731 years ago, on August 1, 1291, in a top-secret conference, Fuerst, from Uri, Stauffacher from Schwyz, and von Melchtal, representing Unterwalden held up their left hands for an oath, their right hands were placed on their hearts. “… We swear, in good faith, to…”
This oath, ever since, has been known as the ‘Ruetli Oath’ and formed the Confoederatio Helvetica,, the ‘Helvetic Confederation’, or how it was called, centuries later, Switzerland.
The newly formed cooperation and formal protest to enforce the self-governing of the area, including their facilitation to collect the taxes connected to the North-South passage (from Germany to Italy), didn’t go well with the Danube Monarchy. The noblemen, including the King, saw their authority endangered. In 1315, Duke Leopold of Zaehringen sent his army to make those rebellious Helvetic hillbillies see reason after they undermined the royal ruling.
By that time the Confederation wasn’t a secret anymore and its influence had extended. It was no surprise the monarchy felt threatened. The information that the sovereignty wanted to take back the scepter and demonstrate their power with military strength was carried into the Confederation.
The blood-tired members of the Helvetic Confederation decided to stifle the try to take over the royal power in its beginning. And they were successful. The entire planning led to the famous ‘Battle of Morgarten’, which was basically a fight of ‘David vs. Goliath’, and to the noblemen’s surprise, the handful of ‘Helvetic rednecks’ walked away victorious.
It was the beginning of the end. The Helvetic Confederation gained more ‘cantons’ (states) as members and grew into 26 cantons and half-cantons to join and finally turned into that tiny country that forms the heart of Europe, Switzerland.
Switzerland is a country, famous for its chocolate, cheese, and watches… and yes… they are the best. But also, Switzerland gained respect for significant development and progress in computer science, medical discoveries, nuclear, biomedical, and forensic science.
Additionally, it’s the only country in the world with a square flag and four native languages, Swiss-German, Swiss-French, Swiss-Italian, and Rumantsch, a dying language, only spoken by 2% of the Swiss population in the South East corner of the country.
August 1, the day of the ‘Ruetli Oath’ is the day Switzerland celebrates its independence from the Danube Monarchy and its separation from the Habsburg ruled, often cruel and suffocating thraldom.
Happy Birthday, Switzerland, home of the brave defenders of human rights, and the most beautiful mountains, one of them the famous Matterhorn.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWITZERLAND