- French saying
North across the Alps in the Helvetic communes, the harsh winters and poor land have breathed life into a formidable class of mercenaries: the Swiss. Swiss infantry, known as Reisläufer (in German, "those who travel on campaign"), are medium polearms infantry which tie with the Italian Magistral Guard as the best infantry unit in the game, being fairly powerful and ready at a moment's notice, but costly in wealth. Only the richest of factions can afford to recruit these warriors whenever the fancy suits them. Armed with polearms, the Swiss Reisläufer are a multi-purpose melee unit with a limited ability to engage cavalry, while retaining some semblance of mobility, and for that reason can be recruited by four European factions: France; Hungary; the Papal States; and the Norse. These units are especially useful, given the rather weak melee infantry units these factions obtain during the Imperial Era. The speed of their training and the speed at which they are recruited means that as a general rule, Reisläufer can be used en masse with great effect against enemy spearmen and pikemen wherever they are found, but are still somewhat vulnerable if caught out in the open by heavy cavalry or guns.
Modern Switzerland can trace its roots back to 1291 when, following the extinction of the Zähnringer and Kyburg families which ruled various cities in the Alps, the cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden found themselves independent. When the Habsburg family attempted to assert control, they were defeated at Morgarten (1315) and Sempach (1386), securing a de facto independence for the new confederation which was soon joined by several other cantons, soon founding the "Old Federation". Peace and unity however remained elusive until the Swiss-Burgundian War, when they declared war on Burgundy, fearing the expansionist ambitions of Duke Charles the Bold. The war, while giving the Swiss no real territorial benefits, had created a solid reputation for their pikemen and halberdiers, and before long all the great states of Europe were employing Swiss troops, or drilling their own armies in similar style, such as the Imperial Landsknecht mercenary corps raised throughout Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries.