William Tell: Switzerland’s National Hero
According to legend, on this date in 1307, William Tell shot an apple off his son’s head with a crossbow.
Here are some things you may not have known about the legend.
The first reference to William Tell appeared about 100 years after his supposed death. It describes Tell as a leader of the Swiss Confederate rebellion against Hapsburg Austria.
Tell is said to have been a skilled mountain climber and an expert marksman with a crossbow.
Tell and his son entered the town of Altdorf, and publicly refused to salute the hat of the local lord, Albrecht Gessler. For this offense, Gessler sentenced Tell and his son to death.
Knowing Tell’s reputation as a marksman, Gessler was willing to let them go free if Tell could shoot an apple off his son’s head with one arrow.
Tell drew his bow and split the apple, and more importantly, missed his son’s head.
However, Gessler noticed that Tell had taken two arrows from his quiver and asked him about it.
Tell was initially reluctant, but after Gessler promised again not to kill him, Tell told him that in case he killed his son, the second arrow would have been used to kill Gessler.
Hearing this, Gessler told Tell that he would be imprisoned for the rest of his life for that offense.
As with all good legends, a stormy boat ride allowed the prisoner to escape, leading to a cross-country chase which ended with Tell killing Gessler with another arrow shot, and supposedly sparking the formation of the Old Swiss Confederacy.
Since that time Tell has been revered as a Swiss patriot.
Despite the fact that 60 percent of the Swiss population believe William Tell existed, most modern experts think he was fictional.
Our question, Rossini’s “William Tell Overture” was used as the theme song to what 1950s American television show?
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