The St. Leger (pronounced saint ledger or sellinger) family is an old Anglo-Irish family with Norman and German roots going back over a thousand years, and whose name has appeared more than a few times in history. The surname St. Leger is an anglicized version of "de Sancto Leodegario".
According to family tradition they are descended from a Norman knight, Sir Robertus de Sancto Leodegario who is reputed to have supported the hand of William the Conqueror when he stumbled from his ship in the waters off Pevensey in 1066. It is also believed that Sir Rober had stigmata. (Stigmata are bodily marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus.)
Several generations of St. Legers fought in the Crusades. Lord Jean St. Leger (1160-1216) 'lived mainly on his French lands in Normandy whilst his brother Wizo cared for the lands at Fairlight in Sussex. As a result of his feudal duties, he accompanied the French King Philip August on his conquest of Normandy, placed thus in a bad position, in reprisal the English King confiscated his English lands and arrested him on reconquering Normandy. Jean was held prisoner at Corfe Castle in Dorset for many years. ... more
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In the early 16th century, the powers in Europe were France, ruled by Francis I, and the Holy Roman Empire, led by Charles V. Henry VIII of England needed desperately to forge an alliance with one of the parties. In 1520, prompted by his chief advisor Cardinal Wolsey, Henry approached Francis I, and the two agreed on a meeting near Calais, between Guines and Ardres. The young kings, each considered paragons of monarchy in their respective countries, had long been rivals both personally and politically.
Thus, the kings set out to impress and outshine each other, arriving at the meeting with large retinues. In attempting to outshow the other, the kings spared no expense in their displays of wealth. They erected pavilions made with cloth of gold (real filaments of gold sewn with silk to make the fabric), organized jousts and other competitions of skill and strength, banqueted each other lavishly, in all ways trying to outdo and outspend one another. This ostentation earned the meeting the title "Field of the Cloth of Gold."
The feasting ended abruptly when King Henry challenged King Francis to a wrestling match which ended in Francis throwing Henry to the ground and besting him. The meeting, which had taken place over three weeks (June 7-June 24, 1520) nearly bankrupted the treasuries of France and England, and was useless politically. Francis and Henry signed no treaty, and a few weeks later Henry signed a treaty of alliance with the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. Within a month, the Emperor declared war on Francis, and England had to follow suit.