William Tell

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Tell, William,

legendary Swiss patriot. According to legend, Tell was a native of Uri, one of the Swiss forest cantons. Gessler, the canton's Austrian bailiff, decreed that Swiss citizens must remove their hats before his hat, which he had posted on a stake in the canton's largest town. Tell refused and as punishment was ordered to shoot an apple off his small son's head. Although he succeeded, he was held prisoner by Gessler when he revealed that had he failed, he planned to kill Gessler with an arrow he had hidden on his person. Tell escaped and eventually shot Gessler from ambush at Küssnacht, thus setting off the revolt that ousted the bailiff on Jan. 1, 1308. While there is no valid proof of Tell's existence, the legend represents a distorted account of events that resulted (1291) in the formation of the Everlasting League between the cantons of SchwyzSchwyz
, canton (1993 pop. 116,100), 351 sq mi (909 sq km), central Switzerland, one of the Four Forest Cantons. Bordering on the Lake of Zürich in the north and the Lake of Lucerne in the southwest, Schwyz is a mountainous and forested region, with meadows supporting
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, UriUri
, canton (1993 pop. 35,500), 415 sq mi (1,075 sq km), central Switzerland, one of the Four Forest Cantons. Altdorf is the capital. The most sparsely populated of the Swiss cantons, Uri is an Alpine region of glaciers and pastures, with forests and meadows in the Reuss River
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, and UnterwaldenUnterwalden
, canton, central Switzerland, one of the Four Forest Cantons. A mountainous, forested, and chiefly pastoral region, Unterwalden is divided into the half cantons of Obwalden (1993 pop.
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. SchillerSchiller, Friedrich von,
1759–1805, German dramatist, poet, and historian, one of the greatest of German literary figures, b. Marbach, Württemberg. The poets of German romanticism were strongly influenced by Schiller, and he ranks as one of the founders of modern
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's popular drama Wilhelm Tell is based on the legend; RossiniRossini, Gioacchino Antonio
, 1792–1868, Italian operatic composer, one of the great masters of the Italian opera buffa. His parents were both musicians, and he began his career in childhood as a singer.
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's opera William Tell is based on Schiller's drama.

Tell, William

 

a legendary Swiss folk hero. The Tell legend reflects the struggle of the Swiss people against the Hapsburgs in the 14th century. Tell was from the village of Bürglen in the canton of Uri. A skilled bowman, he was ordered by the Hapsburg governor, Gessler, to shoot an apple from his young son’s head. Tell successfully fulfilled this cruel requirement, but he later ambushed the governor in rocky terrain and killed him with an arrow. This was the signal for a popular uprising.

The authenticity of the Tell story was questioned by 19th-century historians, who used comparative data to prove that similar legends existed among other peoples. More recent studies have uncovered a kernel of historical truth in the story. The legend of Tell served as the basis for J. F. Schiller’s drama Wilhelm Tell (1804).

Tell, William

Swiss folk hero condemned to shoot apple from atop son’s head. [Swiss Folklore: EB, IX: 872]
See: Apple

Tell, William

Swiss patriot refused to salute the Austrian governor’s cap. [Swiss Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 885]

Tell, William

shot apple off son’s head with arrow. [Swiss Legend: Brewer Dictionary, 1066; Ital. Opera: Rossini, William Tell]

Tell, William

ordered to shoot apple placed on son’s head for refusing to salute governor’s hat. [Ger. Lit.: William Tell; Ital. Opera: Rossini, William Tell; Westerman, 121–122]
References in periodicals archive ?
Baumgarten has come to the shores of Lake Lucerne but fears he will be unable to cross because the waters are too rough and no one is willing to ferry him across to safety; no one, that is, until Wilhelm Tell, crossbow in hands, appears.
(7) Fredrich Schiller, Wilhelm Tell, Karl Breul (ed) (Cambridge, 1949).
Tell, WilliamGerman Wilhelm Tell Legendary Swiss hero who symbolizes the struggle for political and individual freedom.
Karl Guthke presents his untraditional readings of Die Jungfrau von Orleans and Wilhelm Tell with characteristic vigour and urbanity and his essays are masterpieces of succinctness in their summary of different approaches to these plays, which some of the other essays in this volume should have aimed to present.
William Tell Verse drama in five acts by German dramatist Schiller, Friedrich von, published and produced in 1804 as Wilhelm Tell.
"As I looked through our collection of more than 45,000 Swiss posters I realised though that the theme was too large, and also that Wilhelm Tell was the prime example of that theme.
On six of his foreign journeys Austria, and especially Vienna, detained him for a variety of reasons, both scenic and cultural, one of the most compelling being the Viennese stage: during his nineteen-day stay in the Austrian capital on his way home from Italy in 1842 he managed to fit in five operas and ten plays, including Schiller's Wilhelm Tell, Grillparzer's Die Ahnfrau, Halm's Der Adept, and Donizetti's opera Torquato Tasso, and to make his customary pilgrimage to the Augustinerkirche to see Canova's monument to the Archduchess Maria Christina, which had attracted his admiring attention during his first visit in 1834.
As outstanding examples he appraises Karl-Heinz Martin's production of Toller's Die Wandlung (1918), Jurgen Fehling's production of Toller's Masse Mensch (1921), and Leopold Jessner's productions of Schiller's Wilhelm Tell (1919) and Shakespeare's Richard III (1920).
Turkey's intransigent stance can be explained by the fact that Ataturk and his generals are considered national heroes (similar to Wilhelm Tell and Winkelried in Switzerland), who saved the Turkish nation from annihilation by eliminating 'internal traitors collaborating with the enemy' such as the Armenians.
Even Switzerland's national hero, the crack-shot Wilhelm Tell, is said to have died in the torrent Schachenbach swelled by rains.
He is the man of folklore, stories and song, the inspiration for artists and musicians since the 1450s, and although his existence has never been proven, Wilhelm Tell is Switzerland's most famous national figure.