The legend of William Tell, the Swiss patriot who shot an apple off the head of his son, is based on a true story. This book tells the story of the freedom loving Swiss and their efforts to combat the Austrian tyranny. Tell's heroic actions embolded all his countrymen who eventually won their independence from Austria.
Iconoclasts may deny the existence of William Tell, historians and critics may assign him to the shadowy realm of legend, but all Switzerland, even after six centuries have passed, still cherishes his memory. He typifies patriotic purpose and incorruptibility of character. The work of the critics is in vain, for the people everywhere still cling to the hero of Burglen, who defied Gessler and was leader in the uprising which resulted in throwing off the Hapsburg yoke, and no child can be convinced that the boy William, brave son of a brave father, did not stand under the lime-tree in Altdorf, with the apple on his curly head, and call: "Shoot, father! I am not afraid. I am standing still."
It is hard to imagine anything sweeter or more charming than the opening chapters of this beautiful life-story, which describes the sports of the people, the home life of Tell, the driving of the herd to the mountain meadows, the sad adventures of William and Hifeli (the favorite cow in the herd) with the vulture, and the hunting scene, in which Tell despatches the fierce bird of prey and its brood. It is a veritable idyl of Swiss life, reflecting the wonderful impressiveness of alpine color, glow, and scenery. The subsequent chapters relate the killing of Wolfshot, the first blow struck for freedom, the midnight meeting of the patriots on the Rutli meadow, at which the Swiss confederation was organized, the famous incident of the shooting of the apple, the death of Gessler, and the uprising and final victory of the Confederates. It is the story of a fearless, sturdy, liberty-loving, God-fearing people, their resistance to tyranny, their defence of the freedom handed down to them by their fathers. There is no nobler, higher example for youth, in legend or in history, than that set forth in the life-story of William Tell, and no child will question the reality of the scenes in these stirring pages.
As there are no historical references for the dates of the scenes in the life of William Tell, as told in these pages, a chronological statement of the historical events of the period in which he is assumed to have lived is appended.
|1291||The men of Uri, Schwyz, and Nidwald form the "Ever-lasting League," the foundation of the Swiss Confederacy.|
|1292||Adolph of Nassau elected German Emperor. bia;|
|1297||Adolph confirms the charters of Schwyz and Uri.|
|1298||Albrecht of Hapsburg elected Emperor. .|
|1308||Albrecht murdered, and Henry of Luxemberg elected Emperor.|
|1309||Henry confirms the charters of 1297.|
|1313||Death of Henry. Quarrel between Frederick of Hapsburg and Louis of Bavaria over the succession.|
|1315||Austrians defeated by the Swiss at Morgarten pass; the Everlasting League of 1291 renewed.|
|1320||The name "Swiss," derived from Schwyz, applied to the Confederation.|
|1332-1352||Lucerne, Zurich, and Zug join the League.|
|1386||The Austrians defeated by the Swiss in the decisive battle of Sempach, and the Hapsburg power broken in the Confederacy.|