Historic "graffiti" by a famous Swiss knight found in Jerusalem

Historic "graffiti" by a famous Swiss knight found in Jerusalem

While England has the Black Prince and France has Joan of Arc, Switzerland has, among others, Adrian von Bubenberg. Now, a piece of graffiti drawn by the famous Swiss knight has been found scrawled on King David’s Tomb in Jerusalem.

Swiss knight's inscription found in King David's Tomb

According to the Israel Antiquities Association (IAA), archaeologists discovered the charcoal inscription made by von Bubenberg while studying ancient messages written on King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. 40 examples of ancient “graffiti” were found on the site, left by both Christian and Muslim pilgrims between the 14th and 15th centuries.

The inscription, dating from 1466, was written on the entrance of the room that is believed to be the site of the Last Supper, and shows a charcoal message from the knight and his coat of arms. It is believed that von Bubenberg made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem at around the same time, confirming the graffiti’s origin.

Who was Adrian von Bubenberg?

Adrian von Bubenberg is revered in Swiss history as a knight, military commander and three-time mayor of the city of Bern. Born in 1424 in Bern to the son of the Lord of Spiez, Canton Bern, he would soon succeed his father and become a prominent citizen of the canton. He would make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1466 and be dubbed a Knight of the Holy Sepulchre.

Bubenberg is perhaps most famous for his actions during the war between Switzerland and Burgundy between 1474 and 1477, when the Burgundians tried to expand their territory and influence into the Alpine nation. Bubenberg led negotiations between the Old Swiss Confederacy, Savoy, Burgundy, France and the Holy Roman Empire, and became a prominent military commander.

Hero of Murten revered as a Swiss national icon

His greatest triumph was during the siege of Murten (Morat) in 1476, when he led a small fortified garrison in defending against a 12 to 25.000-strong army, led by Charles the Bold of Burgundy. The King of Burgundy used great cannons (called bombards) and frequent assaults to whittle down the walls and defenders of the castle

After twelve days of heavy fighting, the city was finally relieved by forces from other cantons, inflicting a stunning defeat which saw up to 10.000 Burgundians killed to just 410 Swiss losses. Charles would be killed by Lorraines and Swiss forces at the battle of Nancy just a year later, spelling the end of Burgundy as an independent nation. Bubenberg would die in 1479.

Bubenberg’s deeds would be used to promote nationalism, portrayed in books like the Ring i der Chetti by Rudolf von Tavel as a model of knightly virtue and Swiss patriotism. You can still see a statue of the knight at the Hirschengraben stop near Bern station.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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