Honi soit qui mal y pense
Honi soit qui mal y pense (UK: [ɒnɪ ˌswɑː kiː mal iː ˈpɒ̃s] or US: [ˌoʊni ˌswɑ ki ˌmɑl i ˈpɑ̃s]) is a French maxim used as the motto of the British chivalric Order of the Garter. It is translated as "May he be shamed who thinks badly of it" or "Shame be to him who thinks evil of it" or "Evil (or shame) be to him that evil thinks." In contemporary French usage, it is usually used to insinuate the presence of hidden agendas or conflicts of interest.
There is a connection between the Order of the Garter and the Middle English poem Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (late 14th century). The motto is inscribed, as hony soyt qui mal pence, at the end of the text in the manuscript, albeit in a later hand. In the poem, a girdle, very similar in its erotic undertones to the garter, plays a prominent role. A rough equivalent of the Order's motto has been identified in Gawain's exclamation corsed worth cowarddyse and couetyse boþe ("cursed be both cowardice and coveting", v. 2374). While the author of that poem remains disputed, there seems to be a connection between two of the top candidates and the Order of the Garter, John of Gaunt, and Enguerrand de Coucy, seventh Sire de Coucy. De Coucy was married to King Edward III's daughter, Isabella, and was given admittance to the Order of the Garter on their wedding day."
According to historian Elias Ashmole, the foundation of the Garter occurred when Edward III of England prepared for the Battle of Crécy and gave "forth his own garter as the signal." The most widespread tradition[year needed] suggests "a trivial mishap at a court function" when King Edward III was dancing with Joan of Kent, his first cousin and daughter-in-law. Her garter slipped down to her ankle causing those around her to snigger at her humiliation. Edward placed the garter around his own leg saying, "Honi soit qui mal y pense. Tel qui s'en rit aujourd'hui, s'honorera de la porter." ("A scoundrel, who thinks badly by it. Those who laugh at this today, tomorrow will be proud to wear it.")
Edward III may outwardly have professed the Order of the Garter to be a revival of the Round Table, it is probable that privately its formation was a move to gain support for his dubious claim to the French throne. The motto of the Order is a denunciation of those who think ill of some specific project, and not a mere pious invocation of evil upon evil-thinkers in general. 'Shame be to him who thinks ill of it' was probably directed against anyone who should oppose the King's design on the French Crown.
In English heraldry, the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense is used either as a stand-alone motto upon a motto scroll, or upon a circular representation of the Garter. Knights and Ladies of the Garter are entitled to encircle the escutcheon of their arms with the garter and motto (e.g. The 1st Duke of Marlborough). The latter usage can also be seen in the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, with the motto of the royal arms, Dieu et mon droit, being displayed on a scroll beneath the shield. As part of the royal arms, the motto is displayed in many public buildings in Britain and colonial era public buildings in various parts of the Commonwealth (such as all Courts of England and Wales). The royal arms (and motto) appear on many British government official documents (e.g. the front of current British passports); on packaging and stationery of companies operating under Royal Warrant (e.g. the banner of The Times, which uses the royal coat of arms of Great Britain circa 1714 to 1800; and are used by other entities so distinguished by the British monarch (e.g. as the official emblem of the Royal Yacht Britannia).
Several military organisations in the Commonwealth incorporate the motto inscribed upon a garter of the order within their badges (or cyphers) and some use Honi soit qui mal y pense as their motto. Corps and regiments using the motto in this fashion are ('*' indicates usage as a motto in addition to inclusion in the badge):
- Also used on items, e.g. the baton, of the Society of High Constables of Edinburgh (founded 1611), along with the phrase ' nisi dominus frustra'.
- British Army: the Royal Horse Artillery; Household Cavalry Regiment; Life Guards (motto appears in the Garter Star representation worn on Life Guard officer's helmets rather than in the unit badge); Blues and Royals; Grenadier Guards*;Coldstream Guards; Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment; Royal Regiment of Fusiliers; Royal Engineers; and the Royal Logistic Corps (which in April 1993 became an amalgamation of the trades of five corps, which included the Royal Corps of Transport the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, The Royal Pioneer Corps, the Army Catering Corps and the Postal and Courier Services of the Royal Engineers, all of these forming Corps used the motto inscribed garter in their badge).
- Australian Army: the Royal Australian Engineers* (motto is one of two used); Royal Australian Army Service Corps (merged in 1973 into the newly raised RACT (and who did not use the motto), and the Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps);
- Canadian Army: The Governor General's Horse Guards, The Royal Regiment of Canada, The Royal Montreal Regiment* and The Royal Canadian Horse Artillery.
- New Zealand Army: the 6th Hauraki Infantry Regiment.
- It appears in The King's School, Grantham coat of arms.
- It appears on several British military cap badges. The phrase is incorporated into the elaborate figurehead of HMS Victory, Horatio Nelson's flagship at the historic Battle of Trafalgar. Bounty mutineer James Morrison had the motto with a garter tattooed around his left leg, according to William Bligh's Notebook.
- It is a motto for many schools and educational institutions; the title of the University of Sydney student newspaper, Honi Soit, is derived from the motto.
- It appears in a number of literary works, including Robert Anton Wilson's Masks of the Illuminati, Robert A. Heinlein's Friday, Bernard Malamud's The Natural, Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor (Act V, Scene V), Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina (Part 1, Chapter 17), and at the end of the late 14th-century Middle English Arthurian romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.
- It appears in the stage directions of Giuseppe Verdi's Falstaff, libretto by Arrigo Boito, in Act 3, scene 1, where it is written above the door at the Garter Inn.
- It appears in the comments of the source code for the master ignition routine of the Apollo 13 lunar module.
- It is sung in full as the chorus of John Cale's song "Honi Soit (La Première Leçon de Français)" featured on the 1981 album Honi Soit.
- It appears in the staff used by the Usher of the Black Rod of the Parliament of Canada.
- It is incorporated in the coat of arms of the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome
- It is used as the motto of The Blue Book, a guide to prostitutes in Storyville, New Orleans published 1895-1915.
- It appears as a comment in the source code for the Apollo 11 Lunar Module's master ignition routine.
In popular culture
- Dieu et mon droit, the motto of the Monarch of the United Kingdom for use outside Scotland
- In My Defens God Me Defend, the motto of the Monarch of the United Kingdom for use in Scotland
- Nemo me impune lacessit, the motto of the Order of the Thistle
- Ich dien, the motto on the Prince of Wales's feathers
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- Cotton Nero A.x 128v
- Waldron, Ronald Alan, ed. (1970). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-8101-0328-3. OCLC 135649.
- Friedman, Albert B.; Osberg, Richard H. (1997). "Gawain's Girdle as Traditional Symbol". The Journal of American Folklore. American Folklore Society. 90 (157): 301–315. doi:10.2307/539521. JSTOR 539521.
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A Knight of the Garter has: (1) His Garter to encircle the shield ...
- An example of the full heraldic blazon description is provided in "Official Lineages Volume 3, Part 2: The Royal Regiment of Canada". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Directorate of History and Heritage, Canadian Forces. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
[A] garter Azure fimbriated buckled and inscribed HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE in letters Or(A blue garter with gold edges, gold buckle and inscription HONI SOIT QUI MAL Y PENSE in gold letters.) However, simplified blazons are also used.
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- "Who we are – The Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps". The Australian Army website. The Australian Army. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012.
- Personnel, Government of Canada, National Defence, Chief Military. "Armour, Artillery and Field Engineer Regiments - ARMOUR REGIMENTS - THE GOVERNOR GENERAL'S HORSE GUARDS". www.cmp-cpm.forces.gc.ca. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
- "Official Lineages Volume 3, Part 2: The Royal Regiment of Canada". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Directorate of History and Heritage, Canadian Forces. 24 November 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Official Lineages Volume 3, Part 2: The Royal Montreal Regiment". National Defence and the Canadian Forces. Directorate of History and Heritage, Canadian Forces. 9 September 2010. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- Army, Government of Canada, National Defence, Canadian. "1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery -1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group Unit- Canadian Army". forces.gc.ca. Retrieved 17 January 2017.
- "Sixth Hauraki Battalion Group". New Zealand Army Reserve Website. New Zealand Army. 10 June 2009. Archived from the original on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
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