Thursday 23 April 2009

The saint and the dragon - St George's Day: 23 April

In the rich pastures of the Vale of Evesham on this bright sunny morning .. the Church bells rang out, the bunting celebrated St George - the Patron Saint of England, the brass band readied itself, the villagers put the last touches to the exhibition of the first of this season's cut asparagus .. and a quintessential English festival on the village green has begun to celebrate the crop of 2009.
The legend of St George and the Dragon appears to be a tale of two parts .. George or George of Lydda appears to be have been of the Christian faith and a Roman soldier, who rapidly rose to the rank of general. He left the army in 298AD, when only those who worshipped the gods of Rome were allowed to remain in the armed forces. However he subsequently spoke up on behalf of beleagured Christians and as punishment for his temerity was murdered in 303AD for his Christian faith.

The legend of St George and the Dragon is simply an allegorical expression of the triumph of the Christian hero over evil. The patron Saint of England was adopted by Edward III (1312 - 1377)after the myth was brought back with the Crusaders (1095 and on) and retold in Court in the theatrical medieval style of the era .. perpetuating these exploits. This George was a knight who on encountering a young woman about to be sacrificed (they'd run out of sheep!) by the people of Silene in Libya to a fierce dragon in order to appease its fury; George wounded the dragon, and brought it to the town, but would not kill it - until the terrified townsfolk had consented to be baptized as Christians!

Today St George is honoured as the patron saint of England, Portugal, Genoa, Spain and Venice. His flag, a centred red cross on a white background, was carried by knights fighting in the Crusades and is now considered our national flag: his emblem is a dragon.

St George's Cross as a flag is the national flag of England - however numerous other provinces and cities have utilised the main centred red cross on a white background as a flag basis and appended other symbols within the quarters. The flag of the city and seaport of Genoa, in northwest Italy, uses the same design - taken from its days as the Maritime Republic of Genoa. This Republic and its rival the Maritime Republic of Venice (on the eastern shore of Italy) were two of the most important powers in the world.

The flag was adopted by England and the City of London in 1190 for their ships entering the Mediterranean to benefit from the protection of the powerful Genoese fleet. The English Monarch paid an annual tribute to the Doge of Genoa for this privilege. The Doges selected from wealthy merchant families in Genoa who ruled the Republic as an oligarchy, were a small elite segment of society.

The St George's Cross subsequently became adopted for the uniform (surcoat) of English soldiers during the Crusades of the eleventh, twelth and thirteenth centuries, particularly by the Knights Templar and from about 1277 it official became the national flag of England and Wales.

For centuries the flag carried by the Crusaders had become known as "God's Flag" and this interpretation of the Flag of St George was carried to America by the early members of the Church of England and Anglican community. Provisions were made in the US Flag Code that the flag of St George is the only flag allowed to fly higher in a superior position to the US national flag in certain circumstances .. usually religious occasions and is generally in pennant form - for more information please see Wikipedia.

Each day we learn something new ..

Dear Mr Postman it is good to see you on this our Saint's Day and I see that you have provided us with some interesting information, together with reminding us that this is the start of the asparagus season....
together with some typical Hilary Snippets in .. which my mother will enjoy - we do laugh at some of the extraordinary facts we unearth .. thank you for coming today Mr Postman .. and we look forward to tomorrow .. Happy St George's Day and enjoy your asparagus if you get some for supper or dinner tonight?
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Jacques said...

I have wondered where the flag had come from. England is a storehouse for us Americans, as our roots are there not matter what country we came from. We owe much to the British.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi jacques .. great to see you here .. yes all our cultures seem to cross reference .. the iea of the symbols coming from Egypt originally .. so history is just this amazing cross linking of ideas and peoples! Some of us a little more .. as the Brits and Americans, Australians & NZs amongst others have lots in common.

All the best -
Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Marketing Unscrambled, Home edition said...

Hilary, This is information we did not know. Thank you for telling us about it and how our countries reference these things. Great post.
Dan and Deanna "Marketing Unscrambled"

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Dan and Deanna .. thanks for visiting .. and I'm glad you enjoyed the information ..

Great to see you here

Hilary Melton-Butcher
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Peter Baca said...


Hightly interesting post today! I was aware of the use of the St. George's Cross by the English crusaders and the Templars. But, I was unaware of the history...really quite fascinating.

There is so much English history! It is very rich and fascinating!

Thank you for the wonderful post!

Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Pete .. me too .. it is so interesting to find out the connections and where history developed from ..

Thanks for enjoying .. it is as you say extremely rich and fascinating .. much more fun now than at school!!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
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