Thursday, March 17, 2022

FOR YOUNG READERS: "The Legend of William Tell"

This article is designed for younger readers, with activities more suitable for children and young teens.

Switzerland is widely known as a peaceful, stable country. But it was not always so. Around the start of the 14th century, a governor, Albrecht Gessler was sent by the rulers of Austria to try to take over one part of the country.

The evil Gessler set up a pole and put his hat on it. Anyone who passed was to bow to the hat, to show they respected Gessler.

William Tell was a famous woodsman. He was very good with a special weapon called a crossbow.

When William came to town with his son, he refused to bow to Gessler's hat. Gessler was very angry, and so he set up a cruel test: William was to shoot an apple from the head of his own son! If he refused, Gessler's soldiers would kill the boy and his father.

And so an apple was set on the boy's head, and his father shot an arrow straight through it! As they were leaving, an arrow fell out of William Tell's coat.

"What is that?" asked Gessler.

"Oh," said the father, "If I had shot my son, I would have shot you next with this arrow!"

Tell was again arrested, but he escaped, killed Gessler, and led his people to throw off the Austrian rulers and become free.

Although this is just a legend, the Swiss people today still remember William Tell as a hero.



  • crossbow: a weapon like a bow and arrow, but with a trigger like a gun
  • governor: local ruler
  • woodsman: person who makes a living in the forest: hunting, fishing, cutting trees, and so on


Questions to Answer:

Choose the best answer. Correct answers are in the first comment below.

1. Who did Albrecht Gessler work for?
   A. the Swiss people
   B. the Austrian rulers
   C. William Tell

2. Why did William Tell get in trouble?
   A. He refused to shoot an apple from his son's head.
   B. He refused to use a crossbow.
   C. He refused to bow to Gessler's hat.

3. Why did William Tell have an extra arrow ready?
   A. He wanted to shoot at his son twice.
   B. He was prepared to kill Gessler if he had to.
   C. He wanted to escape.

4. Who killed Gessler?
   A. William Tell
   B. William Tell's son
   C. the Swiss people

5. How do the Swiss people feel about William Tell today?
   A. They don't know who he is.
   B. They think he had a nice hat.
   C. They think he's a hero.

Questions to Think About:

These questions do not have "right" or "wrong" answers. They only ask your opinion.

  1. If you were given a choice to die or to shoot toward your child, what would you do?
  2. How do you think William Tell felt when Gessler told him to shoot toward his son?
  3. Why do you think Gessler put his hat on the pole?

1 comment:


    Questions to Answer: 1. B; 2. C; 3. B; 4. A; 5. C

    Questions to Think About do not have any single correct answer. However, any answers you give should be supported by what you read or by things you know ("I think... because...").