Hear the words ‘William Tell’ and probably the first thing that comes to mind is the apple on a head and Tell shooting his arrow through its centre. Well, at least, that’s how it is for me. But after drawing this cartoon I realised I knew very little of this Swiss folk hero.
Tell was a 14th century crossbow marksman who assassinated Gessler, the tyrannical Austrian bailiff of Habsburg (royal house of Europe). Gessler’s demise unwittingly started with the very first action he took when first placed into power. Symbolically, he put his hat on a tall pole and demanded all that pass bow to show their respect. When William Tell and his son visited the town, Tell refused to bow. Outraged, Gessler set a punishment. A choice of execution or Tell could shoot an apple from the top of his son’s head. Tell suceeded and was granted pardon. However, the plot thickened, as Gessler was curious as to why Tell had two arrows, instead of one. Tell indicated it was a spare, should the first miss, but later the truth was revealed. The second arrow was marked for Gessler, in the event Tell missed the apple and killed his son instead.
Upon hearing this, the pardon was overruled and Tell was captured. A ship was to take him to the castle Küssnacht dungeon. However, a storm broke and the seaman fearing their own safety allowed Tell, an accomplished sailor to steer the ship to safety. Naturally, he chose to return to a ‘dungeon free’ shoreline, where he jumped ship. Gessler tried to hunt him down, but was assassinated by Tell. This spurred others to start a rebellion to the Austrian rule. Eventually, the Swiss won and formed the Old Swiss Confederacy.
So, a rather long preamble, but I’m interested in understanding…