The Swiss Confederates first became involved in European politics on
a grander scale in the 15th century. They became sought-after allies and
mercenaries, and intervened out of territorial interest (especially the
Council of Berne).
The first major conflict was with Charles the Bold of Burgundy. Charles’s dominion was a narrow and, as yet, incomplete band of land between France and the German Empire.
His aim was to expand Burgundy into an uninterrupted territory stretching from the North Sea to the Alps. To this end, he exerted pressure on Lorraine and Savoy. Likewise, in 1469 he took control, by way of lien, of the Habsburg territories in the Black Forest and Upper Alsace from Duke Sigmund of Austria. Louis XI of France and Emperor Friedrich III felt threatened. So they welcomed the dispute between the Swiss Confederates and the much-feared prince, whose army was the best equipped in Europe. On the Confederate side, Berne was the driving force as it sought to expand its territories towards the Pays de Vaud in Savoy and the foothills of the Jura.
Charles the Bold commanded a powerful army equipped with the very latest ordnance, which he was keen to deploy as part of a new strategic concept. Yet a surprise attack by the Confederates thwarted all his plans and ended for Charles in a debacle. Only a small section of his army came to fight; many of those who were not killed during the surprise attack on the camp were slain as they took flight.