In this essay we present our research about the legend of William Tell and the conclusions of our research. In short the question we asked ourselves is: does the legend of William Tell contain truth or lies? Does it consist of facts or fiction?
Before we tell the legend, we will describe the general historical context. After that, we will try to make a distinction between the facts and fiction in the legend. Finally, we want to show the impact William Tell had on the Swiss society.
General historical context
In the period until the Middle ages Switzerland was conquered by different dynasties and kingdoms. In the early Middle ages it belonged to the Austrian Habsburger dynasty. The Habsburg emperor allocated reeves in Switzerland. The local population was absolutely not content with these events. And it is in this time that the legend of William Tell has its origins. The forest cantons, Uri and Schwyz, wrote a letter of freedom to the emperor. They gained such a freedom. In 1273 Rudolf I of Habsburg had become the emperor. He granted his son the county of Zwaben which included those regions. The freedom disappeared definitely. This occurrence led to a rebellion. After the death of Rudolf I, three cantons, Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden founded the Swiss Confederation on 1 august 1291. And all the reeves were driven away from Switzerland. At the battle of Mortgarten the Swiss defeated the Habsburger army and in this way the Swiss independence was established.
The legend of William Tell dates back to 1307. William was originally from Bürgen, but he was a resident in the canton Uri. William Tell was an excellent crossbowman. In his time there was a reeve of the Habsburger emperor in Uri named Gessler. As...
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... For example, Rossini made an opera of Tell. Also different films were based on the legend of Tell.
William Tell still going strong
Although there is much discussion about his actual existence, still 60% of the Swiss people believe that William Tell was a real, existing person .
The legend of Tell consists mostly of fiction, though we cannot deny that it must contain some facts. In the introduction, we asked whether the legend of William Tell contained truth or lies. Our answer must be that it contains neither truth nor lies only. It is a combination of both. Probably a great deal has been made up, but there must have been some truth in the legend. That many Swiss people in former times regarded the story as true, is clear. That many Swiss people nowadays still regard Tell as an existing person, shows the great impact he had on the Swiss society.
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