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Toko, Tell's role model

Long before Tell arrived on the scene, there was a Danish archer by the name of Toko whose feats were uncannily similar to the Swiss hero. His tale is told in the “Gesta Danorum” (History of the Danes), written by the Danish monk Saxo Grammatico in the 12th century.

Saxo, describing events during the reign of Harald Bluetooth (936-966), explains how the king forces Toko to shoot an apple off his son’s head. Toko reserves an arrow for the king in case he harms his son, is taken hostage by Bluetooth and makes a death-defying escape from the clutches of the evil ruler.

No one can say for certain whether Toko influenced Tell, but similar myths were widespread in the Middle Ages in western Europe.

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