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William Tell

One of the most famous tales of Swiss independence is the story of William Tell.  No one knows for sure how much of this story is true, the reality of the Hapsburg oppression is true, and there is some evidence that the story is based on historical facts but no one knows for sure how true this really is. 

The Hapsburgs were in charge of neighboring Austria, and set up Gessler as the governor of the town that William Tell lived. To see how loyal the people of the town were, Gessler set his hat on a pole in town square and commanded the people who passed to bow, not to him, but to the hat. William however, refused to bow to the hat, and even Gessler himself. William and his young son, who was with him at the time, were arrested because of his disobedience. Gessler had heard people say that Tell was a very skilled hunter and marksman, and to test that he challenged him to make a shot that was nearly impossible to test how good a marksman he was. The shot he had to take was to shoot an apple off his son’s head. When he arrived a few days later to perform the shot Gessler saw that he had two arrows in his jacket instead of one. Tell makes the shot, but is still in the dungeon. After he made the shot Gessler asked about the second arrow, William told him that it was there to pierce Gessler’s heart if anything happened to his son. He is later chained to a ship and sent away for the castle. During this a storm breaks out, and fearing for their lives the men free William who was able to guid the ship safely to shore. As soon as the boat was on the shore William ran and was a free man again.

William participated in the uprising of the Swiss against the Hapsburgs, and was eventually able to get revenge on the evil Gessler.   

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