Thursday, 15 June 2017

Negroid Knight: William Bruges

William Bruges (c. 1375 – 9 March 1450) was an English officer of arms. He is best remembered as the first person appointed to the post of Garter King of Arms, which is currently the highest heraldic office in England.
An illuminated manuscript from around 1430 AD,
showing William Bruges kneeling before St George
William Bruges was the son of Richard Bruges, Lancaster King of Arms, and his wife Katherine.

The younger Bruges was appointed Chester Herald on 7 June 1398. He was later attached to the household of Henry of Monmouth, then Prince of Wales, Earl of Chester, and Duke of Aquitaine.

It is believed that Bruges was promoted to Guyenne King of Arms on the accession of Henry V and was sent to France in that capacity in early 1414. In February 1416, as Aquitaine King of Arms, Bruges was sent to emperor-elect, Sigismund, on royal business.

At this time, the titles of Aquitaine and Guyenne were interchangeable. The position of King of Arms of the Order of the Garter, usually known as Garter King of Arms, was created sometime around 1415, and Bruges appointed to it.

His father's will, dated July 1415, refers to William Bruges as both Guyenne and Garter King of Arms. After this, the next mention of Bruges in the position is 13 September 1417. It was the first time a king of arms had been specifically appointed for the service of an order of chivalry. By virtue of this office, he held permanent authority over the provincial kings of arms. Bruges's appointment as the first Garter King of Arms coincided with a series of moves to regulate heraldic matters.

In June 1417 the king clamped down on the unauthorized wearing of coat armour. In September the duke of Clarence ruled on matters of precedence between the heralds and the serjeants-at-arms.
In January 1421 the English heralds held their first chapter and directed that a common seal for that office be made.  Resolutions were to govern the office of arms and its members, with chapters summoned by Garter. In the same year, as part of Henry's revival of the Order of the Garter, some statutes of the order were revised and at about the same time many heraldic stall plates of former companions were set up in St. George's Chapel, Windsor.

Bruges was also responsible for producing his Bruges Garter Book around 1430, which is the earliest known armorial of the order. In 1421 Bruges took part in the coronation of Queen Catherine, and in the following year he officiated at Henry V's funeral.
St George
Under Henry VI there was scarcely a year in which he was not sent on at least one mission, sometimes staying abroad for many months.

He was usually concerned with France, but he also visited Normandy and Brittany, Flanders, Hainault and Holland, Scotland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy. Bruges died on 9 March 1450 on his sizeable estate in Kentish Town. He was buried in St George's Church, Stamford.

He had married, before 1415, Agnes Haddon, and they had three daughters, one of whom, Katherine, married John Smert, Bruges' successor as Garter.

Saint George (Greek: Γεώργιος, Geṓrgios; Latin: Georgius; AD 275–281 to 23 April 303), according to legend, was a Roman soldier of Greek origin and officer in the Guard of Roman emperor Diocletian, who was sentenced to death for failing to recant his Christian faith.

As a Christian martyr, he later became one of the most venerated saints in Christianity and in particular the Crusades. In hagiography, as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers and one of the most prominent military saints, he is immortalised in the myth of Saint George and the Dragon. His memorial, Saint George's Day, is traditionally celebrated on April 23. (See under "Feast days" below for the use of the Julian calendar by the Eastern Orthodox Church.)

Numerous countries, cities, professions and organisations claim Saint George as their patron. George's parents were Christians of Greek background, his father Gerontius (Greek: Γερόντιος, Gerontios meaning "old man" in Greek) was a Roman army official from Cappadocia, and his mother Polychronia (Greek name, meaning she who lives many years) was a Christian and a Greek native from Lydda in the Roman province of Syria Palaestina.

Accounts differ regarding whether George was born in Cappadocia or Syria Palaestina, but agree that he was raised at least partly in Lydda.
St George
There is little information on the early life of Saint George. Two stories tell of his possible origins. One says that he was born in the region of Cappadocia, which is now located in central Turkey.

George's parents were both Christian, and they brought him up to be a Christian. His father died when he was fourteen, and his mother took George back to her homeland of Syria Palaestina.

At seventeen, he joined the Roman army. A second story says that George's father came from Cappadocia.

His mother was from Lydda, in Syria Palaestina, and George was born in Lydda.

Both of his parents were from noble Greek families and gave him the Greek name of Georgios (meaning farmer, earth-worker). George's father had been an officer in the Roman army, so George joined the Roman army as soon as he could. At the age of 14, George lost his father; a few years later, George's mother died. George then decided to go to Nicomedia and present himself to Diocletian to apply for a career as a soldier. Diocletian welcomed him with open arms, as he had known his father, Gerontius—one of his finest soldiers. By his late twenties, George was promoted to the rank of military tribune and stationed as an imperial guard of the Emperor at Nicomedia.

On 24 February 303, Diocletian, influenced by Galerius, issued an edict that every Christian soldier in the army should be arrested and every other soldier should offer a sacrifice to the Roman gods of the time. However, George objected, and with the courage of his faith, approached the Emperor and ruler. Diocletian was upset, not wanting to lose his best tribune and the son of his best official, Gerontius. But George loudly renounced the Emperor's edict, and in front of his fellow soldiers and tribunes he claimed himself to be a Christian.
St George
Diocletian attempted to convert George, even offering gifts of land, money, and slaves if he made a sacrifice to the Roman gods; he made many offers, but still George refused. Recognising the futility of his efforts and insisting on upholding his edict, Diocletian ordered that George be executed for his refusal. Before the execution, George gave his wealth to the poor and prepared himself.

After various torture sessions, including laceration on a wheel of swords during which he was resuscitated three times, George was executed by decapitation before Nicomedia's city wall, on 23 April 303. A witness of his suffering convinced Empress Alexandra of Rome and Athanasius, a pagan priest, to become Christians, as well, so they joined George in martyrdom. His body was returned to Lydda for burial, where Christians soon came to honour him as a martyr.

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