Battle of Arbedo

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Battle of Arbedo
Bellinzona Tschachtlan.jpg
Illustration of the battle from the Tschachtlanchronik of 1470.
DateJune 30, 1422 [1]
46°13′N9°02′E / 46.21°N 9.04°E / 46.21; 9.04 Coordinates: 46°13′N9°02′E / 46.21°N 9.04°E / 46.21; 9.04
Result Decisive Milanese victory [2]

Flag of the Duchy of Milan.png Duchy of Milan
Ch-1422a.png  Old Swiss Confederacy  :
  Flag of Canton of Uri.svg  Uri
   Old flag of Unterwalden.svg Unterwalden
  Flag of Canton of Lucerne.svg  Luzern
  Flag of Canton of Zug.svg  Zug
Commanders and leaders
Francesco Bussone [3] [4] Ulrich Welker
Roth von Uri 
Kälin von Zug 
Zelger von Obwalden  [4]
(including 5,000 cavalry) [5] [6]
2,500 Infantry [5] [6]
Casualties and losses
1,000 Dead [4] 500 Dead [6]
300 Captured
Including Ulrich [4] [7]

The Battle of Arbedo was fought on June 30, 1422, between the Duchy of Milan and the Swiss Confederation.


In 1419, Uri and Unterwalden bought the Bellinzona stronghold from the Sacco barons, but were unable to defend it adequately. When, in 1422, they rejected the Milanese proposal to buy back the fortified town, their troops stationed in Bellinzona were put to rout by the Visconti army under the command of Francesco Bussone, Count of Carmagnola. An attempt to reconquer the fortified area with the support of other confederates led to the battle at Arbedo, a village 3 km (1.9 mi) north of Bellinzona. The Count of Carmagnola led the forces of the Duchy of Milan against the Swiss and was victorious.

The shooting thaler of the 1867 federal Schutzenfest depicts Hans Landwing saving the cantonal banner. Zug2.jpg
The shooting thaler of the 1867 federal Schützenfest depicts Hans Landwing saving the cantonal banner.

The Swiss were mainly equipped with halberds and had an initial success against the cavalry charge. Then Carmagnola brought his crossbowmen forward, while dismounting his cavalry. The dismounted men-at-arms used pikes which outreached the halberds. The Swiss were further under pressure by the crossbow fire on the flanks.

The Milanese force began to push back the Swiss, who were only saved from total disaster by the appearance of a band of foragers, whom the Milanese were convinced represented a major new force. When the Milanese force pulled back to reform, the Swiss fled the battlefield, having taken heavy casualties.

In a historiographical tradition of Zug, the bearer of the cantonal banner, Peter Kälin, was slain, and the banner was taken up by his son, who was slain in his turn. The banner was saved by one Hans Landwing, and was later lost against the French. [8]

The victory secured Bellinzona and the Leventina to the Duchy. In addition the Duchy gained the Val d'Ossola, thus the Swiss lost all the territorial gains they had made. The defeat discouraged the Swiss expansionist intentions towards Lake Maggiore for a long time. It was the defeat at Arbedo that made the Swiss increase the number of pikemen.

See also


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  1. "Mario Troso - Le fanterie Svizzere". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  2. "The Castles of Bellinzona | UNESCO World Heritage | The Late Middle Ages". Archived from the original on 2007-09-27. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  3. Rita da Cascia - La cronologia Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  4. 1 2 3 4 Documento senza titolo Archived September 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  5. 1 2 Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz - Schlacht bei Arbedo
  6. 1 2 3 Douglas Miller & G.A. Embleton, "The Swiss at War 1300-1500", Men At Arms 094, Osprey Publishing (1979)
  7. E. Pometta: Come il Ticino venne in potere degli Svizzeri. Bellinzona
  8. Illustrirte Zeitung No. 1360, 24 July 1869, p. 72f.