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Friday, July 30, 2010

The Oath Against Tyranny




Grimm’s Saga No. 517: The Confederacy in Ruetli

(Part of the Wilhelm Tell Saga from Switzerland)


A man from Schwyz called
Stoeffacher lived near Steinen, the fortress. Here he built a very fine house. One day Grissler rode by, the magistrate of the Kingdom of Handen in Uri and Schwyz. He called out to Stoeffacher and asked him whose fine little house it was. The man replied: “It is your grace and my land in fee.” The man did not dare say it was his own. Grissler said nothing and rode home.Now Stoeffacher was a smart and intelligent man. He also had a pious and wise wife. And so he took the matter to heart and believed the magistrate would soon take all of their earthly possessions. His wife, seeing how her husband despaired, asked him to tell her everything. She said “Go and tell your friends, they will give you wise council.” So quickly three men were called together, one from Uri, one from Schwyz and one from Unterwaldner (the one whose father had been made blind). In secret these three men swore the first oath marking the beginning of the eternal Swiss confederacy. This oath elevated the rule of law and justice, suppressed unfairness and punished evil deeds. That is why God blessed the men with good fortune. But if they wanted to carry out attacks, they would assemble at Mittenstein, at the end as it is called in Bettlin, where they met to confer in Ruetli.


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