Battle of Näfels Day in Glarus Date in the current year: April 4, 2024

Battle of Näfels Day in Glarus The Battle of Näfels Day (Näfelser Fahrt — “Näfels Ride”) is celebrated in the Swiss canton of Glarus on the first Thursday of April. It is a public holiday in the canton.

The Battle of Näfels was one of the key battles of the conflict between the Old Swiss Confederacy and the Archduchy of Austria. It was a decisive Swiss victory over two Austrian armies despite being severely outnumbered.

In 1219, the cantons of Schwyz, Unterwalden and Uri entered into a military alliance that laid the foundation of Switzerland. Subsequently, several more cantons joined the alliance: some voluntarily, and some (including Glarus) were conquered from Austria. The conquered cantons were admitted to the alliance as equals. Eventually, the alliance expanded to include eight cantons, which are referred to as the Acht Orte.

Naturally, Austria wanted to regain the lost territories. When the confederacy was joined by Lucerne, which the Habsburgs wanted for themselves, duke Albert II of Austria marched against the Swiss Confederacy. The conflict between Switzerland and Austria stretched throughout most of the 14th century.

In July 1386, the Austrians attacked Sempach but were defeated. The Old Swiss Confederacy responded by attacking Weesen and Windegg. In March 1387, Glarus declared itself free of Austrian control, but the Habsburgs weren’t going to give up.

In February 1388, they attacked and recaptured Weesen. A month and a half later, two Austrian armies marched towards Glarus to cut it off from the rest of the confederacy. On April 9, 1388, the main Austrian army attacked Näfels. The local garrison held out for a while, but eventually had to withdraw, letting the Austrians capture the fortifications.

However, instead of protecting Näfels from recapture by the Glarner troops, the Austrian army spread out throughout the valley to loot farms and villages. In the evening, taking advantage of the fog and snowfall, the Glarners launched a surprise counterattack at the disorganized Austrians and made them flee towards Weesen. When Austrian soldiers were retreating, the bridge over the Linth collapsed, and several hundred people drowned in the river.

Austrian losses are estimated to be about 1,700 dead, while the Glarner army lost only 54 people. The Battle of Näfels was the last major battle of the Swiss-Austrian conflict; the next year, the Old Swiss Confederacy and Austria signed a piece treaty, and Swizz cantons retained their independence from the Habsburgs.

On the first Thursday of April, many citizens of Glarus walk to Näfels on foot to commemorate the anniversary of the battle. This pilgrimage is referred to as Näfelser Fahrt; it played the important role in the unification of Glarus.

A solemn procession to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Näfels Day begins at 7 a.m. outside the arsenal in the city of Glarus. Its participants, accompanied by musicians, military personnel and representatives of the Catholic and Protestant churches, walk to the memorial at the site of the battle. Along the way, the procession makes several stops, during which the names of the soldiers who died in the battle are read out loud, and local politicians make speeches. In addition, every year a Catholic or a Protestant priest (they take turns) delivers a sermon at the memorial.

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Battle of Näfels Day in Glarus, holidays in Switzerland, holidays in Glarus, battle anniversary, regional holidays