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Legend or history?

Seth Godin writes a book about daylight saving time. In a recent blog entry he writes:

[...] because in 1444, the walled city of Basel was about to be attacked. There were infidels outside, and some had infiltrated the town. The guards caught some of the bad guys and heard that the attack was to begin precisely at noon. An alert sentry changed the clock in the square an hour. Brilliant! The insiders, unaided by their allies, started their diversion an hour early. They were all arrested.[...]

As I'm living near Basel, I got curious a wanted to know more about this incident. In fact, Basel was besieged in August of 1444 by an army of 30'000 - 40'000 French mercenaries (the Armagnacs) under the guidance of Dauphin Louis (later King Louis XI. of France). They occupied and plundered a few villages and castles in the vincinity but could not get into the city of Basel. At the same time, but in an otherwise unrelated event, a Swiss (note that Basel was not associated with the Swiss by then, this happened in 1501) army of 2000 men besieged the castle of Farnsburg (approx.. 20km from Basel). In the evening of the 25th of August 1444, approx. 1200 Swiss soldiers went to attack a 2000 men strong part of the Armagnac Army in Pratteln - for once, they wanted to prevent them coming too near to the Farnsburg, but also to hit the ally of their enemy to whom Pratteln belonged. So in the early hours of the 26th of August, the Swiss army was very successfull to attack and kill the different parts of the Armagnac Army. However, due to medieval-age honour (never retreat) and military behaviour (after a victory, you have to stay three days on the battlefield), they just had to attack the main army in the plain of Basel. In short, all Swiss were killed in a bloodbath.

To come back to the main blog: The Armagnacs were no "infidels" as all parties involved were christian catholics at that time (Luther was not born then). The only note to such an incident I found is from a book about legends "Rhein-Sagen, Geschichten entlang des Stromes", Maternus Verlag Köln .

Additionally, along with the traditions in medieval time, the traitors would not have been arrested but killed. But it is a nice story anyway.

One thing, which is odd, is the fact that Basels clocks were offset from the clocks of their neighbours for centuries: According to an article here (German):

Since late medieval time , clocks in Basel were one hour advanced to the clocks around the city, so that at noon (which is normally 12 o'clock) it was 1. This time was called "Basler Uhr" or "Basler Zeit". Most presumably, this oddity came from the introduction of the first clockwork ca.1380 and the partition of the day in two times twelve hours, where midday and midnight was not the ending 12th, but the beginning 1st hour. This oddity was kept until late 18th century.


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