The Castles of Bellinzona count among the most outstanding examples of heavy military architecture in the Alpine region. Because they safeguarded access to the Alpine passes, these late-medieval castles were of considerable value to the Duchy of Milan and coveted by the Old Swiss Confederation.
In the Swabian War of 1499, the Old Swiss Confederation fought against Habsburg Austria and the Swabian League. The cruel and devastating victory of the Swiss underscored their independence within the Holy Roman Empire.
After Queen Mary’s accession to the throne in 1553, numerous Protestant reformers went into exile in Switzerland. These so-called «Marian exiles» later exerted a great influence on English politics and cultural life.