Honi soit qui mal y pense

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The motto appears on a representation of the garter, surrounding the Shield of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom.
The motto appears in a royal coat of arms of the 17th century on the ceiling of Bath Abbey.
Hand fan of Queen Victoria with motto
Motto on cannon at Fort Denison, Sydney

Honi soit qui mal y pense (UK: [ɒnɪ ˌswɑː kiː mal iː ˈpɒ̃s] or US: [ˌoʊni ˌswɑ ki ˌmɑl i ˈpɑ̃s]) is an Anglo-Norman maxim that means, "May he be shamed who thinks badly of it."[1]

Its translation from Old French is "Shame be to him who thinks evil of it."[2] It is sometimes re-interpreted as "Evil (or shame) be to him that evil thinks"[3] or "shame on anyone who thinks ill of it." In contemporary French usage, it is usually used ironically, to insinuate the presence of hidden agendas or conflicts of interest.[4] A more literal, word-for-word translation is "Shamed be [he] who evil of it thinks."

The saying's most famous use is as the motto of the British chivalric Order of the Garter. It is also inscribed at the end of the manuscript of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, but that appears to have been a later addition.[5]

History and translation[edit]

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." 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.[6] 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."[7]

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:

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."[8]

Heraldic use[edit]

Arms of John of Gaunt include the garter and the motto Honi soit qui mal y pense. Picture from a 16th-century depiction

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).[9][10][11] 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;[12] and are used by other entities so distinguished by the British monarch (e.g. as the official emblem of the Royal Yacht Britannia).[13]

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):

Other uses[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "honi soit qui mal y pense, n". OED Online. Oxford University Press. December 2014. Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  2. ^ "Order of the Garter". Encyclopedia Americana. 12. New York. 1919. p. 300. 
  3. ^ Thomas, Tayler (1856). "Equites Garterii". The Law Glossary (4th ed.). New York: Lewis & Blood. p. 183.  Reprinted in 1995 by The Lawbook Exchange, Union, NJ, ISBN 1-886363-12-9.
  4. ^ "Honi soit qui mal y pense - French expressions analyzed and explained". About Education. About.com. Archived from the original on 2015-07-22. Retrieved 2017-05-13. 
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ "Berkshire History: The Order of the Garter". berkshirehistory.com. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  7. ^ "Windsor - Preparez votre séjour!". londres-week-end.com. Retrieved 17 January 2017. 
  8. ^ "Berkshire History: The Order of the Garter". www.berkshirehistory.com. 
  9. ^ Fox-Davies, Arthur Charles (1996). "XXXVI Official Heraldic Insignia". Complete Guide to Heraldry (1996 ed.). Ware, Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions. pp. 583–84. ISBN 1-85326-365-6. A Knight of the Garter has: (1) His Garter to encircle the shield... 
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ Robson, Thomas (1830). The British Herald, or Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility & Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, Volume I. Sunderland: Turner & Marwood. p. 401 (CHU-CLA). 
  12. ^ "Scissors for Lefty review in The Times". Scissors for Lefty website. Scissors for Lefty. 5 January 2007. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 20 Jun 2012.  Banner image for The Times;
  13. ^ "Coats of Arms". Official Website of the British Monarchy. The Royal Household. 2008–09. Retrieved 20 June 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  14. ^ "Artillery Heritage". Southern Gunners website. Royal New Zealand Artillery Association. 25 December 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Wilkinson-Latham, Robert (2006). Discovering British Military Badges and Buttons (Third ed.). Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire: Shire Books. p. 25. ISBN 0-7478-0484-2. 
  16. ^ a b c "Welcome". Presenting the Household Cavalry Regiment... Everything You Wanted to Know! website. Peter J Ashman. 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  17. ^ "The Grenadier Guards". The Grenadier Guards website. The Grenadier Guards. 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  18. ^ "Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment". British Army website. British Army. 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  19. ^ "Royal Regiment of Fusiliers – Regimental History". British Army website. British Army. 2012. Archived from the original on 5 September 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  20. ^ "Corps of Royal Engineers Badges and Emblems". British Army website. British Army. 2012. Archived from the original on 22 June 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  21. ^ "Royal Logistic Corps". British Army website. British Army. 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  22. ^ "Royal Army Service Corps & Royal Corps of Transport Association". RASC & RCT Association website. RASC & RCT Association. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  23. ^ "Who we are – The Royal Australian Engineers". The Australian Army website. The Australian Army. Archived from the original on 27 February 2012. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  24. ^ "Royal Australian Army Service Corps". Digger History website. Digger History. Archived from the original on 17 September 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  25. ^ "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. 
  26. ^ "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. 
  27. ^ "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. 
  28. ^ 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. 
  29. ^ "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. 
  30. ^ http://www.kings.lincs.sch.uk/
  31. ^ "fatefulvoyage.com". fatefulvoyage.com. 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  32. ^ TROPFEST (8 December 2013). "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense - Third Place of Tropfest Australia 22 2013". Retrieved 17 January 2017 – via YouTube. 
  33. ^ "Source code for the Apollo 13 lunar module's guidance computer". Ibiblio.org. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  34. ^ rightnowORneverever (26 January 2011). "John Cale "Honi Soit (Le Première Leçon de Français)"". Retrieved 17 January 2017 – via YouTube. 
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-01-28. Retrieved 2014-02-03. 
  36. ^ http://www.storyvilledistrictnola.com/bluebook_gallery.html
  37. ^ "chrislgarry/Apollo-11". github.com. Retrieved 17 January 2017.