Military Deterrence in History: A Pilot Cross-Historical Survey

By Raoul Naroll; Vern L. Bullough et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 22
THE SWISS COLD WAR
1576-1585: Conspicuous State, Protestant Cantons; Conspicuous Rival, Catholic Cantons.

PART 1: SKETCH OF HISTORICAL SETTING (Chiefly after Dierauer)

THE MAIN EVENTS of the decade from 1576 to 1585 in Switzerland formalized an internal rupture within the Swiss Confederation. The Protestant and Catholic cantons each formed a Sonderbund, or supranational alliance -- the Protestants with France, the Catholics with Spain and Savoy.* From the deterrence standpoint, on one hand, despite great strain and tension, no war broke out. On the other hand, there was a constant deterioration of relationships which later led to a civil war. This decade thus consisted of a precarious balancing of threats and maneuvers in which each move on one side was counterbalanced by an opposite move on the other. The two sides were more or less approximately matched and, through a balance of power, they exercised mutual deterrence.

During the decade from 1576 to 1585, the Swiss Confederation (and the rest of Europe) was involved in the bitter struggle between Christian ideologies. The Swiss had been fired by Protestantism at the beginning of the century and had played an active part in the movement. Now, near the close of the century, the Counter- Reformation movement had many Swiss supporters; in addition, outsiders -- among them strong Jesuit leaders -- were attracted there. In the international arena the major European powers were preoccupied with problems of their own and paid the Swiss little

____________________
*
In this chapter, we are treating the allied Protestant cantons as the Conspicuous State, and the allied Catholic cantons as the Conspicuous Rival. See p. 5.

-313-

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