*November 18, 1307* According to Swiss legend this is the date on which folk hero William Tell shoots a crossbow bolt through an apple placed on his son’s head.
Several versions of the tale have been told down the centuries but one of the most popular versions explains that Tell had refused to bow before the hat of a local Habsburg overlord. As punishment, Tell had to make the shot or both he and his son would be executed. Having successfully carried out his forfeit, Tell revealed that he had another bolt ready to shoot through the heart of the overlord in case he had missed the apple and killed his son. Hearing this, the overlord had Tell bound and taken to prison but Tell escaped en route before returning to kill the overlord. His actions sparked a rebellion against Austria’s Habsburg empire by oppressed mountain residents, who went on to form the Old Swiss Confederacy. Tell’s apple-shot and his chronicled heroics during the uprising against the Austrians made him a central part of Swiss patriotic folklore.
Also on November 18: Latvia declares independence from Russia (1918); release of Disney’s ‘Steamboat Willie’, the first Mickey Mouse film (1928); kidnappers in Lebanon release British hostage Terry Waite after four years (1991).
Born on November 18: Kim Wilde (1960), Peter Schmeichel (1963), Owen Wilson (1968); Petter Solberg (1974).
Back in the Day: William Tell's apple-shot