Deeper into Jeopardy! XLII: ’99 – $400

Jeopardy! category: ’99 (13-4-2015)

$400 clue: In 1499 the Peace of Basel gave this Confederacy its independence

Correct response

The gist: The Peace of Basel ended the eight-month Swabian War – more than just the struggle to get rid of your earwax. The Swiss Confederacy (aka the Helvetic Confederacy, aka Confoederatio Helevtica, aka Switzerland), which had already included three cantons for 208 years and added several more over the years, achieved full independence from the Holy Roman Empire, of which it had been a part since 1032. In 1488, the Holy Roman Empire under Frederick III of Hapsburg pulled together a bunch of cities, prelates, and feudal lords into the Swabian League. The League was dedicated to maintaining the peace of the Holy Roman Empire and in particular countering the revolutionary tide rising within the Swiss Confederacy. With an army of more than 10,000 men, the Swabian League became a main supporter of Frederick III and his successor Maximilian. In 1495, with Maximilian reigning as co-ruler with his father, he attempted to improve his own position by consolidating power within the imperial centre. The Imperial Diet of Worms of 1495 declared, among many other stipulations, an “Imperial Peace,” and created a standing army composed of soldiers provided by imperial subjects to enforce it. This, naturally, required taxes.

The Swiss Confederacy, however, had no interest in furthering Hapsburg interests, and did not make a habit of dipping into their own coffers for another’s gain. Taking this as a signal of rebellion, Maximilian declared the Swiss Confederacy outlaws. He allied his Imperial army with the Swabian League and set off the war by attacking the Confederacy’s allies. As the entire way took place in just over half a year, fighting was intense and bloody. The Swiss soldiers, having hundreds of years of training and fighting side-by-side behind them, generally far outclassed the relatively new Swabian and Imperial armies. At battles like Hard, Bruderholz, and Schwaderloh, Swiss troops won lopsided victories even when their own numbers were considerably fewer than their enemies’. In July at Dornach, saw 6000 Swiss soldiers defeat 16000 Swabian and Hapsburg troops and mercenaries, as well as the death of the Swabian commander, which forced Maximilian to enter peace negotiations in a distinctly unfavourable position. The result was the Peace of Basel, in which the Emperor accepted the Confederacy’s repudiation of the Diet of Worms, recanted his declaration of outlawry, and implicitly abandoned authority over the Confederacy’s territory. The Swiss had attained independence in all but name, and the Confoederatio Helvetica has added 15 more cantons since the end of the war, most recently Jura in just 1979.

Delegates from the Swiss cantons deliberate with Emperor Maximilian I in Basel, 1499

The clue: Two keys to this clue. First, Basel is a fairly well-known city, the third-largest by population in Switzerland (between Zurich and Geneva). Second, “Confederacy” – if it’s not about the Civil War, that word’s usually an indication that the clue is about Switzerland. Also, I’m assuming that “Switzerland” would have been an acceptable response, rather than “the Swiss Confederacy,” as contestant Carlos impressed us all with, based on clues in the J!Archive – I think you’re fine with either one.

In Jeopardy!: The “Swiss Confederacy” (or “Confederation”) is in 14 regular clues in the J!Archive, and one FJ! clue. Most often, the clue uses one of the aforementioned Confed-words plus “canton” or the name of a specific one (Bern, Lucerne, etc.), and it wants “Switzerland” as the response. Another common variant is to ask what political units make up the Swiss Confederation, looking for “canton” (also a city in Ohio). Generally speaking, “canton” and/or “confederacy” is gonna be about Switzerland, unless it’s the Confederate States of America (but they didn’t have cantons, and even Ohio’s was Union). The FJ! clue helpfully explains why this rule holds: it asks for the only modern nation that describes itself as a confederation.

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