...because a long introduction to European Dragons would be way too long for this page.
Dragons have been a standard feature in most European mythologies. From Germany to Portugal and Ireland to Slovenia, every folklore has some myths and stories about other-worldly flying lizards that breathe fire and guard treasures. They have been around since the Greek antiquity and through Roman conquests reached the far corners of Europe.
European dragons, as opposed to many Chinese dragons, are usually hostile. The only exception is the red dragon of Welsh folklore. The famous Red Dragon of Pendragon, represents the Welsh people while the White Dragon in the same folklore represents the invading Saxons. In time, the Red Dragon made its way into the flag of Wales as a depiction of the bravery of the Welsh people.
Dragons originated somewhere during the Greek antiquity period and where represented as serpent-like with wings. It is believed that the dragon in Greek mythology was 'borrowed' from Babylon where evil was represented as a flying serpent with 'seven heads and ten horns'.
After Rome came up as the predominant culture in Europe, they told stories of dragons, wrote books about them and started gossip about the dragons. After the decline of the Roman empire, the dragons remained lodged in the collective minds of the peoples they had ruled and started to evolve.
There a several types of distinguishable dragons:
the Germanic dragon (which involves the Nordic myths as well) where dragons are usually other-worldly creatures.
the Slavic dragon which haunts towns and villages to demand tribute which it stores in grand caves.
the Iberian dragon which features largely in (Christian) mythology and is represented yearly at several festivals.
the Celtic dragon which, as discussed before, is the only benevolent dragon.
Although these seem to have come from the same origin, over 2000 years or more they have developed their own unique trades and characteristics. Of these we will soon learn more as we delve into the exciting world of European dragons! Check back soon for the next installment!
Next up: Dragons in the Middle Ages.