The skies cleared just before sunset…
AN EVENING STROLL along the northern banks of Ägerisee (Lake Aegeri), the glacial lake whose shores are shared by Morgarten, Oberägeri and Unterägeri, yields spectacular views.
This is a highly recommended, low stress hike that will yield pleasant and beautiful surprises. (I won’t tell you what as I don’t want to spoil it for you. Suffice it to say that even though I lost a lens cap to a charming and delightfully swift-moving stream, I’d return here in a heartbeat.)
The area is the sight of the historic Battle of Morgarten which was fought on November 15, 1315 on her shores.
This was when a 1,500-man force of the Swiss Confederation infantry archers, led by Werner Stauffacher, ambushed a group of very unwelcome Austrian soldiers (of the Holy Roman Empire) near Morgarten Pass. These infrantry archers completely defeated the Austrians who were under the command of Duke Leopold I of Austria.
This victorious battle marked the beginning of Swiss independence being realized.
It all boiled down to those in power coveting the area of Gotthard Pass – as it was the shortest passage to Italy. And yes, the notorious House of Habsbergs were involved. (They were well known for being the origin of all the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors from 1438 – 1740, not to mention rulers of the Austrian Empire and Spanish Empire and several other countries but the Swiss were having none of it).
The disagreement came to a head as the Confederates of the Swiss cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden possessed imperial freedom letters granting them local autonomy within the empire but in 1314, Duke Louis IV of Bavaria (later to be known as Louis IV of the Holy Roman Empire) and Frederick the Handsome (a Habsburg prince) each claimed the crown of the Holy Roman Emperor.
Of course, this created quite a flap as the Swiss Confederates backed Louis IV as they, correctly so, feared the Habsburgs would annex their countries as Habsburg property – which they’d already tried to pull in the late 13th century.
In the end, the Swiss prevailed handsomely and we all now enjoy and admire (and, perhaps at times, envy) the richly fertile, insanely beautiful and well-established country we call Switzerland.
To see Morgarten and Ägerisee today, you’d never know there was such a battle. It’s beautiful. It’s peaceful. It’s verdant. It welcomes you with an aesthetic uniquely Swiss in nature. (And I hear the fishing is good, too.)