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#FineArtFriday: Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello 1470 — Life in the Realm of Fantasy

The above painting by Paolo Uccello, from around 1470, is a surreal, stylized retelling of the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. The legend tells of the knight slaying a dragon that demanded human sacrifices. With the slaying of the dragon, the hero has saved the princess who was chosen to be the next offering. Nothing looks real […]

via #FineArtFriday: Saint George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello 1470 — Life in the Realm of Fantasy

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Who was Saint George?

Saint George

The difference between a legend and a fairy story, is that a legend is a traditional account handed down from father to son, through the generations, whilst a fairy story is fictional.

So which one of these was Saint George?

What do we know about Saint George?

He was born in Cappadocia, which today is part of Turkey, to Christian parents, during the 3rdcentury.

His mother was a native of Palestine, and upon George’s father’s death, they left Cappadocia, returning to her home of Palestine.

George became a soldier in the Roman army, and rose to the rank of Tribune.

Emperor Diocletian (245-313AD), began a campaign of persecution against the Christians. George tore up the Emperor’s orders and resigned his military post in 303AD out of protest of these actions.

George was imprisoned and tortured, for his actions, but never would he deny his faith. The Emperor had him dragged through the streets of Diospolis (now known as Lydda), in Palestine. The Emperor gave George a chance. His life would be spared, if he would offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. The people gathered and George prayed to his Christian God, so outraging the Emperor… He was beheaded for his contempt.

Emperor Diocletian wife, became a Christian, after witnessing George’s resilience, and she too was executed for her faith.

Pope Gelasius stated in 494AD about George, he was to be numbered among those saints whose names are justly re-veered among men, but whose deeds are only known to God.

George became Saint George on 23rdApril 1222.

What took place, that we celebrate Saint George:

Jacques de Voragine, a French bishop wrote a book called “The Golden Legend” about Saints lives, but it only achieved mass circulation in 1483 when it was printed by Caxton.

The image of Saint George, dressed in a white tunic with a red cross emblazoned upon it, is familiar to one and all. Sitting astride upon his stallion, and skewering a dragon as he rescues a fair maiden.

The Golden Legend, talks of a dragon demanding one human and sheep as a sacrifice from this city, upon his visit. As the story goes, Saint George intervened for the fair maiden, and defeated the dragon by slicing the sign of the cross upon him. The princess led the defeated dragon into the city, with her girdle about his neck.

George told the people, be not afraid, believe in God and Jesus Christ. The king and all his people were baptised, and George slew the dragon.

It is believed Saint George was adopted by the English, because of the Golden Legend story, which was quickly incorporated into plays from pagan sources. He also became the main character in Edmund Spenser’s poem: The Fairie Queen.

The earliest known British reference to Saint George occurs in an account by a 7thcentury Abbot – St.Adamnan of Iona, who heard the story from a French bishop – Arcuif who had travelled to Jerusalem and other holy places in Palestine.

George’s reputation grew with returning crusaders. A miracle appearance, when it was claimed that he appeared to lead crusaders into battle.

The earliest known church to be dedicated to Saint George is at Fordington in Dorset.

Oxford council in 1222 named 23rdApril, as Saint George’s Day.

In 1348 Edward III, founded the Order of the Garter, the premier order of Knighthood in all England, and put it under Saint George’s patronage.

Many believed they saw Saint George fighting on the English side at the battle of Agincourt in 1415, achieving victory against overwhelming odds.

St.Georges Chapel at Windsor Castle built by Edward IV and Henry VII, shows Saint George on horseback slaying the dragon.

From the 14thcentury Saint George was regarded as a special protector of the English.

The English Reformation began in 1527 and changed religious beliefs, and Saint George’s popularity faded.

In 1778 Saint George’s Day was demoted to a simple day of devotion for Catholics in England.

In 1940 King George VI inaugurated the George Cross for acts of heroism, courage in times of extreme danger.

The flag of Saint George is a red cross on a white background, incorporated into the Union Jack and also the ensign of the Royal Navy.

How deeply the legend of St.George as an English Knight has entered the national consciousness. Judged by the repeated mention of his name in Shakespeare’s Henry V.

Saint George a courteous, knightly figure is the type and figure of all our race and kind. He is what Englishmen desire to be.

Question:

If you ask the man or woman in the street who Saint George was, they would more than likely answer an English warrior.

If you told them, he came from Turkey … they would be surprised.

Avebury Henge

avebury-henge
Avebury Henge

Avebury Henge monument consists of three stone circles, located around the village of Avebury in Wiltshire.  It was erected in 2,600 BC, comprising of one large outer circle, with two smaller stone circles situated inside.  Along with a large circular bank with an internal ditch measuring some 460 yards in diameter.

What is its purpose, a question that has baffled archaeologists for years, but they believe it was more than likely used for some form of rituals or ceremonies.

By the time of the Iron Age, it had been abandoned, yet human evidence existed into the time of the Roman occupation, showing that the Roman’s had used the site.

The outer stone circle of the henge, measures 1,088 feet in diameter, originally constructed with ninety-eight Sarsen stones.  With two large polished stones at the southern entrance.

The northern inner ring stone circle, measures 322 feet in diameter, with a cove of three stones in the middle, with a north-east facing entrance, but when erected probably consisted of twenty-seven stones.

The southern inner ring stone circle, measures 354 feet in diameter, with a single stone some 21 feet in height located centrally, along with an alignment of twenty-nine smaller stones.

Around the central point of the obelisk, small yet rough sarsen stones were positioned in a near rectangular format.  The obelisk stone has long since disappeared.

The Avenue:

The West Kennet Avenue of paired stones leads from the south-eastern henge entrance to Beckhampton Avenue to the western entrance.  Which linked the Avebury Henge with ceremonial sites at Beckhampton and Overton Hill.

The henge, with its imposing boundary to the circle, has no defence purpose, because the ditch and bank are located inside the larger circle.

Being a henge, one has to accept that the positioning of the stone circle are related to astronomical alignments.  The site is more than likely laid out for some form of religious function.

Druids Stonehenge
Druids at Stonehenge

The Druids believe that there was an astronomical axis which connected Avebury Henge to Stonehenge, flanked by West Kennet Long Barrow on the west which symbolised the Mother Goddess and Silbury Hill the symbol of masculinity.

In the 5th century following on from the end of Roman Rule, Anglo-Saxons migrated to Southern Britain, where suggestions have been put forward that they used the site as a defensive site.

During the middle ages, many of the stones were buried or destroyed, as it was believed they had a connection to pagan and devil worshipping.

In the early part of Saxon life in Britain, around AD600, a settlement had been built at the henge; a seme-fortified settlement.

King Athelstan recorded a charter in 939 defining the boundaries of Overton, a parish which laid adjacent to Avebury.

In the 11th century Anglo-Saxon armies fought with Viking raiders at Avebury, and the pre-historic monument at Silbury Hill was fortified creating a defensive position.

In 1114 a Benedictine Priory and Church was built upon the site.

In the latter part of the 12th century, Avebury parish church was enlarged at a time of religious revival.

The Avebury stones, which stood tall for all to see along with nearby barrows were given names relating to the devil, before being toppled:  The Devil’s Chair, The Devil’s Den and The Devil’s Brandirons.

Shortly afterwards the “Black Death Plague” struck the village in 1349, reducing the village’s population, as many died.

In 1541 John Leland; Librarian and Chaplan to King Henry VIII, noted the existence of Avebury and its pre-historic monuments.  William Camden published his guide book to British Antiquities in 1586, but made no mention of Avebury, but his 1610 version made a fleeting remark to it.

John Aubrey Antiquarian rediscovered the Avbrey Henge in 1649, and recorded many drawings of the site.  In 1663, King Charles II visited Avebury Henge.

In the early part of the 18th century, William Stukeley doctor-clergyman and antiquarian studied Avebury Henge between 1719-1724.

The village was growing, and stone was much needed for the houses and the church.  He left a drawing for them to follow, how to break these large boulder stones, formerly part of Avebury Henge Pre-historic Monument.  Burn straw in a large pit to heat the stones, pour cold water on the stones, creating a weakness then split them open with a sledge hammer.

The Avebury Henge became listed as a pre-historic and sacred complex with ceremonial avenues lined with stones.  Silbury Hill the largest known man-made mound, the West Kennet Long Barrow a Neolithic burial chamber. A former stone circle Sanctuary.

Druidic rites held at Avebury are called Gorseddau, where they invoke Awen (a druidic concept of inspiration).  They recite the Druid Prayer by Morganwg and the Druid Vow.

One group of Druids (Gorsedd of Bards of Caer Abiri) held their rites at Avebury’s pre-historic monument.

Wikipedia Images

Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine
Saint Catherine of Alexandria

Saint Catherine was born into the aristocratic family of King Costus and Queen Sabinella, rulers of Alexandria in AD294.  The young Catherine was well versed in the arts, sciences and philosophy.  She was raised a pagan and in her teenage years, converted to Christianity by the teachings of a Syrian monk.  She received a vision which the Blessed Virgin Mary gave her to Christ, in a mystical marriage.

During the latter years of Christian prosecution by the Romans, she publicly confessed her faith, being a Christian.  Catherine attempted to convince the Roman Emperor; Maxentius the error of his ways, by persecuting Christians who refused to worship idols.  According to historical accounts, some fifty Philosophers from the Roman world were brought face to face with her, to reason with her.  Catherine won debate after debate, and converted her adversaries to Christianity by her persuasive arguments, and they were put to death by the Roman Emperor.

Catherine was imprisoned, and hundreds are said to have visited her including the wife of Maxentius; the Empress.  All who converted to Christianity were martyred.

Emperor Maxentius had Catherine tortured, but she would not yield, he proposed marriage, and she refused saying; Jesus Christ be my spouse.

Saint Catherines Execution
Saint Catherine’s Execution

An outraged Maxentius condemned her to death on the spiked breaking wheel, but this instrument of torture was destroyed by her touch, finally he ordered that she be beheaded.

Catherine was executed, and the corpse of Saint Catherine, a 4th century Christian martyr was carried to the peak of Mount Sinai by angels.  Some three centuries later, monks brought it down and buried her in the church, dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

Wikipedia Images

Boudicca: The warrior Queen

Boudicca
Boudicca the Warrior Queen

Boudicca was born, around 25-30AD in the then town of Camulodunum, which we know better as Colchester.

Her future had already been mapped out for her.  Aged fourteen, she was educated in the history of the Celts and her tribes, the traditions, culture and religion which they follow.  She was trained as a warrior; how to handle the sword, spear and shield like any pro.

Boudicca married King Prasutagus in 43-45 AD and had two daughters.  In 60 AD life changed for Boudicca, with the death of her husband.  Britain at this time was under Roman occupation.  With Prasutagus dead, the Roman’s had no intention of sharing hid kingdom with Boudicca; they took it all.

The Roman’s raped and tortured Boudicca and her two daughters; this would prove to be the catalyst, which would see her demanding revenge against these invaders of their lands.

Quote by Boudicca:  Nothing is safe from Roman pride and arrogance.  They will deface the sacred and will deflower our virgins.  Win the battle or perish, that is what I, will do.

She wanted revenge, for the plundering of the Celts; kingdoms and households alike were plundered like prizes of war.

Many Celtic Kings had been appointed by the Roman’s, to carry on as leaders of their kingdom, if they accepted the Roman occupation.  Yet, it didn’t always appear to have been the best option, for many King’s relatives were treated no better than slaves.

Whilst Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, the Roman Governor led his troops against the island of Monain.  Boudicca the Celts appointed leader with an army of 100,000 men attacked Camulodunum (now known as Colchester) in 60-61 AD killing everyone, and burnt it to the ground.  She moved on to Londinium (now known as London) burnt it to the ground with no survivors.

News had reached Gaius Suetonius Paulinus of the destruction of these two Roman cities… Her third and final annihilation was of Verulamium (now known as St.Albans), no survivors and burnt to the ground.  Boudicca believed her destruction of three key city’s would free Britain of the Roman’s, but she was sadly mistaken.

Boudicca’s speech: Dio Cassius

I was whipped by the Roman’s when they tried to take our lands… and now I am fighting for my freedom.  Think how many of us are fighting and why.  We must win this battle or die.  Let the men live as slaves if they want. I will not.

Boudicca with an army of 230,000 fighting Celtic warriors, came face to face with governor Paulinus army of 10,000 Roman soldiers; odds of 1/23.  What should have been an overwhelming victory, was one of disaster as some 80,000 Celts died at the hands of Roman soldiers.

Boudicca the warrior Queen of the Celts, died along with her two daughters, not on the battlefield… exact cause has never been established.

Boudicca the warrior Queen of the Celts, a name which will always be remembered, for her attempts in driving out the Roman forces who had occupied her England.  All she wanted was freedom from oppression, for herself, and the Celtic tribes of Britain.

Wikipedia Image

Roman History: Saint George

Saint George
Saint George

George was born in Cappadocia, which today is part of Turkey, to Christian parents, during the 3rd century.

His mother was a native of Palestine, and upon George’s father’s death, they left Cappadocia, returning to her home of Palestine.

George became a soldier in the Roman army, and rose to the rank of Tribune.

Emperor Diocletian (245-313AD), began a campaign of persecution against the Christians. George tore up the Emperor’s orders and resigned his military post in 303AD out of protest of these actions.

George was imprisoned and tortured, for his actions, but never would he deny his faith. The Emperor had him dragged through the streets of Diospolis (now known as Lydda), in Palestine. The Emperor gave George a chance. His life would be spared, if he would offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. The people gathered and George prayed to his Christian God, so outraging the Emperor… He was beheaded for his contempt.

Emperor Diocletian wife became a Christian, after witnessing George’s resilience, and she too was executed for her faith.

Pope Gelasius stated in 494AD about George, he was to be numbered among those saints whose names are justly re-veered among men, but whose deeds are only known to God.

George became Saint George on 23rd April 1222.

Image: Royal Society of St.George

Druid History – Timeline

Druids Stonehenge
Druids – Stonehenge

Modern Druidism is one of the Neo-pagan families of religion, which include Wicca, Asatru, Shamanism, and recreations of other various Pagan religions such as Egyptian, Greek, Norse, and Roman. Today’s Druidism is a reconstruction of the beliefs and practices of the ancient Celtic priesthood. The ancient Druids were first known to exist in around 4,000 BC and believed to date far beyond written history. The ancient Druids are most widely connected with the British Isles; however, history shows evidence that the British Isles were only the last strong hold of the Druids. Most commonly referenced are the islands of Iona and Mona, better known as Anglesey.

These Druids built sacred sites out of stone and these stone formations and monuments have been found all over the world, but were most prolific in the areas of Brittany and France, where their monuments are still scattered across the land in geometric formations.

The ancient Druids were the most learned of men in their time and are known to perform the functions of modern day priests, teachers, astronomers, chemists, musicians, poets, theologians, philosophers, and judges. They were also specialists in healing, herbalism and divination. They were revered by all to the point that kings and social hierarchy would send their children to them to be schooled. In matters of religion, law, and scholastics, their authority was absolute.

The Druids main focus was, “The Belief in Supreme Power of the Universe, and the Belief of Immortality of the Soul.” The Druids led all public rituals, which were normally held within sacred groves of trees. Due to the intellect of the Druids, the Romans feared them.

It was the common folks reverence towards the Druids that interfered with Caesars’s attempt to overcome the Britons in 55 BC, where Druidism was the prevailing philosophy in Briton at the time. Caesar found the Druids to be a threat to his authority and he ordered their demise. He nearly accomplished completely exterminating the Druids at the Isle of Mona, now Anglesey. After the invasions by Rome, the few Druids that were left converted to Christianity through persuasion or genocide.

The Christian Church adsorbed much of the Celtic religion. Pagan Gods and Goddesses became Christian saints, sacred springs and wells were preserved and associated with saints and used for baptism. Many sites of spiritual antiquity became the location of cathedrals.

By the 7th Century, Druidism was destroyed throughout most of the former Celtic lands or was hidden deeply underground for fear of persecution. Druidism was to re-emerge in the 17th century in London England, and survived into the 20th century in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Up to 4000 BC Mesolithic Period: Hunter / Gatherers.
4000 BC Approximate date of first documented Proto-Indo European culture ,which is believed Druidic, near the Black Sea circa.
4000-1800 BC Neolithic Period: Construction of Callanish, and other megalithic monuments. First farmers
3500 BC Construction of Newgrange which is the largest megolithic monument in Europe.
1800-1600 BC The Bronze Age.
1000 BC Evidence of a Proto-Celtic Unetice or Urnfield culture in Slovakia circa. The Iron Age.
900-500 BC Hallstat Period. (Rise of the Celts)
800 BC Proto-Celtic Tribes formed to create the Celtic culture circa.
500-15 BC La Tene Period. (Heroic age of the Celts, and the time of mythology)
450 BC Celts expanded into Spain. Anglo-Saxon invasion.
400 BC The Celts had nomadically migrated into northern Italy.
390 BC Celts invaded Rome
279 BC Celts invaded Greece
270 BC Celts had moved in to Galatia (Central Turkey).
200 BC They had occupied the British Isles, Brittany, modern France, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland.
82 BC Rome defeats Celts in Italy.
55 BC Julius Ceasar of Rome invaded the Celtic Britian.
52 BC Julius Ceasar defeats Celts in Gaul.
43-409 AD Romano-British Era: Rome controls most of Britian and Wales.
61 AD Rome attacks Anglesey and destroys Druid Monestaries.