Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler

Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler Facsimile Edition

Bremgarten (Switzerland) — Between 1510 and 1535

Going back to the works of Diebold Schilling: a richly illustrated chronicle of Switzerland with completely new landscapes

  1. This comprehensive illustrated chronicle represents a milestone in Swiss historiography

  2. The work has perspectival landscapes that were completely innovative for the Middle Ages

  3. The author Wernher Schodoler (1490–1515) based his work on the chronicles of Diebold Schilling the Elder (ca. 1445–85)

Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler

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Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler

The Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler is a comprehensive three-volume illustrated chronicle that is considered to be a milestone of Swiss historiography. Previous city chronicles, which were critically reworked here, served as the textual foundation of this ambitious project. Its illustrations show landscapes using perspectives that were completely innovative for the Middle Ages and also document the transition into the book art of the Renaissance. The chronicle is primarily concerned with the development of the Swiss Confederacy, placing special emphasis on the series of wars in the Late Middle Ages that established their reputation for military success as well as their independence from the Holy Roman Empire. At the same time, the 130 pen and ink drawings are a valuable source on everyday life in Switzerland during the period with many details, making the three-volume work a comprehensive historical source, as well as a work of art.

Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler

The most significant illustrated chronicle from Switzerland comes from the author and illuminator Wernher Schodoler. This work is guided by earlier chronicles, principally the Bern Chronicle by Diebold Schilling. The Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler consists of three parts. In the first volume, the history of the federation up to the Council of Constance in 1415 is portrayed. The second volume deals with the history of the Old Zurich War and is decorated with numerous color illustrations. The third volume is concerned with the Mühlhausen War, the Burgundian War, the Swabian War, and the Italian Campaign. This volume contains colored drawings, which possess a completely innovative quality that clarifies the methodical transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance.

Wernher Schodoler Fulfills his own Dream

The chronicler Schodoler, who was born in the Swiss city of Bremgarten in 1490, came from a highly esteemed family. His forefathers faithfully rendered service to their city municipality. He himself was active in the city council of Bern at the beginning of the 16th century, where he gained insight in to the politics and the valuable chronicles of the city. Furthermore, he participated in multiple military conflicts on behalf of his home. He compiled his Swiss Chronicle not at the wish of his employers, but instead he fulfilled therewith his own desire, namely to record the glorious military events and everyday life of his hometown for his descendants.

Critically Documented History

As a model for his great chronicle, Schodoler used the chronicles of other Swiss authors, above all others he relied upon the works by von Etterlin and Diebold Schiller. He did not incorporate these chronicles without commentary, but rather he critically reworked the models, got rid of unimportant passages or changed them according to his own judgement. He did not shy away from making his opinion known, even when it contradicted his predecessors. In addition, he added his own essays concerning the civil and everyday life of his home and made his corpus into a comprehensive historical source.

The Dawning of a New Age

The illustrations are of great significance to art history, which are found in the three volumes of the chronicle. In the first volume, colored ornamentation is sparingly applied, but the second volume is already decorated with 130 colored pen and ink drawing and golden initials. Schodoler himself belonged to the three illuminators involved here. The illuminators succeeded in recording their keen observation of their surroundings in atmospherically poetic and surprisingly realistic miniatures. In the third volume there are 196 pen and ink drawings with sepia, which originated from an unknown and highly talented illuminator. The artist depicts his landscapes in a completely innovative perspective, lending him depth and breadth that was unusual in the Middle Ages. These depictions of people, who were pertinent to the text, mostly found in martial situations, are of an innovative quality. The human figures, who are supposed to combine the warrior and the artist, mark a new mentality that documents the way from the Middle Ages into the Renaissance.


Alternative Titles
Eidgenössische Chronik des Wernher Schodoler
Size / Format
1,048 pages / 39.5 × 29.5 cm
Between 1510 and 1535
326 illustrations
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler – MS 62 (Bd. 1)|Ba. Nr. 2 (Bd. 2)|MS.Bibl.Zurl.Fol.18 (Bd. 3) – Leopold-Sophien-Bibliothek (Überlingen, Germany) Facsimile Edition
Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1980–1983
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Detail Picture

Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler

Attack on Hurden

During the Old Zurich War, the forces of the imperial city of Zurich clashed with those of the Old Swiss Confederacy from Schwyz and Glarus in the Höfe region on May 22nd, 1443. The Battle of Freienbach is notable inter alia for involving an ambitious attack: on the morning of May 21st, soldiers from Schwyz set the bridge between Hurden and Rapperswil on fire and in response soldiers from Rapperswil immediately boarded two ships to attack Hurden, which is depicted here burning in the aftermath.

Eidgenössische Chronik des Wernher Schodoler
Single Page

Swiss Chronicle of Wernher Schodoler

Execution of the Defenders of Greifensee

After a four-week long siege, the forces of the Old Swiss Confederacy captured the town of Greifensee on May 27th, 1444. The so-called Murder of Greifensee occurred the next day when all but two of the 64 defenders of Greifensee Castle were beheaded including their leader, Wildhans von Breitenlandenberg. Even in times of war, the mass execution of men who had surrendered was a heinous act.

The executioner readies a blow as the latest victim kneels, his already beheaded comrades lying on the ground. More wait on the right as soldiers from the various confederated cantons watch, their banners and spears filling the background like a forest. To underline their powerlessness, the peasants of Greifensee are depicted small in the foreground.

Eidgenössische Chronik des Wernher Schodoler
Facsimile Editions

#1 Eidgenössische Chronik des Wernher Schodoler

Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1980–1983

Publisher: Faksimile Verlag – Lucerne, 1980–1983
Limited Edition: 980 copies
Binding: Both volumes are bound in finely executed pigskin covers with blind toolings, brass fittings and clasps. The headband is stitched by hand and all double leaves have been sewn by hand on cords.
Commentary: 1 volume (412 pages) by Pascal Ladner, Walter Benz, Eugen Bürgisser, Cäsar Menz, Franz Bächtiger and Eduard Studer
Language: German
2 volumes: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
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