The most interesting work of late medieval literature from the Alemannic-speaking area is the satirical epic “The Ring” by H. Wittenwiler. The extensive, multi-layered poetry handed down in just one manuscript (around 1410), which is conceived as a “negative didax” (teaching) with many allegorical elements and grotesque exaggerations, remained without imitators. The narrative prose literature begins with the novel Melusine, a prose adaptation of a French courtly epic by the BerneseThuringian von Ringoltingen and the translations by the humanist Niklas von Wyle (2nd half of the 15th century). The spiritual literature had already been through the mystic H. Seuse received new impulses with his sensitive, lyrical work (numerous “sister vitae” recorded in the 14th century from the monasteries of Töss near Winterthur, Oetenbach near Zurich and Sankt Katharinenthal near Diessenhofen). Editing and instructive literature outside of the mystical tradition emerged, among other things. with the Marienleben Walther von Rheinau (beginning of the 14th century), the sacred songs of Heinrich von Laufenberg (beginning of the 15th century), with the allegorical »Schachzabelbuch« Konrad von Ammenhausen and the already mentioned far-reaching collection of fables »Der Edelstein« by the Bernese Dominican U. Boner. In addition to the spiritual drama, which developed a rich variety of forms (including »Lazarus«, anonymous, around 1529), there was a carnival game in the secular area, which has been documented since the 15th century and which P. Gengenbach and N. Manuel later designed as trend pieces in the service of the Reformation. The translation of the Bible, developed under U. Zwingli’s direction from 1525 onwards, which was quickly spread thanks to the new printing technology, made a decisive contribution to the upgrading of the vernacular and the development of a literary language influenced by Upper German. This also applies to the pamphlets and songs, which the Reformed, but also the Catholic authors, such as the Alsatian T. Murner, who worked temporarily in the Confederation and H. Salat from central Switzerland, used as a means in the religious struggle and in political disputes. The class-nationalistic consciousness that had become increasingly articulating since the Burgundian Wars began to be reflected in literary terms as well; the design of the legends of the national hero William Tellduring this time has its origin (“Old Telle Song,” about 1477;; “Urner Telle Game,” created in 1512 J. reputation, “A hüpsch and funny SPYL… from the from s and first Eydgenossen Wilhelm Thellen «, 1545); Also worth mentioning is “Lucretia and Brutus” (1533) by Zwingli’s successor, H. Bullinger and the chronicle (»Das weisse Buch von Sarnen«, around 1470; other important representatives: Petermann Etterlin, * around 1430/40, † around 1509; Melchior Russ, * around 1450, † 1499;Diebold Schilling the Elder, * 1430, † 1486; Diebold Schilling the Younger, * 1460, † 1516; J. Stumpf and A. Tschudi, especially with the »Mittelbuch«, 1569–71), where the – seemingly modern – evaluation of documented sources with the partly uncritical transmission of national Myths (e.g. the legendary origin of the Helvetii) have entered into an interesting synthesis. On the other hand, however, was z. B. S. Brant, who worked in Basel, alongside J. Wimpheling and J. Geiler von Kaysersberg was the main exponent of early humanism in the Upper Rhine region, still completely filled with the idea of a medieval empire. With its university and the internationally important book printing industry, Basel became a center of European humanism. Here, inter alia. Erasmus von Rotterdam, T. Platter (important autobiography) and Paracelsus, who gave the first German-language lectures at a university.
The hostility to art and senses of Orthodox Calvinism and the dominance of French as the literary language of the upper class shaped the cultural situation of the 17th century; According to the varied literature of the sixteenth century, the poetic output of the Baroque period was rather meager. In the Catholic towns the tradition of the spiritual game continued, but increasingly no longer as a popular spectacle in the squares, but as a didactic school drama, such as in the plays of the German Jesuit J. Gretser, who temporarily worked in Freiburg. Isolated literary relationships existed with the German language societies. Johann Wilhelm Simler (* 1605, † 1672) was obliged in his poems to M. Opitz, Johann Kaspar Weissenbach’s (* 1633, † 1678) dramatic morality »Eydgenösssisches Contrafeth auff- und Absemmender Jungfrawen Helvetiae« (1673) embodied a kind of Swiss marinism. The travelogue by Hans Franz Veiras (* 1576/77, † 1672) was published in 1638 as a clever satire of Swiss conditions in the 17th century; Enlightenment tendencies are already evident in Johannes Grob’s (* 1643, † 1697) pamphlet “Treugemeinter Eydgenössischer Auffwecker” (1688). Gotthard Herdegger’s (* 1666, † 1711) criticism of the baroque pomposity of contemporary novels was religiously motivated.