Monday, October 18, 2021

The Lion of Lucerne

 From Ancient Origins:

The Lion of Lucerne would not have existed had it not been for a man by the name of Carl Pfyffer von Altishofen. It was von Altishofen who commissioned this memorial. In addition, it is by knowing von Altishofen’s story that one may understand the symbolism and significance of the Lion of Lucerne. Von Altishofen is recorded to have served as an officer in the Swiss Guards. When the ‘August Insurrection’ broke out in Paris on the August 10, 1792, von Altishofen is recorded to have been home on leave in Lucerne.

Von Altishofen’s fellow Swiss Guards in Paris were not as fortunate as he was, and many of them lost their lives during the conflict in the French capital. As mercenaries, the Swiss Guards were renowned for honoring their agreements and their loyalty towards their employers.

One of these was the French royal family, who had been hiring these mercenaries since the 17th century. When the August Insurrection broke out, there was a regiment of about 1000 Swiss Guards serving the King of France, Louis XVI and his family.

About 300 of Louis’ Swiss Guards were sent on a mission outside of Paris several days earlier, whilst the rest of them were with the king and his family at the Tuileries Palace. During the uprising, the Swiss Guards defended their employers against the angry Parisian mob. The majority of them died during combat or in prison from injuries. The number of casualties sustained by the Swiss Guards, as well as the number of survivors, was carved onto the monument in Lucerne. The former being 760, whilst the latter numbered 350. (Read more.)


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