Battlefield Chapel in Sempach
27 July 2021
According to tradition, the chapel (Schlachtkapelle) in Sempach stands on the spot where Duke Leopold III. (1343-1386) was killed. A memorial to him and other fallen Austrian nobles was erected a year after the battle.
The actual construction of the chapel dates from 1472/to 1473. Renovations are documented for 1551-1554, 1638-1641 and 1747. The present ceiling, floor and benches date from 1885-1886. The chapel was restored in the run-up to the 600th-anniversary celebrations in 1996.
The ossuary was built in 1594. It served to preserve bones from the battlefield. They took the body of Duke Leopold to the monastery Köningsfelden (Frauenfeld, canton Thurgau). The procession that followed the annual church service stopped at the three stone crosses around the chapel.
After the victorious battle in Sempach on 9 July 1386, Lucerne’s Great Council (Grosse Rat) declared this day a public holiday. Over the centuries, the commemoration was repeatedly adapted. After this victory, Lucerne began to expand its territory in small steps and consolidate its hold.
Through the establishment of bailiwicks, the collection of taxes and the payment of liens, the countryside was gradually freed from Habsburg rule and transformed into the territory of Lucerne.