From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 16. Switzerland - Catastrophe - 1528-1531
Unforeseen Change – The Whole Army advances – Universal Disorder – The Banneret's Death – The Banner in Danger – The Banner Saved – Terrible Slaughter – Slaughter of the Pastors – Zwingle's Last Words – Barbarity of the Victors – The Furnace of Trial – Zwingle's Dying Moments – Day After the Battle – Homage and Outrage
THE Zurichers, fearing that the enemy would seize upon the road that led to their capital, were then directing part of their troops and their guns to a low hill by which it was commanded. At the very moment that the invisible arquebusiers stationed among the beech-trees were taking their aim, this detachment passed near the little wood. The deepest silence prevailed in this solitude: each one posted there picked out the man he desired to bring down, and Jauch exclaimed: "In the name of the Holy Trinity-of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost-of the Holy Mother of God, and of all the heavenly host-fire!" At the word the deadly balls issued from the wood, and a murderous carnage in the ranks of Zurich followed this terrible discharge. The battle, which had begun four hours ago, and which had never appeared to be a serious attack, now underwent an unforeseen change. The sword was not again to be returned to the scabbard until it had been bathed in torrents of blood. Those of the Zurichers who had not fallen at this first discharge, lay flat on the ground, so that the balls passed over their heads; but they soon sprang up, saying: "Shall we allow ourselves to be butchered? No! let us rather attack the enemy!" Lavater seized a lance, and rushing into the foremost rank exclaimed: "Soldiers, uphold the honor of God and of our lords, and behave like brave men!" Zwingle, silent and collected, like nature before the bursting of the tempest, was there also halberd in hand. "Master Ulrich," said Bernard Sprungli, "speak to the people and encourage them. "Warriors!" said Zwingle, "fear nothing. If we are this day to be defeated, still our cause is good. Commend yourselves to God!"
The Zurichers quickly turned the artillery they were dragging to another quarter, and pointed it against the wood; but their bullets, instead of striking the enemy, only reached the top of the trees, and tore off a few branches that fell upon the skirmishers.
Rychmuth, the landamman of Schwytz, came up at a gallop to recall the volunteers; but seeing the battle begun, he ordered the whole army to advance. Immediately the five banners moved forward.
But already Jauch's skirmishers, rushing from among the trees, had fallen impetuously upon the Zurichers, charging with their long and pointed halberds.
“Heretics! sacrilegists!" cried they, "we have you at last!"-"Man-sellers, idolaters, impious papists!" replied the Zurichers, "is it really you?" At first a shower of stones fell from both parties and wounded several; immediately they came to close quarters. The resistance of the Zurichers was terrible. Each struck with the sword or with the halberd: at last the soldiers of the Five Cantons were driven back in disorder. The Zurichers advanced, but in so doing lost the advantages of their position, and got entangled in the marsh. Some Roman Catholic historians pretend that this flight of their troops was a stratagem to draw the Zurichers into the snare. ""
In the mean time the army of the Five Cantons hastened through the wood. Burning with courage and with anger, they eagerly quickened their steps; from the midst of the beech-trees there resounded a confused and savage noise-a frightful murmur; the ground shook; one might have imagined that the forest was uttering a horrible roar, or that witches were holding their nocturnal revels in its dark recesses. In vain did the bravest of the Zurichers offer an intrepid resistance: The Waldstettes had the advantage in every quarter. "They are surrounding us," cried some. "Our men are fleeing," said others. A man from the canton of Zug, mingling with the Zurichers, and pretending to be of their party, exclaimed: "Fly, fly, brave Zurichers, you are betrayed!" Thus everything is against Zurich. Even the hand of Him who is the disposer of battles turned against this people. Thus was it also in times of old that God frequently chastised his own people of Israel by the Assyrian sword. A panic-terror seized upon the bravest, and the disorder spread everywhere with frightful rapidity.
In the mean while the aged Schweitzer had raised the great banner with a firm hand, and all the picked men of Zurich were drawn up around it; but soon their ranks were thinned. John Kammli, charged with the defense of the standard, having observed the small number of combatants that remained upon the field of battle, said to the banneret: "Let us lower the banner, my lord, and save it, for our people are flying shamefully."-"Warriors, remain firm," replied the aged banneret, whom no danger had ever shaken. The disorder augmented-the number of fugitives increased every minute; the old man stood fast, amazed and immovable as an aged oak beaten by a frightful hurricane. He received unflinchingly the blows that fell upon him, and alone resisted the terrible storm. Kammli seized him by the arm: "My lord," said he again, "lower the banner, or else we shall lose it: there is no more glory to be reaped here!" The banneret, who was already mortally wounded, exclaimed: "Alas! must the city of Zurich be so punished!" Then, dragged off by Kammli, who held him by the arm, he retreated as far as the ditch. The weight of years, and the wounds with which he was covered, did not permit him to cross it. He fell in the mire at the bottom, still holding the glorious standard, whose folds dropped on the other bank.
The enemy ran up with loud shouts, being attracted by the colors of Zurich, as the bull by the gladiator's flag. Kammli seeing this, unhesitatingly leaped to the bottom of the ditch, and laid hold of the stiff and dying hands of his chief, in order to preserve the precious ensign, which they tightly grasped. But it was in vain: the hands of the aged Schweitzer would not loose the standard. "My lord banneret!" cried this faithful servant, "it is no longer in your power to defend it." The hands of the banneret, already stiffened in death, still refused; upon which Kammli violently tore away the sacred standard, leaped upon the other bank, and rushed with his treasurer far from the steps of the enemy. The last Zurichers at this moment reached the ditch; they fell one after another upon the expiring banneret, and thus hastened his death.
Kammli, however, having received a wound from a gunshot, his march was retarded, and soon the Waldstettes surrounded him with their swords. The Zuricher, holding the banner in one hand, and his sword in the other, defended himself bravely. One of the Waldstettes caught hold of the staff-another seized the flag itself and tore it. Kammli with one blow of his sword cut down the former, and striking around him, called out: "To the rescue, brave Zurichers! save the honor and the banner of our lords." The assailants increased in number, and the warrior was about to fall, when Adam Naeff of Wollenwyd rushed up sword in hand, and the head of the Waldstette who had torn the colors rolled upon the plain, and his blood gushed out upon the flag of Zurich. Dumysen, member of the Smaller Council, supported Naeff with his halberd, and both dealt such lusty blows, that they succeeded in disengaging the standard-bearer. He, although dangerously wounded, sprang forward, holding the blood-stained folds of the banner in one hand, which he carried off hastily, dragging the staff behind him. With fierce look and fiery eye, he thus passed, sword in hand, through the midst of friends and enemies: he crossed plains, woods, and marshes, everywhere leaving traces of his blood, which flowed from numerous wounds. Two of his enemies, one from Schwytz, the other from Zug-were particularly eager in his pursuit. "Heretic! villain!" cried they, "surrender and give us the banner."-"You shall have my life first," replied the Zuricher. Then the two hostile soldiers, who were embarrassed by their cuirasses, stopped a moment to take them off. Kammli took advantage of this to get in advance: he ran; Huber, Dumysen, and Dantzler of Naenikon were at his side. They all four thus arrived near Husen, half-way up the Albis. They had still to climb the steepest part of the mountain. Huber fell covered with wounds. Dumysen, the colonel-general, who had fought as a private soldier, almost reached the church of Husen, and there he dropped lifeless: and two of his sons, in the flower of youth, soon lay stretched on the battle-field that had drunk their father's blood. Kammli took a few steps farther; but halted erelong, exhausted and panting, near a hedge that he would have to clear, and discovered his two enemies and other Waldstettes running from all sides, like birds of prey, towards the wavering standard of Zurich. The strength of Kammli was sinking rapidly, his eyes grew dim, thick darkness surrounded him: a hand of lead fastened him to the ground. Then, mustering all his expiring strength, he flung the standard on the other side of the hedge, exclaiming: "Is there any brave Zuricher near me? Let him preserve the banner and the honor of our lords! As for me, I can do no more!" Then casting a last look to heaven, he added: "May God be my helper!" He fell exhausted by this last effort. Dantzler, who came up, flung away his sword, sprung over the hedge, seized the banner, and cried, "With the aid of God, I will carry it off. He then rapidly climbed the Albis, and at last placed the ancient standard of Zurich in safety. God, on whom these warriors fixed all their hopes, had heard their prayers, but the noblest blood of the republic had been spilled.
The enemy were victorious at all points. The soldiers of the Five Cantons, and particularly those of Unterwalden long hardened in the wars of the Milanese, showed themselves more merciless towards their confederates than they had ever been towards foreigners. At the beginning of the battle, Godli had taken flight, and soon after he quitted Zurich forever. Lavater, the captain-general, after having fought valiantly, had fallen into the ditch. He was dragged out by a soldier and escaped.
The most distinguished men of Zurich fell one after another under the blows of the Waldstettes. Rudi Gallmann found the glorious tomb he had wished for, and his two brothers stretched beside him left their father's house desolate. Toning, captain of the arquebusiers, died for his country as he had foretold. All the pride of the population of Zurich, seven members of the Smaller Council, nineteen members of the Two Hundred, sixty-five citizens of the town, four hundred and seventeen from the rural districts: the father in the midst of his children,-the son surrounded by his brothers,-lay on the field.
Gerold Meyer of Knonau, son of Anna Zwingle, at that time twenty-two years of age, and already a member of the council of Two Hundred, -a husband and a father,-had rushed into the foremost ranks with all the impetuosity of youth. "Surrender, and your life shall be spared," cried some of the warriors of the Five Cantons, who desired to save him. "It is better for me to die with honor than to yield with disgrace," replied the son of Anna, and immediately struck by a mortal blow, he fell and expired not far from the castle of his ancestors.
The ministers were those who paid proportionally the greatest tribute on this bloody day. The sword that was at work on the heights of Cappel thirsted for their blood: twenty-five of them fell beneath its stroke. The Waldstettes trembled with rage whenever they discovered one of these heretical preachers, and sacrificed him with enthusiasm, as a chosen victim to the Virgin and the saints. There has, perhaps, never been any battle in which so many men of the Word of God have bitten the dust. Almost everywhere the pastors had marched at the head of their flocks. One might have said that Cappel was an assembly of Christian churches rather than an army of Swiss companies. The Abbot Joner, receiving a mortal wound near the ditch, expired in sight of his own monastery. The people of Zug, in pursuit of the enemy, uttered a cry of anguish as they passed his body, remembering all the good he had done them. Schmidt of Kussnacht, stationed on the field of battle in the midst of his parishioners, fell surrounded by forty of their bodies. Geroldsek, John Haller, and many other pastors, at the head of their flocks, suddenly met in a terrible and unforeseen manner the Lord whom they had preached.
But the death of one individual far surpassed all others. Zwingle was at the post of danger, the helmet on his head, the sword hanging at his side, the battle-ax in his hand. Scarcely had the action begun, when, stooping to console a dying man, says J.J. Hottinger, a stone hurled by the vigorous arm of a Waldstette struck him on the head and closed his lips. Yet Zwingle arose, when two other blows which hit him successively on the leg, threw him down again. Twice more he stands up; but a fourth time he receives a thrust from a lance, he staggers, and sinking beneath so many wounds, falls on his knees. Does not the darkness that is spreading around him announce a still thicker darkness that is about to cover the Church? Zwingle turns away from such sad thoughts; once more he uplifts that head which had been so bold, and gazing with calm eye upon the trickling blood, exclaims: “What matters this misfortune? They may indeed kill the body, but they cannot kill the soul!” These were his last words.
He had scarcely uttered them ere he fell backwards. There, under a tree (Zwingle's Pear-tree), in a meadow, he remained lying on his back, with clasped hands, and eyes upturned to heaven.
While the bravest were pursuing the scattered soldiers of Zurich, the stragglers of the Five Cantons had pounced like hungry ravens on the field of battle. Torch in hand, these wretches prowled among the dead, casting looks of irritation around them, and lighting up the features of their expiring victims by the dull glimmering of these funeral torches. They turned over the bodies of the wounded and the dead; they tortured and stripped them. If they found any who were still sensible, they cried out, "Call upon the saints and confess to our priests!" If the Zurichers, faithful to their creed, rejected these cruel invitations, these men, who were as cowardly as they were fanatical, pierced them with their lances, or dashed out their brains with the but-ends of their arquebuses. The Roman Catholic historian, Salat of Lucerne, makes a boast of this. "They were left to die like infidel dogs, or were slain with the sword or the spear, that they might go so much the quicker to the devil, with whose help they had fought so desperately." If any of the soldiers of the Five Cantons recognized a Zuricher against whom they had any grudge, with dry eyes, disdainful mouth, and features changed by anger, they drew near the unhappy creature, writhing in the agonies of death, and said: "Well! has your heretical faith preserved you? Ah ha! it was pretty clearly seen today who had the true faith... Today we have dragged your Gospel in the mud, and you too, even you are covered with your own blood. God, the Virgin, and the saints have punished you." Scarcely had they uttered these words before they plunged their swords into their enemy's bosom. "Mass or death!" was their watchword.
Thus triumphed the Waldstettes; but the pious Zurichers who expired on the field of battle called to mind that they had for God one who has said: "If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?"-"Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him. "It is in the furnace of trial that the God of the Gospel conceals the pure gold of his most precious blessings. This punishment was necessary to turn aside the Church of Zurich from the "broad ways" of the world, and lead it back to the "narrow ways" of the Spirit and the life. In a political history, a defeat like that of Cappel would be styled a great misfortune; but in a history of the Church of Jesus Christ, such a blow, inflicted by the hand of the Father himself, ought rather to be called a great blessing.
Meanwhile Zwingle lay extended under the tree, near the road by which the mass of the people was passing. The shouts of the victors, the groans of the dying, those flickering torches borne from corpse to corpse, Zurich humbled, the cause of Reform lost, -all cried aloud to him that God punishes his servants when they have recourse to the arm of man. If the German reformer had been able to approach Zwingle at this solemn moment, and pronounce those oft-repeated words: "Christians fight not with sword and arquebuse, but with sufferings and with the cross," Zwingle would have stretched out his dying hand, and said, "Amen!”
Two of the soldiers who were prowling over the field of battle, having come near the reformer without recognizing him, "Do you wish for a priest to confess yourself?" asked they. Zwingle, without speaking (for he had not strength), made signs in the negative. "If you cannot speak," replied the soldiers, "at least think in thy heart of the Mother of God, and call upon the saints!" Zwingle again shook his head, and kept his eyes still fixed on heaven. Upon this the irritated soldiers began to curse him. "No doubt," said they, "you are one of the heretics of the city!" One of them, being curious to know who it was, stooped down and turned Zwingle's head in the direction of a fire that had been lighted near the spot. The soldier immediately let him fall to the ground. "I think," said he, surprised and amazed, "I think it is Zwingle!" At this moment Captain Fockinger of Unterwalden a veteran and a pensioner, drew near: he had heard the first words of the soldier.
“Zwingle!" exclaimed he; "that vile heretic Zwingle! that rascal, that traitor!" Then raising his sword, so long sold to the stranger, he struck the dying Christian on the throat, exclaiming in a violent passion, "Die, obstinate heretic!" Yielding under this last blow, the reformer gave up the ghost: he was doomed to perish by the sword of a mercenary. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints." The soldiers ran to other victims. All did not show the same barbarity. The night was cold; a thick hoar-frost covered the fields and the bodies of the dying. The Protestant historian, Bullinger, informs us that some Waldstettes gently raised the wounded in their arms, bound up their wounds, and carried them to the fires lighted on the field of battle. "Ah!" cried they, "why have the Swiss thus slaughtered one another!”
The main body of the army had remained on the field of battle near the standards. The soldiers conversed around the fires, interrupted from time to time by the cries of the dying. During this time the chiefs assembled in the convent sent messengers to carry the news of their signal victory to the confederate cantons, and to the Roman Catholic powers of Germany.
At length the day appeared. The Waldstettes spread over the field of battle, running here and there, stopping, contemplating, struck with surprise at the sight of their most formidable enemies stretched lifeless on the plain; but sometimes also shedding tears as they gazed on corpses which reminded them of old and sacred ties of friendship. At length they reached the pear-tree under which Zwingle lay dead, and an immense crowd collected around it. His countenance still beamed with expression and with life. "He has the look," said Bartholomew Stocker of Zug, who had loved him, "he has the look of a living rather than of a dead man. Such was he when he kindled the people by the fire of his eloquence." All eyes were fixed upon the corpse. John Schonbrunner, formerly canon of Zurich, who had retired to Zug at the epoch of the Reformation, could not restrain his tears: "Whatever may have been thy creed," said he, "I know, Zwingle, that thou hast been a loyal confederate! May thy soul rest with God!”
But the pensioners of the foreigner, on whom Zwingle had never ceased to make war, required that the body of the heretic should be dismembered, and a portion sent to each of the Five Cantons. "Peace be to the dead! and God alone be their judge!" exclaimed the avoyer Golder and the landamman Thoss of Zug. Cries of fury answered their appeal, and compelled them to retire. Immediately the drums beat to muster; the dead body was tried, and it was decreed that it should be quartered for treason against the confederation, and then burnt for heresy. The executioner of Lucerne carried out the sentence. Flames consumed Zwingle's disjointed members; the ashes of swine were mingled with his; and a lawless multitude rushing upon his remains flung them to the four winds of heaven.
Zwingle was dead. A great light had been extinguished in the Church of God. Mighty by the Word as were the other reformers, he had been more so than they in action; but this very power had been his weakness, and he had fallen under the weight of his own strength. Zwingle was not forty-eight years old when he died. If the might of God always accompanied the might of man, what would he not have done for the Reformation in Switzerland, and even in the empire! But he had wielded an arm that God had forbidden; the helmet had covered his head, and he had grasped the halberd. His more devoted friends were themselves astonished, and exclaimed: "We know not what to say!... a bishop in arms! The bolt had furrowed the cloud, the blow had reached the reformer, and his body was no more than a hand full of dust in the palm of a soldier.
From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 16. Switzerland - Catastrophe - 1528-1531
Consternation in Zurich – Violence of the Populace – Grief and Distress – Zwingle Is Dead! – Funeral Oration – Army of Zurich – Another Reverse on the Goubel – Inactivity of the Bernese – Hopes and Plan of Charles V – End of the War – Treaty of Peace
FRIGHTFUL darkness hung over Zurich during the night that followed the afflicting day of Cappel. It was seven in the evening when the first news of the disaster arrived... Vague but alarming reports spread at first with the rapidity of lightning. It was known that a terrible blow had been inflicted, but not of what kind; soon a few wounded men, who arrived from the field of battle, cleared up the frightful mystery. "Then," said Bullinger, whom we shall allow to speak, "there arose suddenly a loud and horrible cry of lamentation and tears, bewailing and groaning." The consternation was so much the greater because no one had expected such a disaster. "There is not enough for a breakfast," had said some haughty worldly men; "With one blow we shall be masters of the Five Chalets," had said another; and an older soldier added with disdainful sneer, "We shall soon have scattered these five dunghills." The Christian portion, convinced that Zurich was fighting in a good cause, had not doubted that victory would be on the side of truth.... Thus their first stupefaction was succeeded by a violent outburst of rage. With blind fury the mob accused all their chiefs, and loaded with insults even those who had defended their country at the price of their blood. An immense crowd-agitated, pale, and bewildered, filled all the streets of the city. They met, they questioned, and replied; they questioned again, and the answer could not be heard, for the shouts of the people interrupted or drowned the voice of the speakers. The councilors who had remained in Zurich repaired in haste to the town-hall. The people, who had already assembled there in crowds, looked on with threatening eyes. Accusations of treason burst from every mouth, and the patricians were pointed out to the general indignation. They must have victims. "Before going to fight against the enemy on the frontiers," said the mob, "we should defend ourselves against those who are within our walls." Sorrow and fear excited the minds of all. That savage instinct of the populace, which in great calamities leads them, like a wild beast, to thirst for blood, was violently aroused. A hand from the midst of the crowd points out the council-hall, and a harsh and piercing voice exclaims: "Let us chop off the heads of some of the men who sit in these halls, and let their blood ascend to heaven, to beg for mercy in behalf of those whom they have slain.”
But this fury is nothing in comparison with that which broke out against the ministers, against Zwingle, and all those Christians who were the cause (say they) of the ruin of the country. Fortunately the sword of the Waldstettes had withdrawn them from the rage of their fellow-citizens; nevertheless, there still remained some who could pay for the others. Leo Juda, whom Zwingle's death was about to raise to the head of religious affairs, had scarcely recovered from a serious illness; it was on him they rushed. They threatened, they pursued him; a few worthy citizens carried him off and hid in their houses. The rage of these madmen was not appeased: they continued shouting that atonement must be made for the slaughter at Cappel, by a still more frightful slaughter within the very walls of the city. But God placed a curb in the mouths of these infuriate beasts of prey, and subdued them.
On a sudden, grief succeeded to rage, and sobs choked the utterance of the most furious. All those whose relatives had marched to Cappel, imagined that they were among the number of the victims. Old men, women, and children went forth in the darkness by the glimmering light of torches, with haggard eyes and hurried steps; and as soon as some wounded man arrived, they questioned him with trembling voice about those whom they were seeking. Some replied: "I saw him fall close by my side."-"He was surrounded by so many enemies," said others, "that there was no chance of safety for him." At these words the distracted family dropped their torches, and filled the air with shrieks and groans.
Anna Zwingle had heard from her house the repeated discharges of artillery. As wife and mother, she had passed in expectation many long hours of anguish, offering fervent prayers to heaven. At length the most terrible accounts, one after another, burst upon her.
In the midst of those whose cries of despair re-echoed along the road to Cappel, was Oswald Myconius, who inquired with anxiety what had become of his friend. Soon he heard one of the unfortunate wretches who had escaped from the massacre, relating to those around him that Zwingle had fallen!
Zwingle is no more! Zwingle is dead! The cry was repeated: it ran through Zurich with the rapidity of lightning, and at length reached the unhappy widow. Anna fell on her knees. But the loss of her husband was not enough: God had inflicted other blows. Messengers following each other at short intervals announced to her the death of her son Gerold of Knonau, of her brother the bailiff of Reinhard, of her son-in-law Antony Wirz, of John Lutschi the husband of her dear sister, as well as of all her most intimate friends. This woman remained alone-alone with her God; alone with her young children, who, as they saw her tears, wept also, and threw themselves disconsolate into their mother's arms.
On a sudden the alarm-bell rang. The council, distracted by the most contrary opinions, had at last resolved to summon all the citizens towards the Albis.
But the sound of the tocsin re-echoing through the darkness, the lamentable stories of the wounded, and the distressful groans of bereaved families, still further increased the tumult. A numerous and disorderly troop of citizens rushed along the road to Cappel. Among them was the Valaisan, Thomas Plater. Here he met with a man that had but one hand, -there with others who supported their wounded and bleeding heads with both hands;-further still was a soldier whose bowels protruded from his body. In front of these unhappy creatures peasants were walking with lighted torches, for the night was very dark. Plater wished to return; but he could not, for sentinels placed on the bridge over the Sihl allowed persons to quit Zurich, but permitted no one to re-enter.
On the morrow the news of the disgraceful treatment of Zwingle's corpse aroused all the anger of Zurich; and his friends, uplifting their tear-bedimmed eyes, exclaimed: "These men may fall upon his body; they may kindle their piles, and brand his innocent life... but he lives-this invincible hero lives in eternity, and leaves behind him an immortal monument of glory that no flames can destroy. God, for whose honor he has labored, even at the price of his blood, will make his memory eternal." "And I," adds Leo Juda, "I, upon whom he has heaped so many blessings, will endeavor, after so many others, to defend his renown and to extol his virtues." Thus Zurich consecrated to Zwingle a funeral oration of tears and sighs, of gratitude and cries of anguish. Never was there a funeral speech more eloquent!
Zurich rallied her forces. John Steiner had collected on the Albis some scattered fragments of the army for the defense of the pass: they bivouacked around their fires on the summit of the mountain, and all were in disorder. Plater, benumbed with cold (it is himself who gives us the account), had drawn off his boots to warm his feet at the watchfire. On a sudden an alarm was given, the troop was hastily drawn up, and, while Plater was getting ready, a trumpeter, who had escaped from the battle, seized his halberd. Plater took it back, and stationed himself in the ranks; before him stood the trumpeter, without hat or shoes, and armed with a long pole. Such was the army of Zurich.
The chief captain Lavater rejoined the army at daybreak. Gradually the allies came up; 1,500 Grisons, under the orders of the captain-general Frey of Zurich, 1,500 Thurgovians, 600 Tockenburgers, and other auxiliaries besides, soon formed an army of 12,000 men. All, even children, ran to arms. The council gave orders that these young folks should be sent back to share in the domestic duties with the women.
Another reverse erelong augmented the desolation of the Reformed party. While the troops of Berne, Zurich, Basle, and Bienne, amounting to 24,000 men, were assembling at Bremgarten, the Five Cantons entrenched themselves at Baar, near Zug. But Zwingle was wanting to the Reformed army, and he would have been the only man capable of inspiring them with courage. A gust of wind having thrown down a few fir-trees in the forests where the Zurichers were encamped, and caused the death of some of their soldiers, they failed not to see in this the signal of fresh reverses.
Nevertheless, Frey called loudly for battle; but the Bernese commandant Diesbach refused. Upon this the Zurich captain set off in the night of the 23rd October at the head of 4,000 men of Zurich, Schaffhausen, Basle, and St. Gall; and, while the Bernese were sleeping quietly, he turned the Waldstettes, drove their outposts beyond the Sihl, and took his station on the heights that overlook the Goubel. His imprudent soldiers, believing victory to be certain, proudly waved their banners, and then sunk into a heavy sleep. The Waldstettes had observed all. On the 24th October, at two in the morning, by a bright moonlight, they quitted their camp in profound silence, leaving their fires burning, and wearing white shirts over their dresses that they might recognize one another in the obscurity. Their watchword was "Mary, the mother of God." They glided stealthily into a pine forest, near which the Reformed troops were encamped. The man stationed at the advanced guard of the Zurichers having perceived the enemy, ran up to the fires to arouse their friends, but they had scarcely reached the third fire before the Waldstettes appeared, uttering a frightful shouts "Har Har Har Har!... Who are these impious heretics?... Har Har Har Har!" The army of the cities at first made a vigorous resistance, and many of the white shirts fell covered with blood; but this did not continue long. The bravest, with the valiant Frey at their head, having bitten the dust, the rout became general, and 800 men were left on the field of battle.
In the midst of these afflictions the Bernese remained stubborn and motionless. Francis Kolb, who, notwithstanding his advanced age, had accompanied the Bernese contingent as chaplain, reproached in a sermon the negligence and cowardice of his party. "Your ancestors," said he, "would have swum across the Rhine, and you-this little stream stops you! They went to battle for a word, and you, even the Gospel cannot move. For us it only remains to commit our cause to God." Many voices were raised against the imprudent old man, but others took up his defense; and the captain, James May, being as indignant as the aged chaplain at the delays of his fellow-citizens, drew his sword, and thrusting it into the folds of the Bernese banner, pricked the bear that was represented on it, and cried out in the presence of the whole army, "You knave, will you not show your claws?" But the bear remained motionless.
The whole of the Reformation was compromised. Scarcely had Ferdinand received intelligence of the death of the arch-heretic Zwingle, and of the defeat at Cappel, then with an exclamation of joy, he forwarded these good news to his brother the Emperor Charles the Fifth, saying, "this is the first of the victories destined to restore the faith." After the defeat at the Goubel, he wrote again, saying that if the emperor were not so near at hand, he would not hesitate, however weak he might be, to rush forward in person, sword in hand, to terminate so righteous an enterprise. "Remember," said he, "that you are the first prince in Christendom, and that you will never have a better opportunity of covering yourself with glory. Assist the cantons with your troops; the German sects will perish, when they are no longer supported by heretical Switzerland." -"The more I reflect," replied Charles, "the more I am pleased with your advice. The imperial dignity with which I am invested, the protection that I owe to Christendom and to public order, in a word, the safety of the house of Austria, -everything appeals to me!”
Already about two thousand Italian soldiers, sent by the pope and commanded by the Genoese De l'Isola, had unfolded their seven standards, and united near Zug with the army of the Five Cantons. Auxiliary troops, diplomatic negotiations, and even missionaries to convert the heretics, were not spared. The Bishop of Veroli arrived in Switzerland in order to bring back the Lutherans to the Roman faith by means of his friends and of his money. The Roman politicians hailed the victory at Cappel as the signal of the restoration of the papal authority, not only in Switzerland, but throughout the whole of Christendom. At last this presumptuous Reformation was about to be repressed. Instead of the great deliverance of which Zwingle had dreamed, the imperial eagle let loose by the Papacy was about to pounce on all Europe, and strangle it in its talons. The cause of liberty had perished on the Albis.
But the hopes of the Papists were vain: the cause of the Gospel, although humbled at this moment, was destined finally to gain a glorious victory. A cloud may hide the sun for a time; but the cloud passes and the sun reappears. Jesus Christ is always the same, and the gates of hell may triumph on the battle-field, but cannot prevail against his Church.
Nevertheless everything seemed advancing towards a grand catastrophe. The Tockenburgers made peace and retired. The Thurgovians followed them; and next the people of Gaster. The evangelical army was thus gradually disbanded. The severity of the season was joined to these dissensions. Continual storms of wind and rain drove the soldiers to their homes.
Upon this the Five Cantons with the undisciplined bands of the Italian general Isola threw themselves on the left bank of the Lake of Zurich. The alarm-bell was rung on every side; the peasants retired in crowds into the city, with their weeping wives, their frightened children, and their cattle that filled the air with sullen lowings. A report too was circulated that the enemy intended laying siege to Zurich. The country-people in alarm declared that if the city refused to make terms, they would treat on their own account.
The peace party prevailed in the council; deputies were elected to negotiate. "Above all things, preserve the Gospel, and then our honor, as far as may be possible!" Such were their instructions. On the 16th November, the deputies from Zurich arrived in a meadow situated near the frontier, on the banks of the Sihl, in which the representatives of the Five Cantons awaited them. They proceeded to the deliberations. "In the name of the most honorable, holy, and divine Trinity," began the treaty, "Firstly, we the people of Zurich bind ourselves and agree to leave our trusty and well-beloved confederates of the Five Cantons, their well-beloved co-burghers of the Valais, and all their adherents lay and ecclesiastic, in their true and indubitable Christian faith, renouncing all evil intention, wiles, and stratagems. And, on our side, we of the Five Cantons, agree to leave our confederates of Zurich and their allies in possession of their faith." At the same time, Rapperschwyl, Gaster, Wesen, Bremgarten, Mellingen, and the common bailiwicks, were abandoned to the Five Cantons.
Zurich had preserved its faith; and that was all. The treaty having been read and approved of, the plenipotentiaries got off their horses, fell upon their knees and called upon the name of God. Then the new captain-general of the Zurichers, Escher, a hasty and eloquent old man, rising up, said as he turned towards the Waldstettes: "God be praised that I can again call you my well-beloved confederates!" and approaching them, he shook hands successively with Golder, Hug, Troguer, Rychmuth, Marquart, Zellger, and Thoss, the terrible victors at Cappel. All eyes were filled with tears. Each took with trembling hand the bottle suspended at his side, and offered a draft to one of the chiefs of the opposite party. Shortly after a similar treaty was concluded with Berne.
From:History of the Reformation: Of the Sixteenth CenturyFrom:Book 16. Switzerland - Catastrophe - 1528-1531
Restoration of Popery at Bremgarten and Rapperschwyl – Priests and Monks Everywhere – Sorrow of Oecolampadius – A Tranquil Scene – Peaceful Death of Oecolampadius – Henry Bullinger at Zurich – Contrition and Exultation – The Great Lesson – Conclusion
THE restoration of Popery immediately commenced in Switzerland, and Rome showed herself everywhere proud, exacting, and ambitious. After the battle of Cappel, the Romish minority at Glaris had resumed the upperhand. It marched with Schwytz against Wesen and the district of the Gaster. On the eve of the invasion, at midnight, twelve deputies came and threw themselves at the feet of the Schwytzer chiefs, who were satisfied with confiscating the national banners of these two districts, with suppressing their tribunals, annulling their ancient liberties, and condemning some to banishment, and others to pay a heavy fine. Next the mass, the altars, and images were everywhere re-established, and exist until the present day. Such was the pardon of Schwytz!
It was especially on Bremgarten, Mellingen, and the free bailiwicks that the cantons proposed to inflict a terrible vengeance. Berne having recalled its army, Mutschli, the avoyer of Bremgarten, followed Diesbach as far as Arau. In vain did the former remind the Bernese that it was only according to the orders of Berne and Zurich that Bremgarten had blockaded the Five Cantons. "Bend to circumstances," replied the general. On this the wretched Mutschli, turning away from the pitiless Bernese, exclaimed, "The prophet Jeremiah has well said, -Cursed be he that trusteth in man!" The Swiss and Italian bands entered furiously into these flourishing districts brandishing their weapons, inflicting heavy fines on all the inhabitants, compelling the Gospel ministers to flee, and restoring everywhere at the point of the sword, mass, idols, and altars.
On the other side of the lake the misfortune was still greater. On the 18th November, while the Reformed of Rapperschwyl were sleeping peacefully in reliance on the treaties, an army from Schwytz silently passed the wooden bridge nearly 2,000 feet long which crosses the lake, and was admitted into the city by the Romish party. On a sudden the Reformed awoke at the loud pealing of the bells, and the tumultuous voices of the Catholics: the greater part quitted the city. One of them, however, by name Michael Wohlgemuth, barricaded his house, placed arquebuses at every window, and repelled the attack. The exasperated enemy brought up some heavy pieces of artillery, besieged this extemporaneous citadel in regular form, and Wohlgemuth was soon taken and put to death in the midst of horrible tortures.
Nowhere had the struggle been more violent than at Soleure; the two parties were drawn up in battle-array on each side of the Aar, and the Romanists had already discharged one ball against the opposite bank, another was about to follow, when the avoyer Wenge, throwing himself on the mouth of the cannon, cried out earnestly: "Fellow-citizens, let there be no bloodshed, or else let me be your first victim!" The astonished multitude dropped their arms; but seventy evangelical families were obliged to emigrate, and Soleure returned under the papal yoke.
The deserted cells of St. Gall, Muri, Einsidlen, Wettingen, Rheinau, St. Catherine, Hermetschwyll and Guadenthall witnessed the triumphant return of Benedictines, Franciscans, Dominicans, and all the Romish militia; priests and monks, intoxicated with their victory, overran country and town, and prepared for new conquests.
The wind of adversity was blowing with fury: the evangelical churches fell one after another, like the pines in the forest whose fall before the battle of the Goubel had raised such gloomy presentiments. The Five Cantons, full of gratitude to the Virgin, made a solemn pilgrimage to her temple at Einsidlen. The chaplains celebrated anew their mysteries in this desolated sanctuary; the abbot, who had no monks, sent a number of youths into Swabia to be trained up in the rules of the order, and this famous chapel, which Zwingle's voice had converted into a sanctuary for the Word, became for Switzerland, what it has remained until this day, the center of the power and of the intrigues of the Papacy.
But this was not enough. At the very time that these flourishing churches were falling to the ground, the Reform witnessed the extinction of its brightest lights. A blow from a stone had slain the energetic Zwingle on the field of battle, and the rebound reached the pacific Oecolampadius at Basle, in the midst of a life that was wholly evangelical. The death of his friend, the severe judgments with which they pursued his memory, the terror that had suddenly taken the place of the hopes he had entertained of the future-all these sorrows rent the heart of Oecolampadius, and soon his head and his life inclined sadly to the tomb. "Alas!" cried he, "that Zwingle, whom I have so long regarded as my right arm, has fallen under the blows of cruel enemies!" He recovered, however, sufficient energy to defend the memory of his brother. "It was not," said he, "on the heads of the most guilty that the wrath of Pilate and the tower of Siloam fell. The judgment began in the house of God; our presumption has been punished; let our trust be placed now on the Lord alone, and this will be an inestimable gain." Oecolampadius declined the call of Zurich to take the place of Zwingle. "My post is here," said he, as he looked upon Basle, He was not destined to hold it long. Illness fell upon him in addition to so many afflictions; the plague was in the city; a violent inflammation attacked him, and erelong a tranquil scene succeeded the tumult of Cappel. A peaceful death calmed the agitated hearts of the faithful, and replaced by sweet and heavenly emotions the terror and distress with which a horrible disaster had filled them.
On hearing of the danger of Oecolampadius, all the city was plunged into mourning; a crowd of men of every age and of every rank rushed to his house. "Rejoice," said the reformer with a meek look, "I am going to a place of everlasting joy." He then commemorated the death of our Lord with his wife, his relations, and domestics, who shed floods of tears. "This supper," said the dying man, "is a sign of my real faith in Jesus Christ my Redeemer.
On the morrow he sent for his colleagues: "My brethren," said he, "the Lord is there; he calls me away. Oh! my brethren, what a black cloud is appearing on the horizon-what a tempest is approaching! Be steadfast: the Lord will preserve his own." He then held out his hand, and all these faithful ministers clasped it with veneration.
On the 23rd November, he called his children around him, the eldest of whom was barely three years old. "Eusebius, Irene, Alethea," said he to them, as he took their little hands, "love God who is your Father." Their mother having promised for them, the children retired with the blessing of the dying Lord. The night that followed this scene was his last. All the pastors were around his bed: “What is the news?" asked Oecolampadius of a friend who came in. "Nothing," was the reply. "Well," said the faithful disciple of Jesus, "I will tell you something new." His friends awaited in astonishment. "In a short time I shall be with the Lord Jesus." One of his friends now asking him if he was incommoded by the light, he replied, putting his hand on his heart: "There is light enough here." The day began to break; he repeated in a feeble voice the 51st Psalm: Have mercy upon me, O Lord, according to thy loving kindness. Then remaining silent, as if he wished to recover strength, he said, "Lord Jesus, help me!" The ten pastors fell on their knees around his bed with uplifted hands; at this moment the sun rose, and darted his earliest rays on a scene of sorrow so great and so afflicting with which the Church of God was again stricken.
The death of this servant of the Lord was like his life, full of light and peace. Oecolampadius was in an especial degree the Christian spiritualist and biblical divine. The importance he attached to the study of the books of the Old Testament imprinted one of its most essential characters on the reformed theology. Considered as a man of action, his moderation and meekness placed him in the second rank. Had he been able to exert more of this peaceful spirit over Zwingle, great misfortunes might perhaps have been avoided. But like all men of meek disposition, his peaceful character yielded too much to the energetic will of the minister of Zurich; and he thus renounced, in part at least, the legitimate influence that he might have exercised over the Reformer of Switzerland and of the Church.
Zwingle and Oecolampadius had fallen. There was a great void and great sorrow in the Church of Christ. Dissensions vanished before these two graves, and nothing could be seen but tears. Luther himself was moved. On receiving the news of these two deaths, he called to mind the days he had passed with Zwingle and Oecolampadius at Marburg; and the blow inflicted on him by their sudden decease was such, that many years after he said to Bullinger: "Their death filled me with such intense sorrow, that I was near dying myself."
The youthful Henry Bullinger, threatened with the scaffold, had been compelled to flee from Bremgarten, his native town, with his aged father, his colleagues, and sixty of the principal inhabitants, who abandoned their houses to be pillaged by the Waldstettes. Three days after this, he was preaching in the cathedral of Zurich: "No! Zwingle is not dead!" exclaimed Myconius; "or, like the phoenix, he has risen again from his ashes." Bullinger was unanimously chosen to succeed the great Reformer. He adopted Zwingle's orphan children, Wilhelm, Regula, and Ulrich, and endeavored to supply the place of their father.
This young man, scarcely twenty-eight years of age, and who presided forty years with wisdom and blessing over this church, was everywhere greeted as the apostle of Switzerland.
Yet as the sea roars long after the violent tempest has subsided, so the people of Zurich were still in commotion. Many were agitated from on high. They came to themselves; they acknowledged their error; the weapons of their warfare had been carnal; they were now of a contrite and humble spirit; they arose and went to their Father and confessed their sin. In those days there was great mourning in Zurich. Some, however, stood up with pride, protested by the mouth of their ministers against the work of the diplomatists, and boldly stigmatized the shameful compact. "If the shepherds sleep, the dogs must bark," exclaimed Leo Juda in the cathedral of Zurich. "My duty is to give warning of the evil they are about to do to my Master's house."
Nothing could equal the sorrow of this city, except the exultation of the Waldstettes. The noise of drums and fifes, the firing of guns, the ringing of bells, had long resounded on the banks of their lakes, and even to their highest valleys. Now the noise was less, but the effect greater. The Five Cantons, in close alliance with Friburg and Soleure, formed a perpetual league for the defense of the ancient Christian faith with the Bishop of Sion and the tithings of the Valais; and henceforward carried their measures in the federal affairs with boldness. But a deep conviction was formed at that period in the hearts of the Swiss Reformed. "Faith comes from God," said they; "its success does not depend on the life or death of a man. Let our adversaries boast of our ruin, we will boast only in the Cross." -"God reigns," wrote Berne to Zurich, "and he will not permit the bark to founder." This conviction was of more avail than the victory of Cappel.
Thus the Reformation, that had deviated from the right path, was driven back by the very violence of the assault into its primitive course, having no other power than the Word of God. An inconceivable infatuation had taken possession of the friends of the Bible. They had forgotten that our warfare is not carnal; and had appealed to arms and to battle. But God reigns; he punishes the churches and the people who turn aside from his ways. We have taken a few stones, and piled them as a monument on the battle-field of Cappel, in order to remind the Church of the great lesson which this terrible catastrophe teaches. As we bid farewell to this sad scene, we inscribe on these monumental stones, on the one side, these words from God's Book: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen: but we are risen and stand upright. "And on the other, this declaration of the Head of the Church: "My kingdom is not of this world." If, from the ashes of the martyrs at Cappel, a voice could be heard, it would be in these very words of the Bible that these noble confessors would address, after three centuries, the Christians of our days. That the Church has no other king than Jesus Christ; that she ought not to meddle with the policy of the world, derive from it her inspiration, and call for its swords, its prisons, its treasures; that she will conquer by the spiritual powers which God has deposited in her bosom, and, above all, by the reign of her adorable Head; that she must not expect upon earth thrones and mortal triumphs; but that her march resembles that of her King, from the manger to the cross, and from the cross to the crown:-such is the lesson to be read on the blood-stained page that has crept into our simple and evangelical narrative.
But if God teaches his people great lessons, he also gives them great deliverances. The bolt had fallen from heaven. The Reformation seemed to be little better than a lifeless body cumbering the ground, and whose dissevered limbs were about to be reduced to ashes. But God raises up the dead. New and more glorious destinies were awaiting the Gospel of Jesus Christ at the foot of the Alps. At the south-western extremity of Switzerland, in a great valley which the white giant of the mountains points out from afar; on the banks of the Leman lake, at the spot where the Rhone, clear and blue as the sky above it, rolls its majestic waters; on a small hill that the foot of Caesar had once trod, and on which the steps of another conqueror, of a Gaul, of a Picardine," were destined erelong to leave their ineffaceable and glorious traces, stood an ancient city, as yet covered with the dense shadows of Popery; but which God was about to raise to be a beacon to the Church, and a bulwark to Christendom.