Here be dragons!

dragon_520It’s not just “Game of Thrones” or “Lord of the Rings” that have dragons you know! The Tudors had them too! Not the series, I mean the actual Tudor period. And I’ve got proof, so there!

My husband Tim, who is a publisher, has been working with an artist doing illustrations for Amy Licence’s children’s book on Henry VIII and he just noticed that there is a dragon flying over the Field of Cloth of Gold, which took place in the Pale of Calais, English territory at the time, in 1520. I’ve looked at that painting so many times and have never spotted the dragon before, but here it is in all its glory.

Is it English? French? Welsh? Well, as a half-Welsh person I like to think that it was a Welsh dragon come to remind Henry VIII of his Welsh roots. A Welsh dragon was used as a supporter in the coat of arms of Tudor monarchs and Henry VII (Henry Tudor) flew the red dragon of Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon (a king of Gwynedd) as his banner as he marched from Wales to Bosworth in 1485.

So, breaking news: dragons were alive and well in Tudor times! Look, we have the proof!

Sorry, just needed a nice jokey article to brighten my day. I hope it’s brightened yours too!

Update: I did more digging after posting this and found this note on the Royal Collection website: “In the top left of the painting is the dragon (or salamander) firework, which was released on 23 June.” Oh well!

Image: Painting of the Field of Cloth of Gold, Royal Collection, taken from Wikipedia.


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8 thoughts on “Here be dragons!”
  1. love the idea of the dragon……. on a note—its an interesting idea to have a dragon in the picture by the artist….after all, all through English history through many stories/legends the Dragon appears—why not at the Field of Cloth of Gold

    1. It was. I did more digging yesterday and found this on the Royal Collection site: “In the top left of the painting is the dragon (or salamander) firework, which was released on 23 June.”, so I’m going to add that to the post. I didn’t really think it was real, it was just a jokey post. It’s such a beautiful painting.

      1. I’m glad I wasn’t imagining things.

        Yes, it’s a beautiful painting and an event I’d like to have been at… a noble person though.

        1. Definitely! It would have been amusing to have seen the kings trying to outdo each other and it looks like an amazing spectacle.

  2. The dragon was adopted by Henry Tudor, Earl of Richmond as a descendent of the legendary Cadwallader one of the ancient Welsh and British Kings at the Battle of Bosworth 1485. The dragon of course is an old symbol of many old kingdoms, the Chinese have many dragons in their history and legend and the Vikings used the symbol on their longboats. The Great Orme in LLandudno of course takes its name from its dragon shape or Great Serpent as the Vikings called it. The dragons in the painting probably represent the Tudor idea of greatness and their heritage. As the personal symbol of the Tudor Earl they probably are used for most of their images. I love this painting, I remember seeing it close up and personal for the first time in 2009, recall the dragons, it is a beautiful and lively painting. Dragons could represnet strength and fear but also represent good luck and good fortune. Great post, thanks.

  3. It was a giant firework, over twenty to twenty five foot long. It gave the French quite a shock and it was something which really amazed everyone present. It was of course the symbol of the Tudors Welsh ancestors and their legendary status. It would have really lit up the sky and been a fantastic sight to witness.

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