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SWISS HANDGUNNER, BURGUNDIAN WARS

An extract from Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1
by Ian Heath


[Based on Diebold Schilling the Younger's 'Lucerne Chronicle' depicting the Battle of Grandson.]
107.      SWISS MUSICIAN, 15th CENTURY

From the same picture as figure 103, this figure represents a horn-blower from Zug or Lucerne, probably the latter since Lucerne, Uri and Unterwalden were all especially noted for their large war horns. These were probably auroch horns. Smaller horns were probably used by individual contingents for their own battlefield communications, large war horns such as that shown here being used to sound the general advance, and also to strike fear in the enemy's ranks. Certainly the Swiss horns supposedly struck terror into the Burgundians at Grandson, and they were again much in evidence at Nancy.

He wears cantonal colours of blue and white, with a white cross on his right breast, plus black shoes and a red scabbard. The cord attached to his horn is also red. Although he wears a helmet a second similarly dressed horn-blower substitutes a brimmed cap that is blue and white like the tunic. He is armed with a Schweizergegen and a 'Bernese' halberd, this being one of a number of regional variations in the shape of the halberd blade to be found in the 15th-16th centuries. 107a shows the rather distinctive horned yellow hood worn by the Uri horn-blower in the same source; his costume is yellow on the right and black on the left with a white cross on the thigh of his left leg.

Other musicians to be found in Swiss armies included drummers, bagpipers and fifers. Figure 82a shows a Swiss drummer of c. 1485; he wears a red bonnet and tunic and possibly white trousers, which are the cantonal colours of Unterwalden. The drum is painted yellow.



Next: 108. SWISS FLAGS, in Armies of the Middle Ages, volume 1 by Ian Heath