Marienburg Castle 1683



The Legend told by Eusebius

St. George and the Dragon

St George, the Dragon and the Virgin





Saint George and the dragon is a medieval variant on the theme of the Ruler defeating his Enemy. In iconography, this theme is represented by the depiction of the monarch in question in a heroic stance with a figure lying underneath representing the enemy. Sometimes it is shackled or held in some awkward position.

In the time that the prince is depicted on horseback, the conquered person is usually under the hoofs of the horse.

In Christian symbolism the human figure was replaced at some time, but certainly in the early Middle Ages by a monster in the shape of a dragon. This dragon represents the Enemy in general, but in particular the pagans who actually meant everyone who did not adhere to the Roman version of Christianity. The combination of a religious symbol and a horseman gave the possibility to qualify the latter as a saint and this saint is usually referred to as the Georgius (St. George) who can be seen as the personification or supreme commander of the Militia Christi. In this capacity, from the end of the 12th century, he wears the Ecclesia coat of arms with a red cross on a white field. In the countries under the direct influence of the Holy See, St. George became the patron saint. Aragon, Portugal and England can be mentioned.


An early depiction of a Ruler defeating his Enemy is on the Relief depicting the pharaoh Thutmose  III (1504-1450) smiting his enemies at the Battle of Megiddo around 1457 BC, on the north wall of the great hypostyle court, Karnak Temple Complex. Here the ruler grabs his defeated enemies, kneeling before him, by the hair.


Another early depiction of a Ruler defeating his Enemy is on the so-called Bisotun Relief in Iran. On it is a long inscription and a representation of Darius (521-486) trampling his enemy Gaumata, lying on the ground before him with his foot. The  allies of Gaumata, cuffed, are standing in a row before him.


Darius tramples Gaumata

Relief of King Darius, Bisotun


Later the ruler was replaced by a rider and that is the form the ruler defeating his enemy took in iconography.


Rider tramples enemy

Socalled Hallstatt scabbard, 5th cent. BC


Complete reconstruction (in colour) of a Jupiter column at Schwarzenacker. (ca. 60AD)

(Modification of a photograph by LoKiLeCh, CC BY-SA


A Roman tombstone of the first century A.D. found at Gloucester,

showing a Thracian Roman cavalryman defeating an enemy.





Seltz. Preserved at the museum of Haguenau,.This Jupiter is represented on horseback, he holds in hand a lightning and overpowers a serpent legged giant (whose lower extremities end in snake tails). More than 200 of these groups are known in Roman Gaul and Germania, but the highest concentration is found on both sides of the northern Vosges, in the territory controlled by the Médiomatriques (Bewlgian Gauls) before the conquest. The rider is dressed in paludamentum. He is likened to a sidereal god, Taranis, master of the seasons and atmospheric phenomena among the Celts, and interpreted as Jupiter. The serpent legged giant, represents the moist earth, the underground world, on which Jupiter will launch his lightning. Thus Jupiter will make spring water fall on earth and trigger the rain, always beneficial to agriculture.


Foto H.d.V. 01.2006

Jupiter Taranis

represented in the form of a horseman slaying an serpent legged monster.

The group is placed on the capital and the original scaled column.

H.: ca. 75 cm. Seltz. (Musée Historique, Haguenau (Bas-Rhin))


The accompanying commentary in the museum reads:


The rider killing a monster with the lower body of a serpent stands for the "Jupiter Taranis" or "Thunder God", often depicted in eastern Gaul (i.e. Germania 1 & 2), who was equated with Roman Jupiter. These riders, always standing on a pillar, were usually near farms or even in the yard of the estate itself, where they were apparently credited with some sort of protective function for the good of the harvest.



I-2 Gravestone C. Romanius Capito rides down an adversary. Behind him his groom 

Findspot: Zahlbach near Mainz (BRD)

Mittelrheinisches Landesmuseum Mainz (BRD)

2nd half. 1. cent. A.D.


EQ(ues) ALAE NORICO(rum)

CLAUD(ia itribu) CAPITO

CELEIA AN(norum) XL STIP(endiorum) XIX

H(ic) S(itus) E(st) H(eres) EX T(testamento) F(aciendum) C(curavit)


Caius Romanius Capiti, Rider from Ala Noricorum, from the recruiting district Claudia, of the city Celeia (Celje/Cilli in Slowenia), 40 years old 19 years of service is buried here. The heir has, according to the will, ordered the grave


Foto H.d.V. aug. 2005

Polychromized copy in the Roman Museum of Tulln (Austria)


Foto H.d.V. 2001

The Emperor tramples his Enemies

2nd cent. A.D

Gallo Romeins Museum, Tongeren.

Foto H.d.V. ‘99

Replica of a 3rd century column discovered in 1878 in Merten.

Erected Rue Serpenoise, the ancient Via Scarponensis in the axis of the Cardo Maximus of Gallo Roman Metz.

Its base is decorated with the statues of Apollo, Juno, Minerva and Hercules and its capital of busts of the seasons.

At its summit is a Jupiter-rider associated with the Gallic god Taranis, slaying the serpent-legged monster with a bust of a man and a snake's body.

Symbol of Gallo-Roman civilization, it evokes prosperity and renewal.


The original is exposed at the “Musée de la Cour d’Or”  in Metz

Inaugurated on 10 February 1989 by Mr. Jean Marie Rausch, Mayor of Metz, Minister of Internal Trade in the presence of Mr. François Grasmuck, Mayor of Merten and his City Council


The Legend told by Eusebius


Immediately on the publication of the decree against the churches in Nicomedia, a certain man, not obscure but very highly honored with distinguished temporal dignities, moved with zeal toward God, and incited with ardent faith, seized the edict as it was posted openly and publicly, and tore it to pieces as a profane and impious thing; and this was done while two of the sovereigns were in the same city,—the oldest of all, and the one who held the fourth place in the government after him. But this man, first in that place, after distinguishing himself in such a manner suffered those things which were likely to follow such daring, and kept his spirit cheerful and undisturbed till death.


Accounts differ regarding whether George was born in Cappadocia or Syria Palaestina, but agree that he was raised at least partly in Lydda in Palestine. His parents were Christian, of the nobility and of Greek heritage. His father Gerontius was a Roman army official from Cappadocia, and his mother Polychronia was from Lydda in the province of Syria Palaestina. His father died when he was fourteen, and his mother returned with George to her homeland of Syria Palaestina.

A few years later, George's mother died. At seventeen, he traveled to the capital at Nicomedia and following the customary course of a young Roman noble, joined the Roman army. By his late twenties, George was promoted to the rank of military tribune and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

One story has him traveling to Britain with the future emperor Constantine and visiting Glastonbury and Caerleon. Years later, George was promoted to the rank of legatus

On 24 February 303, Diocletian, influenced by Galerius, issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be degraded and every soldier required to offer sacrifice to the Roman gods. Seeing the edict, George freed his slaves, distributed his wealth to the poor, and prepared to meet his fate. He then confronted the emperor about the edict and declared himself to be a Christian. Diocletian attempted to convert George, offering gifts of land, money, and slaves if he would sacrifice to the gods, but the tribune refused. Recognizing the futility of his efforts and insisting on upholding his edict, Diocletian ordered that George be arrested. In an effort to undermine his resolve, the emperor sent a woman to the prison to spend the night with George, who having little time for earthly concerns managed to convert her instead. George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on 23 April 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra of Rome to become a Christian as well, so she joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.


6 Patronages

  • 6.1.Aragon
  • 6.2.Catalonia
  • 6.3England
  • 6.4Georgia
  • 6.5Malta and Gozo
  • 6.6Portugal
  • 6.7Romania
  • 6.8Spain




George (Arabic: جرجس‎ Jiriyas or Girgus) is included in some Muslim texts as a prophetic figure. The Islamic sources state that he lived among a group of believers who were in direct contact with last apostles of Jesus. He is described as a rich merchant who opposed erection of Apollo's statue by Mosul's king Dadan. After confronting the king, George was tortured many times to no effect, was imprisoned and was aided by the angels. Eventually, he exposed that the idols were possessed by Satan, but was martyred when the city was destroyed by God in a rain of fire


Sutton Hoo helmet plaque. 625 AD ca

Rider trampling his enemy

from Pliezhausen ca 650AD



St George and the Dragon


Louis the Pious




 † 840

Imperator Augustus 813 - 833 / 834 - 840

King of Francia 814 840

Co-emperor 817 - 840


Arcus Einhardi

BNF, Paris Ms fr. 10440, fol. 45


Drawing from the 17th century of a reliquary shrine in the shape of a triumphal arch, made in Maasland around 820. The reliquary shrine, that is only known from this copy (Fulda, Landesbibliothek. Domschatz cod Bonif., II). was made by Egingardus, lay abbot of the St. Servase in Maastricht. It is the oldest work, richly decorated with figures, that we know of the Carolingian goldsmith's art.

The drawing shows a spread sheet of the triumphal arch. The facades are divided into three levels. On the top level stands Christ and his disciples and also the assignment of the arch: AD TROPAEVM AETERNAE VICTORIAE SVSTINENDVM EINHARDVS PECCATOR HVNC ARCVM PONERE AC DEO DEDICARE CVRAVIT between the two archangels. (This arch supporting the sign of eternal victory and its  dedication to God is the work of the the sinner Einhard).

This Peccator Einhardus is Einhard, the biographer of Charlemagne (*775-†840).

On the second level are the apostles with their symbols and two biblical scenes. Above the gate, on one side, is the Imperial Cross within a circle and, on the other, the XP-cypher, within a wreath.

Finally, warriors are depicted on the level. Judging by the date of origin of the shrine, they are Louis the Pious and his sons: Lothar (* 795), co-emperor since 817, Pippin (* 803 ca.) and Louis the German (* 804 ca.). (At that time, Charles (the Bald) was not yet born)

The emperor and his sons wear shields: Louis the Pious a shield with a decorated edge with in the field two lily crosses between four besants (the national symbol). Lothar a shield with a decorated edge and in the field four lilies cross wise (the symbol of the co-emperor or Caesar?). Pippin a shield with a decorated border with four five-pointed stars in saltire between four rosettes. Louis the German has a shield with an unprocessed border and four five-pointed stars in saltire between four rosettes.

There are four ensigns on the short sides of the gate. The banners consist of a stick with a transverse bar to which a rectangular cloth is attached, finished at the bottom with beads, coins or frills. In the passage of the gate are two horsemen with spear and shield that pierce a serpent (not a dragon).



On this reliquiary Louis the Pious is represented with his sons Lothair (*795), Pepin of Aquitaine (*797) and Louis the German (*804). He himself has a shield charged with square crosses. If Louis the Pious and his sons are represented indeed, the Reliquiary may be dated at the end of the 1st Civil War (831).

Inscription: AD TROPEVM AETERNAE VICTORIAE SVSTINEMNDVM EINHARDVS PECCATOR NVNC ARCUM PONERE AC DEO DEDICARE CVRAVIT. (This arch supporting the sign of eternal victory and its  dedication to God is the work of the the sinner Einhard).

This Peccator Einhardus is Einhard, the biographer of Charlemagne (*775-†840).

For the cross which the arch is supposed to have carried the so-called Cross of Charles the Bald qualifies. This cross was until the French revolution a part of the Royal Treasury. [1]


43 Repoussé icon of St. George on horseback. Labedchina. Early 11th century.

The Georgian Museum of Fine Arts, Tblisi.


44 Repoussé icon of St. George on horseback. Saakao. Early 11th century

The Georgian Museum of Fine Arts, Tblisi[2]


Photo Bruce White

Two military saints slaying an enemy. Relief, mid 11th-early 12 th century. Cathedral of the Mykhailovskyi Zolotoverky Monastery, Kiev. Ste Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow.


Relief with twoMouned Military Saints Slaying Dragons

Kievan Rus’(Kiev), mid 11th-early 12th century

Nationa Architectural Conservation Area “Saint Sophia of Kiev,” KIev, Ukraine (SMAA8616)



Domschatz zu Halberstadt Inv. Nr. 516. Mitte 12 Jahrhundert

Kette: Leinen, Schuß: verscheidenfarbige Wolle und gebleichtes Leinen.

Höhe: ca. 1,20 m (ohne Borte) Breite: ca. 10,40 m.


According to the accepted opinion the angel Michael is depicted on this detail with a width of ca. 1 m. Since the figure has no wings, it is not about Michael but about St. George or St. Theodore slaying the Dragon. His very arched shield is red, strewn with groups of four stars all surrounded by a golden, studded edge. (H.dV.)



St. George chasing the Saracens before Jeruzalem ca. 1170

ensigned with a latin cross and a square cross.

K.B. Den Haag, Hs. 76 F 5 fol. 1 v°.


Illumination in a 12th century manuscript of a letter of Gregory’s to Saint Leander, bishop of Seville

(Bibl. Municipale, MS 2, Dijon).


The inscription reads: Reverentissimo et s(an)c(t)issimo fr(atr)i leandro co epo Gregori servus servorv d(e)i.

and the correcion above: Sanctissimi Ecclesiae Doctoris Gregori Papae ad Leandrum Episcopum Hispalensem Epistola in expositionem libri Job


NB. Gregory (VIII) ruled only in 1187. His previous dealings with Frederick Barbarossa put the church back in a friendly relationship with the Holy Roman Emperor.

St. Leander was an archbishop of Seville from 587-601. In 1187 there had been no archbishop of Sevilla for a long time. Which explains that he is not mentioned  in de main  inscription and therefore this Leandro is not the St. Leander of the manuscript.


Baptistère St. Jean de Poitiers, southern apse 12th cent.

Warrior kills dragon. L.: cilcriamarcietvrna


Theodorus I Lascaris


Despot 1204-1208

Emperor 1208-1222


136 Pendant with Medallion of Saint Theodore

Byzantine (Constantinople?), 12th century (glass medallion); probably 13th century (mount)

Gold and brownish glass paste

Medallion: 3 x 2,7 cm; overall: H. 4cm.

Inscribed: o θeoδopoc.

Dumbarton Oaks, Washington D.C. (38.28) (Evans, p. 181)


On the obverse a nimbused rider and an unwinged two-feeted dragon on te reverse a cross moline.


Baseler Münster Sankt Georg 1372


91 St. George and the dragon. Cloisonné enamel. 15th century [3]


Statuette d'applique en albâtre représentant

saint Georges terrassant le dragon

Auteur: anonyme

Ecole: anciens Pays-Bas méridionaux

Période: 16e siècle

Domaine: sculpture

Dénomination: statuette d'applique

Représentation: scène (Saint Georges : cavalier, mise à mort, dragon)

Précisions concernant la représentation: Saint Georges, monté sur un cheval, foule aux pieds le dragon, qu'il achève en plongeant une lance dans la gueule du monstre.

Technique: albâtre ; traces de dorure

Dimensions: H. 40.9, l. 32.4, P. 9.4

Localisation: Saint-Omer; musée de l'hôtel Sandelin

Statut: propriété de la commune ; legs ; Saint-Omer ; musée Henri Dupuis

Date d'acquisition : 1889 acquis ; 1986 (inscrit à l'inventaire)

Inventaire: 986.078 ; 0531.1 et 2 CD

Anciennes appartenances: M. Dupuis Henri

Attribution: Angleterre, Nottingham (ancienne attribution)

Photographie: © cliché musée, YB/M3C

Commentaire: Traces d'or sur le harnais et sur le casque. L'inventaire mentionne un socle (H. 13.3, l. 27.9, P. 8.8), présentant des traces d'or sur une rosace au centre.


Bamberger Dom

Heusden (NL), 1650 ca


St. George and the Dragon.

Wallachia or Moldova. 17th century

Museul National de Artă al Romaniei, Bucureşti


St. George of the Order of the Garter


Freedom Monument, Tbilisi, Georgia, 2006

By Zurab Tsereteli


St George, the Dragon and the Virgin


In the well-known version from Jacobus de Voragine's (c.1230–July 13 or July 16, 1298) Legenda aurea (The Golden Legend, 1260s), the narrative episode of Saint George and the Dragon took place somewhere he called "Silene", in Libya, and a Virgin was introduced being saved by him:

Silene in Libya was plagued by a venom-spewing dragon dwelling in a nearby pond, poisoning the countryside. To prevent it from affecting the city itself, the people offered it two sheep daily, then a man and a sheep, and finally their children and youths, chosen by lottery. One time the lot fell on the king's daughter. The king offered all his gold and silver to have his daughter spared; the people refused. The daughter was sent out to the lake, dressed as a bride, to be fed to the dragon.

Saint George by chance arrived at the spot. The princess tried to send him away, but he vowed to remain. The dragon emerged from the pond while they were conversing. Saint George made the Sign of the Cross and charged it on horseback, seriously wounding it with his lance. He then called to the princess to throw him her girdle (zona), and he put it around the dragon's neck. When she did so, the dragon followed the girl like a "meek beast" on a leash.

The princess and Saint George led the dragon back to the city of Silene, where it terrified the populace. Saint George offered to kill the dragon if they consented to become Christians and be baptized. Fifteen thousand men including the king of Silene converted to Christianity. George then killed the dragon, beheading it with his sword, and the body was carted out of the city on four ox-carts. The king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint George on the site where the dragon died and a spring flowed from its altar with water that cured all disease.


This version of St. George and the dragon is very often depicted after the middle of the 13th century in Europe.


Photo H.d.V

Fresco in Cressac Templar Chapel, ~1163

Probably representing Louis VII and his queen Adèle de Champagne


Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434/35,

by Bernat Martorell


Palace of the Generality, Barcelona


Foto Jutta Brüdern, Braunschweig

St. George and the Dragon

Hinrich Funhof, 1483/’84.

Lüneburg, Johanniskirche.


Stockholm, 1495


Merseburger Dom, 15-16th cent


St. Gregory Church Norwich c1500


Foto: Michael Jeiter, Aachen

Der Hl. Georg. 1470-1480

Kalkar, Nicolaikirche, ehemals in der Kalkarer Gasthauskapelle.



Depictions of St. George on horseback also occur in Georgia, a country that is said to have been named after this saint. Ancient depictions show  a rider in Byzantine costume with a man under the hooves of his horse. This man was later replaced by a dragon and stll later a virgin was added.


92 St. George saving the Queen from the dragon. Cloisonné enamel. 15th century  [4]


97 St. George killing Diocletian; setting free a Bulgarian youth; killing the Dragon; saving the Queen from the Dragon. Chkhari Cross, 15t or 16th century. [5]


Foto H.d.V. 2018

St. Jürgen-Gruppe

Aus dem St. Jügen Kapelle

Henning van der Heide. Lübeck 1504/5

St. Annenmuseum, Lübeck


1510 ca.


Hl. Georg im Kampf mit dem Drachen. um 1515

Leonhard Beckum 1480 - 1542

Tätig in Augsburg


Leonhard Beck war vorwiegend als Entwerfer von Holzschnitten für die von Kaiser Maximilian I in Auftrag gegebenen druckgraphischen Werke tätig. Die Darstellung des Georgslegende mit der Befreiung der von einem Drachen gefangengehaltenen Prinzessin ist vom gleichen märchenhaften Geist eines spätmittelalterlichen Rittertums erfüllt wie die für Maximilian bestimmten Werke. Das Hauptmotiv des Drachenkampfs vorne wird von vorher und nachher spielenden Nebenszenen im Hintergrund begleitet.


Gemäldegalerie, Wien, Inv. Nr. 5669.


Solothurn 1548


Foto H.d.V. 2015

Marienburg Castle 1683


See illustration in the head of this article


St  George and the Dragon. 18th cent.

High altar of the Benedictine abbey of Weltenburg (Bavaria, BRD)



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 © Hubert de Vries




[1] Le Trésor de Saint-Denis. Paris, 1991. P. 49,.fig 5. See also:

[2] Amiranashvili, Shalva: Georgian Metalwork from antquity to the 18th century. London, 1971

[3] Amiranashvili, op. cit

[4] Amiranashvili, op. cit

[5] Amiranashvili, op. cit