1499

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Swiss Independence and Opportunity *

The cantons of the Old Swiss Confederation, which will one day be called Switzerland, have refused to pay their taxes to the House of Hapsburg. Out come the pikes, the swords and the guns. The Swiss War is on. The Hapsburgs appeal to the Swabian League to put down this rebellion. Since the League's purpose is to bring stability to that region, it seems like a good idea. Unfortunately the charismatic leader of the League died a few years ago and no single leader has arisen yet amongst the city members. (For a modern reference, this would be like NATO without the USA to push the member states into action. It would be mushy, but mushy has its virtues.) The Swiss already have a reputation for disciplined and relentless fighting. Some people will surrender when they see them coming. They have won their independence from the Hapsburgs and are now free to pursue other interests... like selling their frighteningly efficient military services to the French in the 2nd Italian War... and to the Pope. [1] [2]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
The actual name of this war depends on who you ask. Most people call it the Swabian War which is a reference to the Swabian League of Cities, a mutual defense treaty with a general goal of stability in the region called Swabia. (For orientation: It is a region in south Germany just north of Switzerland. Today Lake Constance on the Rhine is also known as "the Swabian Sea.") I prefer to call this conflict "The Swiss War" which is what most Germans called it. It was a mild insult. It's like calling all Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans and Panamanians just "Mexicans". As it turns out the name "Swiss" sticks and eventually the cantons of the Old Swiss Confederation will be called Switzerland although there won't be a unified government called Switzerland until the 1800s. It's complicated but there is a reason that Switzerland is often neutral ground in the modern era. [3]

The Second Italian War and the Motivational Power of Defeat

King Louis the 12th of France has made claim to the crown of the Kingdom of Naples in the south of Italy but the current King of Naples (a Spaniard) is resisting. Since King Louis must send an army through the northern Italian states and the Papal States he is making deals with the Pope and the powers of Europe to split up the Italian states. King Louis cuts a deal with Venice because Venice is distracted by a shootout at sea with the Ottomans. Milan and Genoa are being stubborn but the fix is in. Leonardo da Vinci escapes Milan as the French army moves on the city-state. At the head of the French army are Swiss mercenaries who have recently won their independence from the Hapsburgs. Italy will be chewed up once again but something will change for the Italians. They are being forced to change the way they fight and the lesson is being paid for in blood. [4] [5]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
For want of a nail the shoe was lost... -- part of a proverbial rhyme, well known in 1499.[6]
A small war in the Kingdom of Naples many years ago destabilized it enough to make it an attractive target to the French king. Thus began a cascade of defeats for the Italians called the 1st Italian War. In the 2nd Italian War, France continued to use those big cannons that take over 20 horses to drag around the countryside but the Italians and Spaniards learned something and began using smaller but easier to transport cannons with better wheels that take only 9 horses to drag around the countryside. Those cannons also fire three or four shots for every one of France's. The French were the winners in the short run but in the long run, the Italians and the Spaniards learn their lesson and the French do not. An embarrassing defeat in war spurs massive innovation and rock-hard determination. Had Hitler realized this in World War II he would have never tried to cow the British with the bombing of London (called the Blitz). Saint Paul's Cathedral stood there mocking Hitler and the British came back at him even harder. This same motivational power of defeat spurred the USA into innovation after the Vietnam War and changed the way the USA fights wars today. [7] [8]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1499, Wikipedia.

See Also

References

* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. Swabian War of 1499. Timeline of World History (2013). Retrieved on 12 January 2015. “In 1499, Louis concluded an alliance with the Republic of Venice and Swiss mercenaries and invaded the Duchy of Milan under the condition that the Lombardian territories be split between Venice and France.”
  2. (1922) History of Switzerland, 1499-1914. Switzerland: The University Press. Retrieved on 13 January 2015. 
  3. Switzerland in the Napoleonic era - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 13 January 2015.
  4. Italian War of 1499-1504 - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 28 December 2014.
  5. Treaty of Basel (1499) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 12 January 2015.
  6. Alex Shrugged notes: The full rhyme is...
    For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
    For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
    For want of a horse the rider was lost.
    For want of a rider the message was lost.
    For want of a message the battle was lost.
    For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
    And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.
  7. The Blitz - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 12 January 2015.
  8. Alex Shrugged notes: FYI, I ended this segment softly because my job is not to dictate to Jack how he must react to these segments but to leave an opening for him to react in the way that he chooses. Also, for a well-researched novel depicting the conditions the British people had to suffer during the Blitz I suggest reading "Blackout" and it's sequel, "All Clear" by Connie Willis.

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