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Guivre

Originally a monster from French folklore, the Guivre was a chimerical beast that Medieval bestiaries described as having the body of a skinny serpent, the head of a horn dragon, legs like those of a bird of prey, and membranous wings like those of a bat.


A forest dweller, the Guivre liked to stay near water, but not the kind that flows in whispering currents, like in rivers and creeks, but the kind that stay flat and silent, like in ponds and small lakes.


This was a predatory beast, fan of chasing after goats, chickens and little children. While vicious and fast, and with long fangs capable of injecting a powerful venom, the Guivre was not as large as other French dragons, and only resourced to hunt grown men and women when all other prey was scarce.

Despite being easier to slay than other monsters, Guivres were quick to procreate, laying eggs in almost every season. So, despite its smaller size, they were considered a serious plague, that at its worst affected not only France, but Spain, Germany and even England, were the beasts were known as Wyvern and blamed for the disappearance of sheep and dogs.


As one of the most common dragon-like creatures, the Guivre has a privileged place in heraldry, appearing in shields and flags of many European Royal Houses. The Guivre is also a common feature of many Medieval Romance, almost always featuring as the beast the hero must slay to save the princess/dame in distress.


References

-Sayers, W., 2008. The Wyvern. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, pp.457-465.

-Bane, T., 2016. Encyclopedia of Beasts and Monsters in Myth, Legend and Folklore. McFarland.

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