Local History

Der imaginäre Hut des Landvogts Gessler. Prangins Nationalmuseum. Photo/Foto: TES.

William Tell

The story of William Tell (Wilhelm Tell) is well known. Whether he existed is not relevant. One does not have to take the legend of the Wulf’s children Romulus and Remus or Goddess Athena seriously to give them the credit of founding Rome and Greece.

The story of William Tell is relevant as far as it concerns the historical circumstances of Alpine peasant communities defending their interests and working together. One can not deny that the present-day Swiss Confederation (Confoederatio Helvetica) exists and that the roots go back to the medieval cooperating peasant communities’ towns.

The ‘what if’ anachronical question is not relevant, nor does the truth of the Tell-story matter. The story is well known, in particular after the play by Friedrich Schiller in 1804.

As a legend, he is undoubtedly one of the most influential figures in Swiss history and even an international symbol of freedom.

The Tell monument and the Tell museum in Bürglen and the Tell monument in his home town Altdorf tell the story and its context in full detail. (Source and further information: www.uri.info.ch).