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Title: Arnold of Winkelried, The Hero of Sempach - Life Stories for Young People
Author: Höcker, Gustav
Language: English
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                 [Illustration: _The Winkelried statue_
               (_After a photograph by Guccione, Rome_)]

                    _Life Stories for Young People_

                          ARNOLD OF WINKELRIED
                          THE HERO OF SEMPACH

                     _Translated from the German of
                             Gustav Höcker_

                            GEORGE P. UPTON
                    _Translator of “Memories,” etc._

                        WITH THREE ILLUSTRATIONS

                  [Illustration: A. C. McCLURG & CO.]

                          A. C. McCLURG & CO.


                          A. C. McClurg & Co.
                       Published August 22, 1908


                          Translator’s Preface

The story of Arnold of Winkelried, the famous hero of Switzerland, and
of his heroic death in the battle of Sempach, will never lose its
interest. The learned iconoclasts, having the advantage of the obscurity
of fourteenth-century history, may continue to declare that he is only a
legendary hero, as they have asserted of William Tell, but Winkelried,
like Tell, still lives in the hearts of the Swiss people as the actual
embodiment of patriotic devotion, love of freedom, and love of humanity,
and thus he will remain in the hearts of men for all time. The narrative
in this little volume might be called a collection of short sketches
illustrating the great events of the thirteenth and fourteenth
centuries, with Winkelried as their dominant figure and connecting link.
The author tells us the legends which cluster around Pilatus, and good
father Vincentius’s thrilling story of the battle of Morgarten. He shows
us how a mystery play was performed. The ravages of the Black Death are
vividly set forth. Then he tells us of the robber knights and Duke
Leopold’s tournament at Basle. He describes in detail the curious
methods employed in storming a castle, introduces Winkelried in his
daring adventure as a beggar monk, and closes the graphic story with a
thrilling account of the famous Sempach battle and the way in which
Winkelried gave himself to death by making a passage for the
Confederates through the forest of Austrian spears. There is no nobler
example of patriotic devotion and sublime courage in history.

                                                                G. P. U.

Chicago, May 1, 1908.


  Chapter                                                           Page
  I Knight Schrutan and the Pilatus                                   11
  II The Battle of Morgarten                                          31
  III The Mystery Play at Engelberg                                   50
  IV The Black Death                                                  58
  V The Robber Knights                                                72
  VI The Tournament at Little Basle                                   94
  VII Storming of a Lithuanian Castle                                108
  VIII The Beggar Monk                                               119
  IX Winkelried’s Heroic Death                                       131
    Appendix                                                         140


  The Winkelried statue                                   _Frontispiece_
  Monument commemorating the Battle of Sempach                        54
  Winkelried’s heroic death at the Battle of Sempach                 122

                          Arnold of Winkelried

                               Chapter I
                    Knight Schrutan and the Pilatus

The Lake of the Four Forest Cantons, lying amidst the four cantons, Uri,
Unterwalden, Schwyz, and Lucerne, from which it derives its name,
surpasses all other Swiss lakes in the grandeur of its natural beauty
and in the wealth of its historical associations.

In the year 1315, which is about the period in which the events of this
story occurred, there was upon this lake a little flotilla, which seems
insignificant enough when compared with the powerful fleets of the
present day. At that time the cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden
were frequently engaged in hostilities with their neighbor Lucerne,
which still adhered to Austria. Their encounters took place on skiffs
and boats and clumsy vessels along the shores of the lake. One big,
sharp-pointed, oaken craft, called the “Goose,” was the flagship of the
Lucerne fleet. The “Fox” was the flagship of Uri. One day the Lucerne
flagship ventured too near the shore and was struck by a millstone which
the Unterwaldeners hurled down upon it from a watch-tower, and which so
disabled it that Lucerne’s naval power was virtually destroyed.

At the point where the lake makes a wide bend to the south into the very
heart of the Alps lies Unterwalden, among precipitous cliffs and
mountain pastures. It is a majestic sight when the mists clear away on a
bright summer’s morning and the Rigi, Pilatus, the rocky summits of
Schwyz, and the range of mountain-peaks extending even to the distant
dazzling Jungfrau and the Black Monk are revealed in the brilliant
atmosphere. The name “Unterwalden” was applied to this picturesque
region in modern times. It is not known what it was called in ancient
times, but there can be no doubt that it was inhabited, as it contains
unusually rich pasturage for animals and offers favorable opportunities
for hunting and fishing.

Not far away from the lake is the little city of Stans, situated in a
luxuriant garden, whose fruitfulness is unimpaired, although from the
middle of November until the beginning of February the sun is visible
only in the morning between Briefenberg and the Staufer Horn, and in the
afternoon never gilds the roofs of the little place.

At the eastern extremity of the city stands, even to this day, the
Winkelried house, to which we shall now introduce our readers. They must
imagine themselves in the middle of the fourteenth century. Although it
had ample sleeping-rooms, spacious closets, and large, gayly colored
chests in which the linen and garments were kept, as well as other
conveniences, a single room was the family’s living apartment. A long
wooden bench stood against the wall, in front of which was a large oaken
table with massive feet. Some wooden chairs and a leathern arm-chair
completed the furniture. Tankards, dishes, and glasses were arranged on
shelves, and some silver vessels were enclosed in a beautifully carved
cabinet. A holy-water ewer was fastened near the door, and a crucifix
hung between the windows. Instead of a stove there was an open coal
fire, into which thyme was sprinkled to diffuse a pleasant odor
throughout the room. Several tiny cages were suspended from the low
ceiling. The sprightly little singers which occupied them were quiet
now, having gone to sleep with their heads tucked under their wings, for
it was evening and the room had grown dark.

A woman of middle age was seated in the easy-chair absorbed in
meditation. A boy sat in her lap, and as he tenderly embraced his mother
his eyes turned to the window through which he saw the moon rising over
the peaks of Pilatus and the summit of the Felsenhorn, outlined like a
sharp black shadow against the sky.

“Little mother,” said the boy, breaking the silence, “why is that
mountain called ‘Pilatus’? That is the name of the Roman governor who
delivered our Saviour to the Jews.”

“You are right, my Arnold. The mountain was named for him,” replied his

“Why?” asked Arnold.

“Pontius Pilate, who was the Governor of Judea, administered the affairs
of the province so corruptly that the Emperor Tiberius recalled him to
Rome and shut him up in prison,” said his mother. “Rather than suffer
this disgrace, Pilate took his own life. As he was a self-murderer his
body was thrown into the Tiber. A terrible tempest of rain and hail at
once swept down upon Rome. For weeks the thunder crashed and shook the
city. The people at last decided that the storm was caused by the dead
Pilate, so they took the body from the river and carried it away. But
wherever they deposited it—in the Rhone or in other rivers—violent
storms and tempests raged, as they had done in Rome. At last they
brought the body here and threw it into the little solitary lake near
the top of yonder lofty, rugged, and almost inaccessible mountain. It
was then called the Pilatus Lake and at a later day the name was also
given to the mountain. Before that the mountain was called Fracmont,
which comes from a Latin word signifying its jagged appearance. The lake
has neither inlet nor outlet. It is not increased by the rain or the
snow, nor does the most intense Summer heat lower it. It does not freeze
in Winter. The wind does not agitate its dark surface, but when its
quiet is disturbed by human hands frightful tempests arise.”

“Does the dead Pontius Pilate who is buried there make these storms?”
said Arnold.

“Yes, my child. At times he rises from the lake and sits upon a
mountain-peak, and from thence stirs up the storms which spread such
devastation over the country. But once there came a wandering scholar—”

“What kind of persons are those?” asked the lad.

“They are scholars who go from one school to another, pursuing their
studies, now in this one, now in that. They are poor, and the
ecclesiastics and other religious people whom they visit in their
wanderings support them. Last Summer one of them ate at our table.”

“Was he a scholar?” asked Arnold, in great surprise; “why, he was as big
as father, and had a long beard, besides.”

“Yes,” replied his mother, with a smile; “it is not unusual for these
learned beggars to remain in the schools until their thirtieth year,
when they sometimes get positions as under-teachers.”

“One of these travelling scholars came, you were saying,” said Arnold,
thus recalling to his mother the interrupted story.

“Yes, one of them came into our neighborhood who knew how to exorcise
evil spirits, and the valley people promised to pay him well if he would
quiet Pilate. The student betook himself to the lake and hurled such
powerful incantations at him that he promised to rest quietly in the
lake upon condition that he might rise from his watery grave one day in
each year. Since that time, upon every Good Friday, Pilate leaves the
lake and sits in his red robes of office as he used to do. During the
remainder of the year he is quiet and invisible. But when he becomes
provoked by unusual noises in the vicinity of the lake, or stones are
thrown into it, then the clouds gather about the mountains, terrible
storms break loose, and the lake emits fiery exhalations. On this
account people are forbidden to go near the lake lest some one may
ignorantly or maliciously provoke him and thereby endanger this region
as well as himself.”

The mother ceased. The boy gazed steadily at the mysterious mountain, at
that instant illuminated by the rising moon and gleaming like silver in
its snowy drapery.

“Do you know anything more about Pilatus?” he asked, after a little.

“No, my darling, I have told you all that people say about it.”

The story greatly excited Arnold. He wanted to hear more of the same
thrilling kind. A dim recollection of an extraordinary adventure
connected with his own family rose in his mind.

“Little mother,” he said, “what was that horrible animal which once
lived in this region? I heard you tell about it once, but I have
forgotten most of the story. I know that a knight called Winkelried
killed it.”

“That was Henry of Winkelried, your grandfather, usually called

“Why Schrutan?”

“The name was probably given to him by his companions in the
tournaments; for like all knights he was fond of tilting.”

“If my grandfather was a knight, why are there no knights now?” asked
Arnold, raising his head from his mother’s shoulder and gazing at her

“The times have greatly changed,” she replied. “Once the powerful family
of Hohenstaufen[1] ruled over the German Empire. It occupied the throne
more than a hundred years. The emperors fought many great battles, and
the Winkelrieds, who were in their service, were elevated to knighthood.
But when the Hohenstaufens ceased to rule, an evil time ensued. As it
was no longer an honor to be a knight, the Winkelrieds discarded
knighthood and lived like plain country people.”

“And what is it about the terrible animal and my grandfather who was
called Knight Schrutan?” said Arnold.

“Listen,” said his mother, as she began to tell him the story once more.
“You know the little village of Odwylen, between Stans and the Kernwald.
In the mountains near it there is a vast cavern which is said to have
been occupied by heathens in the ancient days. Perhaps they were the old
Romans who took refuge there because they had committed crimes and been
banished from their own country. About a century ago a huge dragon had
its lair in this cavern. It killed both men and beasts. The people of
the little village, which is called Wylen to this day, had to flee, and
as it was forsaken and desolate it took the name of Odwylen.[2] Along
the roads which lead across the moors and meadows between Stans and
Sarnen to the little village, not a person could be seen, nor were any
animals pastured there, for the dragon concealed itself in the swamps
and attacked every living thing. To be safe from the monster they laid
out new roads, traces of which are visible even to-day. The people of
Unterwalden sometimes undertook to attack the dragon, but it was always
on the alert, and as soon as it discovered its enemies it retreated to
the mountain cavern or some other place where it could defy pursuit. It
was so agile that it could run up the steepest mountain-side as swiftly
as a lizard and as easily as if it were on level ground. Knight Schrutan
heard about this dragon. He was no longer in his own country, for in his
wrath he had slain an Unterwaldener who had wronged him, and he had been
banished for it. He requested permission to attack the dragon, asking no
other compensation than the remission of his penalty of exile. Being a
valiant knight, the Unterwaldeners granted his petition and allowed him
to return home. The knight made a long spear with a sharp spike for its
tip, and at once sought the dragon, which he was not long in finding.
When the monster saw that it had to deal with but one man, it rushed
upon him with open jaws. Knight Schrutan hurled the spear with all his
strength into its throat, where the spike held it securely. Then he drew
his sword and smote the dragon until, bleeding from numerous wounds, it
died in terrible convulsions.”

Arnold scarcely breathed during the story, so spellbound was he. At last
a deep sigh escaped him. He slid down from his mother’s lap and stood
before her with his arms crossed, impatiently awaiting her next words,
for he knew the story was not yet finished. He was sure there was
something else, but could not remember what it was. His mother

“When the knight saw that his task was complete and successful he raised
both arms and praised God for His personal assistance. But, alas! he
kept his sword in his hand and the poisonous blood of the dragon dripped
upon the unprotected parts of his body. A few days afterwards the
valiant hero died, mourned by all the people of that region, whom he had
rescued from the ravages of the cruel monster.”

Arnold stood lost in thought as his mother brought the story to an end.
Had his brave ancestor gone forth to battle, and had he returned
victorious, and been overwhelmed with gold and honors by the grateful
Unterwaldeners it would not have been half so inspiring to the lad as
this tragic fate of the hero who paid for his brave deed with his life.
Young as he was, he too longed to achieve something great and bequeath
to others a legacy of glorious memories. The spark of self-sacrifice was
kindled at that instant in the boy’s breast, not to be extinguished
except with his last breath.

“Little mother,” cried Arnold, with glowing cheeks, “I will be such a

His mother smiled, but made no reply. She knew the Winkelrieds’ love of
freedom. She knew, also, how different it was from the conceptions of
freedom in the days of chivalry, and she was sure that Arnold’s was the
true Winkelried love. She had long been aware of the boy’s heroic
spirit, but she had never thought of him as an armed warrior in the

That night Arnold dreamed of nothing but Pilatus, the Knight Schrutan,
and the dragon, and they were mingled together in the strangest manner.
He dreamed he was on Lake Pilatus and saw the knight engaged in a
desperate struggle with the dragon. Nearer and more near the hero forced
the monster to the water’s edge, and with one last desperate effort he
drove it into the gloomy lake, which rose high above the sinking
reptile. The sky was instantly overspread with black clouds. The region
was enveloped in darkness, and, accompanied by deafening crashes of
thunder, Pilate rose from the lake in his red robes, holding in his hand
a spear set with sharp spikes, and making menacing gestures at the
knight. Schrutan plunged into the lake without hesitation, and
notwithstanding his heavy armor, breasted the waves with strong arms,
prepared to struggle with the evil spirit. Before he could reach him,
however, the water changed to dragon’s blood in which the knight was

On the next day, Florian Häbli, Arnold’s friend and playmate, came to
see him. Notwithstanding Florian’s father was poor and had to earn a
living for his large family by fishing and felling trees, Arnold
preferred him to all the other boys, and admired his courage, though
Florian sometimes was bolder in words than in action. The two boys at
first indulged in a vigorous snowball fight. Then they made a snow man,
and when it was finished Arnold placed a hat upon its head. As this
reminded him of the cloud caps which at times covered the summit of
Pilatus, he called the snow man the wicked Pontius Pilate, and bade
Florian help him to destroy Pilate. Both lads began a fierce bombardment
of the snow man, and kept it up until it was reduced to a shapeless
mass. Then Arnold told Florian about Schrutan and his adventure; and he
said he would like to encounter a dragon, but unfortunately there were
no more of them in that neighborhood.

“Do you really mean to say that you, such a little fellow, would really
fight a dragon?” rather contemptuously replied Florian, who was half a
head taller than Arnold. “Why, it would bury you in the cavity of one of
its teeth.”

Arnold, with equal contempt, answered back: “You shall yet see what I
will do. And I shall not kill a dragon,” he said, with a glance at the
fragments of the snow man. “The wicked Pilate is up there in the lake.
He sends storms over the land, which destroy the crops just as the
dragon killed men and beasts. He rises from the lake every Good Friday,
and then we can attack him.”

“Have you the courage to do it?” said Florian, incredulously.

“Yes, I have,” replied Arnold, in a manner so serious that Florian was
deeply impressed. He stated the perils of such an undertaking to his
companion, and also informed him that no one was allowed to go near the
banks of the lake. But Arnold was not to be dissuaded from his purpose.
He replied by setting forth with such enthusiasm the duty of some one to
perform the heroic deed of ridding the region of the evil spirit that
Florian resolved not to be outdone by his brave comrade. He decided on
the spot to accompany him on his dangerous expedition, and to help him
to overcome Pilate. The two lads talked of nothing else from day to day,
and carefully guarded their secret. Florian agreed to all the details of
the plan and worked them out assiduously. Most of his time was spent in
devising the weapons they should use. He was eager to construct a
catapult, like those used to batter down the walls of fortresses, but
found it impossible. Then he considered other methods of attack. He
thought of Greek fire, but he did not know how to make it. At last he
thought of a thunder-machine, for he had heard that these machines, by
some mysterious force, could hurl great iron balls. But as all his plans
proved impracticable, he next began to devise methods of protection
against the enemy’s attack which would make up for the lack of these
terrible weapons,—such as an invulnerable coat of mail, or some
wonderful ointment which could be rubbed on the body from head to foot,
and make the skin as hard as horn.

Arnold listened to all of Florian’s suggestions without making any
reply. He had long since settled the whole matter himself. His courage
was sufficient armor for him, and his weapon was the simple sling, with
which David smote the giant Goliath. He was sure he could overcome
Pilate if he had a fair chance, and to make sure of it he practised with
the sling until he became so expert that he could hit any mark within
stone’s throw.

The two little adventurers impatiently awaited the spring-time, which
would bring Holy Week and the eventful day. The mountains took on fresh
tints. The sky was gorgeously colored, and the atmosphere so transparent
that the most distant mountains seemed near by. There was a certain
relaxation in the air and a peculiar rustle in the woods. The dwellers
in the valley went around anxiously and extinguished the fire on every
hearth, for these manifestations of nature were the harbingers of the
violent Föhn. This dreadful wind (the Föhn) sweeps down from the
mountains upon the valleys, but gentle Spring follows in its train. The
Föhn melts the Winter snows even more rapidly than the sun, on which
account it is called the “snow-eater,” and its warm breath imparts new
life to the grasses and buds.

The valley was already clothed in tender green when Good Friday came. On
that eventful morning, armed only with his sling, Arnold and his
companion-at-arms set out for Lake Pilatus. Arnold did not know the way,
but Florian was familiar with it. His godfather, Peter Ruttimer, whose
duty it was to keep strangers away from it, had sometimes taken Florian
with him, so that he knew the road, and now and then had even been near
the lake.

After a troublesome and painful tramp of several hours, climbing up
steep places on all fours, and frequently stopping to rest, the
venturesome lads reached the accursed water, enclosed all round with
gloomy forests. Florian would have greatly preferred to abandon the
expedition, of which he was growing very tired, and visit his godfather;
but Arnold’s cool contempt of every danger deeply impressed him and
strengthened his wavering courage.

There was not a ripple on that gloomy water; not a trace of Pilate, who
should have been sitting there in his official robes, was to be seen.
Florian, after all, was right when he said that Pilate would not allow
any one to see him.

“You see, he does not come,” whispered Florian, after they had waited a
long time.

“He will come yet,” replied Arnold; and to expedite the wished-for
moment he picked up a large stone, and before Florian could stop him,
hurled it into the lake with all his might. It struck with a great
splash. With a loud outcry, brave Florian took to his heels and ran away
as fast as he could.

Arnold, however, was not in the least disturbed. After waiting a little
while, he sent Pilate a second invitation. He repeated it a dozen times,
making longer pauses between the throws so as to give him time to
consider it. His efforts were useless. He could not even rouse the
sluggish water into activity again. But he did not mind that, for he was
certain that Pilate was in the lake. At last he decided that more
energetic measures were necessary to entice him to the surface. He
arranged for a general bombardment by collecting a veritable arsenal of
stones. When he had piled them up in a small pyramid he began
operations. He hurled one stone after another into the lake and kept up
the assault with such vigor that the sweat poured down his face. But
Pilate treated these unprecedented insults with silent contempt. While
Arnold was making preparations to renew the bombardment, for which he
was collecting fresh ammunition, he heard footsteps rapidly approaching.
Turning round, he saw the powerful figure of Peter Ruttimer, and
Florian, who had turned informer, by his side.

The guardian of Pilatus had already thrown up his hands in dismay when
he noticed that the water of the lake had been disturbed by some one
throwing stones. White with rage, he rushed after the malefactor. Little
he cared that that malefactor’s ancestor was a knight. He would have
liked to give him a sound whipping on the spot, but refrained, fearing
that Arnold would make an outcry which would only add another offence to
his disobedience of orders; so he contented himself by hissing out the
maledictions which herdsmen employ when their animals are refractory,
after which he drove both boys down the mountain. He would have had the
legal penalty imposed upon Arnold had not his godson also been concerned
in the offence.

Nearly two hundred and fifty years later, imitators of these boys went
to the lake. Johann Müller, the Lucerne magistrate, climbed to the
notorious spot with many others. They shouted to Pilate to arise from
his watery grave, and they threw stones into the lake; but neither
Pilate nor the tempest appeared. Some walked into the water to see if it
was bottomless or would emit fiery exhalations, as was the general
belief. Several years later the lake was drained,—only an ugly and
dangerous morass remaining. The herdsmen, however, did not give up their
belief in the legend. For a long time an old custom prevailed among them
of shouting an incantation every evening through their milk-funnels to
prevent Pilate from harming them or their animals during the night.

                               Chapter II
                        The Battle of Morgarten

About ten miles distant from Stans, and high above the glistening Lake
of the Four Forest Cantons, is a somewhat long valley, about three miles
in width, surrounded by huge mountains, among which the Titlis is the
loftiest. A pastoral village occupies the right bank of the Aar,[3]
which furnishes it with fresh spring water. Both the valley and the
village take the name of Engelberg[4] from the Benedictine monastery,
established there in 1120. Its founder was the wealthy and childless
Baron Conrad of Seldenbüren. He gave the valley, which was one of his
possessions, to the monastery, besides endowing it with valuable
property in Zurichgau. “Engelberg” is the equivalent of the Latin name,
“Mons Angelorum,” which Pope Calixtus the Second gave to the monastery.

The entire valley was tributary to the monastery. Every household had to
furnish it a Shrovetide fowl or thirty eggs. When a valley person died,
his heir had to give the monastery the best pair of cattle left by the
deceased, as well as the clothes he last wore to church. Twice a year
the Abbot went to the castle at Zurichgau, belonging to the monastery,
to administer justice. Eight days previous to the journey, those of the
same rank and fief, and belonging to the same order, between the Reuss
and the Rhine, were invited to accompany him. The Abbot, on these
journeys also took his chaplain, a provost, a priest in ordinary, and a
knight with three hounds and a hawk. When the Abbot stopped at a house,
the housewife had to receive him at her door, with a loaf in one hand
and a fowl in the other, the fowl being for the hawk and the loaf for
the hounds. She must also provide a roast, a sufficient number of fowls,
and enough of good Alsatian wine for the dinner of the Abbot and his
company, and if he remained over night, the farm attached to the place
had also to furnish fowl.

Berthold of Winkelried was abbot at the time of our story, and his two
sisters, Adelheid and Elspeth, were in charge of the convent, which was
also located in the valley. As the brother and sisters were near
relatives of Arnold, our hero, he was sent to the famous school of the
Benedictine monastery to acquire his education and to become thoroughly
acquainted with the history of the fatherland, and thereby acquire the
inspiration of its struggles and heroic deeds.

The original sources of this history are lost in the traditions of the
past. The first inhabitants of Switzerland probably were the Rætians.
They were followed by the Helvetians, a Celtic tribe which occupied the
plains, leaving the Rætians only the mountains. Both these tribes were
subjugated by the Romans in the first century of our era, who laid out
the first roads and established settlements. Eastern Switzerland was
assigned to the Rætians, who belonged to Italy, and western to the
Gauls. The name “Helvetia” disappeared in the third century. When the
great migrations occurred, which built up new empires and pulled down
old ones, the fierce Huns first invaded the country. Following them, the
Burgundians conquered the western part, whereupon the Ostrogoths took
possession of the southern and the Alamanni of the northern part. All
these tribes in turn were subjugated by the Franks,[5] who not only
overran the country, but established Frankish advowsons there. Although
the Alpine people were subject to them yet they retained a certain
independence, and Charles the Great granted them many privileges, for
they had rendered him important service in his Italian wars. After the
dissolution of the great Frankish empire the eastern part of Switzerland
was acquired by the Duchy of Swabia and the western by the newly
organized kingdom of Burgundy. Subsequent to this, the German sovereigns
took over the country and permitted the house of Zäringen to administer
it. During the reign of the Emperor Frederick the Second (1215-1250) the
Swiss were subordinate to the Empire and free from the exactions of the
landowners, but after the extinction of the Hohenstaufen dynasty, the
imperial power declined. Ecclesiastics and non-ecclesiastics, counts,
and princes sought to increase their possessions and revenues at the
expense of their neighbors; and the Swiss cities, as well as the country
people, who had previously resisted thraldom, were forced to protect
themselves by making individual alliances with their oppressors. Thus it
happened that Zurich and Uri united with the counts of Hapsburg. Schwyz
made another alliance. When Count Rudolph of Hapsburg[6] was elected to
the imperial throne, 1273, he endeavored to enlarge his possessions.
Several Swiss cities which had been loyal to the Hapsburgs and had
fought so stoutly in Rudolph’s campaigns began to fear for their own
security; but in the last year of Rudolph’s life (1291) the men of
Schwyz, Uri, and Unterwalden met and organized “the Everlasting League,”
under the provisions of which they agreed to protect each other from a
common enemy. They also agreed to recognize no local officials who had
bought their positions or who were strangers in the country. Following
their example, the people of every valley and community made the same

What the death of the Emperor Rudolph had prevented him from
accomplishing, Albert, his son and successor, sought to carry out. He
aimed to dominate the country and make its free people his vassals. When
at last his tyranny was too severe for endurance, three men from the
three cantons, Werner Stauffacher of Schwyz, Walter Fürst of Uri, and
Arnold of Melchthal, and thirty more with them, met at the Rütli,[7] and
renewed the League of 1291. Two months after this, the tyrannical
governors were expelled, their brutal rule was ended, and the country
was free.

Duke Albert, thirsting for revenge, sought to destroy the League, but
while striving to accomplish that purpose he was murdered by his nephew,
Duke John of Swabia. The German imperial power was supplanted by that of
the Austrian dukes. Henry, the next emperor, was chosen from the
Luxembourg and Bavarian family. He recognized the League and confirmed
the people in all their rights and privileges, which subjected him to
the ill-will of Albert’s sons and grandsons. After Henry’s death Louis
of Bavaria was elected Emperor over Frederick of Austria. The Forest
Cantons paid allegiance to him because they knew they had nothing good
to expect from Austria. Thereupon Leopold, Frederick’s brother, decided
to retaliate, and nearly all the nobles of Swabia and German Switzerland
joined him.

The events now to be related, which took place in 1315, Arnold learned
from the lips of an aged monk in the Engelberg monastery, who had been a
participant in them. This still vigorous old man, Father Vincentius, was
known throughout the valley as the “one-eyed,” for he had lost his left
eye. He was not a man of great erudition, but having had experience in
the art of healing he knew how to compound medicines for the sick, and
to treat wounds and broken limbs. He was reverenced and loved by the
pastoral folk of the valley, for many of them owed their good health and
their lives to his skill. As he was always ready, by day or by night, in
good or in bad weather, to visit sick-beds, he was looked upon as an
angel of mercy. Father Vincentius had been wild and reckless in his
youth, but in his later years he returned to the Church and consecrated
himself as a Benedictine monk to the service of suffering humanity.
Arnold was very fond of the monk, and his devotion was returned by
Father Vincentius, who occasionally took the lad with him on his visits
to the sick. Upon one of these visits, which took them to the end of the
valley, the monk told him about the war which Leopold waged against the
three cantons.

“In November of the year 1315,” he began, “Leopold assembled a large
force at Zug, composed of the flower of the nobility and his own
horsemen. There were also many foot soldiers from Lucerne, Entlebuch,
Aargau, Oberhasli, Frutigen, and other places in the hill country. His
plan was to have the entire cavalry and part of the infantry make the
main attack upon Schwyz. This force numbered fifteen thousand men, and
the Duke himself was leader. The remaining infantry, six thousand
strong, commanded by the Austrian marshal, Count Otto of Strasburg, was
to invade Unterwalden—one division attacking the Nidwald by land and
water, the other the Obwald,[8] so as to divide and weaken their
opponents as much as possible.

“Two highroads led from Zug to Schwyz, but the Schwyzers were uncertain
which of them the Duke’s army would take. When they found at last that
they were menaced by such an overpowering force they became somewhat
alarmed. They had made tenders of peace to Leopold through Count
Frederick of Toggenburg, who was well disposed toward them, but the
furious Leopold would not consider the offers, so that no alternative
was left them but to defend themselves to the last drop of their blood.
They summoned all their people to arms and fortified the principal
passes and roads of their little country. They thoroughly strengthened
Arth, a post station at the southeast corner of the Lake of Zug, where
it makes a bend, for at that point, as at Lucerne, they might be
attacked by land and water. They constructed strong and well protected
entrenchments, extending from the Rossberg to the Rigi. If the enemy
should break through at any one point the entire defence might be lost,
so particular care was paid to the entrenchments. As there were frequent
skirmishes between the Schwyzers and the Austrians at Saint Adrian, it
was thought the main attack would be made there, and that Leopold’s army
might be expected on the road to Arth. These skirmishes proved to be the
first step toward the subsequent success of the Confederates. Among the
Austrian liegemen from Lucerne and Zug there were many who sympathized
with their neighbors and who were serving in the Duke’s army under
constraint. One of these was Henry of Hünenberg, who had friends and
relatives among the Schwyzers. He determined to give his old friends
some valuable information. A favorable chance offered itself in one of
these encounters. During its progress he rushed up to the entrenchment
and shot an arrow over it, which lodged in a tree. A Schwyzer, noticing
that a paper was wrapped round it, pulled it out. The paper contained
the brief but significant message, ‘Defend yourselves at Morgarten.’

“Now they were sure where the attack would be made. The Duke chose for
his advance that one of the two roads that leads to the rocky ridge
known as the Morgarten, and by way of Stein directly to Schwyz. Every
effort was made to give the enemy a vigorous reception. The Morgarten is
a natural defence of itself. At the upper part of it extends a plain
called the ‘Alte Matte,’ intersected by a mountain ridge. This runs to
the Morgarten and presents an admirable opportunity for attacking an
army approaching through the pass upon the flank, or to cut him off
entirely. In making their plans, they followed the counsels of Rudolf
Reding, who had fought in many of his country’s battles in his younger
life, and now had the valuable experience of seventy years.

“On the evening of November fifteenth their companions from Uri and
Unterwalden arrived in Schwyz. Their numbers all told were thirteen
hundred—six hundred from Schwyz, four hundred from Uri, and three
hundred from Unterwalden. The rest of their men were engaged in holding
important places among the passes. As night came on, the little army
took up its march to Morgarten, determined to conquer, or, like Leonidas
and his Spartans, die for freedom and the fatherland.

“On the following day Duke Leopold left Zug with his fifteen thousand
men early in the morning. After a council with his leaders at the
village church of Ober Ägeri on the way, he decided to make the attack
the next morning. The Confederates in the meantime, following Reding’s
advice, did not remain on the mountain ridge, but crossed the Alte Matte
to Haslern, so that Morgarten was on their right and the little Lake
Ägeri, extending to the southeastern slope of Morgarten, on their left.

“The Confederates suddenly found an unexpected and even unwelcome
reinforcement, though it was but a mere handful of men.”

Father Vincentius paused in his story, apparently absorbed in a reverie,
which his little auditor did not venture to disturb though he longed to
know how the impending battle came out. The old man muttered a few
inaudible words to himself and nodded his head twice. At last he

“You must know, my son, that the government of the Confederates was
severe in its administration of law and authority. Whoever disobeyed the
law or disturbed the public peace in any way was severely punished. It
is so now, and it has always been so. There were some young, hot-headed
fellows who thought it was their mission to reform the world, and as one
alone could not do it, they formed societies for that purpose, which
became dangerous political parties to the State and the community. Such
fellows as these were always expelled from the country. Just about the
time of which I am talking a number of young men had suffered this
penalty for violation of the law; but when they heard of the danger
which threatened the fatherland, the old home-love was aroused, and
fifty of them started for the Schwyz frontier to serve their country.
They sent messengers to the Confederates, asking permission to serve in
the ranks of their countrymen, but their service was declined and the
messengers were rudely dismissed. I can confirm this, for I was one of
those messengers. Yes, my son, I was one of the exiles. I was one of
those heaven-stormers, before I became Father Vincentius. Although our
offer of help was rejected we still loved the fatherland, and so we
fifty determined to fight for it by ourselves. We knew where to find the
enemy, and, unknown to any one, we went to the Morgarten and took up a
position on the ridge to the right, called Mattligütsch—it was early in
the morning of November sixteenth. In very early times a slide had been
made there for sending down the firewood cut for the Winter. There were
plenty of logs at hand, which could be rolled down upon the passing
enemy with terrible effect, and we also collected an ample supply of
rocks and boulders. A dense fog hung over Lake Ägeri and its shores,
through which we suddenly heard drum-beats and trumpet-calls in the
distance. Leopold’s army was approaching, with the fifteen hundred
nobles of Swabia, Alsatia, Aargau, and Thurgau, heavily armed, led by
Duke Leopold himself, and Count Henry of Montfort-Tettnung in the
advance, the infantry bringing up the rear.

“Just then the fog lifted and the sun rose. Brightly gleamed the
polished steel armor and helms gayly adorned with many-colored plumes,
and the dense forest of spears flashed in the dazzling light. It was a
fascinating and awe-inspiring spectacle, but it only strengthened our
courage all the more. We calmly awaited our opportunity, entirely
unobserved by the enemy. As the cavalry, little recking of any danger,
advanced through the narrow pass between the Mattligütsch and Lake Ägeri
we let loose a tremendous avalanche of logs and tree trunks, followed by
a hail-storm of rocks. They were at once plunged into frightful
disorder. Many men and horses were felled to the earth and crushed. The
terrified steeds, almost as heavily weighed down as their riders, reared
and threw them. Count Montfort and other leaders attempted to restore
order and resume the march, but we gave them no time. We hurled rocks
and logs into their ranks incessantly and their panic increased every
moment. Though barely able to extricate themselves, some rode back and
urged the rear ranks forward. But the enemy was overcome with terror.
Threats and imprecations mingled with groans and screams on all sides.
The commands of their leaders were not even respected.

“In the first moment of their rage at this unexpected obstruction to
their march, several horsemen made a rash attempt to ride along the
Haselmatt, where they thought they would be least exposed to our
assault, and a part of the vanguard followed them. Observing this
movement we redoubled our exertions, and most of them were crushed as
they were toilsomely ascending. We charged upon those who escaped, and
it was then my eye was put out by the thrust of a lance.

“The thirteen hundred confederates at Haslern, who had heard the tumult
and din of arms, suddenly came up and attacked the cavalry. Their clubs,
spears, and swords made frightful havoc, and they dealt such stout blows
with their halberds that even the heaviest armed foe could not have
withstood them. Hundreds struggled in the stream of blood, filled with
demoniac rage, and many were wounded by them in their blind fury or were
trampled upon by their horses. Some were so paralyzed by fear that they
made no attempt to defend themselves, and were killed. Those who managed
to extricate themselves took to flight. Several dived into Lake Ägeri,
where most of them were drowned because of their heavy armor. Leopold’s
horsemen, who rode along so gallantly and proudly only a short time
before were now killed or fugitives. While the great battle-horns of Uri
and Unterwalden were sounding their blasts of victory, the flying
horsemen encountered the foot-soldiers just coming up. As they did not
turn aside quickly enough, the latter were trodden underfoot by the wild
horses. Among the fugitives were the Count of Montfort and Leopold. The
Duke, usually a brave soldier, furiously galloped miles away to
Winterthur,[9] although no one was pursuing him; such was his
consternation over his surprising defeat.

“At last we met the terrified and panic-stricken ranks of the
foot-soldiers, but among them were men from Zurich and Zug, who fought
like lions. But they were doomed, for who could withstand the
impetuosity of the Schwyzers, whose like was only to be found among the
old German conquerors of the Romans. Like grass before the scythe these
picked men of Zurich and Zug fell in heaps where they stood. Surely,
heroism like this was worthy of a better cause! The other foot-soldiers
fled to the adjacent mountains, and at nine o’clock the battle of
Morgarten was over.

“The victors could not afford to follow the fugitives, for during the
battle messengers had been sent from Unterwalden calling for help. In
pursuance of their plan of battle Count Otto of Strasburg had made the
attack on Unterwalden with his six thousand men. Our division made its
approach in boats on the Lake of the Four Forest Cantons, and as the few
defenders of the shore-line were powerless to prevent them, they
destroyed everything in their way throughout the entire Nidwald. The
other division, led by the Count, invaded the Obwald and ravaged it with
the rapacity of a flock of wolves. After the enemy’s main force had been
routed at Morgarten, the Unterwaldeners went at once to the relief of
their own hard pressed countrymen and hundreds of stout Schwyzers
accompanied them. They first rescued the Nidwaldeners from their
unbidden guests, recovered the spoils, and drove them to their boats in
such haste that many of them fell into the water and were drowned. Then
they moved against the Strasburg force, which they found at Alpnach. As
the Austrian count saw the Unterwaldeners approaching he was seized with
a panic, which spread through his entire army; for he knew that the
Unterwaldeners were at Morgarten and rightly concluded that the Duke’s
army had been defeated. The Strasburgers lost courage and began
retreating without even offering resistance. But some of them failed to
escape, for the rear column was overtaken and several hundred were

“Thus in one day the Confederates achieved a three-fold victory over an
army which was sixteen times as strong as their own, and which lost
fifteen hundred horsemen and as many foot-soldiers. The loss of the
Confederates was small, but three of their bravest leaders were found
among the dead. Horses, costly weapons, rider and horse equipment, ten
banners, many decorated helmets such as the nobility wear to distinguish
them from others, were among the rich spoils captured. Permission was
granted to those among the enemy who had dead relatives on the field to
take their bodies home. The rest were buried on the spot. The wounded
were treated with special kindness. We who had made the first assault
and prepared the way for victory were allowed to remain in the homeland,
and it was sacred to us ever after.”

Such is the story of the battle at Morgarten as the monk, who had
participated in the events of that memorable day, related it to the lad.
Arnold gazed with admiration upon this old man who had once fought so
stoutly and now went about in his sandals and black cowl as a messenger
of peace. He looked with a kind of reverential awe at the blinded eye,
and the scar seemed to him a mark of honor and victory.

Arnold had always loved his country, but now he was deeply moved by a
feeling of pride as he thought of the skill and courage which had
characterized the deeds of his countrymen, and his heart glowed with the
fire of patriotism. His most ardent wish was to distinguish himself by
his devotion to home and freedom, to swing the halberd in the hot fight,
and to drive the enemy from the fatherland. He no longer wished to be a

                              Chapter III
                     The Mystery Play at Engelberg

The monasteries in those days were the nurseries of the arts and
sciences. The German stage also owes its origin to them. The so-called
“mystery plays” originated in church ceremonials representing the
Passion of Christ, and were intended to familiarize the people with the
events narrated by the Evangelists. They were given in a semi-musical
way by various ecclesiastics. One spoke the narrative parts, another the
words of the Saviour, a third all the words of the remaining personages,
and the chorus recited those of the people and priests. These plays were
performed at the monastery of Engelberg, where young Arnold was
studying, with all the scenic display possible at that time.

As the Easter festival drew nigh the men of the valley came with hammers
and hatchets and built a large stage upon an open place near the
monastery, where the life of the Saviour from His birth to His
resurrection was to be represented before a vast concourse of spectators
assembled from far and near. The stage was open on all sides, for they
knew nothing about wings or curtains in those days. The play lasted an
entire day. The players were monks and students; but as their number was
too small because bystanders and crowds of people were necessary to the
performance, intelligent outsiders were called in to help. Upon this
account German was generally used in place of the earlier Latin text.

When everything was in readiness the performers entered and occupied a
large semicircle of seats, after which the customary blessing was
invoked. The man chorus pronounced the “Veni sancte Spiritus,” after
which two students sang the “Emitte Spiritum.” They were dressed to
represent angels, with wings on their shoulders; and in this guise the
little Arnold, the great war hero of after days, took part in the sacred

The angels as well as Christ and his apostles wore the mediæval costumes
of that time. The risen Christ was clad in the official garments of a
bishop—the dalmatic and the red chasuble. He also wore a crown and
carried a cross and banner. This costume was intended to express the
perpetuity of His episcopal authority as supreme head of the church.
Next appeared Saint Augustine as herald or narrator. He called the
assemblage to order, pointed out the persons sitting around, explaining
who each one was, and introduced the play with a pious address. In the
course of his remarks he interested the audience with digressions from
the story and explanations of the significance of individual events.

Whenever a player was to appear in a scene he rose from his seat, but
returned to it as soon as he had finished. For instance, Jesus went to
John to be baptized and then took His seat again. Nearly all the events
of the life and passion of the Saviour were represented in this way, and
each important scene was followed by the chorus, in Latin. King Herod’s
followers were in his immediate vicinity and behind them stood the
servants who led John the Baptist to prison. At first the apostles were
distributed about the stage, and the Master was obliged to go from one
to the other and gather them together when He ordered them to follow
Him. The Jewish people and their priests occupied a place set apart for
them; and whenever Jesus wished to communicate with them, or to instruct
them how to heal the blind, the dumb, the lepers, and the cripples, He
had to go to them. Upon the awakening of Lazarus, at Jesus’s entrance
into Jerusalem, and in some other scenes the people flocked to Him.

All the women mentioned in the sacred story were represented by monks
and students. Various services were required of the angels. They had to
demand order with the words “Silentium habete,” to perform many
interpolated sacred songs, and to sing certain strophes explaining
scenes that had not been described by the narrator, but which were
arranged for music. It was also part of their duty to make changes
necessitated by the stage conditions, and to explain the situation
clearly. The palsied man was in bed, and when Jesus bade him arise he
took his bed with him. The severed head of John was brought upon the
stage. The foot-washing was literally represented. When the Saviour
entered Jerusalem, both the ass upon which He rode and the palm-branches
which the people strewed along the way, were provided. Everything
connected with the death of Jesus, from the purple mantle and crown of
thorns to the lance and the sponge, was used. The crowing of the cock,
when Peter denied his Master, was imitated, as well as the thunder and
the rising of the dead. A table covered with food and drink served for
Herod’s banquet, before which the boy who represented Herodias danced;
it served also for the supper at Simon’s, when the repentant Magdalen
came to the Saviour, and for the Last Supper. The tombs of Lazarus and
Christ, John’s prison, and the house of Martha and Lazarus were
represented, as well as the pinnacle of the temple to which Satan led
our Lord, and the Mount of Olives, set with exotic plants.

While the Chorus sang, living pictures were exhibited. They represented
old Biblical events relating to the preceding scenes, so as to show the
close connection of Old and New Testament occurrences. Sometimes events
were artistically interwoven: While Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives,
Judas was making his treacherous bargain with the priests; and while
Pontius Pilate was conducting the trial of Jesus, in another scene Peter
was denying the Lord.

     [Illustration: _Monument commemorating the Battle of Sempach_]

To relieve the serious treatment of the subject, pleasant interludes
were devised for the entertainment of the audience, showing various
contrasts of life, so that smiles might follow tears. Satan appeared
clad in a wolf-skin, with mighty horns and long tail, and must have
presented a ludicrous sight. A merry fellow announced the arrival of the
three wise men sent by Herod, and made fun of the timid sovereign who
was afraid of a Child. Then he entered again with the derisive
announcement that the three wise men would not go back, and a third time
to say that the Holy Child would be represented in the temple. Every
time he came in Herod would get enraged and threaten to hang him for
making fun of a king. Another curious scene was that in which Peter
smote off Malchus’s ear after the seizure of Christ. Malchus wofully
exclaims: “Alas! what an outrage; what a shame! I have lost my ear. They
will call me a fool.”

Thereupon Christ said to Peter: “Put up your sword, or you will not be
safe, for those who seek revenge with the sword will perish by it.” Then
He turned to the Jews and said: “Bring the man to me. I will replace his

After Malchus’s ear was put on, he said to one of his friends: “Tell me
truly about my ear. See if it is on securely, for it aches very badly.”

After examining it carefully, the friend assured him it was all right.

Then Malchus expressed his gratitude to the Lord, after remarking:
“Jesus is a very good man; He knows how to put on ears.”

Before the three Marys went to the sepulchre a man entered, dressed in
the ordinary costume of the time, who was a familiar figure at fairs and
markets. This was the travelling quack. With the words, “God greet you,
gentlemen all, as the fox said when he peeped into the goose-pen,” he
introduced himself, and stated that he was in need of a helper. Rubin,
the merry fellow, applied for the situation, and after considerable
haggling they agreed upon a price. Rubin then opened out the quack’s
stock, helped to prepare the medicines, and explained their virtues to
the crowd. At last he decided he would also have helpers. A second
buffoon, called Purterbalk, and a third named Listerbalk, who was
hunchbacked, applied; and while they were squabbling together a strophe
of the three Marys’ song was heard, as they were on their way to the
sepulchre. The three wags advanced to the front of the stage and began
selling the medicines, and when the quack thought they were selling them
too cheap, Rubin sharply reprimanded him. While the three Marys were
still on their way the quack lay down and went to sleep; whereupon Rubin
made off with his entire stock. His awakening and wrathful imprecations
ended the humorous interlude. The three Marys were seen at the sepulchre
and the angel announced to them the resurrection of the Lord.

The effect of this drama was so overpowering that reverence for the
sacred associations was not affected in the least by these merry
interludes, which were peculiarly adapted to the childish sentiment of
the people. The denouement of the play represented the arrival of the
Saviour in Heaven with a number of the elect, and God the Father,
sitting in His majesty, welcoming them.

                               Chapter IV
                            The Black Death

While Arnold was staying at the monastery and approaching young manhood,
a terrible calamity visited the world and made its way into the peaceful
little valley. Year after year reports had come that a frightful
pestilence was raging in the eastern part of Asia and spreading from
country to country. Ships laden with rich cargoes were found at sea,
drifting about and their crews all dead.

The trade route from China led through central Asia to the Tauric
coast,[10] whence the products of the Orient were transported to
Constantinople, at that time the emporium for the three divisions of the
earth. Over this route the plague spread into all lands. The terrible
disease first appeared in Europe in the maritime cities of Italy,
France, and Spain, and in the course of three years gradually but surely
spread all over central Europe, Poland, and Russia, climbed the chalk
cliffs of England, and ascended to the extreme northern part of
Scandinavia. It was attended by strange manifestations, unknown up to
that time, such as cramps, heart palpitation, lethargy, and in some
cases delirium. Swellings as large as eggs appeared under the arms and
knees. Black or blue spots came on various parts of the body, sometimes
large and single, sometimes in small groups. At first it was denied that
the disease was a pestilence, but when the strange malady spread so
rapidly it was recognized as an actual pestilence. There was no other
name for it.

Several causes were assigned for it. It was variously attributed to the
just wrath of God at the wickedness of humanity; to the influences of
the heavenly bodies; to the conjunction of Saturn and Jupiter; to
unusual convulsions of nature which had either preceded or followed it.
Reports had long before come from China of great earthquakes, sunken
mountains, droughts, floods, crop failures, and subsequent famines.
Syria and Egypt also had been visited by earthquakes. The same
manifestations, followed by raging storms and floods, had also appeared
in Cyprus and in Naples and other cities. Similar convulsions had been
experienced in Germany. Many houses had been hurled into the Rhine by a
great earthquake at Basle. In Carinthia, cities and castles had been
destroyed. As the excited imagination of the people connected these
events with the dreadful disease, it was natural for them to consider
these manifestations as the cause, and crop failures and famines as the
result. The pestilence, which so readily found victims among people
condemned to want, wretchedness, and despair, came to be known as the
Black Death. When it attacked a household it was not contented with one
victim. Almost every well person who breathed the same air as the sick
one, or who had even touched his clothing, was stricken with it. Human
science and medical skill were of no avail. It was in vain that cities
were cleansed of filth and offal, and that infected persons were
forbidden to enter them. Sanitary measures were of no avail. Flight was
useless, for the terrible malady overtook the fleetest and spared
neither the distinguished nor the insignificant, neither the strong nor
the weak, neither the layman nor the priest. It was in vain that the
church framed three prayers, to be offered at daybreak, midday, and
evening, at the summons of the church bells. The mass which Pope Clemens
the Sixth, who resided at Avignon, arranged for the supplication of
divine mercy was fruitless. The head of Christendom himself withdrew
from contact with the outside world, behind a perpetually burning fire
of coals. Ceremonial processions were also arranged to avert the evil.
The people joined them in multitudes. Many women walked barefooted, clad
in sackcloth. Ecclesiastics, brotherhoods carrying lighted tapers, and
guilds bearing banners and singing prayers and the litany also marched.
Suddenly it was discovered that the number of victims was increasing
because of the densely crowded throngs watching these processions. In
the large cities people died by hundreds; in the smaller ones, by
scores. The closest family ties were dissipated like spiders’ webs.
Brothers forsook brothers, wives their husbands. Parents forbore
visiting their sick children. The best of friends avoided each other on
the streets.

The sick were deserted save by their attendants, and the service of the
latter was so difficult to procure, except at very high prices,—for
nurses’ lives were in constant danger,—that many of the poor died
absolutely alone. Depositing the dead in the church vaults and keeping
them over night in the houses where they had died were strictly
forbidden. It was ordered that they should be interred at once; and as
the churchyards in the cities were not large enough to accommodate them,
they were buried by thousands in great trenches. Every one expected the
Black Death any moment. Trade and commerce were paralyzed. Merchants
cared no longer for the valuables for which they had worked so hard;
churches and schools were closed; the administration of justice ceased.
There were no sounds in the factories, no rattle of carriages or cries
of venders in the streets. The fields were left untilled. There was
hardly one among the few who stole through the empty streets who did not
show some sign of the awful visitation. Fear, sorrow, and despair were
manifest in every face. If one wore a beard it was unkempt and the hair
was long and straggling, for no one cared for his looks. Some held small
metallic discs containing medicated sponges to their noses, hoping in
this way not to inhale the tainted air. The few who recovered from the
plague were regarded as a specially privileged class. They went about
freely and fearlessly amid dangers, for it was something unheard of to
have the disease twice. But among those who were liable to be attacked
any instant there were some who were determined to do all they could at
this time of universal gloom. Compassion and love were stronger in their
hearts than ever before, and wherever they could be of help they were
ready with word and deed.

The plague invaded Switzerland also, and raged more violently in its
mountain regions than it did in the lowlands. The clear, healthy
atmosphere of the high lying valley of Engelberg did not save it from
the visitation of this gruesome guest, but it only met faces full of
spiritual illumination in the death shadows which followed its track.
Strengthened by holy love and despising danger, the Benedictines went
among the sick and those struggling with death, to help the one and
administer consolation to the other. Upon this small spot of earth the
plague carried off sixteen victims in a single day and in four months
twenty homes were devastated.

No one in those days of gloom and despair set a brighter example of
courage and self-sacrificing love than Father Vincentius. It had always
been his desire to give his life for his neighbors, and now the
opportunity was granted him. Wherever there was sickness he was found
performing every needful service; and Arnold, a faithful, courageous
helper, was by his side. The youth had nothing more to lose, for both
his parents were victims of the plague. He had closed the eyes of his
uncle Berthold, abbot of Engelberg, after his two sisters, Adelheid and
Elspeth, had passed away. Amid these dreadful scenes he had no other
feeling than one of the deepest sympathy for those whom he visited
daily; and death, even in its most terrible shapes, had no terrors for
him. It was thus he strengthened himself for the heroic deed which was
to perpetuate the name of Winkelried in the memory of the fatherland.
Side by side with Father Vincentius he encountered the plague and often
wondered why he kept so strong and well. He endured these extraordinary
exertions, which kept him up day and night, because of his youthful
vigor; but the old Benedictine felt his strength failing more and more
every day. His once upright frame was bowed and his face grew thin and
sunken. Spiritual strength alone sustained his exhausted body.

While returning to the monastery one evening with Arnold, he felt a
depression, weariness in his feet, and difficulty in breathing, which he
attributed to the day’s exertions. In the night he was visited by
unpleasant dreams. In one of these he fancied he was in a great crowd of
men with gray, faded, sightless faces. As they pressed against him, his
nearest neighbor pushed his elbow into his side causing such a stinging
pain that he awoke. His heart was beating violently. There was a ringing
in his ears, severe pain in his limbs, and his whole body seemed on
fire. He placed his hand upon the stinging spot—there was a great

Father Vincentius was not alarmed. “The Lord calls me,” he murmured, and
clasped his hands in prayer.

When Arnold entered his cell the next morning and found him in bed, he
recognized the signs of the disease the instant he saw him. He knew, as
well as any physician, the remedies which should be given and he applied
them all. With quiet resignation the monk awaited dissolution; but as
the disease was making rapid progress, it became necessary for him to
speak at once so that he should be clearly understood.

“Praised be the Lord for his justice! Praised be the Lord in healing as
in death,” he said to himself. Then, turning to Arnold, he continued:
“Many are called, but few are chosen. God has sent the Black Death to
mankind to reserve a chosen few among its survivors who shall grow
better by sorrow and nobler by gratitude, and find to their great joy
what an inestimable boon life is. Devote it to good works and offer them
to Him. You have learned this, my son. You have accomplished it. May God
graciously guide you with His strong hand through these troubles, so
that the lofty purpose and noble courage which you have displayed so
splendidly in this narrow sphere of action may be devoted hereafter to
the welfare of your fatherland. It needs just such men as you have
already shown yourself to be.” Father Vincentius then gave Arnold his
blessing and asked for the last sacrament which was administered by one
of the brothers of the order.

Toward evening his sufferings ended, and that night the stars shone upon
his grave, where Arnold lamented the last dear friend he had. But he
must live on. So he still breathed the tainted air, still waited upon
the sick, still placed the dead in their coffins; but the plague did not
attack him. None of the brothers except his uncle and Father Vincentius
died, but five students fell victims, and one hundred and sixty nuns
were carried from the women’s cloisters to the grave in four months.

One day a young wanderer called at the monastery and begged for
breakfast and a little money. It was Florian Häbli, Arnold’s old-time
playmate. His father, mother, and sisters had perished, and the orphan
was forced out into the world to look out for himself.

We have not yet reached the close of these terrible scenes. As if
victims of the plague itself were too few, the despised and hated Jews,
who lived near the Christians in the large cities, were accused by
superstitious persons of poisoning the water in order to spread the
plague and exterminate their enemies. These accusations were all the
more readily believed when it was noticed that the Jews abstained from
water and were less liable to take the disease than the Christians. It
mattered not to their accusers that it was the Jews’ foresight which led
them to avoid drinking water and that their greater moderation in living
helped to protect them. And yet so many Jews died in Goslar and Vienna
that their burial places were insufficient, and in cities like Leipsic
and Magdeburg where no Jews resided the plague was as fatal as in other
places. The popular clamor, however, increased. City authorities who
harbored Jews were urged to adopt most cruel measures. The Jews were
placed upon the rack and forced to confess crimes of which they were not
guilty, and were banished from cities after their property had been
confiscated. And this was not the worst. Every appeal of humanity was
stifled by the unchristian and bitter hatred of the people. Only a few
escaped with the penalty of exile and loss of property. Very many must
have perished by fire. In almost all the Rhine cities and in some others
also, not only in Germany but in neighboring countries, they were burned
without trial or even examination. In utter despair they submitted to
their terrible fate and even anticipated it. Six thousand Jews burned
themselves in their own houses; and at Esslingen, Worms, and Speier they
assembled in their synagogues and then fired them.

Still the plague did not cease, and the people soon decided that it was
not caused by human agencies. The conviction became universal that it
was the divine penalty for the prevailing immorality. Reconciliation
with God became the watchword. It must be secured by expiation. The
better classes sought for it by adopting a pious course of life. Parents
taught their children to pray and to submit to the divine will. Others
sought to propitiate God with gifts to the Church. Many others believed
that the sins of their past wanton lives could be atoned for by physical
suffering only, and castigated themselves relentlessly. This gave rise
to the brotherhood of the Flagellants. They increased by hundreds and
thousands all over Germany, and each brotherhood had its own head and
regulations. One of these marched behind a cross. A red cross was also
fastened upon the cloak and the hat of each Flagellant, and at his side
hung the scourge—a short stick, with three stout thongs tied at the ends
in a hard knot, in which were inserted two sharp iron prongs set
crosswise. When the procession approached any place several Flagellants
with showy banners of costly purple velvet or embroidered silk, waxen
tapers flickering among them, assembled behind the cross-bearer. The
rest marched two by two, with hats pulled down and looking before them
silently and sorrowfully. Singing expiatory songs, they entered the
place, greeted and accompanied by the tolls of the church bells. Great
crowds of serious-faced persons followed the strange procession to the
church, where the Flagellants prostrated themselves several times before
the altar. On the next morning they formed their procession in the same
order as on the day before and, followed by all the people, marched to
the place of scourging. There they took off their shoes and removed
their outer garments, leaving the upper part of the body nude. Then they
advanced in the shape of a wide cross and prostrated themselves. Each
one announced the offence for which he desired to make expiation. The
perjurers rested upon one side, with three fingers raised above the
head; liars stretched their hands out before them; drunkards placed
their hands upon their mouths. Those who were not guilty of any
particular offence lay with their arms outstretched on the ground in the
shape of a cross. Then the leader, or master, arose, made a short
address, and struck each with the scourge. The brothers arose in turn
and imitated the master. The best singers then advanced, and while they
sang with subdued voices, the Flagellants lashed each other with the
iron thongs until blood streamed down their backs.

In the meantime the thousands of spectators stood in a profound silence,
broken only by occasional sighs or loud weeping. Others imitated what
they saw; and then followed the reading of a document which was said to
be a direct message from God to sinful humanity. The Flagellants seldom
left a place without gaining new members. A hundred of them went from
Basle to Avignon and scourged themselves in the presence of the Pope. He
did not believe, however, that God was pleased with such acts, and
issued a bull forbidding Christians to perform flagellation in public,
under penalty of excommunication.

Neither Jewish persecutions nor flagellation were of any avail in
checking the plague. It spread through the terrified world. A fourth
part of the population of Europe perished. After it subsided, the old
worldly pleasures were resumed above those countless graves; but there
were many who, in those terrible years of trial, had returned to the
divine allegiance, and who consecrated the precious gift of life to that
exercise of Christian love which Father Vincentius, before his
departure, characterized as the noblest fruit of the divine justice.

                               Chapter V
                           The Robber Knights

Zurich, which had long been a free imperial city, held an important
position among the municipalities. Its trade and commerce flourished,
nor was it lacking in intellectual activity. It was enjoying a rest from
the domination of the great property-holders and nobles, known as the
patricians. The guilds had now grown strong enough to assert their
opinions. Under the new constitution the Council was composed of
thirteen patricians and thirteen members of the guilds. An able and
judicious man named Rudolph Brun, leader in the revolt, was appointed
burgomaster, and administered his office with a strong, sure hand.

It was natural that the patricians, who had exercised such absolute
authority, should not relish the new order of things. They had a
numerous following among the nobles outside the cities. These nobles
scrupled not to attack and rob city merchants travelling in the mountain
regions and levy tribute upon them. They were not on good terms with the
cities. Life in the castles grew constantly quieter and more lonesome;
the attendants demanded higher remuneration, and if their demands were
not granted they would take themselves off and seek shelter behind the
city walls, where they were protected and had greater freedom and more
privileges than in the castles. For these reasons the nobles were
naturally incensed at the cities, which were continually growing
stronger, while the castle power was continually growing less.

Castle Reienstein had experienced these depressing changes. It had been
left in a wretched plight to the young nobleman Jörgel, by his father.
We behold him sitting one day at a window which commanded a wide
prospect, engaged in fitting a new leash for his falcon. “You accursed
bird,” he growled, “I feel like flinging you away for your obstinacy. If
you go hungry for a time and have to look out for yourself perhaps you
will come to your senses.”

With these words he threw the hood over the falcon’s head and went to an
inner apartment, the only one which was fit for occupancy in his present
circumstances, and which served alike for kitchen and sleeping room.

“Jörgel, come to table,” said Brigitte, his old aunt, who shared with
him the poverty of castle Reienstein. After removing several things
which littered up the rickety old table, she placed upon it a mess of
lentils in a not over clean dish, and brought two plates and rusty
knives and forks from a shelf. Jörgel reluctantly seated himself and
sniffed at the little piece of sausage which his aunt fished out of the
lentils and divided with him.

“A feast for the gods,” growled Jörgel. “I tell you, Aunt, I can’t stand
this kind of thing much longer.”

“You are always complaining about your lot,” replied Brigitte, as she
poked the lentils with her fork. “It would be more reasonable if you
would try to better it. Fine chances are open to you. Why do you not
open your eyes like other folks?”

“What can help such a poor devil as I am?” replied Jörgel. “The
Mörspergers and Waltihofners have fast, stout horses which can make ten
miles on the road without hurting a hoof; my nag can scarcely go from
here to Zurich in a day, and if I hurry him he is winded. All my
neighbors have money and can pay handsomely for service, but I have to
put up with a ragged, ignorant journeyman, as you well know. When we
come to divide, I get the leavings. I must get about in all kinds of
weather, attend to affairs, and go half starved, while others who are
not a whit more deserving can live in clover. I am sick of such
injustice, plague upon it.”

“You are very hard to satisfy, Jörgel, and a lazy lout besides,” said
Brigitte. “Think of others who are no better off than you are, and yet
have wives and children to look after, while you are single, and have a
careful, economical aunt to run your house! You can go and come when you
please, and always find something to eat and sometimes an abundance, for
your affairs do not always turn out badly. When the highways fail you,
the forests supply plenty of game. At home you can stretch out on your
straw bed, or train your falcon, or fix things when they need it. You
have always something to wear, so—”

“Have I? Just take a look at my coat,” interrupted Jörgel. “There is a
hole in the elbow of the right sleeve.”

“Is that so?” said Brigitte. “Hand me my needle and thread from the
window shelf, and I will soon fix that.”

Jörgel betook himself to a small grindstone in a corner of the room to
sharpen his hunting-knife. “I tell you what, Aunt, sing me a song to
drive away the blues and make the stone turn more easily.”

“Certainly, my Jörgel,” assented Brigitte. She hung the mended coat upon
a hook in the wall, and after giving the cat the scanty bits left from
the meal, she sang, while clearing up the dishes, a ballad about Count
Rudolf of Hapsburg—how he besieged the city of Glanzenburg and floated
huge wine-casks down the Rhine, out of which armed men suddenly sprang;
and how the Count took advantage of the confusion of the people to storm
the unprotected walls.

After she had finished singing, the old woman remarked: “The cat has
scratched herself several times behind the ear and my nose itches all
the time. These things betoken a visitor.”

“I hope it is not an unwelcome one,” said Jörgel, “that Waltihofener
whom I still owe ten shillings lost at dice, or that laborer whose hay I
carried off from his rick, or—”

“Have no fears on that account, Jörgel,” replied his aunt. “You can get
rid of the Waltihofener with fine words, and you can pitch the laborer
downstairs. Now, my left hand begins to itch, and that means good luck,
or money, which amounts to the same thing.”

Jörgel’s wheel flew so fast that it emitted sparks, and the falcon upon
its perch fluttered its feathers in affright. Suddenly a young man, who
lived in the lower part of the tumble-down building, called out at the
door: “Noble sir, my father bids me tell you that a gentleman from
Mörsperg has just arrived, and is even now putting his horse in the

“Did I not prophesy rightly?” triumphantly exclaimed Brigitte. “All the
signs pointed to a visit, and the itching of my left hand meant good

“We shall see,” replied Jörgel. He rose from his rough wooden seat, drew
on his boots, and put on his waistcoat. His aunt hastily set things in
order, and had hardly finished when steps were heard on the stairs, and
the herculean figure of Veit of Mörsperg entered and saluted them with a
roaring “Good day!” He shook Jörgel’s hand and roughly slapped Brigitte
on her bent back.

“I bring you good news,” he said, stroking his great beard.

Jörgel’s face brightened up. “You look as happy as if you were breaking
into some rich merchant’s treasure box,” said Jörgel, with difficulty
restraining his curiosity.

“It is something better than that,” said Veit, as he sat down upon the
bed. “The Zurich oligarchy has come to an end.”

“Is that true?” shouted Jörgel. “Then the mob of the workshops may be in
the Council.”

“Seven hundred patricians have united against the aristocratic city
regime,” replied Veit.

“They are few compared with the crowds in the guilds and corporations,”
said Brigitte.

“Be patient! I know still more,” said Veit. “The patricians have very
wisely united with the counts of Rupperschwyl, who will invade the city;
and other knights near by are to join them.”

“And I fancy that you will have the same honor,” said Jörgel.

“You are right,” replied Veit; “and as I am going to join, I advise you
to do the same.”

“It is very good of you,” said Jörgel, “but if this movement is intended
merely to help the patricians to regain their seats in the Council, I
have no desire to risk my head.”

“Blockhead!” shouted Veit. “Do you suppose that I am going to help pull
chestnuts out of the fire for others without making sure of a good slice
for myself? I intend to profit by the confusion of the others.”

“Ah! now I understand,” said Jörgel, with a cunning laugh. “Go ahead! I
am with you. But when will the dance begin?”

“When the clock strikes ten to-morrow the gates will be secretly opened
and the Rupperschwyls and their following will enter the city and fall
upon their opponents, who little dream what is in store for them. In the
meantime, friend Jörgel, we shall have been waiting our chance. We shall
leave our armor at home so as not to arouse suspicion. A good dagger
will be enough for our purpose. But we must be off at once, for your nag
needs plenty of time for a ride to Zurich.”

“For Heaven’s sake, be off,” muttered Aunt Brigitte, as she went to a
corner of the room and took down Jörgel’s riding cloak, which ordinarily
served to conceal Brigitte’s old and torn best dress.

Jörgel girded on his rapier belt, stuck his dagger in it, put on his cap
and plume, and threw the cloak over his shoulder. Then he took a hasty
leave of his aunt, and promised her a new dress if everything went well.
Whereupon she invoked the blessing of all the saints upon him. When
everything was in readiness the two robber knights set off for the city
at an easy trot.

Upon the following day we behold Veit striding into the smithy of an
armorer which resounds with the lusty hammering of his workmen. The
bellows groans, the hammers ring, and songs in Swiss, Swabian, and
Bavarian dialects are heard on all sides. One is piling coal upon the
fire; another cooling the glowing metal in water from which clouds of
steam ascend; others are polishing the steel smooth and bright, while
the apprentice is riveting a neckband. In the midst of the busy crowd
stands the stately master, examining a steel headpiece, just finished.
Seeing Veit, who was one of his customers, he came forward and asked
what he wished.

Veit drew a dagger from his cloak. “Here, Master Hildprand,” said he,
“the hilt of my dagger needs fastening. Fix it and send it as soon as it
is done to the Rebstock, but be sure to send it to-day, for I must
return home before night.”

Master Hildprand took the dagger and promised to do his utmost to
accommodate him, although his work was very pressing.

“That is fine work,” said the knight with a well pleased glance at the
headpiece in the master’s hand.

“This kind is coming more and more into use, and is replacing the
helmet,” said the smith.

“But I still stick to the helmet,” replied Veit. “It is better fitted
for resistance. I have no use for these new-fangled inventions.”

“And yet we are still far behind the times,” said the master with a
smile. “When I was working in France they had already gone over to
steel. There is no longer any chain armor.”

“But how do the French protect the shoulders?”

“With a broad iron band reaching from the neck to the upper part of the
arm. That enables the wearer to move the head more freely, which he
could not do with the old, awkward style of armor.”

“Zounds! There is no end to these improvements,” blurted out Veit. “It
must take all of ten years to make a new suit of armor now. One needs to
be as rich as Crœsus to keep up with them.”

“Some of the wealthy gentlemen are just beginning to wear the cuirass.”

“Desist, Master Hildprand,” said the knight, “else I shall have to stop
my ears.”

With these words Veit turned to several of the workmen and watched them
a short time. Then he stepped up to the apprentice, who was engaged in
polishing a headpiece.

“This kind of headpiece is also fast disappearing,” said the master.
“They are now replacing it with the brigantine, which gives much better

“Don’t trouble yourself to explain, Master Hildprand! You can’t make me
believe in your improvements,” replied Veit. “But be sure that I get my
dagger before night at the Rebstock, do you hear?”

“My boy shall take it to you. Do you know where the Rebstock is,

“Yes! that is where the baker’s boy was killed,” said the apprentice.

“It is not my usual resort,” said Veit, vexed at the remark which was
far from complimentary to the knight’s choice of lodging, “but I am
visiting an old acquaintance there.” Giving the apprentice a smart slap
on the shoulder, he added: “You seem to have a glib tongue of your own,
my boy, but you do good work, I see, and you are quick about it too.”

“Oh, he can polish that kind much better than the old-fashioned ones,”
said the smith, with a glance of pride at the lad. “He is my sainted
sister’s son and was born at Stans. He lost his father, mother, and all
six sisters by the plague.”

“Ah! that evil plague,” sighed Veit; “it found victims in our family
also. Now, good-bye, Master Hildprand.”

“Wait a moment, noble sir,” said the smith. “I will show you some more
new things, among them a movable arrangement turning upon a pivot under
the vizor. It protects the chin and neck, and will—”

“Curse you and your improvements. I have heard enough about them
already,” said the knight as he hurried away.

The Rebstock stood in a blind alley, obscured by overhanging buildings.
The reputation of the place was none of the best. It was patronized by
the lower classes, and it was reported that its keeper received and sold
the plunder stolen by the robber knights of that vicinity. In a little
room which gave upon the narrow back yard, and was reserved for noble
guests, sat Veit and Jörgel with a third companion. The latter was the
young nobleman, Conrad of Waltihof, who is already known to us by name
and who was invited to come there by Veit and participate in their plans
during the great surprise which was to happen in the good city of Zurich
that day.

It was already dark. A pair of tallow candles shed a feeble light upon a
table near the window on which were some glasses of Alsatian wine and at
which the three were passing away the time throwing dice. The faces of
the players were flushed with the excitement of the game and their
varying luck rather than by the effects of the wine, of which each could
carry a heavy load. They disputed several times, gave vent to curses,
and gesticulated as if they were about to fly at each others’ throat,
but their quarrels invariably ended in words, not blows. Jörgel at first
had won many times the ten shillings he owed Conrad, but he also
frequently lost, and at last his losses increased so fast that his debt
was very large. He cursed the caprices of the fickle goddess of fortune
but consoled himself with the thought that these losses were trifling
compared with the treasures he would soon acquire. “Ha! ha!” he roared,
“there will soon be such a game as Zurich has never seen before.”

“Restrain yourself and don’t shout in that way,” said Veit, laying the
dice aside. “It is a long time yet before the clock will strike ten and
the gates open to the Rupperschwyls.”

“They ought to be all around the city before this time,” said Conrad.

“All my ten fingers are itching for our work,” said Jörgel, “but it is
too bad we cannot get at the rich goods of the merchants.”

“We ought to have had wagons to carry the plunder to our castles,” said

“Worse than that, we are expected to divide with the landlord,” said
Veit, “and the thought does not please me. Therefore I think it would be
better for us to take the money to the nearest bankers. And mark what I
tell you: if any one interferes with us we can then swear we have clean
hands. The Rupperschwyls and patricians can look after the slaughter,
for they will kill Burgomaster Brun and the entire new Council.”

“Did you hear that?” said Conrad, laughing. “Just think, Jörgel, of
Veit’s tender conscience. It is as easy as if he had never—”

Conrad suddenly ceased talking. A deep sigh was heard which did not come
from any of the three. They sprang from their seats and looked about
them. Jörgel had the most acute hearing of them all. He traced the
unaccountable sound to the vicinity of the door and soon found a figure
seated in a chair in a dark corner which the candles failed to light.
Uttering a terrible curse he dragged the witness of their conspiracy
into the light.

“Boy, you must die,” he cried furiously, at the same time holding his
victim by the throat so tightly that he could only emit a feeble groan.

“First let him tell how he came here, and let him say his prayers before
he dies,” said Veit.

“No,” said Conrad, “no mercy to a spy.” In his wrath he drew his dagger,
but he weakened some when he saw a dagger flashing in the uplifted hand
of the boy.

“Hold there!” exclaimed Veit. “This is Master Hildprand’s apprentice.
Let him loose, Jörgel, let him loose, or I will release the poor
fellow.” As Veit’s hand was already upon his weapon, and he was in no
mood to be refused, Jörgel obeyed.

“Now, confess,” said Veit to the boy in a severe tone. “Your master sent
you here with my dagger, but surely not to play the spy. Speak,

Florian Häbli threw himself at the knight’s feet and protested his
innocence. He said he was brought to the room by the landlord, and when
he entered the gentlemen were so excited over the dice that they did not
notice him. Then their furious dispute frightened him. He dared not
advance, and was so terrified that he took the seat in the corner. He
was speedily overcome by sleep, for he had been up all the previous
night and was deadly sleepy. When or how he awoke he could not say.

“What have you heard of our talk?” said Veit, harshly.

Florian did not instantly reply, but at last said: “Nothing, not the
slightest thing.”

“He is a lying knave,” said Jörgel. “Do you not see how he reddens at
every word?”

“Let’s make an end of him,” said Conrad, seizing him by the throat.

“Take your hand away,” said Veit. “This lad is Master Hildprand’s
apprentice and his favorite sister’s son, of whom he is very fond. We
must do nothing that will hurt the master, for we all need him. He knows
where he sent the boy, and if he does not return he will know where to
look for him. Supposing we kill the lad, how can we conceal his body
without taking the landlord into our confidence and placing ourselves
completely in his power?”

“Supposing, then, we shut him up until everything is over,” said Jörgel.

“Then he will raise an alarm,” replied the knight.

“We can keep him here if we bind and gag him,” suggested Conrad.

“But we cannot keep him without the knowledge of the landlord,” objected
Veit. “I would rather trust the lad than that throat-cutter.”

“What, then, shall we do?” asked the two conspirators.

“Let the boy take an oath that he will not reveal anything he has

The other two laughed derisively. “How will an empty oath help us?” said

“Silence!” said Veit. “An oath is sacred to this lad.”

He held his dagger hilt as a cross before the apprentice and recited the
words of the oath. He was to promise in the name of God and all the
saints, and as he valued his own soul, never to reveal to any one what
he had heard. He would call down upon himself terrible punishment in
this world and everlasting damnation in the next if he violated his

With visible emotion the boy repeated the words after him. Veit
expressed his satisfaction and let him go, with the injunction to return
to the smithy without delay.

When Florian found himself in the street once more his experience seemed
like a feverish dream, yet he remembered all that the three men had
said, notwithstanding he had denied it when death threatened him. The
danger which was hovering over the city and the fate of the people
weighed heavily upon his spirit. And yet his lips were sealed by a
terrible vow not to make any disclosures, even to a priest, without
bringing eternal condemnation upon himself. As he went homeward,
suffering with this agony of soul, his comrades were returning joyfully
from their work, and fathers were sitting upon the doorsteps with their
families, enjoying the beautiful moonlight. On this very day, in a few
hours, this peaceful scene would give place to murder and pillage and
the horrible work of bloody hands.

He was soon in front of the cathedral. It was still open, inviting the
repentant and suffering, and involuntarily he entered. Not a soul was to
be seen in the vast interior. The moon shone through the tall windows
upon the high altar. Seized by a sudden impulse, Florian knelt upon the
altar steps and prayed to God for help for the endangered city and
consolation for himself. After a fervent prayer he started to leave the
sacred place. As he did so, his ear caught the sound of low voices, and
looking in the direction from which it proceeded, he perceived a soft
gleam of light. He advanced unheard to the confessional. A dark figure,
whether man or woman he could not distinguish, was kneeling before it
and whispering confession to the priest, who after a few questions said
something in response. The white statue of a saint stood near the
confessional. An idea flashed through the boy’s mind like lightning. He
knelt before the statue, stretched out his arms imploringly and loudly
exclaimed: “Oh, thou blessed image, the greatest danger threatens the
city. The patricians have sworn to kill the burgomaster and Council, and
at ten o’clock the gates will open to the Rupperschwyls and their
followers. I am vowed to silence. I have sworn not to reveal this to any
one, but I can keep the secret no longer. Therefore I confide it to
thee, and if God, the Lord, does not perform a miracle and open thy
mouth, then my words will fall upon deaf ears. But God is my witness
that all I have said is true. Amen.” Florian noticed that the whispers
had ceased. He arose and hastened out of the church.

The night wore on and the streets grew more deserted and silent. The
three robber knights in the back room of the Rebstock were dicing again,
and in the excitement of the game had forgotten all about the smith’s
apprentice. A bell sounded in a neighboring tower and all three counted
its strokes.

“Nine o’clock,” said Veit; “only one hour more and the devil will be

They resumed their dice-throwing, but suddenly the bell was heard again.
Its strokes followed in rapid succession, and now all the other bells in
the city began to ring. From the summits of the towers the watchmen’s
horns sounded clear and loud. The storm was about to break. The terrible
news spread all over the city that it would be attacked at ten o’clock
and given over to fire and sword. There was excitement in every house,
and lights suddenly flashed in the windows. The glare of pitchy torches
made the streets light as day. The soldiers’ quarters resounded with the
shrill din of trumpets, and the guilds in armor marched under their
banners to make such resistance as they could. At last the enemy poured
through the gates, but the Zurich nobles and their Rupperschwyl allies
went down in defeat.

Our three robber knights meanwhile had been warned by the signals and
wisely remained at the Rebstock, which they did not venture to leave for
several days. At last they returned empty-handed to their castles. At
first they swore they would kill the apprentice, for they had no doubt
that he was the traitor, notwithstanding his oath. The truth, however,
gradually dawned upon them and relieved Florian from suspicion. It was
everywhere related that the wife of one of the patricians had become
conscience-stricken and confided the secret to a priest, and that in
this way the burgomaster was warned of the approaching danger.

As the outcome of the “murder night,” Zurich joined the League. Lucerne
had already done so, and Berne, Zug, and Glarus soon followed, so that
the League spread to the confines of Burgundy and became very powerful.
Thus Uri, Schywz, Unterwalden, Lucerne, Zurich, Zug, Glarus, and Berne
were united in an offensive and defensive alliance. These are the eight
old cantons.

                               Chapter VI
                     The Tournament at Little Basle

At the time the League had grown so strong, Duke Albrecht the Second
ruled in Austria and enjoyed the friendship of the Emperor Charles the
Fourth, of the house of Luxemburg. In preparing for a struggle with the
League he had strengthened his castles and cities and had assured
himself of the loyal service of his vassals. The war, however, was
confined to pillaging expeditions and petty encounters which did the
League little harm, and at last an unconditional peace was made between
the two parties. After Albrecht’s death, his oldest son, Rudolph the
Fourth, succeeded. This prince, the first of his house to receive the
title of archduke, had the hereditary Hapsburg spirit and strove to the
utmost to extend the supremacy of the empire. Notwithstanding the
Emperor Charles was his father-in-law, he opposed him by every kind of
artifice and continually interfered with his plans. He strengthened
himself by alliances with neighboring powers, especially with Basle and
other imperial cities, and weakened the Emperor’s power in Italy. By the
marriage of his brother Leopold to the daughter of Bernabo Visconti of
Milan he secured the adherence of many noble Italian families. He
appointed Brun, the Zurich burgomaster, a member of his privy council
and thus attached him to his interests. He drove in a wedge between Lake
Zurich and Schwyz, by the purchase of territory, and to secure control
of the commercial highway from Italy to Germany he built a bridge across
the lake upon the pretext of shortening the route for pious pilgrims on
their way to retreats. While engaged in these various enterprises the
prince died in his twenty-sixth year and was succeeded by his brother
Leopold, in 1365.

Leopold, although inclined to mysticism, was of martial spirit and
handled the lance at tournaments in a masterly way. Hardly a year of his
life had passed without finding him engaged in war. While he had a
numerous following of knights and nobles, his devoutness and
straightforwardness also commended him to the favor of the people, among
whom many stories of his acts of generosity were told, like those
reported later about his Uncle Maximilian, “the last of the knights.”

Leopold took such advantage of the quarrels between the petty princes in
upper Italy that he soon checked the designs of the powerful republic of
Venice. His father-in-law Visconti was of great service to him in this.
The predecessors of Visconti had established their power when the
Lombardy League was swallowed up in a multitude of petty sovereignties.
The masters of Milan at this time, Bernabo and his brother Galeazzo the
Second, needing brave soldiers for their wars of conquest, many young
men of the mountain country organized into troops which were granted
special privileges because of their loyalty to the Viscontis. The two
Milan lords were excellent army leaders but tyrannical toward their
subjects. At last they became so bold as to take up arms against Pope
Gregory the Eleventh, for which they were excommunicated. At the same
time the Pope forbade these young mountaineers to render service to
them. They recognized the papal authority and most of them returned to
their homes.

Among them was Arnold of Winkelried. His home possessions were
insignificant. We have already seen that even as a boy he had shown a
warlike spirit in numerous ways. He had practised all the feats of arms
with indefatigable activity, and had been well instructed in them, but
as there were few opportunities for their use at home he had taken
service at Milan. He fought for strangers to learn how to fight for his
fatherland whenever it should need his help. He had participated in
numerous encounters, had been wounded several times, and had won such
distinction that he was admitted to knighthood.

In the beginning of the year 1370 Arnold of Winkelried once more stood
upon his native soil. He was tall, powerful, and in the very prime of
his manhood. He vainly sought for the opportunity to perform active
deeds. Peace and quiet prevailed all over the country. His restless
spirit was not satisfied with managing the small home affairs. He longed
for the tumult of battle and the strenuous life of the soldier, to which
he had been accustomed of late. He endured the quiet of Stans for a few
weeks only, after which notwithstanding the inclement season of the year
he undertook a journey to the larger cities of the League, to see and
hear what was going on. It was not mere chance that took him to Zurich.
He had been told at Stans that his old-time playmate, Florian Häbli,
whom he met as a houseless wanderer at the monastery of Engelberg and
had helped to the utmost of his ability, was living with a famous
armorer at Zurich. He sought him there to have a talk over old times,
and found him in the midst of a crowd of workmen in the same place where
we have seen him as Master Hildprand’s apprentice. The meeting was a
cordial one. When the old-time fisherman and woodcutter’s son began by
addressing Arnold as “sir knight” and “noble sir,” he was firmly bidden
to use the familiar “thou.”

As they had much to talk about, the armorer entertained his
distinguished visitor in his own house. Florian’s uncle was childless,
and as he was comfortably off and wished to live quietly in his old age,
he had transferred his prosperous business to his nephew, who was
conducting it with like success. In the meantime Florian had gone about
the world considerably, and had worked in many a famous city. He had
been in Strasburg, where for more than three centuries they had been
building a magnificent cathedral, the spire of which was just beginning
to rise. He had also stood before a mighty cathedral in Cologne, which
was begun a century before, but in late times the work had stopped. In
no city, however, had he seen so much activity as at Prague. The Emperor
Charles had laid out an entirely new section of the city in which
numerous churches and monasteries were going up, and a great stone
bridge was built over the Moldau. The finest structure, however, was the
training school, the scholars in which were called students. Florian had
also worked for a time at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and he could hardly
find words to describe the fair which was held there twice a year. It
was to this fair that the large cities on the Rhine, from Basle to
Cologne, sent their merchandise; and heavily laden vessels brought goods
there from France. Fur dealers from the Hanse towns, linen and lace
dealers from the cities of Flanders, and goldsmiths from Burgundy met
there. England’s steel wares as well as the various products of Wales
were exhibited. Every building was packed with people and goods to the
roof, great multitudes thronged the streets, and as the city could not
accommodate all the strangers, many of them had to live in tents. It was
one of the grandest of spectacles. Florian had seen an ostrich and an
elephant there for the first time; and one of the numerous pickpockets
had made off with his purse. He talked long about his adventures in
other cities, but he made no mention of his exciting experiences at the
Rebstock, for he still respected his oath. He felt a quiet satisfaction
at having saved Zurich, and attributed to it all the blessings which had
been so generously bestowed upon him within its walls.

Arnold talked of his war adventures in Italy, and as he came to the end
he said: “But now my sword and armor are rusting. I vainly look for any
place in the world where war is going on and glory can be found. I am
sick of these peaceful times.”

Master Florian significantly placed his forefinger upon his nose. He
could give him some information. There was a region in northern Prussia
where the clash of arms never ceased. The pagan Prussians were not yet
conquered, and there was always plenty of fighting in the adjacent
Lithuania. Many a one who had been told this by Florian had been there
and had brought back dreadful news about the country and its savage

Arnold was at last satisfied. The greater the danger the greater the
glory, especially when gained in fighting for the spread of
Christianity. Nothing would suit him better than to go to that northern
country. It increased his delight when Florian told him there was an
opportunity for him to go with a goodly company. Duke Leopold had
arranged an expedition for that very purpose. It was said he had already
assembled a thousand knights from Austria, Swabia, and other German
countries. They were to meet at Basle, and the Duke was to hold a grand
tournament there on Shrove Tuesday, and then leave at once for
Marienburg, the castle of the Teutonic Order.

Arnold decided on the instant to join the expedition, but he was also
anxious to show his prowess at the tournament, so that he should not be
a stranger in this array of famous knights and nobles. But Shrove
Tuesday was only a few days off, and as he must return to Stans, the
time was too short to allow of his getting to Basle in good season. He
explained the situation to Florian, who replied: “If it is your armor
that delays you, as I surmise, the journey to Stans is unnecessary. You
need armor and a horse. As far as armor and weapons are concerned, I
have everything you want and you are welcome to use it; and as far as
the horse is concerned, I have a friend here who has several fine ones,
which even Duke Leopold himself would not be ashamed to ride. He will
let you have one on my security, and all you have to do is to make your

Arnold cordially shook Florian’s hand and thanked him for his friendly
assistance, of which he should certainly avail himself. “But you know,
Florian,” he said with a smile, “that horse and armor belong to the
knight who unseats his opponent. Supposing I should be the unfortunate

“I am not afraid of that,” said Florian, regarding him with a look of
pride. “I know my hero of Pilatus.”

Arnold soon made a choice of armor and weapons from the young master’s
large stock. He selected a snow-white battle-horse which combined
strength and suppleness of limb with a fiery nature. Thus equipped and
well mounted, Arnold rode off one day to Basle, after taking a cordial
farewell of Florian.

The free city of Basle is situated upon the Rhine. Great Basle is upon
one bank and Little Basle upon the other. On the morning of Shrove
Tuesday the city was crowded with a multitude of persons who had come on
foot and horse, some to participate in the merry-makings of the city,
and others to attend the tournament. The tilting-field was oval in
shape, and surrounded by gayly decorated lists. The stands filled
gradually. The marshals of the tournament, staves in hand, took their
seats with their halberds placed before them. The referees sat below
them, and the herald stood in front, clad in glistening mail, adorned
with the heraldic symbols.

Suddenly there was a jubilant outburst from the musicians’ gallery as
Duke Leopold appeared upon his proudly prancing steed, attended by a
brilliant retinue of pages and squires. After he had dismounted, the
Duke seated himself under a canopy, with his attendants stationed about
him in a circle. He waved a white handkerchief as the signal for the
tournament to begin. The gates were opened, and accompanied by strains
of music the combatants rode around the lists with lances at rest. Six
of them went to six tents at the north end of the arena. There they
dismounted, leaving their steeds to the care of servants, and each went
to his tent, upon which was suspended his escutcheon. These were the six
challenging knights.

At a signal from the trumpet the herald rode to the centre of the arena
and proclaimed the regulations so that all might hear. Then there was a
sudden commotion at the south end, caused by the rush of knights who
were to contest with the challengers. Only six could be chosen, and
these were selected by lot. Each one of these touched the escutcheon of
the one with whom he was to contend, with his lance, doing it with the
blunt end and not the point, which signified that the contest was not a
life and death one, but a test of skill and strength on each side.

When the six knights had ridden back and formed in line, the six
challengers mounted their steeds and took their places a short distance
away from the others. At the sound of the trumpet both parties rushed at
each other. The challengers were apparently sure of success. Five of
their opponents were unhorsed at the first onset, but the sixth knight
kept his saddle. Both his own lance and that of his opponent were
shivered at the same time, so that neither was victor. Amid the shouts
of the crowd and the din of trumpets the challengers rode back to their
tents, and the vanquished ones picked themselves up and disappeared from
the arena. The contest was soon resumed. After many others had been
defeated there was a pause. It seemed as if no one cared to enter the

Suddenly a trumpet sounded at the southern end of the arena, and the
crowd beheld a knight of stately figure riding up to the six tents at
the northern end upon a milk-white steed. He halted, and his lance
touched an escutcheon which was decorated with a tree and two ravens
hovering over it. There was universal astonishment, for the owner of
this escutcheon was the most dexterous and powerful of all the
challengers. He instantly came from his tent to ascertain who his
opponent was. The latter lifted his visor and disclosed the face of
Arnold of Winkelried, as the reader probably has anticipated. The other,
taking Arnold’s courtesy for an expression of scorn, also lifted his
visor and disclosed the stern features of Veit of Mörsperg.

“Your steed pleases me. It looks to me as if it might soon have another
stall, and I have one which will suit him, and there is plenty of room
in my armor chamber for that mail of yours,” scornfully said Veit, as he
gloated over the prizes of the contest, which he was sure were his.

“Many thanks for your warning,” replied Arnold, “but if you expect to
secure the prize, I would advise you to take a fresh horse and new
lance, for you are sadly in need of both.”

Hardly had the trumpet sounded when the two dashed from their places
with lightning speed and met in the centre of the arena with such force
that both their lances were shattered and the horses sank upon their
haunches, but by the help of bridle and spurs they were soon up again.
Fire flashed from Veit’s eyes as he looked at his opponent. Both went
back for new lances. They rushed at each other again at the sound of the
trumpet. Veit aimed a thrust at Arnold’s head, which would have been
dangerous had it succeeded, but Arnold evaded it and thereupon struck
Veit’s shield such a powerful blow in the centre that his opponent
wavered in the saddle and the lance was shattered. After Arnold had
secured another lance the two knights made the third attack. This time
the order was reversed. It was now the Mörsperger’s lance which struck
Arnold’s shield in the centre. Arnold wavered for a second, for the
thrust was so powerful that the splinters flew far and wide; but at the
same instant, Arnold with well directed aim had struck Veit’s helmet
with such force that he was unhorsed and fell backwards. A cloud of dust
hid them while the multitude were enthusiastically hailing the victor.
When it cleared away, horse and rider were already up, and Veit,
bleeding from a wound in the face, snarled at his conqueror, “We shall
meet again.”

“There will be ample opportunity on our way to the North, I hope,”
replied Arnold. Veit made no reply. He had no intention of going there,
for there was not sufficient plunder among the savages to tempt him. The
meeting, however, took place at another time, as we shall see.

Arnold, who had come to Basle with borrowed armor, won not less than
five prizes that day. When the tournament was finished he sent back his
steed and armor to their owners at Zurich and took for himself only
those which he had won from Veit. He declined the rest as well as the
money with which by the rules of the tournament the vanquished might
redeem their property.

                              Chapter VII
                    Storming of a Lithuanian Castle

Followed by a brilliant array of fifteen hundred knights and horsemen,
among whom was Arnold of Winkelried, Duke Leopold set out from Little
Basle to coöperate with the forces of the Teutonic Order in the far
North. Moving from eight to ten hours a day, the march being
occasionally interrupted by military exercises, the army passed through
several small countries, territories of the Church, and free imperial
cities, until it reached Marienburg, the seat of the Order.

After the subjugation of the Prussians still worse heathen remained.
These were the Lithuanians, who had extended their domain to the Black
Sea by repeated conquests from Russia. Their country was flat and
covered with marshes, steppes, and sand dunes. In its impenetrable
primeval forests, filled with gigantic trees, whose branches closely
interlaced, roamed bears and wolves, elks and buffaloes.

It was not the purpose of the Order to subjugate the Lithuanian people,
but to restore quiet in the Order’s own territory and protect it from
continual ravages by pillaging hordes. A strong boundary wall had been
constructed to prevent their incursions, but as this had proved
insufficient it was determined they should be attacked in their own

The leaders of the Lithuanians at that time were the brothers Kynstutt
and Olgjerd. Kynstutt was an enemy not to be despised; his restless
energy had long kept the Order busy. The heathen army was between thirty
and forty thousand strong, and among them were Russian auxiliaries and
excellent archers. The Lithuanians carried heavy battle axes, though
their principal weapons were the pike and shield, and they also had many
horsemen. Notwithstanding their numbers, they were not the equals of the
Order in military skill, whether in siege or field. Kynstutt knew this
very well and for that reason would not risk battle in the open. He
conducted his pillaging expeditions over as wide an area as possible. At
one time he would swiftly and suddenly fall upon the Order’s supply
trains and slaughter the guards; at others he would burn castles and
seek by every means in his power to prevent the building of new ones. He
erected castles himself, and as fast as they were destroyed by the
knights he would rebuild them. The three most important of these castles
were those of Wielun, Pisten, and Kauen. The last was the most remote
and was the strongest, being built of stone.

Winrich of Kniprode, grand master of the Order, was completing his plans
for the destruction of this castle, when Duke Leopold of Austria arrived
at Marienburg with his brilliant array of knights—a strong and welcome
reinforcement. The route of the army took them past both the castles of
Wielun and Pisten, which were left unmolested. A landing was effected
upon the island of Kauen, and a camp was established in which all the
supplies were stored. A bridge of boats was also constructed to the
right bank of the Niemen, where the castle stood upon a tongue of
land—upon the spot where now stands the city of Kovno.[11] The building
of this bridge took three days, and before it was finished Kynstutt
appeared with an army for the relief of the castle. He fell back,
however, after a brief encounter and occupied the heights on the land
side, east of the castle. To prevent him from making a sudden descent
upon the camp, a breastwork of stone and wooden stakes was made,
stretching in the shape of a bow from the Vilia to the Niemen. The
flower of the army was placed in this intrenched camp. Another part was
assigned to guard the supplies, and the remainder occupied themselves
with the management of the siege machines. Missiles from the castle
could not reach far enough to disturb the work, which progressed under
the direction of a master smith and carpenter.

The part of the castle called “the house” was built of wood. The
fortified part consisted of high, strong walls, constructed in a
parallelogram about the house. The garrison was amply provided with
means of defence. Waydott, son of Kynstutt, was chief in command, and in
his garrison were forty boyars, who were warriors of unusual distinction
and wealth. There were also many Russian archers. The garrison in all
numbered between four and five thousand men.

After all the preparations were made, an advance was ordered from the
two rivers for assault at the main point, where the _tumler_ was already
at work. The principal feature of this machine was a huge tree-trunk, a
hundred feet in length, suspended by chains. It was drawn back by hand
and then propelled against the wall with terrific force. At the head of
it was a sickle-shaped iron, for tearing away dislodged stones. As the
_tumler_ could only be used in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, its
operators were protected by a low building called “the cat.” It had
strong sides and a roof to which the chains were attached. The whole
rested upon wooden block wheels by which it could be pushed up to the

An assault was directed against a tower by the outer gate. Its defenders
were by no means inactive. They hurled huge rocks from the wall upon the
roof of “the cat,” and tried to tear it to pieces with long, hooked
poles. They also poured burning pitch upon it, but as the roof was
covered with wet, undressed skins, it resisted the fire. At last the
outer gate tower gave way before the continuous concussion and fell in a
mass of ruins.

Following up this first success, the besiegers prepared for an attack
upon the wall itself. For this purpose the _helepolis_ was employed.
This machine was also called the _ebenhöhe_ because it had to be of even
height with the wall. The colossus was made of stout beams and rested
upon a base forty feet square. It consisted of three stories. The first
was occupied by the men who moved the machine forward on rollers. The
second was arranged as a drawbridge, which could be connected with the
wall when needed. The uppermost was for use by soldiers, who by means of
the drawbridge might drive the enemy from the wall. Like the _tumler_,
the _helepolis_ was protected from fire by wet skins.

One of these formidable machines was employed on both sides against the
castle. At one side, the garrison fired burning pitch-besmeared arrows
upon the monster, and tried to prevent the use of the drawbridge with
long poles; but a whole section of wall upon which they were standing
gave way, and they were buried in the ruins. Some of the besiegers also
were killed.

In the meantime Olgjerd arrived with a force of boyars and stationed
them along the Vilia, his brother Kynstutt still occupying the heights.
The latter had an interview with the Grand Master by arrangement. He
hoped to intimidate him by threatening to join Olgjerd, and boasted that
he could annihilate his army. The Grand Master offered him battle, but
Kynstutt only pointed contemptuously to the well-fortified camp of the
Christians. He then offered to level the breastworks, but Kynstutt made
no reply to him.

At last the Christians advanced for general assault, intending to take
advantage of the numerous breaches in the wall. The Lithuanians,
however, had erected strong barricades behind them, and the archers sent
such a deadly shower of arrows into their ranks that they met with
serious losses and had to fall back.

It was already the fourteenth day of the siege. The _tumler_ was kept
steadily at work making breaches in the walls, but the garrison as
steadily erected new barricades. The _helepolis_ was moved up to one of
these breaches. The garrison greeted it with fiery arrows and hurled
burning bunches of fagots upon it. The wet skins this time were of no
avail. The flames mounted high, but while the occupants were seeking to
make their escape the two managers of the machine seized the burning
bunches, one by one, with hooks, and hurled them back, which fired the
garrison’s barricades and destroyed them before they could extinguish
the flames. The burning machine was replaced by another. The attack upon
it had just commenced when the wall suddenly began to waver. Those upon
it had barely time to escape when it fell. The troops raised a
triumphant shout and could not be prevented from rushing through the
wide breach. The Grand Master ordered them back, but it was too late,
and the passion of battle, which had become all the more furious as the
news of this fresh success spread, could not be curbed. In an army
composed of various nationalities each wanted the honor of being first
to lead the way. The English contingent claimed it because they carried
the standard of Saint George, but in all their wars with the heathen the
Germans carried it also; and as Duke Leopold of Austria was the most
distinguished among the latter, the Grand Master assigned the leadership
to him. As the Duke raised the sacred symbol, the gate which led out of
the castle to the Vilia was suddenly opened, and a part of the garrison
made a bold rush with the intention of cutting their way through.
Leopold and his knights hurled themselves upon the desperate enemy.
Arnold of Winkelried was one of the first to follow him. While engaged
in a fearful hand to hand contest, Arnold noticed a Lithuanian furiously
aiming a blow with his battle axe at the helmet of the princely
standard-bearer. With lightning swiftness he swung his sword and clove
the heathen’s skull.

The Lithuanians were forced back and the massacre began. The infuriated
heathen set fire to great piles of fagots smeared with pitch; the flames
spread to the interior of the castle, and many Christians as well as
heathen were burned to death. Blinded with rage, the combatants strove
with each other in the fire and smoke, man with man. The Lithuanian
pikes had little effect upon the mail of the knights, who swept
everything before them with their swords, but battle axes found their
way through the mail and many a fallen heathen was avenged. Mercilessly
steel clashed against steel. Terrible scenes were enacted, but at last
the banner of Saint George flew from the turret of the castle,
announcing the victory of the Christians. Kynstutt and Olgjerd witnessed
the assault from the neighboring heights, but made no effort to come to
the help of the garrison; for during the battle a considerable force of
the Grand Master’s army was held in reserve to give the two brothers a
hot reception if they advanced.

The Christian army celebrated its victory by singing the hymn, “Christ
is Arisen,” and closed with the chorale, “Let us all be joyous for the
heathen have been punished.” On the next day it was already Easter, and
high mass was celebrated, at which the Bishop of Samland officiated.
About two hundred Christians, among them seven brethren of the Order,
were killed during the siege. Many a one of Leopold’s army never
returned home, but was buried in unconsecrated heathen soil. The
Lithuanians lost two thousand men, some of whom were burned in the
castle fire. The rest were taken prisoners, except Waydot, Kynstutt’s
son, who made his escape with thirty-six boyars. He embraced
Christianity later and received the baptismal name of Henry, after which
he went to the palace of the Emperor Charles the Fourth at Prague, where
he was very kindly received, and remained many years. Before the army
left Kauen the castle was completely demolished.

Duke Leopold wishing to thank the knight who had saved him from the axe
of the murderous heathen, summoned all his men and requested the unknown
knight to declare himself, but Arnold of Winkelried, caring little for
princely favor, paid no attention to the Duke’s request. He had saved
the Duke’s life, little dreaming that he himself would die a heroic
death fighting against him at a later time. The Duke returned to his
home filled with proud satisfaction at the victory, and Arnold was no
less satisfied. The song of victory, “Let us all be joyous,” continually
rang in his ears. He often recalled Father Vincentius’s advice that man
should devote the inestimable boon of life to good works as an offering
to God. Since his own life had been preserved amid these terrible scenes
by the divine goodness, he resolved to devote it henceforth to the
service of humanity and the fatherland. Mail and sword might rust, but
his purpose should be maintained; and when the fatherland needed him he
would again seize his arms to fight in the ranks of the people, not as a
murderous knight, but as a plain, dutiful citizen.

After Arnold’s return to his native Stans he spent his days in managing
his little property. Soon he married a gentle, lovely woman, who brought
joy into his life and relieved his anxieties. In the course of the years
beautiful children came to them; and the aforetime restless warrior
found his greatest happiness in peaceful family life.

                              Chapter VIII
                            The Beggar Monk

The Emperor Charles the Fourth died in the year 1378 and was succeeded
by his son Wenzel. Duke Leopold was made governor of Upper and Lower
Swabia, which gave him great power among the nobles and the cities. The
relations between the latter meanwhile had grown more and more strained.
The attendants of the knights flocked to the cities in ever increasing
numbers and were cordially welcomed. As their privileges continued to
diminish, the knights organized against the cities, and Duke Leopold
encouraged them in their action.

The Duke knew that the nobles were on his side to a man. He regarded it
therefore as a favorable time to break up the League and restore the old
authority of Austria. The warning voices of some well-meaning
counsellors were stifled by the embittered nobles of Aargau and Thurgau
and those aggrieved knights who had suffered so much at the hands of the

In June, 1386, Duke Leopold went to Baden, where he was assembling an
army of knights. Besides his own vassals, knights came from adjoining
countries with their horsemen, as well as the Margrave of Baden and the
counts of Würtemberg. The army was nine thousand strong, including a
large contingent of foot soldiers. The League naturally armed its
followers and barricaded the cities. Zurich was the first point
threatened. It was only a few miles from Baden and was the bulwark of
the League. Its people soon learned that the Baron of Bonstetten, one of
the ablest of the Austrian generals, was advancing against the city to
lay siege to it. Although Zurich at that time was supplied with good
walls and gates, it had not sufficient fighting men to withstand a siege
any great length of time, and so had to send to the Four Forest Cantons
for help. As soon as the request was received fourteen hundred men were
sent. Rather than remain in idleness the League’s auxiliaries undertook
expeditions into Kiburg and Thurgau and captured supplies in these
unfriendly places, which would be needed during the siege.

Not far from Zurich and a little off the road leading to Baden, there
was a wretched inn which served as a lodging house for all kinds of
lawless adventurers and a rendezvous for the robber knights of the
neighborhood. On the night of June third, during a fearful thunder storm
which had raged for hours, there was a knock upon its rickety window.
The hostess, an ill-favored old woman, opened the door and found two
knights dismounting from their horses.

“Put our steeds in your stable, Mother Ruschen, and give them some
fodder,” said one of them, addressing her familiarly. He and his
companion then entered the apartment, whose entire furnishings consisted
of a few wooden tables and benches, and shelves upon which were filthy
bottles and glasses. The two newcomers were our old acquaintances,
Jörgel of Reienstein and Conrad of Waltihof.

“He has not come yet,” said the latter, glancing around the miserable
place which was so dimly lighted by a half burned candle that only
objects close at hand could be discerned. “I begin to think we have come
too late.”

“This beastly storm may have detained him, as it did us,” said Jörgel.

“No storm could stop him, even if it rained rocks and poured down fire
from the sky,” replied Conrad. “I am afraid he was angry at our delay
and has gone on his way home alone.”

“Mother Ruschen,” said Jörgel to the old woman, who had just come in,
“has the Mörsperger been here?” She replied in the negative. “Then bring
us some wine, the best you have,” said Jörgel.

“And the dice,” added Conrad.

The old woman set a bottle of wine and two glasses on the table at which
her guests were seated, and brought the dice; whereupon the two began
playing and soon forgot everything else, while the old woman, as was her
usual practice, sat by the fireplace and dozed. Suddenly she awoke. The
quarrelling of the two players, and their shouts of exultation or
curses, as one lost and the other won, had not disturbed her in the
least, but the tramp of horses outside, which the excited players had
not noticed, the old woman heard plainly. She arose and notified them
that the man they were expecting had come. She then left the room, found
Veit and his attendants just dismounting, and informed him his friends
were waiting for him.

“Good,” said Veit. “I cannot stay long with you this time. Just give the
horses a bundle of hay; and a good stout drink to the men.”

  [Illustration: _Winkelried’s Heroic Death at the Battle of Sempach_
                  (_From a painting by Karl Jauslin_)]

As the men were leading the horses to the stable the old woman noticed
that one of them was very lame. Veit went inside and was greeted by both
the young men. They were still under the excitement of play and prepared
to resume it.

“Put up your dice,” exclaimed Veit, harshly. “A pest upon it! Do you not
know I have come straight from Baden, and that, too, on matters of
importance, and here you two fools are courting the wench Fortune? I am
bringing great news.”

The two laid aside the dice. Veit sat down on the bench and replied to
their questioning glances: “The day after to-morrow we must join the
army.” The news did not seem to surprise either of them. Jörgel, indeed,
said with a yawn, “It’s an infernally doubtful pleasure, this going to

“There is nothing in it for us,” said Conrad.

“Blockheads!” said Veit, with a twinkle in his eye. Then he resumed in a
lower tone: “The siege is only a sham manœuvre, if you must know.
Bonstetter’s plan is simply to keep the Zurichers busy and to decoy the
Waldstätters, who have been running all over Kiburg and Thurgau, back
into the city.”

Jörgel and Conrad looked at each other. “And the Duke?” they asked, in
one voice.

“Wait! Here is the real business,” said Veit. “With the large part of
the army and the flower of the nobles, among whom we shall be, the Duke
will secretly and quietly march past Wellingen and Bremgarten to
Sempach, on the left bank of the Reuss, and afterwards advance upon
Lucerne, to give the burghers a needed chastising, and set the League a
terrible example. He will deal lightly with the peasant rabble, but
Zurich will have to make the best bargain it can.”

“We will be there,” exclaimed Jörgel.

“A masterpiece of generalship,” said Conrad.

“Pst!” warned Veit, for the old woman was returning. She was about to
provide them with wine, but Veit beckoned to her and said: “We have no
wish for a carousal this time, Mother Ruschen. I will quench my thirst
with a good drink from my own cellar, and don’t care to spoil the taste
of it now.” Turning to his companions, he added: “You shall be my guests
to-night. We must leave for home to-morrow at an early hour. We will
make preparations for a little ride; it is bad luck that I cannot ride
the black horse. The beast went suddenly lame, and that is why I wait
here so long. It must have been bewitched.”

“Yes, yes!” said Jörgel, “I have no doubt witchery is back of it. I
wonder who could have done it!”

“What is bewitched once is likely to be bewitched again,” said Conrad.

“That is what is troubling me,” said the knight.

“Why not depend upon the church’s ban and consult your chaplain? The
priests understand this witchery business.”

“To be sure! I never thought of that,” said the old woman, who had
listened to the conversation. “I know a pious father who can help your
horse, noble sir.”

“Where is he?” all three exclaimed together.

Mother Ruschen pointed to a dark corner of the room. They went there and
found a figure stretched out on the bench apparently sound asleep.

“Ho! wake up, reverend father,” cried the old woman, shaking him
roughly. As he raised himself and looked up, the knights forgot all
about the horse, and with furious execrations dragged him to his feet.
His face was half hidden in a cowl.

“Who are you? and how did you come here?” thundered Veit.

“You ought to know who I am by my attire,” was the quiet answer. “I
belong to the Dominican beggar order, and wander round seeking alms for
the poor. The storm overtook me and I came to this place and found
shelter by chance.”

“We have had bad luck with our secrets lately,” said Veit, with a
significant glance at his companions.

“Why should we care whether he lay there with open ears, or slept like a
marmot?” said Jörgel.

“We will not let this one off with an oath,” said Conrad, gesticulating

“No, that will not do this time,” said Veit, grimly. With that he tore
off the monk’s cowl and looked him sharply in the face. “I think I have
seen this pious man before. I cannot tell where or when. It may have
been some time ago, but we have met before, and it could not have been a
very pleasant meeting, I fancy, from the effect your face has upon me.
Nevertheless, good father, you must go along with us. As foresight is
the parent of wisdom, I will find a safe and cosy place for you in my
castle, where you can remain until the storm of war has subsided and
Duke Leopold is once more established in the land which rightfully
belongs to him. Pray fervently that it may be soon accomplished, for you
will not see the sun again until it is. You understand me.”

During these words the monk, who was tall and powerful, quickly glanced
at the speaker and his companions and assumed an air of defiance. A wild
gleam of wrath shot from his eyes, and he appeared as if about to attack
them; but prudence prevailed, for the struggle would have been too
uneven. He offered no resistance when they took him from the house. The
horses were brought out and mounted. Veit rode ahead and the monk
between the other two. The attendants brought up the rear, leading the
lame horse slowly along.

The storm had ceased, but the sky was still overcast with dark clouds.
Two hours later they reached castle Mörsperg and entered by a drawbridge
lowered across a deep moat. The keep was below the watchtower, and an
opening with a grated door, which also served as window, led into it.
The monk was placed in this dungeon without further ado, and the robber
knights betook themselves to the principal castle apartment, where the
lady of Mörsperg had spread a repast of roasted venison.

Greatly as Veit was feared on the highroads, and careful as his best
friends were not to anger him, this barbarian was little respected in
his own castle. His energetic spouse managed things there to suit
herself. Of late he had been forced to submit humbly to her strong
sceptre. He was under the minor ban of the Church for his evil doings.
The bishop had kept him subject to it for three years; and the noble
lady, who sought to make reparation for his wickedness by her own piety,
suffered even more than if she had been under the ban herself, for the
chaplain who used to perform service there came no longer. Since that
had happened, Veit hardly dared look his wife in the face and meet her
injured, reproachful expression. He had also felt her displeasure in
other ways. He was restrained in eating and drinking when guests were at
the castle, and she strictly forbade dicing. But to-day the mistress’s
flinty heart apparently relented. She lavished the best wine in the
cellar upon the guests, and even brought the dice for them. The
astonished husband attributed this change to his approaching departure,
but there was an entirely different reason for it.

The noble lady had heard of the monk’s imprisonment from the servants.
She could not endure such an indignity to a servant of the Church. She
was not actuated by piety so much as by the fear that the ban would be
prolonged by this new outrage, should it become known. She had played
the part of a generous housewife only to divert the attention of her
husband, and as soon as Veit and his companions were absorbed in
gormandizing, she took a huge bunch of keys and hastened to the dungeon.

The monk had heard of the ban resting upon the castle, and when the lady
implored him to celebrate mass and hear confession, from which she had
already been barred a year and a day, he became embarrassed. “I dare not
violate the stern decree of the Church. You know you have no right to
ask for any of its sacred offices, and I have no right to perform them,”
was his answer.

“Can I not enter the chapel just once, for brief devotion? It would not
be wrong for you to pray for me. I can set you free, and it shall be
done this very night if you will not refuse me this consolation. The
attendant who keeps the watch is a pious soul, and is entirely devoted
and obedient to me. At my command he will open the gate and let down the
bridge for you.”

At these words the monk’s scruples vanished, for great results depended
upon his speedy release. He gladly followed her into the desolate little
chapel, which was directly over the dungeon. Half an hour later he
breathed the air of freedom and was greeted by the morning star in a
cloudless sky. With flying steps he rushed back over the same course he
had come, past Mother Ruschen’s wretched inn, and thence through a
narrow pass to the highroad which led to Zurich. It was broad daylight
when the monk entered the city, but without stopping to rest, he
hastened to the shop of Florian Häbli, the smith.

“Why, Arnold!” exclaimed Florian, in surprise at the sudden appearance
of the supposed monk. “I have been very anxious about you,” he added.
“God be praised that you are safe back from your daring journey. I did
not expect you so soon.”

“I have not been far,” replied Arnold. “A thunder storm drove me to an
inn on the way, and there I learned all the plans of the Duke without
the trouble of going to Baden. I have been very fortunate. I will tell
you the rest another time. Now procure me a fast steed while I take off
this mummery and leave it with you. I must summon all our people back
from Thurgau. Every hour’s delay is dangerous. The fate of the League
hangs upon a hair.”

                               Chapter IX
                       Winkelried’s Heroic Death

On the eighth of July, Duke Leopold appeared before the little city of
Sempach with fourteen hundred knights and horsemen and several thousand
foot-soldiers. He pitched his camp at the edge of a forest on a height
facing the city. Before subduing Lucerne, he had resolved to teach
Sempach a terrible lesson and punish it for its rebellious spirit. For
use in the forthcoming attack he had brought with him huge machines, the
first to throw heavy missiles. Partly to find a place where they could
be set up, and partly to cut off the supplies of the besieged, he sent
his infantry to drive off the peasants, after compelling them to cut
their ripening corn. The nobles took great delight in mistreating the
harvesters and jeering at the besieged. Veit of Mörsperg would ride up
to the walls and contemptuously order them to bring out breakfast for
the harvesters; and Jörgel would point to the loaded wagons, with the
threat that all of them should be hanged.

How those in Thurgau learned Duke Leopold’s plans is no secret to the
reader. They quickly left for their menaced homes, marched day and
night, and on the way were assured of the good-will of Zug, Glarus, and
other places. On the morning of July ninth they reached a wood, called
the Meierholz, and there occupied a strong position. Just as Duke
Leopold had issued orders for the attack upon Sempach to begin in
earnest, he was surprised by the news of the arrival of the
Confederates, whom he supposed to be far away from there. He called a
council of war to decide whether battle should be given at once or be
deferred. The older and more experienced knights, who knew the courage
and iron resolution of the Confederates, voted for the latter plan, and
advised the Duke first of all to get into communication with
Bonstetten’s division. The young hot-heads outvoted them, however, and
the Duke made the fatal decision to give battle at once. He took up his
position on a piece of meadow land, gently sloping toward Sempach. At
the request of those knights who were so certain of victory, and who
wanted to secure the honor of the day for themselves alone, the
foot-soldiers were placed in the rear near the baggage trains. The
larger part of the horsemen were formed in three divisions, and as each
came into action they were to dismount and fight on foot. The first of
these divisions was formed in a square, twenty or thirty ranks deep, and
armed with harpoon-shaped spears, about five metres in length, so
arranged that one overlapped the next, thus apparently making the square

It was now midday. The sun beat fiercely down upon the heavily armored
knights. Some in the middle ranks fainted; some died from suffocation.
In all other ways the Austrian position was advantageous, for they
occupied the higher point and could hurl themselves down upon the enemy.
The Confederates, fearing the arrival of Bonstetten, rested a brief
spell in the Meierholz and then advanced for immediate attack. They were
between fifteen and sixteen hundred strong and were armed with swords,
pikes, and halberds. Their leader, Schultheiss of Gundoldingen, formed
them in wedge shape, the point toward the enemy. In this order they fell
upon their knees and implored divine help. The haughty knights,
supposing that they were begging for mercy, taunted them. They soon
discovered their mistake, for hardly had they risen to their feet,
before they rushed forward with a mighty shout and the fearful blasts of
their battle-horns. The Lucerners formed the point of the wedge and
attempted to force a way through the enemy, but the Austrians stood as
immovable as a wall, helm to helm, mail to mail, shield to shield, and
between the shields a forest of spears, which resisted the attack. The
Urners next advanced. “Break down their spears; they are hollow!”
shouted their leader; but the broken spears were replaced by those
behind them, and the Urners gave way as the Lucerners had done. The
brave Schwyzers fared no better, and in falling back suffered severe
loss from the showers of arrows shot at them from behind hedges and

The knights felt sure of victory, and the Confederates were losing
confidence. More than sixty of their bravest, among them their leader,
were lying dead on the field; the knights had not yet lost a man, and
their position remained unbroken. Every one in the Confederate ranks
realized that it was a critical moment, and none more fully than Arnold
of Winkelried, who led the men of the Nidwald. A decision must be made
instantly, or Confederate blood would be uselessly shed and the fruits
of the glorious victory of Morgarten would be wasted. Thus thought
Arnold, and he made the decision at once. There are things more
important than life. He had not shrunk from the poisonous breath of the
plague. He had looked death in the face countless times in foreign wars.
The time had now come for him to offer himself up for freedom and the

“Brethren in arms!” he loudly shouted, “care for my wife and children. I
will open a path for you. Follow me.”

With inevitable death before him he dashed forward, threw himself upon
the enemy’s lances, and bent them down to the earth by the weight of his
body. Pierced and gashed in every limb, he yielded up his heroic soul.
His followers rushed into the gap and slashed right and left with their
swords and halberds. In vain the knights attempted to close up, for
other Confederates were constantly widening the gap. Strokes fell thick
and fast; helmets and heads were split at a blow, and the victims fell
and were trodden underfoot. Amidst this terrible slaughter the
Confederates’ wedge steadily forced its way deeper and deeper into the
square. It was soon in confusion. The victors forced their way through
to the enemy’s standard. The Urners captured the Hapsburg lions; and the
Lucerners, the standards of Alsace and Tyrol. As the Austrian
standard-bearer fell, the standard was seized by Ulrich of Aarburg, who
defended it with his life. “Austria to the rescue!” were his last words,
as he fell bleeding from many wounds. The words reached the ear of
Leopold, who was in command of the second division. No one could
restrain him from plunging into the thick of the fight. “Better die with
honor than live in dishonor,” he replied to those who were entreating
him to save himself. He rushed forward, seized the blood-sprinkled
banner and waved it high in air as the slaughter went on around him. In
the midst of it he fell dead.

When the knights saw their leader fall, they gave up all hope and
rushed, panic-stricken, to their horses; but their attendants had
already mounted them and fled. The third division was not in the battle,
and had made its escape when it realized all was lost. The foot-soldiers
were driven in every direction by the Confederates. Thus was the great
battle fought by the little army of the Four Cantons against this strong
army of knights and nobles.

The battle had lasted all day, and the Confederates were too exhausted
to pursue the defeated enemy. After kneeling on the field and giving
thanks for the victory, they took possession of the enemy’s camp.
Splendid arms and equipments fell into their hands, as well as eighteen
standards. Victors and vanquished lost famous warriors, and among them
nearly all their leaders. One hundred and twenty of the Confederates
were killed, but the Austrian loss was much heavier, nearly two thousand
having been slain. Besides Duke Leopold, three hundred and fifty
princes, counts, great barons, and nobles had fallen, among them the
Margrave of Baden-Hochberg, the count palatine of Würtemberg and Teck,
and the counts of Hohenzollern, Fürstenberg, Aarberg, Schwartzenberg,
and Thierstein. Several noble families were almost wiped out.

Following the old practice, the victors remained three days upon the
field. The third day was devoted to the burial of the dead. Duke Leopold
and twenty-seven knights and nobles were interred in the Church of the
monastery of Königsfeld in Aargau. The bodies of other nobles were
removed to their homes, and the rest of the dead were buried in a great

A simple chapel was erected on the spot where Leopold’s body was found,
which was dedicated July fifth, 1387. The titles and coats-of-arms of
the nobles were placed upon the walls. In the centre stood a cross
between two memorials, one representing Duke Leopold, the other the
Lucerne leader, both in the act of prayer. A picture over the door
commemorated Winkelried’s deed.

Hans Halbfutter of Lucerne, an eye-witness of the battle of Sempach,
commemorated the victory in a poem, wherein Arnold of Winkelried’s
heroic death is described. In the learned world it is still questioned
whether he performed this deed; some historians have even denied the
existence of William Tell and relegated him to the realm of legend. But
the name of Arnold of Winkelried, the savior of his fatherland, still
lives in the hearts of the Swiss people. A statue has been erected near
the fountain in the market place of Stans which represents him at the
moment of grasping the enemy’s spears. His birthplace and coat of mail
are also shown in Stans, and a chapel has been erected to his memory.

On the ninth of July, 1886, five hundred years after the battle of
Sempach, the Swiss held a national festival in honor of Arnold of
Winkelried, the hero who exhibited a manly courage, self-devotion, and
love of fatherland which secured the victory of the Confederates over
their strongest enemy, and raised Switzerland to the position of a
powerful Commonwealth.


[1]The Hohenstaufens were a princely German family, whose castle was at
   Hohenstaufen in Würtemberg. It furnished sovereigns to Germany and
   Sicily in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The last of them was
   Conradin, who was executed in 1268.

[2]“Ode,” in German, signifies a desert or wilderness.

[3]The Aar, or Aare, rises in the Bernese Oberland and flows into the
   Rhine. Its length is about 170 miles.

[4]Engelberg is now a health resort in the Canton of Unterwalden,
   Switzerland, south of Lucerne. It still has a Benedictine Abbey.

[5]Rætia was a province of the Roman Empire, and its inhabitants were
   mountaineers. It was conquered by Tiberius in 15 B. C. The Helvetians
   were a Celtic tribe living near Lake Geneva, and were conquered by
   Cæsar. The Huns were a Mongolian race which invaded Europe in the
   fourth century. Their greatest leader was Attila. The Ostrogoths were
   the Eastern branch of the Gothic race, and were subjugated by the
   Huns. The Alamanni were a German race, whose territory in the third
   century included Alsace and part of Eastern Switzerland. “Franks” was
   a name assumed by a confederation of German tribes.

[6]Rudolph the First was the son of Albert the Fourth, Count of
   Hapsburg. He succeeded his father in 1239, and was elected German
   King in 1273, being the first of the Hapsburg line.

[7]The Rütli was a meadow in the mountains of Uri, fifteen miles
   southeast of Lucerne.

[8]Nidwald is the northern part of the Canton of Unterwalden; Oberwald
   is the southern part.

[9]Winterthur, one of the chief manufacturing towns in Switzerland,
   about thirteen miles northeast of Zurich.

[10]The Crimea.

[11]Kovno is the capital of the government of Kovno, at the junction of
   the Vilia and Niemen rivers in Russia.


The following is a chronological statement of the principal events in
Swiss-Austrian history connected with this narrative:

    1273     Rudolph elected Emperor.
    1291     Rudolph’s death.
    1291     Formation of the Everlasting League.
    1292     Adolph elected Emperor.
    1298     Albert of Hapsburg elected Emperor.
    1308     Murder of Alfred.
    1308     Henry of Luxemburg elected Emperor.
    1313     Death of Henry.
    1315     Austrian defeat at Morgarten.
    1315     Everlasting League renewed.
    1336     Civic War at Zurich.
    1336     Rudolph Brun made burgomaster of Zurich.
    1351     Everlasting League enlarged.
    1386     Austrian defeat at Sempach.
    1386     Death of Winkelried.
    1389     The Seven Years’ peace.

                     LIFE STORIES FOR YOUNG PEOPLE

                    _Translated from the German by_
                           _GEORGE P. UPTON_

                           _20 Volumes Ready_

  Maid of Orleans
  The Little Dauphin
  Marie Antoinette’s Youth
  Frederick the Great
  Maria Theresa
  Arnold of Winkelried
  William of Orange
  William Tell
  The Swiss Heroes
  Herman and Thusnelda
  The Nibelungs
  The Frithiof Saga
  The Duke of Brittany

                   _Each, illustrated, 60 cents net_
                      A. C. McCLURG & CO., CHICAGO

                          Transcriber’s Notes

--Copyright notice provided as in the original—this e-text is public
  domain in the country of publication.

--In the text versions, delimited italics text in _underscores_ (the
  HTML version reproduces the font form of the printed book.)

--Silently corrected palpable typos; left non-standard spellings and
  dialect unchanged.

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