St George’s Day, The Rose And The Royal Wedding

May 10, 2011 1 Comment by
Royal Wedding

The Royal Wedding. Kate looks Bulgarian

From St George’s Day and The Bulgarian Rose to The Royal Wedding, Warren digs deep into the canyons of his mind. Warren has that rare ability to make make you stop and think. To take a second and closer look at what is happening. Last week Warren kicked off this new regular blog series with This week he uncovers some real gems…

…”Following the release of my first Bansko blog post, Lance asked for a royal wedding post, which in the first instance I was a little reserved about as despite the importance of the occasion, it already has, as with any such events been more than a little over done by the media and every media vehicle . So really what is there more to say?

Then I thought, why not? Having enjoyed enormously those bits that I did managed to watch — with my wife Yana at every opportunity pulling me in to any coffee shop she could see that was showing the event, its clear to the world that us English do know how to do pomp and ceremony like no one else. I too loved The Dress also and I also loved how the maid of honour looked, and not just the curves, the white on white choice was wholly appropriate. Pippa’s dress pulled elements of her sister’s dress. A lovely twist on tradition which will spill over to main stream weddings. Bulgarian brides will be looking like Katherine very soon. (Katherine looks more Bulgarian than English — think about it!  ed)

I also thought the decision to go with the Alexander McQueen design house was a wonderfully subtle nod to the excellence design talent that exists in the UK. As for the girls on the day, those subtle design details, the exemplary finishings, and little coordinated elements between the outfits — all were a real joy for me to analyse. RIP Alexander, I am sure you will be looking down and smiling no,. Check out and feast your eyes at their savage beauty project. Femininity and power revisited. All stunning, and a subject I will return to in later posts.

After puffing my chest out and feeling proud to be British, it got me thinking again about a few of the questions I often ask whist rediscovering myself here in Bulgaria. I love history, and that the hidden history of these lands enthrals me. Having watched the marriage of an English Prince to his English Rose it reminded me that, as a result of my inherent curiosity and research, I have discovered some very interesting, surprising and somewhat unexplained links between England and Bulgaria.

Heard about the War of the Roses? And how, through marriage, the countries warring tribes united. We saw the blending of the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster leading to the creation of the Tudor Rose. And thus the term “she’s an English Rose” was meant to infer innocence and beauty. Clear skin and and pure soul, a calmer of men. Hence, to this day, the Rose remains one of the most enduring and strongest symbols of our nation.

The Bulgarian Rose

roses for perfume

If you have travelled to Bulgaria, you will also know that the Rose here is also a symbol and source of national pride, but for different reasons. The Bulgaria Rose is a result of the unique climate and soil conditions. The Kazanlak region is world-renowned as the most superior source of rose oil there is. It’s almost exclusively used in all the best perfumes. Price per gram being three times that of gold.

But I bet you did not know that the roses renowned in each country are from the same genetic source. This being the Rosa-damascena, which in its original form, all came out of Persia, or Syria to be more precise.

The Crusader Robert de Brie is more often given credit for bringing the Damask rose from Syria to Europe some time between 1254 and 1276. The name refers to Damascus, Syria. Stories then follow that say the Romans subsequently brought the rose to England, and a further account suggest that the physician of Henry VIII gave him a Damask rose, as a present, around 1540.

St George’s Day

As we have celebrated St George’s day on May 6th (a very popular name day), it also intrigued me as to why St George is a classic symbol of our nation is also the patron Saint of England. St George is almost exclusively an Eastern European saint, wherever the Christian Orthodox religion prevails. Some exceptions — notably the UK. More info’s_Day

My personal favorite image is of St George and the Dragon by Paolo Uccello. I like it because it’s one of the closest depictions to the original dragon fable.

I now wanted to look at who was St George. He was not English — for sure. He was in fact born a Christian in Lod, Syria which is now Cappadocia is eastern Turkey. During the 3rd century, and at the age of fourteen after his parents died, he joined the Roman army to serve the pagan Emperor Diocletian. The same emperor whom his father had served before him. George became well know for resisting his emperor’s attempts to convert him, and all those who served under him, from their Christian faith. Finally he payed with his life. He was beheaded in Palestine April 23 303AD, and it was April 23, 1222 that the council of Oxford England declared this day, April 23rd was to be St Georges Day, Why? What was he to England? The religion of choice was far from Christian Orthodox! Understand my question now, is there some unknown link or reasoning? Yes, we were a Christian and Catholic based nation — but why were we out of step with the rest of Western Europe when it came to St George?

The whole dragon slaying thing, propagated by stories brought back by the Crusaders, is and will continue to be, subject to much conjecture. But there are only two places in the world where St George is depicted on a church fresco, and not on a horse, and one of them is in a tiny little church in the village Dobarsko, located just 12km outside of Bansko! This church and Dobarsko village will be the subject of future musings here.

Completing my trilogy of English / Bulgarian connection is the three Lions emblem, classic Englishness for sure well its also classic if not some what forgotten Bulgaria and uniquely such between our two countries, interested well read on. Most historians accept that in the 12th century Richard the Lion heart combined both Norman symbolism from the 11th Century and probably a little artistic licence. He created the three lions emblem. I agree with some others who say this was to indicate the new unity of the lands.

Three Lions

Whilst heralded a great English King, Richard the Lion Heart was in fact born in France and spoke

Three Lions

exclusively French. Famous, or rather infamous for the 3rd crusade, it is during this time that he and his crusaders fought their way through old Europe; and then on, to what was then, the Byzantine Empire.  An empire that fully encompassed Bulgaria, as it was then.

Crusade Routes

The route of the 3rd Crusade taken by Richard the Lion Heart, marked in Red, passed right through Bulgaria lands.

It is during these times that some, and what I believe to be, important contact was made with the Bulgarian leaders and people of the day. If you look at the image below made by a noted Arab traveller — and then this link you see and recognize the almost completely over looked and uncanny resemblances that follows Tsar to Tsar almost right up to the most recent, and current reinvention of the Bulgarian coat of arms. What do you think?

Coat of Arms

The 14th century Coat of Arms of the Bulgarian Tsar Ivan Shishman was noted and recorded by an anonymous Arab traveler of the day.

Comfortable Conclusions

I am actively exploring reasons as to why I feel so comfortable here in Bulgaria. Is it just my beautiful wife? Or are there historical and genetic links that go to the touch stone of my soul? These links are yet to be revealed — but I predict they will be discovered soon.”

Thank You Warren. Deep stuff. I’m looking forward to reading many more blogs from you over the coming months. If you hanker after more from him too, then why not join us for more incisive comment and deep inner thoughts. Then be the first with Bansko news, updates and some top VIP offers. Just add your email and subscribe for more.

In the meantime, what piece of history makes you think? Let us know if you stopped to consider the history around us.


About the author

I enjoy tech, apps, entrepreneurship, podcasting and collaboration with others. I love travelling as well as skiing, hiking, MTB, paragliding, cooking and good food.

One Response to “St George’s Day, The Rose And The Royal Wedding”

  1. travel management says:

    The roses are perfect for every occasion and for a nation that has roses as it's national flower, it's a bonus.

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