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==The politics of myth==
Despite the almost complete lack of evidence for the existence of William Tell, many firmly believe him to be a real historical figure. In Switzerland, he became the national hero in the 19th century. It seems that the Swiss people needed a hero when its country was occupied by the armies of Napoleon. He became an embodiment of the nation and its aspirations and showed the people that they could be free. To put it simply the myth was so popular and useful that people wanted it to be true. Moreover, popular artworks, based on the hero persuaded many people in Switzerland and beyond that Tell was a real person. Moreover, successive Swiss governments, despite investigations showing that there was no real evidence for the heroes’ existence, continued to pursue policies that treated him as a real-life figure. They erected statues to the man who had purportedly shot an apple off his son’s head. The Swiss authorities have used
the story of William Tell as a national figure around which people would rally round in times of stress and danger. When Switzerland was threatened in World War One and Two, or during the Cold War, the bowman was a source of inspiration <ref>Ritzer, Nadine. "The Cold War in Swiss Classrooms: History Education as a “Powerful Weapon against Communism “?." Journal of Educational Media, Memory, and Society 4, no. 1 (2012): 78-94</ref>.
William Tell is not only the national hero of Switzerland but is an international symbol of freedom. The story of the mountaineer has entered into popular culture and there are few who have not heard about his adventures. It can be stated with certainty that there is no documentary or archaeological evidence for the existence of the hero. There are no records that he shot the apple off the head of his son or stirred the Swiss people to rebellion. In fact, much of the alleged facts about the hero are probably later inventions. There was no historical figure called William Tell. It seems that the origin of the story was in a myth that was popular in Europe, and which was adopted by the people of the Alpine Valleys. It later was used as a foundation myth, by successive Swiss governments to explain the development of the Swiss Federation.