A dragon -slayer and rescuer of maidens in the popular imagination, George was a Christian soldier martyred for the Faith in Lydda (present-day Israel). Some scholars hold that the "dragon" associated with George first symbolized the roman Emperor Diocletian, who instigated the bloody 4th -century persecutions in which George perished. By the Middle Ages, George had become associated with the best of chivalry: valor in war and charity to neighbor. Around 1348, King Edward III named him patron of the Order of the Garter, the most illustrious order of English knights. The martyr's symbol, a red cross on white background, became the standard of the British armies, and George was made England's principal patron.