A display window in the 16th century

Politicians everywhere depend on having a strong public presence. Swiss politicians of the past were no exception.

Andrej Abplanalp

Andrej Abplanalp

Historian and communications chief of the Swiss National Museum.

Stained glass window with cantonal coat of arms. The artist is unknown. Photo: Swiss National Museum

Starting in the 16th century, houses and churches increasingly began to feature stained glass windows showing coats of arms.The citizens rebuilt their houses in stone – an expensive undertaking requiring financial support from wealthy burghers, neighbours, or guilds. As a token of thanks, the donors’ coats of arms were displayed in the windows to bear witness to their generosity.

Both the «crowdfunding» for new houses and the craft of making cabinet panels very quickly became established. Being able to display the coat of arms not of a random fellow- resident, but of the government, in one’s window was something special. The 13 cantons were soon inundated with requests and later confined their sponsorship to public buildings.This happened too in the canton of Zug, which donated this pane to the town hall of Lachen (SZ).

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