An Origin of Medieval Dragons

Dragon Sword

Dragons are mystical creatures that have people wish they existed, but where do they come from?

 Quick Intro

 We have seen dragons in many cultures and taking many forms. There are many looks to them and many origins as well.

Within the fantasy lore, one dragon appearance is seen quite often and is recognizable.

Dragon’s Fly

Its appearance has become timeless and crossed from folklore to literature to movies and inspire centuries of artists from many fields. In Celtic mythology, dragons come in two different shapes. 

Reptile — Lizard
Reptile — Lizard

We have the more commonly known with wings and four legs. Then, we have the sea dragon, which looks more like a sea serpent. However, it does remain in the dragon family of Celtic mythology.

Dragon Sculpture

Dragons are associated with the gods of Celtic mythology and among the most powerful ones as well. They are the protectors and guardians of all that is living and command respect. 

The Celtic people wholly love dragons. It starts from texts written and also by those who adorned the crest of a dragon.

Reptile — Lizard
Reptile — Lizard

I didn’t know that there is always a Catholic dragon who has taken over guarding either a castle or cavern filled with gold. 

This dragon is typically a dragon with scaly skin, almost lizard-like wings reminiscent of a bat, therefore, having a membrane that permits the ability of flight instead of feathers. However, there are rare representations of dragons with feathered wings.

Some variations also show dorsal bony spikes, and of course, like a bat, the dragon has back legs, and its hands are attached to the wings giving it its web shape, leaving only two fingers at the end of each wing. 

Moreover, the dragon is known to have a long scaly tail reminiscent again of a reptile, measuring the length of its entire body.

Reptile — Lizard
Reptile — Lizard

In folktales, mean dragons are often depicted as greedy, making it more apparent that this is to have a hero slay the dragon in the adventure. Meanwhile, the good ones are often described as resourceful, a source of wisdom and loyalty. 

Dragons can be both good and bad, and that is why I was surprised to see dragons in Catholicism as they had reduced Elves and Fairies to evil entities.

The Magic of Dragons

Dragons are known to spit a significant amount of fire to protect their lair or treasures or even people they oathed to protect.

 Their fire comes from their belly up to their elongated throat. It comes out of the lizard-like mouth and has a vast range of targeting. Dragons aim at what or who they wish to set on fire.

Other than their apparent torch ability, dragons have other skills that are unique to them. While researching European dragons, I have found that dragon blood is quite precious and treasured. 

It can keep the animal alive for centuries if not a millennia while even in particular literature, immortal. Their blood can be poisonous according to some or acid-like to anyone who would touch it.

What seems to be shared among European folktales when it comes to dragons is their love for an underground lair. 

Reptile — Lizard
Reptile — Lizard

They might be creatures capable of flying only by flapping their hands up and down, however, like their close “flight relatives,” the bats, they prefer to be antisocial and keep to themselves away from humans in caverns and sleep for long periods. 

This particularity can also let us know that they are an ancient species evolved of Earth by such behavior.

Dark Ages

Dragons in the Dark Ages were well present in texts. Amongst Catholics of the time, most of them were evil, except for those guarding castles because of the dragon’s enormous stature. However, when we go up north, the Welsh saw them quite differently.

Dragons in Germanic folktales are depicted as again, guarding treasures of great value. 

Reptile — Lizard
Reptile — Lizard

They hide from humans, and over an extended period if the dragon left or believed so. Humans would then be known to enter the dragon’s lair where the treasure resided.

They would then fall ill in some way. That specification has me believe that it must be due to their acidic or poisonous blood and, most probably, body fluids.

Wyvern Not Dragon

In both England and Portugal, these countries once used dragons to represent their crest. But later on, these dragons became a Wyvern. Those creatures, though closely resembling dragons, have quite a few differences.

One difference is that they have two back legs, but no arms as their wings are the only limbs that deprive them of fingers.

However, I am keeping this fascinating creature for another article. Therefore I am now going to get back to the exciting dragons!

Through research, I have discovered that discussing and informing others about dragons couldn’t be achieved in just one article. It would turn into a complete encyclopedia with all of the information that you get! 

All that I can say is that up until now, dragons seem to share two extremes, and it keeps me wondering what is at the core of these extreme personalities.

Dragon Painting

I want to go deeper with dragons and study their variances throughout the Arthurian literature, England, Celtic, Iberian, Italian, and Scandinavian. 

Each of these has its particular view of dragons. It has me wondering: did they somehow at one time exist. 

If so, are any remains unfindable because they would spontaneously combust? It would explain the lack of traces of their entire existence behind.

One thing is for sure; I am more passionate about them now than I ever was before!

The OCD Medievalist,
Alexa Wayne

Published by Arielle Lyon

I'm a full-time make-believer who loves the 80s and do lots of research on various topics. I'm a nerd to the core and a geek in my heart. I'm also Alexa Wayne.

2 thoughts on “An Origin of Medieval Dragons

  1. Awesome article Alexa!!! Love,love dragons!!! Their all over my house!!! I have always been fascinated by them. Some of my most favorite paranormal romance books have had Dragon shifters and my pinterest pages are full of them!💋💕💯🐉

    Liked by 1 person

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