From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 16. Switzerland - Catastrophe - 1528-1531
Diet of Arau – Helvetic Unity – Berne Proposes to Close the Markets – Opposition of Zurich – Proposition Agreed to and Published – Zwingle's War Sermon – Blockade of the Waldstettes – No Bread, No Wine, No Salt – Indignation of the Forest Cantons – The Roads Blockaded – Processions – Cry of Despair – France Tries to Conciliate – Diet at Bremgarten – Hope – The Cantons Inflexible – The Strength of Zurich Broken – Discontent – Zwingle's False Position – Zwingle Demands His Dismission – The Council Remonstrate – He Remains – Zwingle at Bremgarten – Zwingle's Farewell to Bullinger – Zwingle's Agony – The Forest Cantons Reject All Conciliation – Frightful Omens – The Comet – Zwingle's Tranquillity
ZWINGLE'S scheme with regard to the establishment of a new Helvetian constitution did not prevail in the diet ofArau. Perhaps it was thought better to see the result of the crisis. Perhaps a more Christian, a more federal view-the hope of procuring the unity of Switzerland by unity of faith-occupied men's minds more than the pre-eminence of the cities. In truth, if a certain number of cantons remained with the pope, the unity of the confederation was destroyed, it might be forever. But if all the confederation was brought over to the same faith, the ancient Helvetic unity would be established on the strongest and surest foundation. Now was the time for acting-or never; and there must be no fear of employing a violent remedy to restore the whole body to health.
Nevertheless, the allies shrank back at the thought of restoring religious liberty or political unity by means of arms; and to escape from the difficulties in which the confederation was placed, they sought a middle course between war and peace. "There is no doubt," said the deputies from Berne, "that the behavior of the cantons with regard to the Word of God fully authorizes an armed intervention; but the perils that threaten us on the side of Italy and the empire-the danger of arousing the lion from his slumber-the general want and misery that afflict our people-the rich harvests that will soon cover our fields, and which the war would infallibly destroy-the great number of pious men among the Waldstettes, and whose innocent blood would flow along with that of the guilty:-all these motives enjoin us to leave the sword in the scabbard. Let us rather close our markets against the Five Cantons; let us refuse them corn, salt, wine, steel, and iron; we shall thus impart authority to the friends of peace among them, and innocent blood with be spared." The meeting separated forthwith to carry this intermediate proposition to the different evangelical cantons; and on the 15th May again assembled at Zurich.
Convinced that the means apparently the most violent were nevertheless both the surest and the most humane, Zurich resisted the Bernese proposition with all its might. "By accepting this proposition," said they, "we sacrifice the advantages that we now possess, and we give the Five Cantons time to arm themselves, and to fall upon us first. Let us take care that the emperor does not then assail us on one side, while our ancient confederates attack us on the other; a just war is not in opposition to the Word of God; but this is contrary to it-taking the bread from the mouths of the innocent as well as the guilty; straitening by hunger the sick, the aged, pregnant women, children, and all who are deeply afflicted by the injustice of the Waldstettes. We should beware of exciting by this means the anger of the poor, and transforming into enemies many who at the present time are our friends and our brothers!”
We must acknowledge that this language, which was Zwingle's, contained much truth. But the other cantons, and Berne in particular, were immovable. "When we have once shed the blood of our brothers," said they, "we shall never be able to restore life to those who have lost it; while, from the moment the Waldstettes have given us satisfaction, we shall be able to put an end to all these severe measures. We are resolved not to begin the war." There were no means of running counter to such a declaration. The Zurichers consented to refuse supplies to the Waldstettes; but it was with hearts full of anguish, as if they had foreseen all that this deplorable measure would cost them. It was agreed that the severe step that was now about to be taken should not be suspended except by common consent, and that, as it would create great exasperation, each one should hold himself prepared to repel the attacks of the enemy. Zurich and Berne were commissioned to notify this determination to the Five Cantons; and Zurich, discharging its task with promptitude, immediately forwarded an order to every bailiwick to suspend all communication with the Waldstettes, commanding them at the same time to abstain from ill-usage and hostile language. Thus the Reformation, becoming imprudently mixed up with political combinations, marched from fault to fault; it pretended to preach the Gospel to the poor, and was now about to refuse them bread!
On the Sunday following-it was Whitsunday-the resolution was published from the pulpits. Zwingle walked towards his, where an immense crowd was waiting for him. The piercing eye of this great man easily discovered the dangers of the measure in a political point of view, and his Christian heart deeply felt all its cruelty. His soul was overburdened, his eyes downcast. If at this moment the true character of a minister of the Gospel had awoke within him; -if Zwingle with his powerful voice had called on the people to humiliation before God, to forgiveness of trespasses, and to prayer; safety might yet have dawned on "broken-hearted" Switzerland. But it was not so. More and more the Christian disappears in the reformer, and the citizen alone remains; but in that character he soars far above all, and his policy is undoubtedly the most skillful. He saw clearly that every delay may ruin Zurich; and after having made his way through the congregation, and closed the book of the Prince of Peace, he hesitated not to attack the resolution which he had just communicated to the people, and on the very festival of the Holy Ghost to preach war. "He who fears not to call his adversary a criminal," said he in his usual forcible language, "must be ready to follow the word with a blow. If he does not strike, he will be stricken. Men of Zurich! you deny food to the Five Cantons, as to evil doers; well! let the blow follow the threat, rather than reduce poor innocent creatures to starvation. If, by not taking the offensive, you appear to believe that there is not sufficient reason for punishing the Waldstettes, and yet you refuse them food and drink, you will force them by this line of conduct to take up arms, to raise their hands, and to inflict punishment upon you. This is the fate that awaits you.”
These words of the eloquent reformer moved the whole assembly. Zwingle's politic mind already so influenced and misled all the people, that there were few souls Christian enough to feel how strange it was, that on the very day when they were celebrating the outpouring of the Spirit of peace and love upon the Christian Church, the mouth of a minister of God should utter a provocation to war. They looked at this sermon only in a political point of view: "It is a seditious discourse; it is an excitement to civil war!" said some. "No," replied others, "it is the language that the safety of the state requires!" All Zurich was agitated. "Zurich has too much fire," said Berne. "Berne has too much cunning," replied Zurich. Zwingle's gloomy prophecy was too soon to be fulfilled!
No sooner had the reformed cantons communicated this pitiless decree to the Waldstettes than they hastened its execution; and Zurich showed the greatest strictness respecting it. Not only the markets of Zurich and of Berne, but also those of the free bailiwicks of St. Gall, of the Tockenburg, of the district of Sargans and of the valley of the Rhine, a country partly under the sovereignty of the Waldstettes, were shut against the Five Cantons. A formidable power had suddenly encompassed with barrenness, famine, and death the noble founders of Helvetian liberty. Uri, Schwytz, Unterwalden, Zug, and Lucerne, were, as it seemed, in the midst of a vast desert. Their own subjects, thought they at least, the communes that have taken the oath of allegiance to them, would range themselves on their side! But no; Bremgarten, and even Mellingen, refused all succor. Their last hope was in Wesen and the Gastral. Neither Berne nor Zurich had anything to do there; Schwytz and Glaris alone ruled over them; but the power of their enemies had penetrated everywhere. A majority of thirteen votes had declared in favor of Zurich at the landsgemeinde of Glaris; and Glaris closed the gates of Wesen and of the Gastral against Schwytz. In vain did Berne itself cry out: "How can you compel subjects to refuse supplies to their lords?" In vain did Schwytz raise its voice in indignation; Zurich immediately sent to Wesen-gunpowder and bullets.
It was upon Zurich, therefore, that fell all the odium of a measure which that city had at first so earnestly combated. At Arau, at Bremgarten, at Mellingen, in the free bailiwicks, were several carriages laden with provisions for the Waldstettes. They were stopped, unloaded, and upset: with them barricades were erected on the roads leading to Lucerne, Schwytz, and Zug. Already a year of dearth had made provisions scarce in the Five Cantons; -already had a frightful epidemic, the Sweating Sickness, scattered everywhere despondency and death: but now the hand of man was joined to the hand of God; the evil increased, and the poor inhabitants of these mountains beheld unheard-of calamities approach with hasty steps. No more bread for their children-no more wine to revive their exhausted strength-no more salt for their flocks and herds! Everything failed them that man requires for subsistence. One could not see such things, and be a man, without feeling his heart wrung. In the confederate cities, and out of Switzerland, numerous voices were raised against this implacable measure. What good can result from it? Did not St. Paul write to the Romans: "If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head?" And when the magistrates wished to convince certain refractory communes of the utility of the measure: "We desire no religious war," cried they. "If the Waldstettes will not believe in God, let them stick to the devil!”
But it was especially in the Five Cantons that earnest complaints were heard. The most pacific individuals, and even the secret partisans of the Reform, seeing famine invade their habitations, felt the deepest indignation. The enemies of Zurich skillfully took advantage of this disposition; they fostered these murmurs; and soon the cry of anger and distress re-echoed from all the mountains. In vain did Berne represent to the Waldstettes that it is more cruel to refuse men the nourishment of the soul than to cut off that of the body. "God," replied these mountaineers in their despair, "God causes the fruits of the earth to grow freely for all men! They were not content with groaning in their cottages, and venting their indignation in the councils; they filled all Switzerland with complaints and menaces. "They wish to employ famine to tear us from our ancient faith; they wish to deprive our wives and our children bread, that they may take from us the liberty we derive from our forefathers. When did such things ever take place in the bosom of the confederation? Did we not see, in the last war, the confederates with arms in their hands, and who were ready to draw the sword, eating together from the same dish? They tear in pieces old friendships-they trample our ancient manners under foot-they violate treaties-they break alliances... We invoke the charters of our ancestors. Help! help!... Wise men of our people, give us your advice, and all you who know how to handle the sling and the sword, come and maintain with us the sacred possessions, for which our fathers, delivered from the yoke of the stranger, united their arms and their hearts.”
At the same time the Five Cantons sent into Alsace, Brisgau, and Swabia, to obtain salt, wine, and bread; but the administration of the cities was implacable; the orders were everywhere given and everywhere strictly executed. Zurich and the other allied cantons intercepted all communication, and sent back to Germany the supplies that had been forwarded to their brethren. The Five Cantons were like a vast fortress, all the issues from which are closely guarded by watchful sentinels. The afflicted Waldstettes, on beholding themselves alone with famine between their lakes and their mountains, had recourse to the observances of their worship. All sports, dances, and every kind of amusement were interdicted; prayers were directed to be offered up; and long processions covered the roads of Einsidlen and other resorts of pilgrims. They assumed the belt, and staff, and arms of the brotherhood to which they each belonged; each man carried a chaplet in his hands, and repeated paternosters; the mountains and the valleys re-echoed with their plaintive hymns. But the Waldstettes did still more: they grasped their swords-they sharpened the points of their halberds-they brandished their weapons in the direction of Zurich and of Berne, and exclaimed with rage: "They block up their roads, but we will open them with our right arms!" No one replied to this cry of despair; but there is a just Judge in heaven to whom vengeance belongs, and who will soon reply in a terrible manner, by punishing those misguided persons, who, forgetful of Christian mercy, and making an impious mixture of political and religious matters, pretend to secure the triumph of the Gospel by famine and by armed men.
Some attempts, however, were made to arrange matters; but these very efforts proved a great humiliation for Switzerland and for the Reform. It was not the ministers of the Gospel, it was France-more than once an occasion of discord to Switzerland-that offered to restore peace. Every proceeding calculated to increase its influence among the cantons was of service to its policy. On the 14th May, Maigret and Dangertin (the latter of whom had received the Gospel truth, and consequently did not dare return to France), after some allusions to the spirit which Zurich had shown in this affair-a spirit little in accordance with the Gospel-said to the council: "The king our master has sent you two gentlemen to consult on the means of preserving concord among you. If war and tumult invade Switzerland, all the society of the Helvetians will be destroyed,""and whichever party is the conqueror, he will be as much ruined as the other." Zurich having replied that if the Five Cantons would allow the free preaching of the Word of God, the reconciliation would be easy, the French secretly sounded the Waldstettes, whose answer was: "We will never permit the preaching of the Word of God as the people of Zurich understand it."
These more or less interested exertions of the foreigners having failed, a general diet became the only chance of safety that remained for Switzerland. One was accordingly convoked at Bremgarten. It was opened in presence of deputies from France, from the Duke of Milan, from the Countess of Neufchatel, from the Grisons, Valais, Thurgovia, and the district of Sargans; and met on five different occasions,-on the 14th and 20th June, on the 9th July, and the 10th and 23rd August. The chronicler Bullinger, who was pastor of Bremgarten, delivered an oration at the opening, in which he earnestly exhorted the confederates to union and peace.
A gleam of hope for a moment cheered Switzerland. The blockade had become less strict; friendship and good neighborhood had prevailed in many places over the decrees of the state. Unusual roads had been opened across the wildest mountains to convey supplies to the Waldstettes. Provisions were concealed in bales of merchandise; and while Lucerne imprisoned and tortured its own citizens, who were found with the pamphlets of the Zurichers, Berne punished but slightly the peasants who had been discovered bearing food for Unterwalden and Lucerne; and Glaris shut its eyes on the frequent violation of its orders. The voice of charity, that had been momentarily stifled, pleaded with fresh energy the cause of their confederates before the reformed cantons.
But the Five Cantons were inflexible. "We will not listen to any proposition before the raising of the blockade," said they. "We will not raise it," replied Berne and Zurich, "before the Gospel is allowed to be freely preached, not only in the common bailiwicks, but also in the Five Cantons." This was undoubtedly going too far, even according to the natural law and the principles of the confederation. The councils of Zurich might considered it their duty to have recourse to war for maintaining liberty of conscience in the common bailiwicks; but it was unjust-it was a usurpation, to constrain the Five Cantons in a matter that concerned their own territory. Nevertheless the mediators succeeded, not without much trouble, in drawing up a plan of conciliation that seemed to harmonize with the wishes of both parties. The conference was broken up, and this project was hastily transmitted to the different states for their ratification.
The diet met a few days after; but the Five Cantons persisted in their demand, without yielding in any one point. In vain did Zurich and Berne represent to them, that, by persecuting the reformed, the cantons violated the treaty of peace; in vain did the mediators exhaust their strength in warnings and entreaties. The parties appeared at one time to approximate, and then on a sudden they were more distant and more irritated than ever. The Waldstettes at last broke up the third conference by declaring, that far from opposing the evangelical truth, they would maintain it, as it had been taught by the Redeemer, by his holy apostles, by the four doctors, and by their holy mother, the Church-a declaration that seemed a bitter irony to the deputies from Zurich and Berne. Nevertheless Berne, turning towards Zurich as they were separating, observed: "Beware of too much violence, even should they attack you!”
This exhortation was unnecessary. The strength of Zurich had passed away. The first appearance of the Reformation and of the reformers had been greeted with joy. The people, who groaned under a twofold slavery, believed they saw the dawn of liberty. But their minds, abandoned for ages to superstition and ignorance, being unable immediately to realize the hopes they had conceived, a spirit of discontent soon spread among the masses. The change by which Zwingle, ceasing to be a man of the Gospel, became the man of the State, took away from the people the enthusiasm necessary to resist the terrible attacks they would have to sustain. The enemies of the Reform had a fair chance against it, so soon as its friends abandoned the position that gave them strength. Besides, Christians could not have recourse to famine and to war to secure the triumph of the Gospel, without their consciences becoming troubled. The Zurichers "walked not in the Spirit, but in the flesh; now, the works of the flesh are hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions." (Gal.5:19,20)The danger without was increasing, while within, hope, union, and courage were far from being augmented: men saw on the contrary the gradual disappearance of that harmony and lively faith which had been the strength of the Reform. The Reformation had grasped the sword, and that very sword pierced its heart.
Occasions of discord were multiplied in Zurich. By the advice of Zwingle, the number of nobles was diminished in the two councils, because of their opposition to the Gospel; and this measure spread discontent among the most honorable families of the canton. The millers and bakers were placed under certain regulations, which the dearth rendered necessary, and a great part of the townspeople attributed this proceeding to the sermons of the reformer, and became irritated against him. Rodolph Lavater, bailiff of Kibourg, was appointed captain-general, and the officers who were of longer standing than he were offended. Many who had been formerly the most distinguished by their zeal for the Reform, now openly opposed the cause they had supported. The ardor with which the ministers of peace demanded war spread in every quarter a smothered dissatisfaction, and many persons gave vent to their indignation. This unnatural confusion of Church and State, which had corrupted Christianity after the age of Constantine, was hurrying on the ruin of the Reformation. The majority of the Great Council, ever ready to adopt important and salutary resolutions, was destroyed. The old magistrates, who were still at the head of affairs, allowed themselves to be carried away by feelings of jealously against men whose non-official influence prevailed over theirs. All those who hated the doctrine of the Gospel, whether from love of the world or from love to the pope, boldly raised their heads in Zurich. The partisans of the monks, the friends of foreign service, the malcontents of every class, coalesced in pointing our Zwingle as the author of all the sufferings of the people.
Zwingle was heart-broken. He saw that Zurich and the Reformation were hastening to their ruin, and he could not check them. How could he do so, since, without suspecting it, he had been the principal accomplice in these disasters? What was to be done? Should the pilot remain in the ship which he is no longer permitted to save? There was but one means of safety for Zurich and for Zwingle. He should have retired from the political stage, and fallen back on that kingdom which is not of this world; he should, like Moses, have kept his hands and his heart night and day raised towards heaven, and energetically preached repentance, faith, and peace. But religious and political matters were united in the mind of this great man by such old and dear ties, that it was impossible for him to distinguish their line of separation. This confusion had become his dominant idea; the Christian and the citizen were for him one and the same character; and hence it resulted, that all resources of the state-even cannons and arquebuses-were to be placed at the service of the Truth. When one peculiar idea thus seizes upon a man, we see a false conscience formed within him, which approves of many things condemned by the Word of the Lord.
This was now Zwingle's condition. War appeared to him legitimate and desirable; and if that was refused, he had only to withdraw from public life: he was for everything or nothing. He therefore, on the 26th July, appeared before the Great Council with dimmed eyes and disconsolate heart: "For eleven years," said he, "I have been preaching the Gospel among you, and have warned you faithfully and paternally of the woes that are hanging over you; but no attention has been paid to my words; the friends of foreign alliances, the enemies of the Gospel, are elected to the council, and while you refuse to follow my advice, I am made responsible for every misfortune. I cannot accept such a position, and I ask for my dismission." The reformer retired bathed in tears.
The council shuddered as they heard these words. All the old feelings of respect which they had so long entertained for Zwingle were revived; to lose him now was to ruin Zurich. The burgomaster and the other magistrates received orders to persuade him to recall his fatal resolution. The conference took place on the same day; Zwingle asked time for consideration. For three days and three nights he sought the road that he should follow. Seeing the dark storm that was collecting from all quarters, he considered whether he ought to leave Zurich and seek refuge on the lofty hills of the Tockenburg, where he had been reared, at a time when his country and his Church were on the point of being assailed and beaten down by their enemies, like corn by the hailstorm. He groaned and cried to the Lord. He would have put away the cup of bitterness that was presented to his soul, but could not gather up the resolution. At length the sacrifice was accomplished, and the victim was placed shuddering upon the altar. Three days after the first conference, Zwingle reappeared in the council: "I will stay with you," said he, "and I will labor for the public safety-until death!”
From this moment he displayed new zeal. On the one hand, he endeavored to revive harmony and courage in Zurich; on the other, he set about arousing and exciting the allied cities to increase and concentrate all the forces of the Reformation. Faithful to the political vocation he imagined to have received from God himself-persuaded that it was in the doubts and want of energy of the Bernese that he must look for the cause of all the evil, the reformer repaired to Bremgarten with Collins and Steiner, during the fourth conference of the diet, although he incurred great danger in the attempt. He arrived secretly by night, and having entered the house of his friend and disciple, Bullinger, he invited the deputies of Berne (J. J. de Watteville and Im Hag) to meet him there with the greatest secrecy, and prayed them in the most solemn tone earnestly to reflect upon the dangers of the Reform. "I fear," said he, "that in consequence of our unbelief, this business will not succeed. By refusing supplies to the Five Cantons, we have begun a work that will be fatal to us. What is to be done? Withdraw the prohibition? The cantons will then be more insolent and haughty than ever. Enforce it? They will take the offensive, and if their attack succeed you will behold our fields red with the blood of the believers, the doctrine of truth cast down, the Church of Christ laid waste, all social relations overthrown, our adversaries more hardened and irritated against the Gospel, and crowds of priests and monks again filling our rural districts, streets, and temples... And yet," added Zwingle, after a few instants of emotion and silence, "that also will have an end." The Bernese were filled with agitation by the solemn voice of the reformer. "We see," replied they, "all that is to be feared for our common cause, and we will employ every care to prevent such great disasters."-"I who write these things was present and heard them," adds Bullinger.
It was feared that if the presence of Zwingle at Bremgarten became known to the deputies of the Five Cantons, they would not restrain their violence. During this nocturnal conference three of the town-councilors were stationed as sentinels in front of Bullinger's house. Before daybreak, the reformer and his two friends, accompanied by Bullinger and the three councilors, passed through the deserted streets leading to the gate on the road to Zurich. Three different times Zwingle took leave of Bullinger, who was erelong to be his successor. His mind was filled with a presentiment of his approaching death; he could not tear himself from that young friend whose face he was never to see again; he blessed him amidst floods of tears. "O my dear Henry!" said he, "may God protect you! Be faithful to our Lord Jesus Christ and to his Church." At length they separated; but at that very moment, says Bullinger, a mysterious personage, clad in a robe as white as snow, suddenly appeared, and after frightening the soldiers who guarded the gate, plunged suddenly into the water, and vanished. Bullinger, Zwingle, and their friends did not perceive it; Bullinger himself sought for it all around, but to no purpose; still the sentinels persisted in the reality of this frightful apparition. Bullinger in great agitation returned in darkness and in silence to his house. His mind involuntarily compared the departure of Zwingle and the white phantom; and he shuddered at the frightful omen which the thought of the specter impressed upon his mind.
Sufferings of another kind pursued Zwingle to Zurich. He had thought that by consenting to remain at the head of affairs, he would recover all his ancient influence. But he was deceived: the people desired to see him there, and yet they would not follow him. The Zurichers daily became more and more indisposed towards the war which they had at first demanded, and identified themselves with the passive system of Berne. Zwingle remained for some time stupefied and motionless before this inert mass, which his most vigorous exertions could not move. But soon discovering in every quarter of the horizon the prophetic signs, precursors of the storm about to burst upon the ship of which he was the pilot, he uttered cries of anguish, and showed the signal of distress. "I see," exclaimed he one day to the people from the pulpit, whither he had gone to give utterance to his gloomy forebodings, -"I see that the most faithful warnings cannot save you; you will not punish the pensioners of the foreigner... They have too firm a support among us! A chain is prepared-behold it entire-it unrolls link after link, -soon will they bind me to it, and more than one pious Zuricher with me.... It is against me they are enraged! I am ready; I submit to the Lord's will. But these people shall never be my masters... As for thee, O Zurich, they will give thee thy reward; they will strike thee on the head. Thou willest it. Thou refusest to punish them; well! it is they who will punish thee. But God will not the less preserve his Word, and their haughtiness shall come to an end." Such was Zwingle's cry of agony; but the immobility of death alone replied. The hearts of the Zurichers were so hardened that the sharpest arrows of the reformer could not pierce them, and they fell at his feet blunted and useless.
But events were pressing on, and justified all his fears. The Five Cantons had rejected every proposition that had been made to them. "Why do you talk of punishing a few wrongs?" they had replied to the mediators; "it is a question of quite another kind. Do you not require that we should receive back among us the heretics whom we have banished, and tolerate no other priests than those who preach conformable to the Word of God? We know what that means. No-no-we will not abandon the religion of our fathers; and if we must see our wives and our children deprived of food, our hands will know how to conquer what is refused to us: to that we pledge our bodies-our goods-our lives." It was with this threatening language that the deputies quitted the diet of Bremgarten. They had proudly shaken the folds of their mantles, and war had fallen from them.
The terror was general, and the alarmed citizens beheld everywhere frightful portents, terrific signs, apparently foreboding the most horrible events. It was not only the white phantom that had appeared at Bremgarten at Zwingle's side; the most fearful omens, passing from mouth to mouth, filled the people with their most gloomy presentiments. The history of these phenomena, however strange it may appear, characterizes the period of which we write. We do not create the times: it is our simple duty to paint them as they really were.
On the 26th July, a widow chancing to be alone before her house, in the village of Castelenschloss, suddenly beheld a frightful spectacle-blood springing from the earth all around her. She rushed in alarm into the cottage...but, oh horrible! blood is flowing everywhere-from the wainscot and from the stones; -it falls in a stream from a basin on a shelf, and even the child's cradle overflows with it. The woman imagines that the invisible hand of an assassin has been at work, and rushes in distraction out of doors, crying murder! murder! The villagers and the monks of a neighboring convent assemble at the noise-they succeed in partly effacing the bloody stains; but a little later in the day, the other inhabitants of the house, sitting down in terror to eat their evening meal under the projecting eaves, suddenly discover blood bubbling up in a pond-blood flowing from the loft-blood covering all the walls of the house. Blood-blood-everywhere blood! The bailiff of Schenkenberg and the pastor of Dalheim arrive-inquire into the matter-and immediately report it to the lords of Berne and to Zwingle.
Scarcely had this horrible recital-the particulars of which are faithfully preserved in Latin and in German-filled all minds with the idea of a horrible butchery, than in the western quarter of the heavens there appeared a frightful comet, whose immense train of a pale yellow color turned towards the south. At the time of its setting, this apparition shone in the sky like the fire of a furnace. One night-on the 15th August as it would appear-Zwingle and George Muller, former abbot of Wettingen, being together in the cemetery of the cathedral, both fixed their eyes upon this terrific meteor. "This ominous globe," said Zwingle, "is come to light the path that leads to my grave. It will be at the cost of my life and of many good men with me. Although I am rather shortsighted, I foresee great calamities in the future. The truth and the Church will mourn; but Christ will never forsake us." It was not only at Zurich that this flaming star spread consternation. Vadian being one night on an eminence in the neighborhood of St. Gall, surrounded by his friends and disciples, after having explained to them the names of the stars and the miracles of the Creator, stopped before this comet, which denounced the anger of God; and the famous Theophrastus declared that it foreboded not only great bloodshed, but most especially the death of learned and illustrious men. This mysterious phenomenon prolonged its frightful visitation until the 3rd September.
When once the noise of these omens was spread abroad, men could no longer contain themselves. Their imaginations were excited; they heaped fright upon fright: each place had its terrors. Two banners waving in the clouds had been seen on the mountain of the Brunig; at Zug a buckler had appeared in the heavens; on the banks of the Reuss, reiterated explosions were heard during the night; on the lake of the Four Cantons, ships with aerial combatants careered about in every direction. War-war; -blood-blood!—these were the general cries.
In the midst of all this agitation, Zwingle alone seemed tranquil. He rejected none of these presentiments, but contemplated them with calmness. "A heart that fears God," said he, "cares not for the threats of the world. To forward the designs of God, whatever may happen, -this is his task. A carrier who has a long road to go must make up his mind to wear his wagon and his gear during the journey.
If he carry his merchandise to the appointed spot, that is enough for him. We are the wagon and the gear of God. There is not one of the articles that is not worn, twisted, or broken; but our great Driver will not the less accomplish by our means his vast designs. Is it not to those who fall upon the field of battle that the noblest crown belongs? Take courage, then, in the midst of all these dangers, through which the cause of Jesus Christ must pass. Be of good cheer! although we should never here below see its triumphs with our own eyes. The Judge of the combat beholds us, and it is he who confers the crown. Others will enjoy upon earth the fruits of our labors; while we, already in heaven, shall enjoy an eternal reward."
Thus spoke Zwingle, as he advanced calmly towards the threatening noise of the tempest, which, by its repeated flashes and sudden explosions, foreboded death.
From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 16. Switzerland - Catastrophe - 1528-1531
The Five Cantons Decide for War – Deceitful Calm – Fatal Inactivity – Zurich Forewarned – Banner of Lucerne Planted – Manifesto – The Bailiwicks Pillaged – The Monastery of Cappel – Letter – Infatuation of Zurich – New Warnings – The War Begins – The Tocsin – A Fearful Night – The War – Banner and Army of Zurich – Zwingle's Departure – Zwingle's Horse – Anna Zwingle
THE Five Cantons, assembled in diet at Lucerne, appeared full of determination, and war was decided upon. "We will call upon the cities to respect our alliances," said they, "and if they refuse, we will enter the common bailiwicks by force to procure provisions, and unite our banners in Zug to attack the enemy." The Waldstettes were not alone. The nuncio, being solicited by his Lucerne friends, had required that auxiliary troops, paid by the pope, should be put in motion towards Switzerland, and he announced their near arrival.
These resolutions carried terror into Switzerland; the mediating cantons met again at Arau, and drew up a plan that should leave the religious question just as it had been settled by the treaty of 1529. Deputies immediately bore these propositions to the different councils. Lucerne haughtily rejected them. "Tell those who sent you," was the reply, "that we do not acknowledge them as our school-masters. We would rather die than yield the least thing to the prejudice of our faith." The mediators returned to Arau, trembling and discouraged. This useless attempt increased the disagreement among the reformed, and gave the Waldstettes still greater confidence. Zurich, so decided for the reception of the Gospel, now became daily more irresolute! The members of the council distrusted each other; the people felt no interest in this war; and Zwingle, notwithstanding his unshaken faith in the justice of his cause, had no hope for the struggle that was about to take place. Berne, on its side, did not cease to entreat Zurich to avoid precipitation. "Do not let us expose ourselves to the reproach of too much haste, as in 1529," was the general remark in Zurich. "We have sure friends in the midst of the Waldstettes; let us wait until they announce to us, as they have promised, some real danger.”
It was soon believed that these temporizers were right. In fact the alarming news ceased. That constant rumor of war, which incessantly came from the Waldstettes, discontinued. There were no more alarms-no more fears! Deceitful omen! Over the mountains and valleys of Switzerland hangs that gloomy and mysterious silence, the forerunner of the tempest.
While they were sleeping at Zurich, the Waldstettes were preparing to conquer their rights by force of arms. The chiefs, closely united to each other by common interests and dangers, found a powerful support in the indignation of the people. In a diet of the Five Cantons, held at Brunnen on the banks of the Lake of Lucerne, opposite Grutli, the alliances of the confederation were read; and the deputies, having been summoned to declare by their votes whether they thought the war just and lawful, all hands were raised with a shudder. Immediately the Waldstettes had prepared their attack with the profoundest mystery. All the passes had been guarded-all communication between Zurich and the Five Cantons had been rendered impossible. The friends upon whom the Zurichers had reckoned on the banks of the Lakes Lucerne and Zug, and who had promised them intelligence, were like prisoners in their mountains. The terrible avalanche was about to slip from the icy summits of the mountain, and to roll into the valleys, even to the gates of Zurich, overthrowing everything in its passage, without the least forewarning of its fall. The mediators had returned discouraged to their cantons. A spirit of imprudence and of error-sad forerunner of the fall of republics as well as of kings-had spread over the whole city of Zurich. The council had at first given orders to call out the militia; then, deceived by the silence of the Waldstettes, it had imprudently revoked the decree, and Lavater, the commander of the army, had retired in discontent to Rybourg, and indignantly thrown far from him that sword which they had commanded him to leave in the scabbard. Thus the winds were about to be unchained from the mountains; the waters of the great deep, aroused by a terrible earthquake, were about to open; and yet the vessel of the state, sadly abandoned, sported up and down with indifference over a frightful gulf, -its yards struck, its sails loose and motionless-without compass or crew-without pilot, watch, or helm.
Whatever were the exertions of the Waldstettes, they could not entirely stifle the rumor of war, which from chalet to chalet called all their citizens to arms. God permitted a cry of alarm-a single one, it is true-to resound in the ears of the people of Zurich. On the 4th October, a little boy, who knew not what he was doing, succeeded in crossing the frontier of Zug, and presented himself with two loaves at the gate of the reformed monastery of Cappel, situated in the farthest limits of the cantons of Zurich. He was led to the abbot, to whom the child gave the loaves without saying a word. The superior, with whom there chanced to be at that time a councilor from Zurich, Henry Peyer, sent by his government, turned pale at the sight. "If the Five Cantons intend entering by force of arms into the free bailiwicks," had said these two Zurichers to one of their friends of Zug, "you will send your son to us with one loaf; but you will give him two if they are marching at once upon the bailiwicks and upon Zurich." The abbot and the councilor wrote with all speed to Zurich. "Be upon your guard! take up arms," said they; but no credit was attached to this information. The council were at that time occupied in taking measures to prevent the supplies that had arrived from Alsace from entering the cantons. Zwingle himself, who had never ceased to announce war, did not believe it. "These pensioners are really clever fellows," said the reformer. "Their preparations may be after all nothing but a French maneuver."
He was deceived-that were a reality. Four days were to accomplish the ruin of Zurich. Let us retrace in succession the history of these disastrous moments.
On Sunday, 8th October, a messenger appeared at Zurich, and demanded, in the name of the Five Cantons, letters of perpetual alliance. The majority saw in this step nothing but a trick; but Zwingle began to discern the thunderbolt in the black cloud that was drawing near. He was in the pulpit: it was the last time he was destined to appear in it; and as if he had seen the formidable specter of Rome rise frightfully above the Alps, calling upon him and upon his people to abandon faith: -"No-no!" cried he, "never will I deny my Redeemer!”
At the same moment a messenger arrived in haste from Mulinen, commander of the Knights-hospitallers of St. John at Hitzkylch. "On Friday, 6th October," said he to the councils of Zurich, "the people of Lucerne planted their banner in the Great Square. Two men that I sent to Lucerne have been thrown into prison. Tomorrow morning, Monday, 9th October, the Five Cantons will enter the bailiwicks. Already the country-people, frightened and fugitive, are running to us in crowds."-"It is an idle story," said the councils. Nevertheless they recalled commander-in-chief Lavater, who sent off a trusty man, nephew of James Winckler, with orders to repair to Cappel, and if possible as far as Zug, to reconnoiter the arrangements of the cantons.
The Waldstettes were in reality assembling round the banner of Lucerne. The people of this canton; the men of Schwytz, Uri, Zug, and Unterwalden; refugees from Zurich and Berne, with a few Italians, formed the main body of the army, which had been raised to invade the free bailiwicks. Two manifestoes were published-one addressed to the cantons, the other to foreign princes and nations.
The Five Cantons energetically set forth the attacks made upon the treaties, the discord sown throughout the confederation, and finally the refusal to sell them provisions-a refusal whose only aim was (according to them) to excite the people against the magistrates, and to establish the Reform by force. "It is not true," added they, "that-as they are continually crying out-we oppose the preaching of the truth and the reading of the Bible. As obedient members of the Church, we desire to receive all that our holy mother receives. But we reject the books and the innovations of Zwingle and his companions."
Hardly had the messengers charged with these manifestoes departed, before the first division of the army began to march, and arrived in the evening in the free bailiwicks. The soldiers having entered the deserted churches, and seen the images of the saints removed and the altars broken, their anger was kindled; they spread like a torrent over the whole country, pillaged everything they met with, and were particularly enraged against the houses of the pastors, where they destroyed the furniture with oaths and maledictions. At the same time the division that was to form the main army marched upon Zug, thence to move upon Zurich.
Cappel, at three leagues from Zurich, and about a league from Zug, was the first place they would reach in the Zurich territory, after crossing the frontier of the Five Cantons. Near the Albis, between two hills of similar height, the Granges on the north, and the Ifelsberg on the south, in the midst of delightful pastures, stood the ancient and wealthy convent of the Cistercians, in whose church were the tombs of many ancient and noble families of these districts. The Abbot Wolfgang Joner, a just and pious man, a great friend of the arts and letters, and a distinguished preacher, had reformed his convent in 1527. Full of compassion, rich in good works, particularly towards the poor of the canton of Zug and the free bailiwicks, he was held in great honor throughout the whole country. He predicted what would be the termination of the war; yet as soon as danger approached, he spared no labor to serve his country.
It was on Sunday night that the abbot received positive intelligence of the preparations at Zug. He paced up and down his cell with hasty steps; sleep fled from his eyes; he drew near his lamp, and addressing his intimate friend, Peter Simmler, who succeeded him and who was then residing at Kylchberg, a village on the borders of the lake, and about a league from the town, he hastily wrote these words: "The great anxiety and trouble which agitate me prevent me from busying myself with the management of the house, and induce me to write to you all that is preparing. The time is come... the scourge of God appears.... After many journeys and inquiries, we have learned that the Five Cantons will march today (Monday) to seize upon Hitzkylch, while the main army assembles its banners at Baar, between Zug and Cappel. Those from the valley of the Adige and the Italians will arrive today or tomorrow." This letter, through some unforeseen circumstance, did not reach Zurich till the evening.
Meanwhile the messenger whom Lavater had sent-the nephew of J. Winckler-creeping on his belly, gliding unperceived past the sentinels, and clinging to the shrubs that overhung the precipices, had succeeded in making his way where no road had been cleared. On arriving near Zug, he had discovered with alarm the banner and the militia hastening from all sides at beat of drum: then traversing again these unknown passes, he had returned to Zurich with this information.
It was high time that the bandage should fall from the eyes of the Zurichers; but the delusion was to endure until the end. The council which was called together met in small number. "The Five Cantons," said they, "are making a little noise to frighten us, and to make us raise the blockade." The council, however, decided on sending Colonel Rodolph Dumysen and Ulrich Funck to Cappel, to see what was going on; and each one, tranquillized by this unmeaning step, retired to rest.
They did not slumber long. Every hour brought fresh messengers of alarm to Zurich. "The banners of four cantons are assembled at Zug," said they. "They are only waiting for Uri. The people of the free bailiwicks are flocking to Cappel, and demanding arms... Help! help!”
Before the break of the day the council was again assembled, and it ordered the convocation of the Two Hundred. An old man, whose hair had grown gray on the battle-field and in the council of the state-the banneret John Schweitzer-raising his head enfeebled by age, and darting the last beam, as it were, from his eyes, exclaimed, "Now-at this very moment, in God's name, send an advanced-guard to Cappel, and let the army, promptly collecting round the banner, follow it immediately." He said no more; but the charm was not yet broken. "The peasants of the free bailiwicks," said some, "we know to be hasty, and easily carried away. They make the matter greater than it really is. The wisest plan is to wait for the report of the councilors." In Zurich there was no longer either arm to defend or head to advise.
It was seven in the morning, and the assembly was still sitting, when Rodolph Gwerb, pastor of Rifferschwyl, near Cappel, arrived in haste. "The people of the lordship of Knonau," said he, "are crowding round the convent, and loudly calling for chiefs and for aid. The enemy is approaching. Will our lords of Zurich (say they) abandon themselves, and us with them? Do they wish to give us up to slaughter?" The pastor, who had witnessed these mournful scenes, spoke with animation. The councilors, whose infatuation was to be prolonged to the last, were offended at his message. "They want to make us act imprudently," replied they, turning in their arm-chairs.
They had scarcely ceased speaking before a new messenger appeared, wearing on his features the marks of the greatest terror: it was Schwytzer, landlord of the "Beech Tree" on Mount Albis. "My lords Dumysen and Funck," said he, "have sent me to you with all speed to announce to the council that the Five Cantons have seized upon Hitzkylch, and that they are now collecting all their troops at Baar. My lords remain in the bailiwicks to aid the frightened inhabitants.”
This time the most confident turned pale. Terror, so long restrained, passed like a flash of lightning through every heart. Hitzkylch was in the power of the enemy, and the war was begun.
It was resolved to expedite to Cappel a flying camp of six hundred men with six guns; but the command was intrusted to George Godli, whose brother was in the army of the Five Cantons, and he was enjoined to keep on the defensive. Godli and his troops had just left the city, when the captain-general Lavater, summoning into the hall of the Smaller Council the old banneret Schweitzer, William Toning, captain of the arquebusiers, J. Dennikon, captain of the artillery, Zwingle, and some others, said to them, "Let us deliberate promptly on the means of saving the canton and the city. Let the tocsin immediately call out all the citizens." The captain-general feared that the councils would shrink at this proceeding, and he wished to raise the landsturm by the simple advice of the chiefs of the army and of Zwingle. "We cannot take it upon ourselves," said they; the two councils are still sitting; let us lay this proposition before them." They hastened towards the place of meeting; but, fatal mischance! there were only a few members of the Smaller Council on the benches. "The consent of the Two Hundred is necessary," said they. Again a new delay, and the enemy were on their march. Two hours after noon the Great Council met again, but only to make long and useless speeches. At length the resolution was taken, and at seven in the evening the tocsin began to sound in all the country districts. Treason united with this dilatoriness, and persons who pretended to be envoys from Zurich stopped the landsturm in many places, as being contrary to the opinion of the council. A great number of citizens went to sleep again.
It was a fearful night. The thick darkness-a violent storm-the alarm-bell ringing from every steeple-the people running to arms-the noise of swords and guns-the sound of trumpets and of drums, combined with the roaring of the tempest, the distrust, discontent, and even treason, which spread affliction in every quarter-the sobs of women and of children-the cries which accompanied many a heart-rending adieu-an earthquake which occurred about nine o'clock at night, as if nature herself had shuddered at the blood that was about to be spilled, and which violently shook the mountains and the valleys: all increased the terrors of this fatal night,-a night to be followed by a still more fatal day.
While these events were passing, the Zurichers encamped on the heights of Cappel to the number of about one thousand men, fixed their eyes on Zug and upon the lake, attentively watching every movement. On a sudden, a little before night, they perceived a few barks filled with soldiers coming from the side of Arth, and rowing across the lake towards Zug. Their number increases-one boat follows another-soon they distinctly hear the bellowing of the Bull (the horn) of Uri, and discern the banner. The barks draw near Zug; they are moored to the shore, which is lined with an immense crowd. The warriors of Uri and the arquebusiers of the Adige spring up and leap on shore, where they are received with acclamations, and take up their quarters for the night: behold the enemies assembled! The council are informed with all speed.
The agitation was still greater at Zurich than at Cappel: the confusion was increased by uncertainty. The enemy attacking them on different sides at once, they knew not where to carry assistance. Two hours after midnight five hundred men with four guns quitted the city for Bremgarten, and three or four hundred men with five guns for Wadenschwyl. They turned to the right and to the left, while the enemy was in front.
Alarmed at its own weakness, the council resolved to apply without delay to the cities of the Christian co-burghery. "As this revolt," wrote they, "has no other origin than the Word of God, we entreat you once-twice-thrice, as loudly, as seriously, as firmly, and as earnestly, as our ancient alliances and our Christian coburghery permit and command us to do-to set forth without delay with all your forces. Haste! haste! haste! Act as promptly as possible -the danger is yours as well as ours." Thus spake Zurich; but it was already too late.
At break of day the banner was raised before the town-house; instead of flaunting proudly in the wind, it hung drooping down the staff-a sad omen that filled many minds with fear. Lavater took up his station under this standard; but a long period elapsed before a few hundred soldiers could be got together. In the square and in all the city disorder and confusion prevailed. The troops, fatigued by a hasty march or by long waiting, were faint and discouraged.
At ten o'clock, only 700 men were under arms. The selfish, the lukewarm, the friends of Rome and of the foreign pensioners, had remained at home. A few old men who had more courage than strength-several members of the two councils who were devoted to the holy cause of God's Word-many ministers of the Church who desired to live and die with the Reform-the boldest of the townspeople and a certain number of peasants, especially those from the neighborhood of the city-such were the defenders who, wanting that moral force so necessary for victory, incompletely armed, and without uniform, crowded in disorder around the banner of Zurich.
The army should have numbered at least 4,000 men; they waited still; the usual oath had not been administered; and yet courier after courier arrived, breathless and in disorder, announcing the terrible danger that threatened Zurich. All this disorderly crowd was violently agitated-they no longer waited for the commands of their chiefs, and many without taking the oath had rushed through the gates. About 200 men thus set out in confusion. All those who remained prepared to depart.
Zwingle was now seen issuing from a house before which a caparisoned horse was stamping impatiently: it was his own. His look was firm, but dimmed by sorrow. He parted from his wife, his children, and his numerous friends, without deceiving himself, and with a bruised heart. He observed the thick waterspout, which, driven by a terrible wind, advanced whirling towards him. Alas! he had himself called up this hurricane by quitting the atmosphere of the Gospel of peace, and throwing himself into the midst of political passions. He was convinced that he would be its first victim. Fifteen days before the attack of the Waldstettes, he had said from the pulpit: "I know the meaning of all this: I am the person specially pointed at. All this comes to pass-in order that I may die. The council according to an ancient custom, had called upon him to accompany the army as its chaplain. Zwingle did not hesitate. He prepared himself without surprise and without anger, -with the calmness of a Christian who places himself confidently in the hands of his God. If the cause of Reform was doomed to perish, he was ready to perish with it. Surrounded by his weeping wife and friends-by his children who clung to his garments to detain him, he quitted that house where he had tasted so much happiness. At the moment that his hand was upon his horse, just as he was about to mount, the animal violently started back several paces, and when he was at last in the saddle, it refused for a time to move, rearing and prancing backwards, like that horse which the greatest captain of modern times had mounted as he was about to cross the Niemen. Many in Zurich at that time thought with the soldier of the Grand Army when he saw Napoleon on the ground: "It is a bad omen! a Roman would go back!" Zwingle having at last mastered his horse, gave the reins, applied the spur, started forward, and disappeared.
At eleven o'clock the flag was struck, and all who remained in the square-about 500 men-began their march along with it. The greater part were torn with difficulty from the arms of their families, and walked sad and silent, as if they were going to the scaffold instead of battle. There was no order-no plan; the men were isolated and scattered, some running before, some after the colors, their extreme confusion presenting a fearful appearance; so much so, that those who remained behind-the women, the children, and the old men, filled with gloomy forebodings, beat their breasts as they saw them pass, and many years after, the remembrance of this day of tumult and sadness drew this groan from Oswald Myconius: "Whenever I recall it to mind, it is as if a sword pierced my heart." Zwingle, armed according to the usage of the chaplains of the confederation, rode mournfully behind this distracted multitude. Myconius, when he saw him, was nigh fainting. Zwingle disappeared, and Oswald remained behind to weep.
He did not shed tears alone; in all quarters were heard lamentations, and every house was changed into a house of prayer. In the midst of this universal sorrow, one woman remained silent; her only cry was a bitter heart, her only language the mild and suppliant eye of faith: -this was Anna, Zwingle's wife. She had seen her husband depart-her son, her brother, a great number of intimate friends and near relations, whose approaching death she foreboded. But her soul, strong as that of her husband, offered to God the sacrifice of her holiest affections. Gradually the defenders of Zurich precipitated their march, and the tumult died away in the distance.
From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 16. Switzerland - Catastrophe - 1528-1531
The Scene of War – The Enemy at Zug – Declaration of War – Council – Army of the Forest Cantons Appears – The First Gun Fired – Zwingle's Gravity and Sorrow – Zurich Army Ascending the Albis – Halt and Council at the Beech Tree – They Quicken Their March – Jauch's Reconnaissance – His Appeal – Ambuscade
They had received the most alarming reports one after another. It was necessary to take up a position that would allow the troops assembled round the convent to resist the enemy's attack until the arrival of the reinforcements that were expected from the city. They cast their eyes on a small hill, which lying to the north towards Zurich, and traversed by the highroad, presented an uneven but sufficiently extensive surface. A deep ditch that surrounded it on three sides defended the approaches; but a small bridge, that was the only issue on the side of Zurich, rendered a precipitate retreat very dangerous. On the south-west was a wood of beech-trees; on the south, in the direction of Zug, was the highroad and a marshy valley. "Lead us to the Granges," cried all the soldiers. They were conducted thither. The artillery was stationed near some ruins. The line of battle was drawn up on the side of the monastery and of Zug, and sentinels were placed at the foot of the slope.
Meantime, the signal was given at Zug and Baar; the drums beat: the soldiers of the Five Cantons took up their arms. A universal feeling of joy animated them. The churches were opened, the bells rang, and the serried ranks of the cantons entered the cathedral of St. Oswald, where mass was celebrated and the Host offered up for the sins of the people. All the army began their march at nine o'clock, with banners flying. The avoyer John Golder commanded the contingent of Lucerne; the landamman James Troguer, that of Uri; the landamman Rychmuth, a mortal enemy of the Reformation, that of Schwytz; the landamman Zellger, that of Unterwalden; and Oswald Dooss that of Zug. Eight thousand men marched in order of battle: all the picked men of the Five Cantons were there. Fresh and active after a quiet night, and having only one short league to cross before reaching the enemy, these haughty Waldstettes advanced with a firm and regular step under the command of their chiefs.
On reaching the common meadow of Zug, they halted to take the oath: every hand was upraised to heaven, and all swore to avenge themselves. They were about to resume their march, when some aged men made signs to them to stop. "Comrades," said they, "we have long offended God. Our blasphemies, our oaths, our wars, our revenge, our pride, our drunkenness, our adulteries, the gold of the stranger to whom our hands have been extended, and all the disorders in which we have indulged, have so provoked his anger, that if he should punish us today, we should only receive the desert of our crimes." The emotion of the chiefs had passed into the ranks. All the army bent the knee in the midst of the plain; deep silence prevailed, and every soldier, with bended head, crossed himself devoutly, and repeated in a low voice five paters, as many ayes, and the credo. One might have said that they were for a time in the midst of a vast and stilly desert. Suddenly the noise of an immense crowd was again heard. The army rose up. "Soldiers," said the captains, "you know the cause of this war. Bear your wives and your children continually before your eyes.”
Then the chief usher (grand sautier) of Lucerne, wearing the colors of the canton, approached the chiefs of the army: they placed in his hands the declaration of war, dated on that very day, and sealed with the arms of Zug. He then set off on horseback, preceded by a trumpeter, to carry this paper to the commander of the Zurichers.
It was eleven in the morning. The Zurichers soon discovered the enemy's army, and cast a sorrowful glance on the small force they were able to oppose to it. Every minute the danger increased. All bent their knees, their eyes were raised to heaven, and every Zuricher uttered a cry from the bottom of his heart, praying for deliverance from God. As soon as the prayer was ended, they got ready for battle. There were at that time about twelve hundred men under arms.
At noon the trumpet of the Five Cantons sounded not far from the advanced posts. Godli, having collected the members of the two councils who happened to be with the army, as well as the commissioned and non-commissioned officers, and having ranged them in a circle, ordered the secretary Rheinhard to read the declaration of which the Sautier of Lucerne was the bearer. After the reading, Godli opened a council of war. "We are few in number, and the forces of our adversaries are great," said Landolt, bailiff of Marpac, "but I will here await the enemy in the name of God." "Wait!" cried the captain of the halberdiers, Rodolph Zigler: "impossible! let us rather take advantage of the ditch that cuts the road to effect our retreat, and let us everywhere raise a levee en masse." This was in truth the only means of safety. But Rudi Gallmann, considering every step backwards as an act of cowardice, cried out, stamping his feet forcibly on the earth, and casting a fiery glance around him, "Here-here shall be my grave!"-"It is now too late to retire with honor," said other officers. "This day is in the hands of God. Let us suffer whatever he lays upon us." It was put to the vote.
The members of the council had scarcely raised their hands in token of assent, when a great noise was heard around them. "The captain! the captain!" cried the soldier from the outposts who arrived in haste. "Silence, silence!" replied the ushers driving him back; "they are holding a council!"-"It is no longer time to hold a council," replied the soldier. "Conduct me immediately to the captain."... "Our sentinels are falling back," cried he with an agitated voice, as he arrived before Godli. "The enemy is there-they are advancing through the forest with all their forces and with great tumult." He had not ceased speaking before the sentinels, who were in truth retiring on all sides, ran up, and the army of the Five Cantons was soon seen climbing the slope of Ifelsberg in face of the Granges, and pointing their guns. The leaders of the Waldstettes were examining the position, and seeking to discover by what means their army could reach that of Zurich. The Zurichers were asking themselves the same question. The nature of the ground prevented the Waldstettes from passing below the convent, but they could arrive by another quarter. Ulrich Bruder, under-bailiff of Husen in the canton of Zurich, fixed his anxious look on the beech-wood. "It is thence that the enemy will fall upon us!" "Axes-axes!" immediately cried several voices: "Let us cut down the trees! Godli, the abbot, and several others were opposed to this: "If we stop up the wood, by throwing down the trees, we shall ourselves be unable to work our guns in that direction," said they.-"Well! at least let us place some arquebusiers in that quarter."-"We are already so small a number," replied the captain, "that it will be imprudent to divide the forces." Neither wisdom nor courage were to save Zurich. They once more invoked the help of God, and waited in expectation.
At one o'clock the Five Cantons fired the first gun: the ball passing over the convent fell below the Granges; a second passed over the line of battle; a third struck a hedge close to the ruins. The Zurichers, seeing the battle was begun, replied with courage; but the slowness and awkwardness with which the artillery was served in those days prevented any great loss being inflicted on either side. When the enemy perceived this, they ordered their advanced guard to descend from Ifelsberg and to reach the Granges through the meadow; and soon the whole army of the cantons advanced in this direction, but with difficulty and over bad roads. Some arquebusiers of Zurich came and announced the disorder of the cantons. "Brave Zurichers," cried Rudi Gallmann, "if we attack them now, it is all over with them." At these words some of the soldiers prepared to enter the wood on the left, to fall upon the disheartened Waldstettes. But Godli perceiving this movement, cried out: "Where are you going? -do you not know that we have agreed not to separate?" He then ordered the skirmishers to be recalled, so that the wood remained entirely open to the enemy. They were satisfied with discharging a few random shots from time to time to prevent the cantons from establishing themselves there. The firing of the artillery continued until three o'clock, and announced far and wide, even to Bremgarten and Zurich, that the battle had begun.
In the meanwhile the great banner of Zurich and all those who surrounded it, among whom was Zwingle, came advancing in disorder towards the Albis. For a year past the gaiety of the reformer had entirely disappeared: he was grave, melancholy, easily moved, having a weight on his heart that seemed to crush it. Often would he throw himself weeping at the feet of his Master, and seek in prayer the strength of which he stood in need. No one had ever observed in him any irritation; on the contrary, he had received with mildness the counsels that had been offered, and had remained tenderly attached to men whose convictions were not the same as his own. He was now advancing mournfully along the road to Cappel; and John Maaler of Winterthour, who was riding a few paces behind him, heard his groans and signs, intermingled with fervent prayers. If anyone spoke to him, he was found firm and strong in the peace that proceeds from faith; but he did not conceal his conviction that he should never see his family or church again. Thus advanced the forces of Zurich. A woeful march! resembling rather a funeral procession than an army going to battle.
As they approached they saw express after express galloping along the road from Cappel, begging the Zurichers to hasten to the defense of their brothers.
At Adliswyl, having passed the bridge under which flow the impetuous waters of the Sihl, and traversed the village through the midst of women, children, and old men, who, standing before their cottages, looked with sadness on this disorderly troop, they began to ascend the Albis. They were about half-way from Cappel when the first cannon-shot was heard. They stop, they listen: a second, a third succeeds.... There is no longer any doubt. The glory, the very existence of the republic are endangered, and they are not present to defend it! The blood curdles in their veins. On a sudden they arouse, and each one begins to run to the support of his brothers. But the road over the Albis was much steeper than it is in our days. The badly harnessed artillery could not ascend it; the old men and citizens, little habituated to marching, and covered with weighty armor, advanced with difficulty: and yet they formed the greater portion of the troops. They were seen stopping one after another, panting and exhausted, along the sides of the road near the thickets and ravines of the Albis, leaning against a beech or an ash tree, and looking with dispirited eyes to the summit of the mountain covered with thick pines.
They resumed their march, however; the horsemen and the most intrepid of the foot-soldiers hastened onwards, and having reached the "Beech Tree," on the top of the mountain, halted to take counsel.
What a prospect then extended before their eyes! Zurich, the lake and its smiling shores-those orchards, those fertile fields, those vine-clad hills, almost the whole of the canton. Alas! soon, perhaps, to be devastated by the forest-bands.
Scarcely had these noble-minded men begun to deliberate, when fresh messengers from Cappel appeared before them, exclaiming, "Hasten forwards!" At these words many of the Zurichers prepared to gallop towards the enemy. Toning, the captain of the arquebusiers, stopped them. "My good friends," cried he to them, "against such great forces what can we do alone? Let us wait here until our people are assembled, and then let us fall upon the enemy with the whole army."-"Yes, if we had an army," bitterly replied the captain-general, who, in despair of saving the republic, thought only of dying with glory; "but we have only a banner and no soldiers."-"How can we stay calmly upon these heights," said Zwingle, "while we hear the shots that are fired at our fellow-citizens? In the name of God I will march towards my brother warriors, prepared to die in order to save them."-"And I too," added the aged banneret Schweitzer. “As for you," continued he, turning with a contemptuous look towards Toning, "wait till you are a little recovered."-"I am quite as much refreshed as you," replied Toning, the color mantling on his face, "and you shall soon see whether I cannot fight." All hastened their steps towards the field of battle.
The descent was rapid; they plunged into the woods, passed through the village of Husen, and at length arrived near the Granges. It was three o'clock when the banner crossed the narrow bridge that led thither; and there were so few soldiers round it that everyone trembled as he beheld this venerated standard thus exposed to the attacks of so formidable an enemy. The army of the Cantons was at that moment deploying before the eyes of the new-comers. Zwingle gazed upon this terrible spectacle. Behold, then, these phalanxes of soldiers! -a few minutes more, and the labors of eleven years will be destroyed perhaps forever!...
A citizen of Zurich, one Leonard Bourkhard, who was ill-disposed towards the reformer, said to him in a harsh tone, "Well, Master Ulrich, what do you say about this business? Are the radishes salt enough?... who will eat them now? "I," replied Zwingle, "and many a brave man who is here in the hands of God; for we are his in life and in death."-"And I too-I will help to eat them," resumed Bourkhard immediately, ashamed of his brutality, -"I will risk my life for them." And he did so, and many others with him, adds the chronicle.
It was four o'clock; the sun was sinking rapidly; the Waldstettes did not advance, and the Zurichers began to think that the attack would be put off till the morrow. In fact, the chiefs of the Five Cantons seeing the great banner of Zurich arrive, the night near at hand, and the impossibility of crossing under the fire of the Zurichers the marsh and the ditch that separated the combatants, were looking for a place in which their troops might pass the night. "If at this moment any mediators had appeared," says Bullinger, "their proposals would have been accepted.”
The soldiers, observing the hesitation of their chiefs, began to murmur loudly. "The big ones abandon us," said one. "The captains fear to bite the fox's tail," said another. "Not to attack them," cried they all, "is to ruin our cause." During this time a daring man was preparing the skillful maneuver that was to decide the fate of the day. A warrior of Uri, John Jauch, formerly bailiff of Sargans, a good marksman and experienced soldier, having taken a few men with him, moved towards the right of the army of the Five Cantons, crept into the midst of the clump of beech-trees that, by forming a semicircle to the east, unite the hill of Ifelsberg to that of the Granges, found the wood empty, arrived to within a few paces of the Zurichers, and there, hidden behind the trees, remarked unperceived the smallness of their numbers, and their want of caution. Then, stealthily retiring, he went to the chiefs at the very moment the discontent was on the point of bursting out. "Now is the time to attack the enemy," cried he. "Dear gossip," replied Troguer, captain-in-chief of Uri, "you do not mean to say that we should set to work at so late an hour; besides, the men are preparing their quarters, and everybody knows what it cost our fathers at Naples and Marignan for having commenced the attack a little before night. And then it is Innocent's day, and our ancestors have never given battle on a feast-day.” -"Don't think about the Innocents of the calendar," replied Jauch, "but let us rather remember the innocents that we have left in our cottages." Gaspard Godli of Zurich, brother of the commander of the Granges, added his entreaties to those of the warrior of Uri. "We must either beat the Zurichers tonight," said he, "or be beaten by them tomorrow. Take your choice.”
All was unavailing; the chiefs were inflexible, and the army prepared to take up its quarters. Upon this the warrior of Uri, understanding like his fellow-country man Tell that great evils require great remedies, drew his sword and cried: "Let all true confederates follow me." Then hastily leaping to his saddle, he spurred his horse into the forest; and immediately arquebusiers, soldiers from the Adige, and many other warriors of the Five Cantons, especially from Unterwalden-in all about 300 men, rushed into the wood after him. At this sight Jauch no longer doubted of the victory of the Waldstettes. He dismounted and fell upon his knees, "for," says Tschudi, "he was a man who feared God." All his followers did the same, and together invoked the aid of God, of his holy mother, and of all the heavenly host. They then advanced; but soon the warrior of Uri, wishing to expose no one but himself, halted his troops, and glided from tree to tree to the verge of the wood. Observing that the enemy was as incautious as ever, he rejoined his arquebusiers, led them stealthily forward, and posted them silently behind the trees of the forest, enjoining them to take their aim so as not to miss their men. During this time the chiefs of the Five Cantons, foreseeing that this rash man was about to bring on the action, decided against their will, and collected their soldiers around the banners.