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    Australia Avalon Member str8thinker's Avatar
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    Default Sir Francis Drake and dragons

    (Text quoted from multiple references listed below, with thanks to the authors.)

    Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral (1540 – 27 January 1596) was an English sea captain, privateer, navigator, slaver, a renowned pirate, and a politician of the Elizabethan era. Elizabeth I of England awarded Drake a knighthood in 1581. He was second-in-command of the English fleet against the Spanish Armada in 1588, subordinate only to Charles Howard and the Queen herself. He died of dysentery in January 1596[1] after unsuccessfully attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico.

    Great Britain’s rise as a major sea power began with Drake, the most famous of the country’s three earliest circumnavigator-buccaneers (the others were Thomas Cavendish and William Dampier). The eldest of twelve sons born to Edmund Drake, tenant farmer, and his wife, Mary Mylwaye, in Devon, England, Drake started his sea career before he was thirteen, as an apprentice aboard a bark plying the trade across the English Channel. By twenty, he was master of the ship; before thirty he had voyaged to the New World several times on ships owned by his relatives, the Hawkins family of Plymouth. In 1568, he suffered a harrowing escape from a treacherous Spanish attack on the Hawkins’s fleet in the Mexican port of San Juan de Ulúa. Drake’s reaction was a lifelong hatred of the Spanish. In the next few years, he took his revenge by plundering Spanish settlements, shipping, and gold-laden mule trains in Panama, sometimes teaming up with local pirates. He was a wealthy man when he returned to Plymouth in 1573. He is famous for (among other things) leading the first English circumnavigation of the world, from 1577 to 1580.

    His exploits were legendary, making him a hero to the English but a pirate to the Spaniards to whom he was known as El Draque, 'Draque' being the Spanish pronunciation of 'Drake'.

    Francis Drake was reportedly named after his godfather Francis Russell, 2nd Earl of Bedford, and throughout his cousins' lineages are direct connections to royalty and famous personages, such as Sir Richard Grenville, Ivor Callely, Amy Grenville and Geoffrey Chaucer. However, James Froud states, "He told Camden that he was of mean extraction. He meant merely that he was proud of his parents and made no idle pretensions to noble birth. His father was a tenant of the Earl of Bedford, and must have stood well with him, for Francis Russell, the heir of the earldom, was the boy's godfather."

    In accordance with the custom of translating books and maps into universally accepted Latin, Drake's first association with dragons began when Theodore De Bry latinized his name to Franciscus Draco ('Francis the Dragon'). Theodor De Bry was the first to prepare detailed copper plate engravings of travels to the Americas that exhibited any accuracy of detail or scope. Through the De Bry illustrations, we see the first images of American Indians as presented to much of Europe.

    In 1581, in gratitude for his heroic accomplishment of circumnavigating the globe, Queen Elizabeth knighted Sir Francis Drake, and through her heralds, granted him arms. These are the arms as granted by the Queen.

    This grant might be seen as the beginning of a controversy which has now lasted for over 400 years. In point of fact, the problem of Drake’s arms actually antedates the 1581 grant, for prior to this he claimed and displayed arms, whose design can only be inferred, but to which his right has been questioned. Sir Francis, descended from the Drake family centered near Tavistock in west Devon, claimed the arms of an ancient armigerous family of Drakes centered at the manor of Ashe, in the parish of Musbury, in east Devon. Their arms were Argent, a wyvern Gules, and the crest A dexter arm Proper grasping a battle axe Sable, headed Argent.

    A wyvern is a legendary winged reptilian creature with a dragon's head, the hindquarters of a snake or lizard with two legs or none, and a barbed tail. The wyvern was often found in mediaeval heraldry. The word is derived from Middle English wyvere, from Old North French wivre "viper". Wyverns are mentioned in Dante's Inferno (Canto XVII) as the body for one of his creatures in hell.

    Because Sir Francis’s right to the arms of the Drakes of Ashe has been challenged, his actions in claiming those arms have been seen by many historians and heraldists as armorial usurpation. Prince, in his Worthies of Devon, relates that after Sir Francis Drake received his knighthood, he appropriated the arms of the Drakes of Ashe and was reprimanded at court by Sir Bernard Drake. In retribution, he reports, the Queen then gave Sir Francis a new coat-of-arms and ordered that the wyvern gules be hanged by the heels in the rigging of the ship appearing in the new crest.

    The historian R. N. Worth summed up the thoughts of many when he said, "…Sir Francis Drake, like many a parvenu of modern times, was not content to be the founder of his own fortunes, but was weakly anxious to assert hereditary claims to a position in polite society."

    The matter was presented quite humorously by C. W. Scott-Giles in a poem published in his Motley Heraldry:

    Quote Sir Bernard said to Sir Francis,
    'You're making a grave mistake
    If, now you're a knight,
    You think you've a right
    To the wyvern gules of Drake.'

    Sir Francis said to Sir Bernard,
    'Your wyvern gules you can keep.
    At the Queen's behest
    I'll have such a crest
    As will make your arms look cheap.'

    Queen Elizabeth said to the heralds,
    'Draw Frankie a coat of worth,
    And thereon between
    Pole Stars be seen
    His wavy course round the earth;

    And upon a globe on his helmet
    The good ship Golden Hind show,
    With a dragon to fame
    El Draco's name.'
    And the heralds made it so.

    Sir Francis said, 'Look, Sir Bernard!'
    And Sir Bernard proudly spake,
    'Grand arms you've got,
    I allow, but they're not
    The ancient wyvern of Drake.'
    There are a number of surviving documents relating to the grant of arms to Sir Francis Drake. Two copies of a proposed text for letters patent exist in the hand of Robert Glover. In addition to these, additional material exists by Robert Cooke, Clarenceux, and his certificate also occurs in two versions. In the first draft the stars are Or, but in the second the tincture is changed to Argent. In the first draft the crest contains a demi-dragon, and in the second a complete dragon. Here's a Trick of grant by Robert Cooke.

    From studying this series of documents, what was going on between Sir Francis and the heralds seems obvious. The process started out as a new grant to a "new man," and ended up as something more nearly akin to an augmentation on existing arms. Sir Francis was evidently dissatisfied with the initial document, which failed to admit his right to the arms of the armigerous Drakes of Devon. He seems to have pressed for what he wanted, for the second certificate by Cooke contains the phrase giving permission for him to bear the ancient Drake arms as a cadet. Furthermore, the dragon or wyvern became added to the crest as the process evolved, which is another reference to the Ashe arms. In the process the tincture of the stars was also altered to argent, which seems an improvement.

    Whether he obtained official permission to use the wyvern arms or not, Sir Francis did indeed use them. He sealed several documents with the wyvern arms quartered with the new coat. He seems to have abandoned the impossible crest of globe, ship and wyvern, using an ancient Drake crest of an eagle displayed. Among several portraits, one which was probably rendered in life displays the wyvern in the first and fourth quarters. Drake’s Drum, which depicts the arms and was obviously painted after 1581, does not display the quartering. A coconut cup given to Sir Francis by the Queen does depict a demi-wyvern in the crest. Here are the Arms as Sir Francis Drake used them.

    By the time of Sir Francis, the Drakes of Ashe were one of the wealthiest private families in Devon. They later acquired several knighthoods and at least two baronetcies, though these were lost through failure of male heir. The daughter of John Drake of Ashe married Sir Winston Churchill in 1643, and their son, John, later the first Duke of Marlborough, was born at Ashe House. The Drakes lent their wyvern to the Churchills as a supporter for their arms. The Churchill duke’s sister Arabella became one of the mistresses of King James II.

    Arms of Churchill, Dukes of Marlborough

    This evidence demonstrates that not only was there a geographical separation between the Drakes of Ashe and the Drakes of Tavistock, but there was also an economic disparity. These points, as well as the lack of any definite evidence to the contrary, have led many historians and genealogists to discount a family connection. However, new genealogical evidence supports the right of Sir Francis Drake to the arms featuring the wyvern gules. A likely common descent can be demonstrated for both the Drakes of Ashe and the Drakes of Tavistock, of which family Sir Francis was a member. The sigillographic evidence demonstrates that those who should now be termed the Drakes of Devon used arms featuring a wyvern at a date prior to the separation of the pedigree into the broad lines of Dartington, Ashe, and Tavistock branches.

    Now return to the first picture in this post (the portrait of Drake next to his coat of arms), and if you look closely you will see the little wyvern peeping over the deck of the ship!)

    (Continued next post)
    Last edited by str8thinker; 10th December 2010 at 07:42.

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    Australia Avalon Member str8thinker's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sir Francis Drake and dragons


    Occult stuff?

    So Drake's association with dragons does not extend beyond coveting the arms of another branch of his family, plus a translation mistake by a Dutch illustrator. Sorry to disappoint, but unlike Columbus, there are no reported UFO sightings during his voyages.

    Moreover, there is no reliable evidence to support the anecdote that he was playing bowls when the Spanish armada arrived.

    On the other hand, The legend of Drake's drum (kept at Buckland Abbey) states that when Drake lay dying he ordered that his drum be taken home to England, and promised that if England was ever in danger and someone beat the drum, he would return to defend England. This legend was exploited as patriotic propaganda in both world wars, and it is claimed that drum-beats have indeed been heard many times. It is said that while Napoleon was being held a prisoner in Plymouth after the battle of Waterloo the drum was heard to give a low `growl'.

    People claim they have heard the drum being played throughout recent history including four within the 1900s. First in 1914 when World War I began, second in 1918 on the battleship Royal Oak and then again in the retreat from Dunkirk during World War II. Reportedly on the Royal Oak, a victory drum roll from a drum was heard when the German navy surrendered. The ship was then searched twice by the officers and then again by the captain and neither a drum nor a drummer were found on board. The most recent time was during the battle in the Falkland Islands.

    Finally, Sir Francis Chichester KBE (17 September 1901 – 26 August 1972), aviator and sailor, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for becoming the first person to sail single-handed around the world by the clipper route, and the fastest circumnavigator, in nine months and one day overall. During the ceremony the Queen used the sword of her predecessor, Queen Elizabeth I, which was used to knight the adventurer Sir Francis Drake.

    Over the course of grueling 41 day adventure on June 10, 1931 Sir Francis Chichester while flying a de Havilland Gipsy Moth encountered a UFO. In his book The Lonely Sea and the Sky, on page 185, he describes the event in poetic detail:

    Quote "Round the storm we flew into calm air under a weak lazy sun. I took out the sextant and got two shoots. It took me thirty minutes to work them out, for the engine kept back firing, and my attention wandered every time it did."

    "Suddenly, ahead and thirty degrees to the left, there were bright flashes in several places, like the dazzle of a heliograph. I saw a dull grey-white airship coming towards me. It seemed impossible, but I could have sworn that it was an airship, nosing towards me like an oblong pearl. Except for a cloud or two, there was nothing else in the sky".

    "I looked around, sometimes catching a flash or a glint, and turning again to look at the airship I found it had disappeared.
    I screwed up my eyes, unable to believe them, and twisted the seaplane this way and that, thinking that the airship must be hidden by a blind spot. Dazzling flashes continued in four or five different places, but I could not pick out any planes."

    "Then, out of some clouds to my right front, I saw another, or the same, airship advancing. I watched it intently, determined not to look away for a fraction of a second: I'd see what happened to this one, if I had to chase it. It drew steadily closer, until perhaps a mile away, when suddenly it vanished. Then it reappeared, close to where it had vanished: I watched with angry intentness".

    "It drew closer, and I could see the dull gleam of light on its nose and back. It came on, but instead of increasing in size, it diminished as it approached. When quite near, it suddenly became its own ghost - one second I could see through it, and the next it had vanished. I decided that it could only be a diminutive cloud, perfectly shaped like an airship and then dissolving, but it was uncanny that it should exactly resume the same shape after it once vanished."

    "I turned towards the flashes, but those too had vanished. All this was many years before anyone spoke of flying saucers. Whatever it was I saw, it seems to have been very much like what people have since claimed to be flying saucers."
    He also relates this experience on video:

    Seeing his body-language and comparing his spoken words to his writings, it all comes together as an imminently believable story by a respected aviation pioneer.

    Quote "It was a perfect shape, it was, ... shaped sort of more like a pearl ... with a tail."

    "And I watched this thing and suddenly it disappeared. And I was ... I thought well am I seeing things? I had a very grueling flight. I had been waiting for ... I had engine trouble, and I had been waiting for hours expecting to go in to the sea you know."

    "However suddenly this thing reappeared coming towards me. Well I'm not going to let it go this time! I kept my look fixed on it and it [was] approaching fairly fast, and suddenly, gradually rather, it began to thin out and it vanished in front of me, before my eyes. It became a sort of ghost. I could see the water, the waves of the sea, through it in one instance. Then it vanished."

    So there! Hope you're not disappointed now.

    The Arms of Sir Francis Drake
    Last edited by str8thinker; 10th December 2010 at 08:45.

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