L’Escalade, or Fête de l’Escalade

L’Escalade, or Fête de l’Escalade (from escalade, the act of scaling defensive walls), is an annual festival in Geneva, Switzerland, held each December in celebration of the defeat of an attempt to conquer the Protestant city by the Catholic Duchy of Savoy. Troops sent by Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, attempted a surprise attack during the night of 11–12 December 1602, but according to legend, were repulsed by a cook who dumped boiling vegetable soup on the invaders before raising an alarm. The celebrations and other commemorative activities are usually held on 12 December or the closest weekend.

L’Escalade is what Genevans call the failed surprise attack of 12 December 1602 by troops sent by Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, to take Geneva. This imaginative image was drawn by Matthias Quad, or the workshop of Franz Hogenberg, around 1603. Invaders are pictured crossing the moat in the center left while reinforcements are entering Plainpalais at the bottom. A column of defenders is in the center, headed toward the Savoyards. Lake Léman is at center top.

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