The famous story of Saint George and the Dragon is of Oriental origin, and became popular in the West through the Golden Legend, translated and printed by Caxton. George was a prince of Cappadocia, who attacked a dragon, a local pest which terrorized the whole country and poisoned with its breath all who approached it. Every day the beast was appeased with an offering of sheep, but when these grew scarce, a human victim, chosen by lot, was substituted. When it was the turn of the king's daughter, Saint George rallied to her defence, pierced the dragon with his lance, and led it captive with the princess's girdle. He told people not to be afraid of the animal, and that if they believed in Jesus Christ and were baptized, he would rid them of the dragon. The king and the people complied, and 15,000 men were baptized. The legend continued with an account of the sufferings and death of George persecuted by Diocletian and Maximilian.
The cult of Saint George reached its apogee in the late Middle Ages. England, Venice, Genoa, Portugal and Catalonia regarded him as their patron, the saint personifying the ideals of Christian chivalry. In Germany he was numbered among the Fourteen Holy Helpers.