Sunday, August 9, 2015

I'm Pierced

William Tell wasn't real?!?

The mountain man who embodies the spirit of Swiss independence? A myth?

I've begun studying Swiss history, culture, government, etc. in preparation for someday applying for Swiss citizenship, and early in my research stumbled across the statement that the hero who was forced to shoot an apple perched on his son's head is, many scholars conclude, a mere legend, a story around which to rally against oppressors.
You probably know the tale well. In the early 14th century, a political tyrant named Gessler perched his hat atop a pole in Altdorf and ordered the townsfolk to bow down to the symbol. When Tell refused, Gessler ordered him to shoot an apple off his son's head. A superb marksman with a crossbow (another Swiss symbol), Tell split the fruit. But he'd had a second arrow ready to kill Gessler, who sentenced him to a dungeon. On the way to the prison by boat, a storm arose on Lake Lucerne, Tell escaped and killed the evil politician. I like that ending. It would be even better if Gessler was also a banker. Except historians now doubt that Gessler was real either.

At any rate, the William Tell story helped the Swiss push for independence from the Hapsbug dynasty and form the original Swiss Confederation. And of course inspired some great music.

I still want to see the statue, or rather statues of William Tell. It's going to be fun to learn the history of a new country (to me) which is actually small enough to get around to all the various historical sites.

1 comment:

  1. This is the first I have heard this story! Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful!