Friday, 29 January 2010

The Order of the Garter

...was founded by Edward III in 1348 to fulfil a vow made at the end of the Great Windsor Tournament of 1344. Its foundation legend is probably true: the beautiful Countess of Shrewsbury dropped her blue garter as she was dancing with the king at a ball; ladies at that time did not wear pants. The king stooped, picked up the garter and bound it round his own knee as a favour for the next day's tournament, silencing the sniggers of the bystanders with the words, long since the motto of the Order, Honi soit qui mal y pense (Evil be to him who thinks evil of it). Her husband was killed at the tourney and this placed the king under a moral obligation to fulfil the oath.

[You are awarded this honour for who you are, not for anything you've done; Lord Melbourne said of it: "There's no damn nonsense about merit". Those whose know that soie is the French for silk may be confused by the false suggestion that the motto actually means "Honey, your silk stocking is hanging down".]

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