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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

August 24th, 1444 - The Battle of St. Jakob

Conflict: Old Zurich War

Combatants: French vs. Swiss

Location: Switzerland

Outcome: French Pyrrhic victory

In the summer of 1444, the French dauphin Charles VII (later King Louis XI) invaded Switzerland with 15,000-30,000 mercenaries. Upon the French approach, 1,000-1,500 Swiss soldiers with pikes and halberds marched onto to confront the invaders. On or about August 24th (or August 26th) of 1444, this small contingent of Swiss infantry attacked the far superior force of French mercenaries. The Swiss were killed, apparently to a man, but inflicted 3,000 casualties on the French invaders. This kill ratio was so severe that Charles abandoned the invasion of the Swiss cantons.

Schlacht bei St. Jakob an der Birs 1444 by Benedicht Tschachtlan

Point of Interest:

  • After the losses at St. Jakob, Charles instead turned his ambitions on Alsace.

  • The defiance and performance of the men at St. Jakob long solidified the reputation of the Swiss as the best soldiers in Europe.

Louis XI of France by François-Séraphin Delpech

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