Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense pin

Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense pin

Honi soit qui mal y pense” is an Anglo-Norman phrase, loosely meaning: “Shamed be he who thinks evil of it.” Archaic spellings include “Honi soit quy mal y

The garter with the inscription is in blue, wound around the shield

The garter with the inscription is in blue, wound around the shield

pense,” and “Hony soyt qe mal y pense,” and various other phoneticizations. It is the motto of the British chivalric Order of the Garter. In Modern French it is rendered as “Honni soit qui mal y pense” (the past participle of the modern verb honnir being honni). It is also written at the end of the manuscript Sir Gawain and the Green Knight but it appears to have been a later addition. Since its foundation, the Order of the Garter has included the Sovereign and Knights Companions. The Sovereign of the United Kingdom serves as Sovereign of the Order.

The Prince of Wales is explicitly mentioned in the Order’s statutes and is by convention created a Knight Companion; aside from him, there may be up to twenty-four other Knights Companions. In the early days of the Order, women (who could not be knighted), were sometimes associated with the Order under the name “Ladies of the Garter,” but they were not full companions. Henry VII, however, ended the practice, creating no more Ladies of the Garter after his mother Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Derby (appointed in 1488).

Its literal translation from Old French is “Shame be to him who thinks evil of it.” It is sometimes re-interpreted as “Evil be to him who evil thinks.”

According to historian Elias Ashmole, the foundation of the Garter occurred when King Edward III of England prepared for the Battle of Crécy and gave “forth his own garter as the signal.” Another theory 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. In an act of chivalry 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.”

The two phrases are often translated as follows: “A scoundrel, who thinks badly by it” or “Shame on him who suspects illicit motivation,” followed by, “Those who laugh at this today, tomorrow will be proud to wear it.” Other translations include: “Spurned be the one who evil thinks”, “Shame be to him who thinks ill of it,” and “Evil on him who thinks evil.”

David Nash Ford observes that although “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.”

Heraldic use

In British 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 shield 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).

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