Tell, William

German Wilhelm Tell.

Swiss national hero whose historical existence is disputed.

According to tradition, in the 13th or early 14th century he defied Austrian authority and was forced to shoot an apple from his son's head with a crossbow at a distance of 80 paces by the hated Austrian governor. He subsequently ambushed and killed the governor, an event that supposedly led to rebellion against Austrian rule. He is first mentioned in a chronicle from 1470. The marksman's test is widely found in folklore, and the story has resemblances to the founding myths of other nations.

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▪ Swiss hero
German  Wilhelm Tell,  
 Swiss legendary hero who symbolized the struggle for political and individual freedom.

      The historical existence of Tell is disputed. According to popular legend, he was a peasant from Bürglen in the canton of Uri in the 13th and early 14th centuries who defied Austrian authority, was forced to shoot an apple from his son's head, was arrested for threatening the governor's life, saved the same governor's life en route to prison, escaped, and ultimately killed the governor in an ambush. These events supposedly helped spur the people to rise up against Austrian rule.

      The classic form of the legend appears in the Chronicon Helveticum (1734–36), by Gilg Tschudi, which gives November 1307 as the date of Tell's deeds and New Year 1308 as the date of Switzerland's liberation. There is no evidence, however, for the existence of Tell; but the story of the marksman's test is widely distributed in folklore. In the early Romantic era of nationalist revolutions, the Tell legend attained worldwide renown through the stirring play Wilhelm Tell (1804) by the German dramatist Friedrich von Schiller.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Tell — Tell, William a Swiss ↑folk hero of the 14th century, who opposed the Austrians who ruled Switzerland. According to a famous story, Tell was ordered by the Austrian ↑governor to use his ↑crossbow to shoot an apple placed on his own son s head. He …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • William Tell (opera) — Guillaume Tell ( William Tell ) is an opera in four acts by Gioachino Rossini to a French libretto by Etienne de Jouy and Hippolyte Bis, based on Friedrich Schiller s play Wilhelm Tell . It was first performed at the Paris Opéra on August 3, 1829 …   Wikipedia

  • Tell — /tel/, n. Wilhelm /vil helm/. See William Tell. * * * (as used in expressions) Tell Mardikh Tell Asmar Amarna Tell el Tell William * * * ▪ mound also spelled  tel , Arabic  tall        (“hill” or “small elevation”), in Middle Eastern archaeology …   Universalium

  • tell — tell1 /tel/, v., told, telling. v.t. 1. to give an account or narrative of; narrate; relate (a story, tale, etc.): to tell the story of Lincoln s childhood. 2. to make known by speech or writing (a fact, news, information, etc.); communicate. 3.… …   Universalium

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  • William — /wil yeuhm/, n. 1. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter W. 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning will and helmet. * * * (as used in expressions) Huddie William Ledbetter Aberhart William George William… …   Universalium

  • William Tell (disambiguation) — William Tell is the legendary hero in the founding myths of SwitzerlandWilliam Tell may also refer to: * William Tell (play), a play by Friedrich Schiller * William Tell (opera), an opera by Gioacchino Rossini, based on Schiller s play * William… …   Wikipedia

  • Tell (disambiguation) — Tell or Tel can refer to: *Tell, a type of archaeological site. *Tell Atlas, a mountain chain in North Africa. *Tell Township, Emmons County, North Dakota, in the United States *Tell, Texas, in the United States *Tell, West Bank, a Palestinian… …   Wikipedia

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