The dragon and war

The symbol was widely used in battle for over 1,000 years.

With the invasions of the Angles and Saxons, the Britons were driven back towards Wales.

By the seventh century, it was known as the red dragon of Cadwallader, after Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon, legendary king of Gwynedd.

The main standard of the Wessex Saxons was a gold dragon, which they carried at the battle of Burford in 752.

In 11th century battles the king would position himself between a personal standard, which acted as a rallying point for soldiers, and the dragon standard.

Following the Norman invasion the dragon standard was adopted by the conquerors. In 1138 it was the Scottish royal standard. Richard I (the Lionheart) took a dragon standard to the Third Crusade in 1191.

The dragon proved less fortunate for Henry III and the English army at the battle of Lewes in 1216. However, he installed the dragon standard at Westminster Abbey, and it was used by his son Edward I, and later still by Edward III at the battle of Crécy (1346), in which Welsh archers dressed in green and white played a key role.

In 1400 Owain Glyndwr raised the dragon during his revolt against Henry IV, echoing its role in Welsh mythology as a symbol of struggle and resistance. However, this didn't confer exclusivity to Wales: the dragon reappeared alongside Henry V at the battle of Agincourt (1415).

The dragon began to roar even louder after the Wars of the Roses in the 15th century. The House of Tudor was the Welsh dynasty who defeated the House of York at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

The Tudors' livery was white and green. As he marched his troops through Wales to Bosworth, Henry Tudor - shortly to be Henry VII - flew the red dragon of Cadwallader, from whom he claimed ancestry, on the white and green Tudor colours.

It was the beginning of the flag as we know it today.


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