The Apple Shot

13 Jul

William Tell

The best-known version of the story is in the legend of William Tell, told first in the 15th-century White Book of Sarnen, then in Aegidius Tschudi‘s 16th-century Chronicon Helveticum, and later the basis for Friedrich Schiller‘s 1804 play. Tell is arrested for failing to bow in respect to the hat that the newly appointed Austrian Vogt, Albrecht Gessler, has placed on a pole, and Gessler commands him to shoot an apple off his son’s head with a single bolt from his crossbow. After splitting the apple with the single shot (supposedly on November 18, 1307), Tell is asked why he took more than one bolt out; at first he responds that it was out of habit, but when assured he will not be killed for answering honestly, says the second bolt was meant for Gessler’s heart should he fail. In Schiller’s play, the demand to shoot the apple off the boy’s head motivates Gessler’s murder.

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