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St George

Who was St George and how did he become patron saint not only of England but in many European countries? In this richly illustrated book, Samantha Riches explores the extraordinary wealth of myths and legends, art and inspiration that has grown up around this obscure fourth-century Christian martyr. The art of medieval and renaissance Europe bear eloquent testimony to the power of St George to inspire chivalry as a warrior-saint who could bear comparison with St Michael. All of this inspiration is captured by Samantha Riches, who has a unique wealth of knowledge of this fascinating legend. Beside his English role, George had a widespread following in medieval Europe and in Russia, where 'St George for Russia' was the battle-cry of the Czars. In his role as Christian hero and martyr, George was a symbol of chastity and fertility and his cult stressed the chivalric ideal. Using historical, art-historical and literary evidence Samantha Riches creates a vivid and compelling narrative, paying full attention to the image of St George and the dragon and its development as the most significant aspect of the legend and cult of St George. The complex medieval psychology revealed by a full study of the dragon motif reveals some astonishing results, including the presence of several female dragons. The book ends with a study of the post-medieval representation of St George and a reappraisal of the use of his image in patriotic and jingoistic contexts.
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About the Author

Dr Sam Riches, Teaching Fellow at the School of Art History, of St Andrews, is a historian and art-historian who has made a special study of quasi-historical saints. She is a noted authority on St George and on the iconography of the dragon, of which she has made a radical reappraisal.

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