Facts about Switzerland


Would you like to know some facts about Switzerland, this great country in the very heart of Europe? Find out more in my pdf file by clicking on the picture above.– I set up those slides for a talk at my childrens’ school during International Day and presented it to two classes (year 3).

Today, 1rst of August 2015, Switzerland celebrates its 724th Birthday and we’re celebrating it by talking about its history, the many languages and dialects that are spoken and the tales that children are taught.

William Tell / Wilhelm Tell / Guillaume Tell / Guglielmo Tell whose legend is recorded in a late 15th Century Swiss illustrated Chronicle (the Kronika von der loblichen Eydtgenossenschaft by Peterman Etterlin).  According to the legend, Tell – an marksman with the crossbow – assassinated Gessler, a tyrannical reeve of Habsburg Austria, positioned in Altdorf, Uri (one of the founding cantons of Switzerland).

William Tell was known as a strong man, a mountain climber, and an expert shot with the crossbow. In his time, the Habsburg emperors of Austria were seeking to dominate Uri and Tell became one of the conspirators of Werner Stauffacher vowing to resist Habsburg rule. Gessler, the newly appointed Austrian Vogt of Altdorf, raised a pole under the village lindentree, hung his hat on top of it, and demanded that all the townsfolk bow before the hat.

On 18 November 1307, Tell visited Altdorf with his young son and passed by the hat, publicly refusing to bow to it, and so was arrested. Gessler—intrigued by Tell’s famed marksmanship yet resentful of his defiance—devised a cruel punishment: Tell and his son would be executed, but he could redeem his life by shooting an apple off the head of his son, Walter, in a single attempt. Tell split the apple with a bolt from his crossbow.

But Gessler noticed that Tell had removed two crossbow bolts from his quiver, not one. Before releasing him, he asked why. Tell was reluctant to reply, but after Gessler promised he would not attempt to kill him, he replied that if he had killed his son, he would have used the second bolt on Gessler himself. Gessler was angered and had Tell bound, saying that while he had promised to spare his life, he would imprison Tell for the remainder of the life he had been granted.

Tell was brought to Gessler’s boat to be taken to the dungeon in his castle at Küssnacht. But, as a storm broke on Lake Lucerne, the soldiers were afraid that their boat would founder, and they begged Gessler to allow them to remove Tell’s shackles so he could steer the boat and save them. Gessler agreed, and Tell used the opportunity to escape, leaping from the boat at the rocky site now (and already in the White Book) known as the Tellsplatte (“Tell’s slab”), since the 16th century the site of a memorial chapel.

Tell ran cross-country to Küssnacht. As Gessler arrived, Tell assassinated him with the second crossbow bolt along a stretch of the road cut through the rock between Immensee and Küssnacht, now known as the Hohle Gasse. Tell’s blow for liberty sparked a rebellion in which he played a leading part, leading to the formation of the Swiss Confederation.

According to Tschudi, Tell fought again against Austria in the 1315 Battle of Morgarten. Tschudi also has an account of Tell’s death in 1354, according to which he was killed trying to save a child from drowning in the Schächenbach river in Uri.(cfr. Wikipedia William Tell)

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