5 – Battle of Dornach (1499)
Dornach was the decisive battle in the Swabian War of 1499 which took place between the Swabian League (with the aid of the Holy Roman Empire) and the Swiss Confederacy. The House of Habsburg had gained the throne of the Holy Roman Empire in 1438 and had a long history of hostility and conflict with the Swiss Confederacy. Once the Habsburgs were on the throne, the Swiss knew they could no longer rely on the empire for support.
The Swiss clashed with the Habsburgs at different times during the rest of the 15th century. In 1488, a mutual defense and peacekeeping force called the Swabian League was formed, but when the Swiss were invited to join, they refused. What was once a local conflict got out of hand as concerns over territory led to an outbreak of war. The Swabian War was mainly a collection of skirmishes, but the Battle of Dornach was a disaster for the Holy Roman Empire.
While the Swiss only had 6,000 men, the empire had 16,000 under the command of Heinrich von Furstenberg. The first attacks occurred on July 22, and the Swiss was beaten back at first. However, reinforcements arrived and turned the tide of the battle. Von Furstenberg was killed in action early on, and his death clearly affected the performance of his army. The total number of losses is unknown, but both armies suffered heavy casualties.
Emperor Maximilian I of the Holy Roman Empire was said to have been devastated when he heard the news of his army’s defeat. It was the last time that the Swiss were engaged in armed conflict with any member of the empire. The Swabian War came to an end on 22 September with the signing of the Treaty of Basel. The treaty ensured the Swiss enjoyed far-reaching independence from the Holy Roman Empire even though the Confederacy was officially part of the empire until 1648.