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Myths from Switzerland

Winkelried und der Lindwurm - Winkelried and the dragon

In the village of Wyler, in the Unterwalden Region, there lived in ancient times a hideous dragon, which killed everything at sight, livestock and humans and it desolated the whole area, so that the place itself received the name Ödwyler.

And it came to pass in those days that a native, called Winkelried, who was on the run and had to leave the country because of a serious murder he committed, volunteered to attack and kill the dragon under the condition that he would receive amnesty for his crime and that they would let him return to his home afterwards. Since the people were pleased with this idea, they allowed him to return back to his home.

So he vanquished the beast by pushing a bundle of thorns into the gaping maw. And while it was distracted trying to spit it out, the animal forgot its defense and the hero took advantage of this unawareness.

Exulting, he raised his arm, in which he held the sword, dripping from blood and he showed his victory to the people, as the poisonous blood of the dragon flowed onto his arm and on the bare skin and he soon had to leave this life. But the land was saved and reconciled; at the present day, people still point out to what supposedly was the home of the animal, a cave in the rock, and they call it Drachenhöhle (dragon's lair).

(Öde = desolate) (Wyler, Weiler = Village)