HOW THE EMPEROR ALBRECHT MET HIS DEATH
 The Emperor Albrecht was hated by many people besides the
Swiss. He was so greedy and so cruel that it would have
been strange indeed if many had loved him.
Among those who hated the Emperor was his nephew, Duke
John. Duke John's father had died when he was quite a
little boy, and his uncle Albrecht had brought him up
and had taken charge of his money and land. But now
Duke John was twenty years old, and he wanted to rule
his own land and take care of his own money. But the
Emperor, who was greedy, and hoped to be able to keep
Duke John's possessions,
 would not give them up. Again and again Duke John asked
for his land and his money. Again and again the Emperor
refused. "You are not old enough yet," he said, "you
are not old enough."
But this answer only made Duke John more angry and more
determined, for the Emperor's own sons, who were no
older, were given lands to rule and were treated as
At last the Emperor finished his war in Austria and
returned to fight against the three Forest Cantons.
While he was gathering his soldiers together, his
friends came to his castle to advise him how best to
conquer the Swiss. Among them came Duke John.
On the last day of April, Duke John and his uncle rode
together through a wood. The sky was blue, the birds
were singing, and all the world seemed gay and
beautiful. "Let me rule my own Dukedom, uncle," said
 Duke John. "It is full time that the crown was set upon
"You are only a boy," returned his uncle scornfully,
"too young to rule."
"I am no younger than my cousins," replied John
bitterly, "and they have crowns and kingdoms given to
"Oh," said the Emperor, "you must have a crown, must
you?" He checked his horse, and leaning over, broke a
twig from a willow-tree close by. He twisted the twig
quickly into the form of a crown. Then with another
scornful laugh he gave it to his nephew. "There," he
said, "is a crown good enough for you. To-morrow is May
Day. Go make yourself a May Day king."
"There is a crown good enough for you"
Duke John dashed the willow crown to the ground. He was
white and trembling with passion. "You scorn and scoff
at me," he cried. "But you shall do so no longer. From
this day there is hatred and war between you and me. I
will ask no more
 for my crown and kingdom. I will take them." Then he
put spurs to his horse and rode away.
"Silly boy," laughed the Emperor, "what can he do
That night Duke John talked long with his friends.
There was only one way in which he could win his own
land. His uncle would not give it up, so his uncle must
Next day the Emperor rode out, followed by his train of
soldiers and servants. It was May Day, and everywhere
people were feasting and rejoicing. The Emperor with
one friend rode on alone, far before his soldiers, who
came slowly trotting behind. They came to a bridge over
a river, and as they were crossing it Duke John was
seen galloping towards them. In his hand he held a
drawn sword which flashed in the sunlight. "Now will I
well reward your scorn," he cried, as he came dashing
 "now must you yield up my land to me," and before the
Emperor was aware of what Duke John meant to do, he had
been struck on the breast, so that he reeled in his
saddle. The Duke's two friends then rushed upon the
Emperor, one aiming a blow at his head, the other
thrusting his sword through his body. Albrecht fell to
the ground, and the knight who had been with him fled
away in fear of his life.
Duke John and his friends, fearful now of the deed they
had done, fled too, and the Emperor was left on the
bridge alone. There a poor beggar woman found him lying
in great pain, and having pity on him, she did what she
could to ease him. But nothing could save his life. So
this great Emperor died on the lonely roadside in the
arms of a poor beggar woman.
When Duke John fled away, he fled to Switzerland. But
the Swiss, when they heard of his deed, would not
 "We had no quarrel with the Emperor," they said. "It
was against Austria that we fought."
So the gates of all the Swiss towns were closed against
Duke John. The gates of one town called Zurich had not
been shut for twenty years. Now the hinges were so
rusty that at first they would not turn. But the men of
Zurich were eager to show that they were true to the
Empire, so they bent their backs to the task. When the
great gates moved at last, they seemed to groan and cry
aloud as they slowly closed. Then the bars were drawn
against the murderer.
But although the Swiss would not shelter Duke John,
neither would they punish him. "We will not avenge the
Emperor, who never did us any good," they said. "We
will not punish Duke John, who never did us any harm.
We have no part in his deed. We only wish peace and
For two years Duke John wandered about
 disguised as a monk, and at last he reached Italy,
where it is said he died in loneliness and misery.
After the murder of Albrecht, the Princes chose another
Emperor called Henri. He was not a Prince of Austria,
and he was kind to the Swiss. He gave them letters
saying that they were free as they had always been,
that Austria had no power over them, and that they owed
obedience only to the Emperor, and not to the Austrian