9. William Tell Probably Never Existed
It would be awesome if the myth of William Tell was real. However, all the statues, monuments, and sites on the William Tell pilgrimage circuit commemorate heroic deeds of derring-do that never occurred, and a man who never was. Today, historians and scholars agree that neither Tell nor the Habsburg agent, Albrecht Gessler, had ever existed.
The whole story was actually cribbed from a tenth century Viking legend about a man named Toko, who was forced to shoot an apple off his son’s head, and reserved a second arrow for the baddie who had made him do it. The Swiss were so attached to the Tell tale, however, that when an eighteenth century historian wrote a book detailing the legend’s Viking origins, they burned his book in public. They would have burned him, too, if he had not apologized.