Liechtenstein Under the Barons of Brandis

1416 to 1510

The Brandis family who were related to the old Lords of Vaduz, bought the county of Vaduz in 1416, and Schellenberg in 1419 and located in Switzerland. Times were changing around Europe as old values were discarded. Peasants were rebelling, as was seen by the burning of the castles on Schellenberg. The Brandis' realised this and were clever enough to give the people many of their demands without giving them much power.

In 1411 the Dukes of Austria fought the Swiss, who by then had formed a federation to free themselves from the Austrians. The Brandis estates were on the border and the Baron sided with the Austrians. The war was punctuated with a series of annoying tricks to irritate the opposition, for example, the governor of Gutenberg paid two men 30 Florins each to go into Switzerland and burn everything they could. Despite being dressed in bright yellow coats and red and white striped trousers, they were not caught, unlike the unfortunate Swiss spy sent to burn Feldkirch who was captured on the Eschnerberg and burned alive as a punishment and warning to others.

In 1499 a number of bishops, lords and nobility sued for peace in Feldkirch. An agreement was signed and both sides declared themselves satisfied, which should have been an end to it, except the Austrian garrison in Gutenberg who taunted the 'cattle breeders' as they called the Swiss, with jeers of 'Moo'. Whilst the Swiss, annoyed by this, could do nothing about the castle, they razed a local house to the ground. This incited renewed fighting which escalated and the Swiss marched on Vaduz. Ludwig von Brandis watched this from his castle, and despite holding the inhabitants possessions for safekeeping, Ludwig allowed the Swiss to march in unopposed.

Ludwig tried to bargain with the Swiss leaders to be left in peace, but the soldiers looted the castle, drank the cellars dry of wine and then set light to the castle, taking Ludwig prisoner as they went. All the surrounding villages were looted and the people of Vaduz were forced to swear allegiance to the Swiss.

A few weeks later the Swiss marched on Feldkirch, camping near Schaan causing the villagers to flee into the mountains. Only one man stayed - a traitor who offered his services to the Swiss general. For 30 silver Florins he was prepared to show them the mountain ridge above Planken, but he did not want his fellow villagers to know of his betrayal, so he agreed to leave a trail of peas for the Swiss to follow. At the top of the ridge, with the unsuspecting Austrians below he asked for his money. The Swiss general told him to take off his hat for his reward, and then pulled out his sword and cut off the traitors head, which fell neatly into the hat. The Swiss attacked and pushed the Austrians back to Feldkirch.

Gutenberg, however, had still not been taken. The Swiss tried to attack it's outer walls with axes. This failed and they brought in a gun that could throw stones 'as big as a hat'. This fell apart and smaller guns did made little impression, in fact the Austrians mocked the Swiss by sweeping the bullet marks from the walls with brooms. The Swiss then tried to tunnel in, but the rock footing was too hard. They tried to starve the garrison out, but they had sufficient provisions, so in the end the Swiss gave up and left.

After this the 'war' declined into foraging parties stealing one another's cattle and sheep. On the 12th September 1499, however, peace was finally restored. The Counts of Brandis continued to rule for only another 11 years before a relation inherited the two countries.

The Rätians > Romans > Goths & Franks > Counts of Montfort > Barons of Brandis > Counts of Sulz > Counts of Hohenems > Princes of Liechtenstein > The modern day