Freiburg War

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Freiburg War
The territory of Switzerland before 1474
The territory of Switzerland before 1474
date 1447 to 1448
place Canton of Friborg
output Victory of Bern and Savoy
consequences Detachment of Freiburg from Austria
Peace treaty July 16, 1448
Parties to the conflict

Friborg coat of arms.svgCity of Freiburg Habsburg
Coat of arms of the archduchy of Austria.svg

Berne-coat of arms.svgCity of Bern,
Blason duche for Savoie.svg Duchy of Savoy

The Freiburg War 1447-48 (sometimes referred to as the Savoy War , but usually the war of Geneva and Bern with Savoy 1589-1602 is meant) was a military conflict between the Habsburg city of Freiburg and the Duchy of Savoy and the Bernese since 1277 City-state , making it the fourth and last major military conflict between Friborg and Bern in the late Middle Ages .


At the time of the end of the fighting in the Old Zurich War (1446), the city ​​of Freiburg with its landscape was one of the last Austrian areas in today's Switzerland . The other areas ( Thurgau , Sarganserland, Winterthur and Rapperswil) were all in eastern Switzerland , which territorially completely isolated Freiburg from the protective power of Habsburg. In 1403 Freiburg concluded a castle law with Bern (first alliance 1243) and was thus also allied with the Swiss Confederation, in 1412 it was included in an alliance between Bern and Savoy . However, the city had long suffered from this ambivalent position. The alliance with Bern only incompletely settled the difficult question of neutrality , as both cities could theoretically be involved in a war between their overlords, Habsburg Austria and the Reich . In the event of a much more likely war between Bern and Austria, the Freiburgers had secured themselves: They undertook to advance with their own troops on a Bernese war expedition only so far that they could retreat behind their city walls within a day. During the conquest of Aargau in 1415, this regulation had proven its worth, they only sent a 700-strong guard to the Aare , as they could neither refuse to help Bern nor break loyalty to Austria, which meant that their military engagement was actually limited to a symbolic act . They could easily counter the Austrian allegations that if a different decision were made there was a risk of becoming a Bailiwick of Bern.

Over the years, Freiburg increasingly strived for an independent policy. There were wealthy citizens in the city who were more of a federal disposition; they believed they would better preserve the independence of their city through a final break with Austria vis-à-vis Bern and Savoy than hoping for a distant protective power , whose help was already uncertain, as had been shown particularly in the Sempach War in 1387/88 . During the Old Zurich War, Freiburg behaved neutrally, although the city had to put up with quite unfounded accusations of passivity from the Swiss side, especially from Bern. Bern was also allied with the Duchy of Savoy, which was also opposed to Habsburg. The fact that the Habsburgs had approached France in the Old Zurich War in 1444 , which the Savoy Duchy already distrusted, made the situation even worse.

However, the Freiburg War was sparked primarily by the fact that Duke Ludwig the Elder of Savoy was striving to rule the city of Freiburg and its fertile landscape, probably primarily to alleviate the duchy's constant financial difficulties. However, due to his clumsy behavior, this plan did not stay secret for long. Threats, harassment and the exploitation of irrelevant incidents on the part of Duke Ludwig gave the Austrian party in Freiburg, which found broad support especially among the peasants, again a strong boost. However, they also behaved politically inept and committed two fatal mistakes for the city: First, they refused Bern's help and carried out propaganda against the Bernese and Confederates who were still fighting against Zurich and Habsburg. Thus, Freiburg had no help from the Confederation, which feared that Freiburg would merge with Habsburg again. Second, on December 17, 1447, they sent the Duke of Savoy a declaration of war on the grounds of the numerous administrative harassments, the economic lockdown and the acts of violence perpetrated by Savoyard supporters and informers. In doing so, however, Freiburg met Ludwig's intentions, whose goal was precisely this. Since Bern, more politically farsighted, recognized this, it assured the Duke of military aid against Freiburg in 1448, but on the condition that neither Savoy nor Bern were allowed to annex part or all of the Friborg territory , except that Freiburg itself wished to do so.

Events and consequences

Picture of Freiburg 1548 in the chronicle of Johannes Stumpf

In the guerrilla war that followed in 1447, the Freiburgers destroyed several places such as Noréaz and, on Christmas Day, Montenach , in 1448 Corserey .

After the Bernese entered the war, they covered the Friborg area with a thorough robbery war and Freiburg was not in a military position to wage a two-front war , also due to the lack of help from Austria .

On July 16, 1448 Freiburg had to submit to the peace dictated by Murten . The war costs were imposed in full on Freiburg, Savoy demanded compensation in an astronomical sum of 100,000 Rhenish guilders for the time . The wealthy citizens of Freiburg did not feel obliged to pay and refused on the grounds that they did not want the war. The Friborg authorities had high taxes and took out forced loans, which caused a social turmoil that made the city ungovernable. In 1449 Duke Albrecht VI attacked. from Austria personally and issued a land letter in favor of the peasants, but this did not calm the situation either, the rival parties continued to fight each other and the problem of debt remained unsolved. In 1451 the followers of Austria tried to enforce their goals through a conspiracy, but failed.

In 1452, Freiburg surrendered to Savoy and thus finally renounced Austria. Savoy issued Freiburg the war contributions and even confirmed and extended the privileges of the city. Bern was annoyed by Savoy's breach of treaty and even threatened Freiburg with another war, but the alliance with Savoy remained. However, Bern recognized that the acquisition of Freiburg would have created serious administrative and political problems, which would have been exacerbated by the rapid expansion of its territory that had only recently taken place. On the other hand, it was above all against the will of its federal allies. In 1454, Bern renewed its castle law with Freiburg, which was theoretically dissolved by the Peace of Murten, and thus established new friendly relations with Freiburg, which also took part in the Thurgau War on the side of the Confederates in 1460. Especially when the rule of Romont of Count Jacob von Romont , a brother of the Duke (from 1465) Amadeus IX. des Glücklichen (the son of Ludwig, who due to his state of health left the duchy to his wife Yolanda , a sister of Ludwig XI. ), Freiburg continued to feel threatened and inhibited in its own state development. In the following period, despite the recognition of the Savoyard sovereignty, the city increasingly overran it, as Freiburg and Bern recognized the military weakness of Savoy as early as the Valais trains from 1418–20. Freiburg also did not shy away from negotiating independently and mostly in agreement with Bern with the federal locations, Austria and the Reich.

Austria formally renounced Freiburg in the Eternal Direction in 1474 , and in 1477 after participating in the Burgundian Wars , Freiburg shook off the rule of Savoy and became a sovereign city-state. In 1478 it became a Free Imperial City and on December 22nd, 1481, Freiburg and Solothurn were admitted to the Confederation as the 9th and 10th places after temporary social tensions (→ Stanser Ordinance ) .


  • History of Switzerland and the Swiss. 4th edition. Schwabe, Basel 2006. ISBN 3-7965-2067-7