At the lever of power. Merchants of the Old Swiss Confederacy between warfare and policymaking in the late Middle Ages
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In the high Middle Ages, trade relations between Lombardy and the regions of the Old Swiss Confederacy were intensified; there was a lively exchange of various goods, mainly horses and cattle. By the 15th century at the latest, merchants f the Old Confederacy were powerful enough to influence relations between the Duchy of Milan and the Confederacy in their favour. Their interests were revealed by both military campaigns and in diplomatic treaties between the Duchy of Milan and the Confederacy: In today’s Canton of Ticino and in the Lombard region, important trade fairs were held for merchants. The annexation of these territories would not only have resulted in the protection and control of the traffic routes, but also in the lucrative duty-free status of the merchants. The diplomatic treaties also favoured the merchants, as they mainly had customs and other trade privileges to their content. Although the influence of horse and livestock traders on policymaking is undisputed in research, it has hardly been investigated. On the basis of a broad-based prosopographic research, the article therefore examines the questions of where these merchants came from, what their social position was and what activities they carried out in addition to their trading activities in order to influence federal-Milan relations both militarily and politically.
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