Appenzell War 1403-1408

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The town of Appenzell, Switzerland in the cronical of Stumpf, 1548

Through the centuries, the little land of Liechtenstein has been invaded many times. From the Celts, Romans and Alemanni to the French in the Napoleonic Wars, the people of the two counties of Schellenburg and Vaduz suffered occupation, pillaging, plundering and terror. At times they were even invaded by their neighbors across the Rhine. Even the people of the present Swiss Canton of Appenzell had their turn at conquering and occupying Liechtenstein.

The Monfort-Werdenberg family had ruled the area for two hundred years. But they could not stop entangling themselves in local civil wars and quarreling among themselves. In particular the Bishops of Chur and the Abbots of St. Gallens, even though related, fought each other over the slightest thing. The Counts of Vaduz feuded with the Feldkirch branch of the family and with the farmers “League of Above the Lake” (Bund ob dem See) from 1405 – 1408.

The Abbot of St. Gallen had his hands full with the proud people of the Appenzell who had many grievances against him. But what really set them off was his move to recognize the Dukes of Austria as his liege lords. With their help, he hoped to put an end once and for all to disturbances in his domain. The people of Appenzell felt that their rights were in danger as well as the safety of the Swiss Confederation if the Dukes extended their power into the area. The Schwytz supported Appenzell, while Zurich favoured the Bishop of St. Gallen. The war was on.

A number of states and towns such as Thur valley, St. Gallen, Feldkirch and Bludenz, Appenzell, Rheintal, Glarus, Fussach, Hochst, Rankweil, Walgau, Montafon, and feudal lords like Count Rudolph of Werdenberg, formed a confederation called the Bund ob dem Bodensee.

At Voegelinsegg on 15 May 1403, the men of Appenzell defeated the combined armies of the Bishop of St. Gallen and his Swabian allies. This did not stop the plundering and pillage of the two counties by a monastic army from the Abbey of St. Gallen and Austria. The men of Appenzell then defeated the Abbot and Frederick IV of Austria, at Stoss on 17 June 1405. Soldiers of the League occupied Schellenberg and the people of the County of Schellenberg were forced to swear allegiance to the Appenzell League. The upper and lower Schellenberg castles were pulled down and burnt.

The League’s fortunes did not last long. With the defeat of the Appenzell army at Bregenz on 13 January 1408, the League fell apart. The Swiss Confederation signed a treaty with Appenzell on 24 November 1408 and with St Gallen on 14 December 1412 effectively ending the hostilities. The county of Schellenberg reverted back to its previous owner.

The memories of these times linger even today on both sides of the border. It is said that the Apppenzellers, noted for their stubborn nature and long memories, feel that they still have a territorial claim to the two counties.