There is no shortage of historic “facts” circulating around, that are nothing but myths and whoppers. Did you know, for example, that Switzerland’s national hero sparked a war for independence after being forced to shoot an apple off his son’s head? Or that the Irish were enslaved in America? Or that a miscarriage of justice killed the only American soldier executed for desertion during WWII? None of the preceding ever happened, but it is accepted as true by many. Following are forty things about historical facts that are anything but factual.
40. The Guy Who Shot an Apple off His Son’s Head
One day in 1307, William Tell strode through Altdorf, Switzerland, with his son. There, an agent of the ruling Hapsburgs, Albrecht Gessler, demanded that all passersby remove their hats as a show of respect. Tell kept his hat on, and was dragged before Gessler. He ordered an apple placed above his child’s head, and decreed that he’d let father and son live if he shot the apple with a single bolt from 120 paces.
Tell shot off the apple and Gessler freed him, but asked why, despite the challenge specifying a single bolt, he had placed a second bolt in his jacket. Tell replied: “If my first bolt had missed, I would have shot the second at you and I would not have missed”. The incensed agent ordered Tell locked up in a dungeon, but he freed himself, killed Gessler, and triggered a rebellion that overthrew the Hapsburgs and led to Swiss independence. Awesome story. Unfortunately, it never happened.