Known to be kind-hearted, the women of Gruyères were also blessed with a fertile imagination. It was proven beyond doubt during one of the battles the Counts endured against the Bernese and Fribourgers.
One day, having torched the Château of Tour-de-Trême, the enemy was marching triumphantly to Sothau, forcing the bold yet outnumbered montagnards into retreat. With time running out, a valiant decision would have to be made...
All of a sudden, the invaders let out a horror-stricken cry and fled. What had they seen? A fantastic throng. A nameless savage horde stampeded headlong out of the town and into the plain. The reinforcement's uniforms were unrecognizable through the dust, distance and evening fog, but their helmets were adorned with flames. At this, the enemy shouted, "Run for your life; run before the fire of war is rekindled, stoking our adversaries' courage and lighting the way to our defeat and death!"
The surviving Gruyèriens, with no one left to battle, now nearly died laughing. Neither general nor private was to be found among their saviours, who in fact consisted of a heard of goats! The women of Gruyères had hastily assembled the "troops", hung heavy bells on their necks, attached candles or torches to their horns, and sent them running in blinded fright toward Epagny where the enemy was routed. As the women's strategic genius sank in, the men of Gruyères sang in unison, "Long live our wives and sisters!"
Thematic route :
A Country of Legends
Joseph Genoud from "Sous la bannière de la Grue"