The Welsh Dragon

For most of history, the Welsh dragon was not a very common symbol. In fact, it was flown by only one king, Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon, who reigned from 655-682 AD. It was so distinct that his flag came to be known as “the Red Dragon of Cadwaladr”.  Today, it is known as the ‘Welsh dragon’ and the the Welsh flag looks like this:

 

(my The Last Pendragon Saga is about a mythic version of Cadwaladr)

Within Welsh mythology, the story of the two dragons, one red (for the Welsh) and one white (for the Saxons) fighting beneath Dinas Emrys dates back to Geoffrey of Monmouth, writing in the 12th century.

The coat of arms of the Welsh princes in the 13th century was actually this:

With the death of Llywelyn ap Gruffydd and the complete suppression of everything that had belonged to or symbolized the Princes of Wales, this banner disappeared from royal heraldry.

It wasn’t until Henry Tudur (Henry Tudor/Henry VII) of England, in a quest for legitimacy to both the Welsh and the English, took the Red Dragon and made it his own that the dragon and Wales became synonymous. In flying the flag, he claimed that he was a direct descendent of Cadwaladr, but he laid the dragon over the green and white colors of the House of Tudor.  Henry then marched through Wales on his way to seize the crown on 22 August 1485 when he defeated Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field.  The flying of the flag was very deliberate.  For the Welsh, it was Cadwaladr, not King Arthur, who was to ‘return’, to save the Welsh from their enemies. Henry Tudur very deliberately took up that mantle.

In an tragic twist, Henry’s first son was named ‘Arthur’, but he died in 1502, and was succeeded by his brother, Henry (becoming Henry VIII) as the heir to the throne.




The Best and Worst of King Arthur Movies

 

Lion series smallI’m bumping this post because I’ve just discovered that a new King Arthur movie is in the works.  Now, King Arthur always provides good fodder for story-telling, but I’m not so sure about this: http://moviehole.net/201257625men-in-tights-writer-turns-his-attention-to-spoofing-king-arthur

The title of the article says it all, but here’s a quote:  “J.D Shapiro wordsmith of “Robin Hood : Men in Tights”, will take the Mickey out of the Knights of the Roundtable in a future feature …  In 524 AD, Arthur Lol Pendragon went to Camelot. One thousand, four hundred and eighty five years later this footage was found. What it reveals is both shocking and more shocking. We have discovered that, out of all the legendary tales told about King Arthur and his knights… not one of them got it right.”.

I think I’m terrified …

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While we’re on the subject of King Arthur, which of course, we always areexcept when we’re talking about Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, I thought we could talk movies.   Since I’ve ranted about the King Arthurs I don’t like to read about or watch (http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/the-fictional-king-arthur-rant/), how many King Arthur movie depictions have there actually been?  And how many have been done well?

Here’s the list from Wikipedia of straightforward King Arthur movies:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_films_based_on_Arthurian_legend

I’ve seen very few of them, as it turns out.  In reading the list, I realized that I found that the movie I liked best was the 2004 King Arthur version where he’s Roman.  The history was bad, and it was a vehicle for Keira Knightly to fight a battle wearing next to nothing, but . . . I still kind of liked it.  The fact that Modred and Morgan le Fay were entirely absent may have had something to do with it.

I tried to watch First Knight when it came out, and then quite recently on Netflix.  I couldn’t cope with it, though normally I’ll watch Sean Connery in anything.  This is the ‘classic’ tale (meaning French) to which I object the most.  Everyone dies in the end.

I can’t believe Quest for Camelot is on this list.  My kids liked it.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court has it’s own category, as it deserves, further down on the web page.  I remember liking it as a kid.  If you haven’t read the book by Mark Twain, you’re missing out.

Colin Firth is apparently in The Last Legion, which has a score of 16% on Rotten Tomatoes.  I’m requesting it from Netflix, because, honestly, with that description how could I not?

Excalibur is also the ‘classic’ tale with the even worse addition of Mordred as Morgana’s and Arthur’s son.  Horrible.

Painfully, I watched Avalon High.  It does have Castle’s daughter, Alexis, as the cheating girlfriend.

Don’t get me started on Monty Python and the Holy Grail.  My son made me change one of the descriptions in Cold my Heart because it was too close to a line from the movie and he couldn’t read it without laughing.  It’s ruined everything 🙂

I’d love to know how many of these movies you all have seen–and what you thought?

As a side note, this is my favorite King Arthur book:

Avalon by Stephen Lawhead.   There are thousands of books about King Arthur, but this is one of the few that was actually fun.  Hint–he doesn’t die in the end   Publisher’s Weekly liked it too:  “In this rousing postcript to Lawhead’s bardic Pendragon Cycle (Taliesin, Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, Grail), such a monstrous evil stalks near-future Britain that an ancient Welsh prophecy will be fulfilled: the Thames will reverse its course, Avalon will rise again from the cold gray sea and Arthur will return.

A series of Royals so rotten that the Brits can’t wait to dump the whole stinking lot enables scheming Prime Minister Waring to creep trick by political dirty trick toward Magna Carta II, the abolition of the monarchy. Far in the Highlands, though, former career officer James Arthur Stuart feels destiny stir within him. He is Arthur, come again to exalt Britain and its grand old values:  goodness, compassion, mercy, charity and justice. Accompanied by his enigmatic adviser Embries, his boon drinking buddy Calum McKay and the lissome Jenny, James struggles to come into his own, proving his mettle against modern monsters: skinheads armed with pit bulls, the fickle hydra of the press and the redheaded “total dish” Moira, Arthur’s old witchy nemesis who destroyed Camelot. By the time James ousts Moira’s insidiously treacherous buffalo-wing- and pizza-chomping politicos, Lawhead makes even aristocracy-phobes want to stand up at the skirl of the pipes and cheer on the eternal virtues James represents.

In revisiting nearly every romantic Arthurian clich? and playing off snappy contemporary derring-do against the powerful shining glimpses of the historical Arthur he created, Lawhead pulls off a genuinely moving parable of good and evil.”

Darkiss Reads reviews The Pendragon’s Quest!

The folks over at Darkiss Reads have posted a wonderful review for The Pendragon’s Quest:

“Sarah Woodbury outdoes herself with “The Pendragon’s Quest”, which I thought was impossible because the first book was so good. I was wrong, this book surpasses the first as the author brings us deeper into Cade’s world and those of his companions. Again I was caught up in the brotherhood of warriors whose mettle was tested time and time again in battle. The story explores and adds more depth to the Characters of Cade’s most trusted Knights; Dafydd, Hywel and Goronwy whose loyalty to King and country could cost them their lives.

We see the true meaning of courage and the will to never surrender flow from the pages of this novel. We see the love grow and strengthen between Cade and Rhiann along with the respect they have for each other and their vulnerably in their need for each other. And last but not least Taliesin who in this story has his own demons to fight, as Cade journeys with him to a place where only few have gone before in search of something that was lost. The author also introduces two new female characters which add depth to certain characters. These subplots within the story all weave together beautifully at the end.

. . . The novel is extremely well written, and Sarah Woodbury is a true Bard in every sense of the world. Her storytelling ability and true to life battle scenes puts her right up there as one of my favorite authors. The cover artwork for her book is amazing and just helps fuel the imagination as the story unfolds as myth and legend come to life. I give this book 5 stars.”

Please see their web page for the rest of the review:  http://www.darkissreads.com/2011/09/pendragons-quest-last-pendragon-saga-by.html

For links to buy it:

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/84562

Also available at Amazon and Amazon UK

Along with the complete saga as a bundle at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/87852

and Amazon and Amazon UK