The Great Oath on the Rütli

In 1291, King Albert 1 of Austria decided to expand his cruel empire. Three great men came together on the Rütli to swear eternal alliance in freedom and liberty…

Since ancient times, the honest people of the three cantons Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden lived peacefully together around Lake Lucerne, a beautiful mountain lake with several sprawling arms, located high in the Alps. No raucous war cries disturbed the peaceful chimes of the herded animal’s bells or the happy calls of the valley’s inhabitants.


But one day in the year 1291, the tranquil life of the forest settlers came to an abrupt end when Albert I of Austria was crowned the king of Germany. King Albert decided he was no longer content with the three cantons’ duties and tributes to the kingdom. Guided by a fanatic quest to expand his empire, he decided to annex the beautiful Alpine country and make the pastoral people his subjects.

However, the greedy king hatched his plan without recognizing the pride of Lake Lucerne’s bold residents; he foolishly believed they would simply submit to his tyranny. As soon as word of the King’s plans reached Lake Lucerne, the people knew what they must do.


Thus, on the starlit evening of August 1st in the year 1291, the bravest men of the three cantons came together on the Rütli, a meadow above Lake Lucerne. Among them were the three legendary heroes of Switzerland, Walter Fürst of Uri, Werner Stauffacher of Schwyz and Arnold von Melchtal of Unterwalden. Together they resolved to shake off the yoke of foreign oppression.


That night, the heroic men sealed the great oath on the Rütli. They raised their hands and swore by God and all saints, declaring unity and freedom in eternal alliance as the Swiss Confederation. Never again would the proud Swiss people be brought to their knees.


To this day, August 1st is Switzerland’s most important national holiday, in recognition of the iron spirit of independence and self-determination of the country and its founding fathers.

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