiritual landlords. This tithe was seen as an indispensable debt of the soil to God and was intended for the upkeep of the priestly church and the monasteries, which in return stood up for the people before God. The tithe from Horgen went to the Fraumünster monastery in Zurich.

The Reformation brought individual responsibility before God and the abolition of monasteries in the canton of Zurich . The tithe thereby lost its actual justification, but it was not repealed under the reformer Ulrich Zwingli . It flowed to the secular Fraumünsteramt and thus to the city treasury. This tax , which was not levied on the townspeople, was the cause of many disputes between town and countryside in the years that followed, for example in the Stäfner trade in 1794/95.

initial situation

After the city of Zurich had largely lost its dominant role over the surrounding landscape in the Helvetic Republic, it wanted to enforce its claims based on the mediation constitution again. Among other things, she demanded an oath of homage to the new cantonal constitution and the authorities. In 47 of 192 parishes this was refused, resulting in acts of violence.


The arson attack on the Bailiwick of Wädenswil on March 24, 1804 was the insurgents' first act of war. On March 26th, around 500 men gathered to take a train to Zurich to have the new laws withdrawn. Hans Jakob Willi from Horgen set up his headquarters in the fir tree near Schönenberg .

On March 28, Colonel Ziegler led 1,000 federal troops and three city-owned warships from the city of Zurich against the rebels. The village center of Horgen was then shot at from the lake.

After battles at Oberrieden , Wädenswil and at Hanegg in Horgen, the troops under Ziegler retreated to the pub at the Bocken . The rebels stormed the inn, whereby Willi was injured and had to give up the fight. The federal troops were defeated and withdrew to Zurich.

The insurgents did not pursue the withdrawing troops and the uprising now collapsed very quickly.

Consequences of war

The rural population celebrated the military victory over government troops, but could not derive any political benefit from it.

After Willi, Häberling and Schneebeli were sentenced, these leaders of the uprising were executed in Zurich. The city then forced the rural population to buy themselves out of tithing. Very large sums were required for this ransom.


  • Aemtlerverein (ed.): Reflections on the so-called buck war in Zurich 1804: in memory of the martyrs Schneebeli, Häberling, Willi and Kleinert. Cooperative book printing company, Zurich, 1875.
  • Hans R. Fuhrer u. a .: The buck war 1804. Uprising of the Zurich rural people . (= Hands-on military history, 17). Military Academy at ETH Zurich, 2004.
  • Rolf Graber: "Now it is time to fight for freedom and equality and let the last drop of blood spray for them". On the “social logic” of the popular uprising of 1804 in the Zurich countryside. In: Swiss History Journal , Volume 54/2004 ( digitized version )
  • Albert Hauser: The Bock War - a revolt of the Zurich rural people in 1804 . Dissertation, Zurich 1938.
  • Joseph Jung (Ed.): The buck war 1804. Aspects of a popular uprising . Verlag Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Zurich 2004, ISBN 3-03823-103-7 .
  • Paul Kläui: History of the community of Horgen . Horgen 1952.
  • Johann Jakob Leuthy: Complete history of the buck war in 1804: based on authentic sources. and provided with biographical notes of the heads of this uprising ...; a contribution to the stories of the Swiss country for the Swiss people. Zurich 1838. ( digitized version )
  • JJ Schneebeli: The Buck War 1804 . Stäfa 1904.

Web links

Commons : Buck war  - collection of images, videos and audio files