Tuesday, April 10, 2007

William Tell, Tax Revolter

The story of William Tell is well known, but not the reason for his actions. In 1273, the Austrian Hapsburg family refused to acknowledge the independence of the communities of Schwyz and Uri and attempted to tax them. The Swiss rebelled against paying the Hapsburgs, including one William Tell. For his punishment, he had to shoot an apple from his son’s head with a crossbow, and became famous for his tax evasion. The revolt against oppressive taxation gained traction in 1291 when three communities formed a mutual assistance league against Austrian taxes. Other communities joined, and Switzerland came into existence. In 1315 the Austrian troops entered Switzerland, outnumbering the Swiss about ten to one. The Swiss won the battle and subsequent ones, and currently has one of the best tax systems in the world (and by best I mean least burdensome).

(From Charles Adams’ For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Evidence has been found that William Tell and his family were avid bowlers. However, all the Swiss league records were
unfortunately destroyed in a fire, and we'll never know for whom the Tells bowled.