Order of the Garter - "Honi soit qui mal y pense" meaning "Shame on
him who thinks evil of it"
King of England Coat of Arms
About the 'Order of
the Garter'; The Most Noble Order of the Garter is an order of chivalry
founded by Edward III in 1348 and regarded as the most prestigious British
order of chivalry (though in precedence inferior to the military Victoria
Cross and George Cross) in England and the United Kingdom. It is dedicated
to the image and arms of Saint George, England's patron saint. The order's
emblem is a garter with the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (Middle French:
"Shame on him who thinks evil of it") in gold lettering. Members of the
order wear it on ceremonial occasions.
King Edward III
founded the Order of the Garter around the time of his claim to the French
throne. The year is usually presumed to be 1348; however, the Complete
Peerage, under "The Founders of the Order of the Garter", states the order
was first instituted on 23 April 1344, listing each founding member as
knighted in 1344. The list includes Sir Sanchet D'Abrichecourt, who died on
20 October 1345. Other dates from 1344 to 1351 have also been proposed. The
King's wardrobe account shows Garter habits first issued in the autumn of
1348. Also, its original statutes required that each member of the Order
already be a knight (what would now be referred to as a knight bachelor) and
some of the initial members listed were only knighted that year.
account for the origin of the Order. The most popular legend involves the
"Countess of Salisbury", whose garter is said to have slipped from her leg
while she was dancing at a court ball at Calais. When the surrounding
courtiers sniggered, the king picked it up and returned it to her,
exclaiming, "Honi soit qui mal y pense" ("Shame on him who thinks evil of
it."), the phrase that has become the motto of the Order.
According to another legend, King Richard I was inspired in the 12th century
by St George the Martyr while fighting in the Crusades to tie garters around
the legs of his knights, who subsequently won the battle. King Edward
supposedly recalled the event in the 14th century when he founded the Order.
This story is recounted in a letter to the Annual Register in 1774.
The motto in fact
refers to Edward's claim to the French throne, and the Order of the Garter
was created to help pursue this claim. The use of the garter as an emblem
may have derived from straps used to fasten armour.
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