Martial Culture in Medieval Towns

Martial Culture in Medieval Towns is a research project at the University of Bern 2018-2022, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation.

With their walls and towers, with their armoured fountain figures and armed processions, medieval towns presented themselves as a martial entity. Its inhabitants carried weapons and were obliged to take up arms to defend the walls. In a stately context, cities played a major role as strongholds, reservoirs for combatants, centers of arms production and trade, and for the financing of warfare. This research project will focus on towns as producers, organisers, and brokers of martial culture within the rapidly changing political world of late medieval Europe (13th-16th c.), examining how towns helped transform and were transformed by trend-setting military techniques and urban ‘martial culture’. This martial culture developed at the intersection of legal prerogatives, political requirements, physical skills, knowledge, and the evolving societal significance of the ownership and use of weapons.

Project team: Ass. Prof. Dr. Regula Schmid, Dr. phil. Daniel Jaquet, lic. phil. / M.A. Elena Magli, lic. phil. / M.A. Mathijs Roelofsen

Project’s website:

Project blog:

Museum exhibition “Alarm! From culture, possession and use of weapons in the late medieval cities" (15.10.22-30.05.23) at the Museum of the Old Arsenal in Solothurn (CH):

The project team contributed individual articles in Medieval World: Culture & Conflict (MWCC.4), which looks at how people fought for and protected their towns and communities in the Middle Ages!

• Regula Schmid Keeling, “Citizens in Arms: An Urban Take on Medieval Armies”
• Elena Magli, “The Night Watch: Night-Time Quiet in the Medieval Town”
• Daniel Jacquet, “Martial Experts: Members of the Clergy and Martial Activities”
• Mathijs Roelofsen, “Brothers in Arms: Fribourg’s Armed Companies”

Other relevant publications include:

Jaquet, Daniel, Iason-Eleftherios Tzouriadis, and Regula Schmid, ed. Martial Culture in European Towns: An Anthology. Slatkine, 2023.

Schmid, Regula. “The Swiss Confederation before the Reformation.” In A Companion to the Swiss Reformation, edited by Amy Nelson Burnett and Emidio Campi, 14–56. Brill, 2016.

Schmid, Regula. “The armour of the common soldier in the late Middle Ages: Harnischrödel as sources for the history of urban martial culture.” Acta Periodica Duellatorum 5, no. 2 (2017): 7–24.

Schmid, Regula, and Daniel Jaquet, eds. Martial Culture in European Towns (1350–1650). Boydel Press, 2023.



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