jump to navigation
  • Medieval Marvels: Italian Dragonets August 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval , trackback

    small dragons

    Beach recently ran across this legend in the work of the endlessly fascinating Gervase of Tilbury, an English writer with a penchant for the impossible or failing that the improbable.

    There is an island in Tuscany pertaining to the domain of Count Ildebrandino, in which there are winged snakes which look like dragons. As soon as they take to the air, they infect the bodies of people beneath them so severely that they strike them down with diarrhea, and the distressing flux is only cured when sleep overtakes them.

    Sane in Tuscia est insula ad dominacionem spectans comitis Eldebrandini, in qua sun uermes alati ad formam serpentum, qui statim ut uolant subiecta sibi copora hominum in tantum inficiunt quod ipsis dissinteriam incutiunt, et demum, superueniente sompno, fluxus importunes curatur.

    Gervase’s editor claims that this was ‘the island of Capraia, belonging to the Aldobrandeschi, the most powerful feudal lords in the region; ‘Ildebrandino VIII (d. 1208-12) was among the supporters of Otto IV.’ Perhaps. But there are several Tuscan islands and some modern folklore books (admittedly a very shady genre, ahem) claim that Montecristo had a large dragon resident and Elba would be another obvious candidate. Capraia, if this was the home of the draghi was conquered by Saracens, Genoese and the Pisans in the times of Gervase, so there would have been plenty of witnesses.

    What Mediterranean creature could have been misunderstood in these terms, or is this just a supernatural ‘worm’ used as a marker for cholera or the like? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com