The Tarasque was a monster of unknown origin (although some people believe it is a symbolic embodiment of evil) that in the days of great went through the fields to quench their fury with the people who found, strangling them and drowning them in any place with water. After that, it hid in a mill beside the Rivilla river that still remains, although in very poor condition.
The Tarasque is a fearsome legendary dragon-like mythological hybrid. The most famous version is from Provence, in southern France, tamed in a story about Saint Martha, but it has legends in other Spanish places, including Valencia, Granada and Badajoz.
In Badajoz, it’s described by professor Pedro Montero as a “wild and untamed animal, a kind of dragon with six short legs similar that look like a bear ones, similar to that of an ox torso, with a turtle shell on its back and a scaly tail that ended in a scorpion sting”
According to the historian of Badajoz Nicolás Díaz y Pérez, in the “Correo de Extremadura” newspaper from 1900:
“In the fourteenth century a Hebrew doctor, called Isaac Cohen, lived in Badajoz, in Almotacén street… On the banks of Calamón stream, not far from where it was located the chapel of the Martyrs, there is still a fountain named “Los Alunados”… and not far from this fountain there is an old flour mill that still today is called “the Tarasque mill” because according to the legend it was the lair of a monster which in the fourteenth century instilled great terror among the peasants of Badajoz”.
The legend says some time ago, circa 1480, during a night of heavy storm some people came looking for the Jewish doctor Cohen at his home to attend the swineherd of Albuera, until 700 maravedis convinced him. The Jew, once there, managed to get from the patient another 100 maravedis for “foxglove leaves and roots”, but despite the disbursement, the poor wretch died moments later.
On the return trip the doctor and his companions went going to rest a few moments near the Chapel of the Martyrs when from the bushes that surrounded their way a startling noise suddenly stopped the movement of the horses. Cohen, who did know to ride well, fell from his horse and in that moment a strange dragon-like animal pounced on him and curled his tail part of the body. Both doctor and monster disappeared toward the Fountain of “Los Alunados”, where later the physician was found drowned. His companions, two converted Moors who were charmed by the moon (“alunados”), which later gave the name to this fountain, invoked Saint Marta and the Tarasque escaped to his lair, near the mill.
Since then, in the days of great storms, the Tarasque goes out over the field when the storm stops, to quench its fury on anyone who it can find, strangling and choking him in any place where there is water. The mill of The Tarasque that still remains in our days, although in very poor condition.
Relation with water: mythical water-related beasts, mills located next to river, attacks in stormy days (rain), fountains where the beast drowns its victims.
Badajoz, Extremadura, Spain.
Montero Montero, P. (2010). Apuntes para el Corpus Leyendístico de Badajoz. La Tarasca o la Fuente de los Alunados. Real Academia de Extremadura de las Letras y las Artes. Texto completo ejemplar: http://raex.es/boletines/Boletin_XVIII.pdf