St George and the Dragon
St George and the Dragon
Everyone knows that St George is the patron saint of England and that he slew the dragon, but why? What did he have against that dragon? And while we’re on the subject, why is he the patron saint of England?
Well you have to go way back to the days of King Richard I or Richard the Lionheart as he’s often called.
It was the 12th century and the time of the crusades. English Knights were queuing up for the glory of going to the Holy Land to fight. There was none more keen than the King of England, Richard I. He was a real gung ho kind of King. Nothing he liked better than a good foreign scrap.
It was during his time out there that he first heard the legend of St George. And it went something like this.
St George was a Roman soldier who was travelling through Libya (obviously having a bit of time off). He came across a kingdom where he noticed there were no young women. After enquiring why, he was told there was a terrible dragon in the area, who only spared the people if he was given a young maiden as a sacrifice. Now the people of the kingdom were in a terrible state because all the young women had now been sacrificed and the only girl left, was the Kings daughter, the beautiful Princess, and she was to be sacrificed that very day.
St George decided that he had to save the Princess and galloped off on his trusty steed. Finding her about to taken into the dragons lair he rode in and positioned himself between the dragon and the princess. He attacked with his spear but the hard scales of the creature broke the spear into thousands of pieces. Our hero was flung from his horse. He only saved himself by hiding under a enchanted orange tree. Handy.
He then took his sword and braving the Dragons fiery breath, he killed the beast by finding a place under the wing where the scales did not protect it. Well you can imagine The King and his people were overjoyed at St Georges bravery.
Apparently our own excitable King Richard was so impressed by the story that he immediately decided that St George should become the patron saint of England, (replacing Edward the Confessor, who lets face it, had been a bit of a pacifist, and not a brave hero like St George)
So in many places in London and England, there are statues to our patron saint and hero, including one right outside Westminster Abbey. My own particular favourite is this dramatic one, found near Regents Park, at the roundabout where St Johns Wood Road meets Prince Albert and Park Road.