Turkey, or in Lydda in Syria. His name means "farmer" in the Greek language, so tending the land may have been his occupation, however the most popular story told is that he was a soldier who in the year 303 refused to take part the persecution of Christians under the leadership of Emperor Diocletian, for this he was tortured and then beheaded in Palestine.
In 1222, the Council of Oxford declared that April 23rd should be St George’s Day and he replaced St Edmund the Martyr as England’s patron saint in the 14th century.
In Edward III's wars against the Welsh the king led armies who marched behind St George's banner and those on foot were given St George's cross armbands. Historians credit Edward III with making St George the hero he has become and in a
letter he referred to him as
'the most invincible athlete of Christ, whose name and protection the English nation invoke as that of their patron,
especially in war'
Historian Ian Mortimer writes
"In later centuries, Edward III’s kingship came to be seen as the epitome of how a medieval king should rule, and
St George – the king’s patron saint – came to symbolise both his great kingship and the national pride that went with it.
After the battle of Agincourt, the saint’s day (23 April) was made a major feast day – a national holiday – and it remained so until the mid-sixteenth century. That is why, throughout the Wars of the Roses, St George acted as a unifying figure, a patron saint to both Lancastrians and Yorkists. Similarly, this association with great kingship and national pride meant that
St George was one of the few saints who continued to have relevance in England after the Reformation. Only in the last two centuries – when the English nation has been somewhat submerged in the larger entities of the United Kingdom and the
British Empire – has St George lost this connection, with his flag now being more significant than the saint himself, as the most potent icon of English identity."
But where did George's famous dragon come into the equation?
What better way to depict this than a fire breathing dragon.