The Key and Dragon (Worms, Germany)

The Sacred Key of Worms
Worms comes from “Lindwurn” or “Dragon slain by Siegfried under the linden tree.””Yet more I know of Seigfried that well your your ear may hold.
Beneath the lindeu tree he slew the dragon bold;
Then in its blood he bathed him, which turned to horn his skin,
So now no weapon harms him, as oft hath proven been.”
~ Nibelungen, st. 104.

The Key and the Dragon
Worms holds the symbology of the “key” as well as “the dragon” very sacred in their history and traditions. Apparently a 17th century chronicler told the tale that the “key” in the city arms of Worms, represents “wisdom, reason, and the welfare” provided by the authorities; and “the dragon” as a symbol for “armed vigilance”. However, the folk tales of the area tell a different story – as written in the Jewish-German translation by Juspa Schammes (1696: Amsterdam) that a widowed queen who ruled Worms in pre-Christian times had brought great prosperity to the town in her time. But one day, a horrible Lindwurm (Dragon) approached the city walls threatening to flatten the city unless a townsperson was sacrificed to him each day. So the victims were chosen by lot, and one day the lottery chose the queen. To prevent this sacrifice, a courageous locksmith made an iron set of armour with shearing blades from top to bottom, would wear the armour and be offered to the dragon in her stead, if she promised to marry him and make him king. The queen agreed and the locksmith thrown to the dragon. As the dragon attempted to eat the locksmith, the armour sliced and diced the dragon into pieces with every snapping bite the dragon made. The smith was victorious and cut himself out of the carcass and became the rightful king. To honor this victory, the key was added to the city arms and the defeated dragon to bear the shield. Murals of the smith, dragon, and queen were painted on the walls of the town hall as the monument of the event. The star represented the fact that Worms had greater, medium, and lesser arms (silver key on a red shield). The six-pointed star (modern version shows a 5 pointed star) was later added as it represents German heraldry (5 point represents French heraldry). It is believed the six-pointed star was replaced by the six-pointed star during French occupation in the 17th-20th centuries. After their withdrawl, it seemed unacceptable to change the points of the stars the explanations tell. Plus there is a lack of heraldists in the authorities so no one was aware of the difference in the number of points. Some buildings did feature the six-pointed star after French occupation’s withdrawal though, such as the water tower built in 1890.

Read the Adventure Tale here:

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