by J. Ross Baughman
an excerpt from Legends Overlooked, his forthcoming book on folktales and Swiss history
Storytellers in Medieval Switzerland first crafted a new style that matched colorful pictures with vivid news reports. They carefully saved the comings and goings of shooting stars, floods, war and royalty.
These Swiss Chronicles also faced a difficult choice: Could they combine darker magic that the people so much loved with the true names of real people, those who might have to confirm whether any of this stuff actually happened.
That is now many legends in Switzerland came to be. These were not just puffing up some leader with traits to be admired. The Swiss used the believability of pictures, and added supernatural, even mythical powers to real events.
Charlemagne and, much later, the Hapsburg dynasty did indeed exist, but were used along with devils, talking beasts and impossible feats to make the truth come to life.
Here is just such an account, being the execution of Margreth Wuriner on charges of being a witch, on 2 August 1571 in Canton Schwyz.