First published in 1590, Edmund Spenser’s epic poem The Faerie Queene is a classic work of medieval English literature.
At over 36,000 lines long, its six books contain one of the longest poems in the English language, believed to be an allegory for the life of Queen Elizabeth I.
The story begins with a beautiful princess called Una arriving at the court of Queen Gloriana.
Una is carrying a suit of armour upon which is painted a red cross, and is seeking the help of a brave knight to rescue her parents from a wicked dragon.
A young peasant boy, keen to prove his worth, volunteers for the task.
Una tells the boy that he can try on the armour she carries and, if it fits, she will grant him his wish.
Sure enough, it fits him as if it were tailor made. Because of the armour’s distinctive design, Queen Gloriana dubs him ’The Redcrosse Knight’ and Spenser’s epic story begins.
Redcrosse and Una set off to face the dragon, a legendary moment captured in elegant detail on this first coin in our new series.