Michael A. Stecker

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Switzerland Photo Page
Other Switzerland Page:
Switzerland Home Page

1984 Photos of Switzerland
Please mouse click on any of the thumbnail photos below to see an enlargement

St. Moritz


St. Moritz


St. Moritz


St. Moritz


Kapellbrücke in Lucerne


Lucerne countryside


Bernese Oberland




Swiss Alpine meadow


Bernese Oberland


The Eiger


Swiss Alps


Swiss glacier & lake


Simplon Pass


Swiss hotel


Matterhorn center


Zermatt Cemetary


Matterhorn Observatory













Swiss mountain bridge


Chillon Castle, Lake Geneva




The legend of William Tell
At the end of the 13th century the sheriff of Habsburg tyrannized and subdued the people who lived in the area that we today call Switzerland. The most cruel of them all was Gessler who used extremely humiliating methods -- peacock feathers. Gessler had placed his hat, decorated with peacock feathers, on a pole at the marketplace of Altdorf and announced that every man who passed it should fall down on his knees as a sign of appreciation and reverence. One day William Tell, a hunter from the nearby valley of Schächen, passed the market-place with his son Walter without paying attention to the hat. Gessler had him arrested immediately and told him that his only chance to stay alive was if he could hit the apple that Gessler had placed on the head of his son Walter- with a cross-bow. Tell's arrow hit the apple and, when Gessler saw that Tell had brought a second arrow, he asked why. Tell replied that it was intended for Gessler if he had hit his son instead of the apple. Gessler was furious, had Tell dragged on to his boat which was ready for departure to his castle in Küssnacht at the north-western shores of Lake Lucerne. Suddenly there was a raging storm and the boat was close to heeling over. Gessler got scared to death and decided to release Tell from his fetters hoping that he could save them all with his strong arms. Tell stood in towards land and some rock that he knew near Sisikon. He escaped at one single bound. The boat drove on and Tell knew that he was lost. Therefore he hurried to Küssnacht where he hid in a bush near the gorge that led to Gessler's castle. When Gessler arrived Tell hit him with an arrow straight through his heart.

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. These events supposedly helped spur the people to rise up against Austrian rule, resulting in the Confederation of Helvetica which we today call Switzerland; "Land of the Schwyzers". Schwyz was one of the three original cantons that swore the oath and formed the confederation in 1291 on the Rütli. The other original cantons was Uri and Unterwalden.

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. Later, Rossini composed the music for an opera based on this play.