Walter Zumbrunnen

Life Sketch
Walter Zumbrunnen was likely born in the mid-1300s, the son of Johan Zumbrunnen. One source says that his father was Johan’s brother Heinrich Zumbrunnen, but Heinrich is known to have died in 1339, and Walter was likely born later than this. Prior to Walter, there are some questions about the Zumbrunnen family tree, but beginning with Walter, records about the family become very good for the next several hundred years.

Walter married a woman named Hemma Fürst, who was descended from a famous Swiss patriot named Walter Fürst (who is one of the main characters in the most famous version of the William Tell legend. William Tell was married to Fürst’s daughter, Hedwig. Tell’s son, who famously had the apple placed on his head, was supposedly named Walter Tell, after his grandfather). Walter and Hemma named their only-known son Walter.

Walter was possibly married a second time to Dorothea Von Beroldingen.

By 1370, Walter possessed the ruins of the Attinghausen Castle. He is believed to have purchased it from one of Johann Von Attinghausen’s sons-in-law who could not afford the land. It’s unclear what Walter did with the castle, and at some point by the 1400s it had passed to different owners.

In the late 1300s, Walter fought in several battles against the Habsburgs. In the late 1300s, Leopold III, Duke of Austria, of the House of Habsburg, was feuding with his own brother and cousin, while also trying to subjugate the people of Switzerland. In 1376 he took control of the city of Basel. Skirmishes continued and in 1386 the conflict came to a head when Leopold declared war on the central Swiss cantons (by then known as the Old Swiss Confederacy).

Leopold amassed his forces outside the city of Zürich, and the confederates moved to defend the city. But Leopold instead marched toward Lucerne. Along the way, the Habsburgs massacred the citizens of the town of Willisau. As Leopold’s army marched it burned the fields, intending to further subjugate the people through famine. En route to Lucerne, they stopped at a town called Sempach. The men of central Switzerland caught up with the Habsburg forces here, and the famous Battle of Sempach was fought on July 9, 1386. The Habsburgs were decisively defeated at this battle and Leopold was slain.

The men like Walter who fought in these wars against the House of Austria were hailed as heroes. Walter and his wife Hemma are memorialized in one of the yearbooks of Uri.

Vital Information

Name: Walter Zumbrunnen
Sex: Male
Birth: Mid-1300s
Residence: Uri
Death: Unknown

Family Members

Father: Johan Zumbrunnen (or possibly Heinrich Zumbrunnen)
Mother: Unknown
Siblings: None known

Spouse: Hemma Fürst
Children: Walter Zumbrunnen, possibly Heinrich Zumbrunnen


  • Walter Zumbrunnen entry in the Historical Dictionary of Switzerland
  • Walter Zumbrunnen entry in the Nobiliaire Militaire Suisse
  • Walter Zumbrunnen entry at (free registration required). His birth year is estimated as 1363.
  • Walter Zumbrunnen entry at Stammler Genealogie
  • Walter Zumbrunnen entry at genealogy website
  • Walter Zumbrunnen is included in Bucelin’s genealogy of the Zumbrunnen family from the 1600s. (He is in the seventh generation of people; his name is written in Latin as “VValtherus, vulgo VValtharus zum Brunnen olim Ettighausen.”)

    1. […] 1370, the castle was largely ruined; much or all of its grounds were in the possession of Walter Zumbrunnen (the great-great-great grandson of the original Walter Zumbrunnen). He likely purchased it from […]

    2. […] WALTER, married to Hemma Fürst of Schattdorf, is the father of this family, which became extinct in Uri in the 18th century. […]

    3. […] Walter Zumbrunnen, second of the name, who served his country in the wars against the House of Austria toward the end […]

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