William Tell: The Swiss Hero Who Refused to Obey Tyranny

Last Updated January 13, 2019 by . First Published in 2013.

Gessler, the cruel governor of Uri, challenges William Tell to shoot an apple off his son's head in order to teach him a lesson.

William Tell: The Swiss Hero Who Refused to Obey Tyranny

The voice was known to William Tell. It was obnoxious and nasty. It sounded as though a vile man owned it. William Tell continued to go across the square while gritting his teeth in rage.

The voice said, "Stop, I said!" "Otherwise I promise I'll," William came to a stop and whirled around. The voice came from Vogt Gessler, the large, menacing-looking man across the square, and he glared at him. The crossbow shaft that William was holding in his hand became more tightly encircled by his fingers. How he yearned for one good bolt to strike Gessler in the dark heart!

"You, hello! If you don't want to be executed right there and then, return right now!"

The Austrian Vogt Gessler was a tyrant who oversaw the Swiss canton of Uri.

The Austrians conquered the libertarian Swiss seven hundred years ago. They consequently detested Austrians in general, but Gessler in particular. Gessler took great pleasure in causing the Uri residents as much suffering as he could. He dispatched his troops to deprive them of their food and drive them from their houses. He either demanded their money or thrashed and imprisoned them without any justification. The man had a soul as dark as hell and was a demon.

The most recent humiliation Gessler inflicted on the populace was a hat placed atop a pole in the middle of Altdorf's town square. Everyone was required to kneel in front of this, according to Gessler, who declared it to be a representation of the Austrians' great might.

At a little distance away from where William Tell was standing at the moment was the pole with the absurd hat perched atop it.

He had ignored it because he steadfastly refused to bow before it or any other representation of Austrian power.

Gessler was approaching him, swaggering across the square. What did you vow to, Gessler? As the Austrian neared, William hissed. "Hurt me? Put me behind bars? Within an hour, you'd be dealing with a riot! Gessler, keep in mind who I am, and be careful!"

Gessler was well aware of William Tell. In all of Switzerland, he was the greatest hero and the best archer.

He was revered by everyone, not only those in the Uri canton. Gessler was aware that if he even touched William Tell, scores of Swiss would be happy to kill him to exact revenge on him.

Gessler chose to disregard William's advice. He indicated the pole in the square instead.

The Austrian hissed, "You have been told to kneel before that hat.

"You disregarded it. The Emperor is being insulted by this!"

William guffawed. "The Imperial? that dreadful being! Not one hair on my head would bend in his honour."

Gessler started to become irate. He said, "Kneel before that hat!"

"I order you!"

“Never!" William retorted obstinately.

Gessler was about to respond when William turned and stormed off with his head held high. Gessler cursed and muttered under his breath as he observed the haughty, straight-backed form of the Swiss bowman.

The man was so rude, it was beyond rude! William Tell had previously publicly resisted Gessler and the Austrians.

"It has to end!" Gessler lost it. I need to devise a strategy to defeat him.

Gessler stewed over one scheme after another for days. Finally, he had the thought he was looking for. "What a wonderful retaliation I shall have!" Gessler laughed.

Gessler gathered two sheets of parchment and a quill pen. He penned a brief, urgent note to his friend, the Governor of Zurich, on one parchment. The proclamation was written by Gessler on the second parchment.

Gessler's announcement appeared on the church door in Altdorf the same day, signed and stamped with a magnificent red wax seal. Others immediately gathered around, curious as to what evil deed Gessler intended to exact upon them at this moment.

The proclamation did not, however, include any orders. Instead, it presented a difficulty.

Gessler had penned, "Walther of Zurich, the greatest crossbowman in the world, comes to Altdorf in three days." It is well known that no Swiss crossbowman can compete with Walther's ability and accuracy, but anyone who is stupid enough to attempt so may do so. When compared to a powerful Austrian warrior like Walther, the inhabitants of Altdorf and all of Switzerland will see how small their soldiers are! Men, women, and children are compelled to attend the contest in the square under pain of death in order that everyone in Altdorf may see Walther's victory!

The slur in the announcement outraged the Uri residents. To let William Tell know about the competition, they hurried to him. Gessler realised that threatening everyone in Altdorf with death if they didn't attend was completely unnecessary because everyone was going to want to go. Nevertheless, Gessler only wanted to make sure that William Tell took his young kid along. That was a crucial component of the strategy.

Altdorf's whole populace assembled in the town square three days later. Walther, who had flown directly from Zurich, joined Gessler at the destination. The Austrian had huge, powerful arms. He was the army's top crossbowman. Naturally, the residents of Altdoirf thought William Tell was far superior, and they anticipated seeing Walther thoroughly defeated.

Walther took up position in the middle of the gathering, and when a fanfare of trumpets blew, everyone stopped talking. Gessler took a step ahead.

He yelled, "Who comes to confront the greatest crossbowman in the world?

Is anyone brave enough?”

With his crossbow in hand, William Tell suddenly emerged into the square. He exclaimed in loud tones, "I dare!" "I'll demonstrate how to use a crossbow if you only show me the target. Come on, what is the target?"

The time had now come for which Gessler had been waiting. Three soldiers that he had placed nearby received a nod from him. They surged through the mob before anyone could intervene, snatched William Tell's small boy, and dragged him into the square.

William said, "Gessler, what is this?" What malicious ruse are you employing?

Gessler grinned menacingly. He pointed at William's son and said, "You asked what the target was. "Your own child is the target!"

The throng erupted in cries and wails of shock and surprise at this.

William Tell became incredibly pale. He was aware that he had to accept the challenge at hand. He would suffer greatly for that. But he chose to shoot at his own son! It was Gessler's most evil scheme to date.

"Gessler, you nasty one! You're going to burn in hell for this!" William wept. He was trembling ferociously, partially out of fear and half out of wrath.

Gessler responded, "I don't think so. "I'm not requesting that you fire at him. See!"

A sizable red apple was taken out of Gessler's pocket. "This is the goal you should pursue. Your son will have this apple placed atop his head. You and your son shouldn't have anything to worry about if you are as skilled with a crossbow as many claim. If not, though..." Gessler grinned evilly. He didn't need to elaborate.

William Tell picked up the apple while still shaky and placed it delicately on top of the boy's fair hair.

He said, "Stay absolutely calm, my dearest boy." "Never flinch. Be still because if you move, my aim won't be accurate."

The child tried to smile.

He said in a weak voice, "I'll try, Papa.

William bid the boy goodnight with a kiss. He slowly crossed the area again while fervently praying that his dread of being killed would not impair his accuracy. He stepped on the line that had been drawn for the crossbowmen. He hoisted his crossbow, struggling mightily to keep it steady. Everyone in the square, including Gessler, had their eyes fastened to William Tell when he took aim.

Gessler grinned, "He will be too terrified to shoot straight." "His son will definitely perish!"

William peered down the crossbow's shaft. He began to quiver as he noticed his son's small, terrified face staring at him. He tried to maintain self-control. William slowly elevated the crossbow until its bolt and shaft lined up with the apple perched on his son's head. William drew the bowstring, paused, and then quickly shut his eyes. He could not stand to watch.

William Tell didn't need to be concerned. As usual, his aim was flawless. The apple was struck directly by the bolt as it flew through the air. It broke into into two separate, orderly parts.

People started running across the square to congratulate William on his incredible marksmanship as the crowd erupted in a loud shout. When they got to him, he was crying out in relief.

Gessler was enraged. His strategy had been a total failure. Walther was taken along as he turned and started to saunter furiously away from the square. He was called by William Tell before he had gone too far.

"Gessler! Watch this! "He sobbed. William was clutching a second crossbow bolt when Gessler turned to look at him. "He bellowed at the Austrian, "This bolt would have penetrated your wicked heart had I murdered my son, Vogt Gessler!

Take this from me." Gessler hastily retreated out of the way in case the bolt hit him when William threw it his way. The audience laughed. William said, "Save it as a memento of this contest," as Gessler stormed off. "I have several more, and I swear that one of them will be reserved particularly for you on the day we Swiss push the Austrians out of Switzerland!"


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