The Swabian League was an mutual defence and peace keeping association of Imperial Estates - Free Imperial cities, prelates, principalities and knights - principally in the territory of the Early medieval stem duchy of Swabia, established in 1488 at the behest of Emperor Frederick III of Habsburg and supported as well by Bertold von Henneberg-Römhild, archbishop of Mainz, whose conciliar rather than monarchic view of the Reich often put him at odds with Frederick's successor Maximilian. The name is not applicable to several earlier leagues (e.g. those of 1331, 1376), since those leagues were leagues of Imperial cities only, their intention being a defensive league against the principalities, mainly the Counts of Württemberg and the Imperial Knights. In the Swabian League these former adversaries cooperated towards new ends: the keeping of the imperial peace and at least in the beginning curbing the expansionist Bavarian dukes from the House of Wittelsbach and the revolutionary threat from the south in the form of the Swiss. The League held regular meetings, supported tribunals and maintained a unified force of 12,000 infantrymen and 1200 cavalry.
After the death of Eberhard of Württemberg in 1496 the League produced no single outstanding generally accepted leader, and with the peace of 1499 with the Swiss and the definitive defeat of the aggressive Wittelsbachs in 1504, the League's original purpose, maintenance of the status quo in the southwest, was accomplished. Its last major action, prompted by the occupation and annexation of the Free City of Reutlingen by duke Ulrich of Württemberg in 1519, was the concerted overthrow of the duke, whose territory the League sold to Charles V, offsetting the costs of the campaign.
The religious revolution of the Protestant Reformation divided its members, and the Swabian League faded from view.
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