Monday, March 13, 2017

Bears vs. Dukes

Bears on the Clock Tower in Bern, Switzerland
When the clock chimes, the bears rotate.
Why is Bern, Switzerland, named such?  My daughter (who lives in Bern) told me that Duke Berthold V, Duke of Zahringen, wanted to establish a township along the river Aure on a level ground, allowing for transportation and commerce.

Duke Berthold V declared during a hunt that the city would be named after the first animal he shot (with an arrow, of course).  Drew the string, let fly the arrow, and hit a rabbit.  His fellow huntsmen retrieved it, Duke told them to get rid of it. 

He drew his bow again, let fly the arrow, and he hit a bear.  Much better, so the town was named “Bern or Berne” which means something like bear.

Let's expand the story with much more elaboration and some plot changes:

1) Duke Jim was married to a lovely woman, Adele, whom Jim’s brother Bob dearly adored.  Duke Jim and fellows of ruling class ventured out on a hunt, ready to kill just about anything.  Jim’s brother Bob attended, apparently with great reluctance since he really wanted to attend to Adele’s needs.

Duke Jim had also declared that first animal killed would be the name of the new city.

Savage boar

                                                       Legend worth reading

Through the rustling shrubs charged a huge boar, and, alas, Duke Jim was gored horribly, dying on the spot. 

Bob became so excited that he also declared the animal thing, and actually happened to kill a rabbit, but new-Duke Bob declared they should wait a while, before the naming the town Tote kaninchen or Dead rabbit.

Bob became new Duke Bob and married Jim's sobbing widow, Adele, and became step-father to her son, Tom.

What if we expanded some more with a whole lot of elaboration and plot changes:

2) Before heading out to kill animals with Duke Bob, his brother Kevin swore to his now lover Adele that he would take care of this any problems Adele had with Duke Bob, who turned out to be a lousy person all around. 

Jim’s son Tom was spying on them both, and realized bad things were going to happen.

Which they did, bad things did happen to Duke Bob, something perhaps involving poisoning or maybe a big falling cornice from the castle. Tom, being a minor, was passed over, and Kevin became Duke Kevin.

This and that happened, a few years passed, and Duke Kevin led his troupe of hunters ventured out into the woods to hunt, Tom joining them. 

Kevin pronounced that the first animal he hit would be the name of his new town.  Unfortunately, Kevin felt a bit wheezy and fell to the ground dead, stone dead.

All wept, the death declared to be a heart attack. All were ready to go home.  

BUT Tom strode to his uncle’s body.  “We must honor my uncle Duke Kevin's final desire!  And, I, as the new Duke, will do so.”

Tom was never good at archery, but he drew back the arrow, and zip-zap, off it went, getting lost in woodland.  While all were searching for the arrow, Tom's squire, Richard, picked up the bow and followed after.  

Richard heard growling in the shrubs, took aim, and hit something.

Richard ran to the sound, finding a bear, dead as dead could be.  “Here, my Lord!  Here is your arrow!”

Thus, a new city was founded and named Bern (or bear).

Bears in the Bärenpark in Bern
Bear Park

Expanding this anymore could grow beyond anyone’s attention span.


Bears of New Bern
New Bern, North Carolina

My apologies for length of this post.  

23 comments:

  1. haha wow, that is one messed up family. I'll stick to avoiding Dukes and bears.

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    1. I would go visit William Tell and his village.

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  2. Well, I wouldn't have been too keen on 'dead rabbit ville' lol.

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    1. The people of Bern joke about it now, since the bear thing worked out. But, there is an under current of relief.

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  3. Lucky shot but funny how that poor bear got killed. I have to admit I'm impressed and all in honour of uncle Duke...

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    1. Things work out to justify history, no matter that the exaggerated stories are the stuff of stories around a fireplace.

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  4. Funny! I like your versions better than the truth.

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    1. Never let a simple story ignore possibilities.

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  5. All too often the township could have been named Dead Squireville (of Peasantville). The nobles don't seem to have been all that careful.

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    1. They cheated a bit here, tossing the rabbit aside. Oh, well. It happens.

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  6. Not too long at all and fun to read. Seems to me Adele was a bit naughty, swapping lovers at the drop of a hat, or at the drop of a husband.
    Always interesting to find out how places got their names.

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    1. She has to keep in play while her beauty lasts.
      It truly is interesting how places got their names. Worthy of its own post.

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  7. Can you imagine what could be found once someone started looking? Like "Intercourse" in the heart of Amish land?

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    1. Nothing like a bit of castle intrigue.

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  9. When I took German in college, the language lab instructor was from Bern. She told us the bear story.

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    1. Did she get her facts right? Glad you took German!

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  10. Fascinating. Maybe you should grow this into a story......

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    1. No, that would take too much research! I'll stick to my short story type posts!

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  11. And thus is how novels are born. Or even a TV series.

    I've been to New Bern! Didn't see any bears if I recall correctly.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

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  12. I love this, Susan! It wasn't too long at all. It was fun! I'm glad Tom ended up Duke after all. Seems like those other rascals were all rotten to the core :D

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    1. I am thinking that there was always rottenness and intrigues in the lives of the Nobility.
      Thanks for your comment!

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!