William Tell: killer or freedom fighter?

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William Tell: killer or freedom fighter? William Tell: killer or freedom fighter?

William Tell: killer or freedom fighter?

by Simon Bradley in Neuchâtel, swissinfo.ch

September 29, 2011 – 14:48

Legendary Swiss marksman William Tell is often portrayed as a heroic freedom fighter. But when he killed the Habsburg bailiff, was it not the act of a murderer?
In a new exhibition the Neuchâtel Art and History Museum takes a provocative look at Switzerland’s mythical hero throughout the ages. State archives also reveal the western canton’s early interest in Tell.

William Tell, a simple peasant from canton Uri, has been reinvented many times over the centuries: saint, legendary figure, mythical being, an apostle of freedom, but at other times a political murderer. “Tell is an extremely malleable character; he’s ambiguous with all kinds of different faces,” curator Jean-Daniel Morerod, a professor of medieval history at Neuchâtel University, told swissinfo.ch. Inside the exhibition a larger-than-life statue of the marksman dressed in…

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