S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.
[King of England; born at Windsor, 1312; proclaimed king under a regency, 1327; defeated the Scotch at Halidon Hill, 1333; invaded France, and gained the battle of Crécy, 1346; captured Calais, 1347; made peace after the victory of Poitiers, 1356; but subsequently lost nearly all that he had gained; died 1377.]
Honi soit qui mal y pense.
The motto of the Order of the Garter, which owes its origin to Edward III. With a view of recovering what England once held in France, he was eager to draw the best soldiers of Europe into his interest, and therefore projected the revival of King Arthur’s “Round Table.” For this purpose he invited foreigners and subjects of quality and courage to a tournament on New Year’s Day, 1344, a table being erected in Windsor Castle of two hundred feet in diameter, at which the knights were to be entertained at the king’s expense. This festival excited the jealousy of Philip of France, who not only prohibited his subjects from attending the Round Table at Windsor, but proclaimed one to be held by himself at Paris. The English tournament thus losing something of its prestige, Edward established the Order of the Garter, April 23, 1349, the motto of which, “Honi soit qui mal y pense” (Evil be to him who evil thinks of it), seems to apply to the possible misrepresentation which the king of France might throw out concerning the order, as he had already done concerning the festival of the Round Table.—SIR W. SCOTT: Essay on Chivalry. The garter may have been selected as the badge of the order, from the fact that Edward had given his own for the signal of a battle (supposed to be Crécy), which had been crowned with success. Popular tradition is the only authority for the story that the king picked up at a ball the garter of the Countess of Salisbury, and, replying to the smiles of the courtiers with the remark, “Those who laugh will be proud to wear a similar one,” founded the order, upon the ribbon of which he placed the old French motto, which, according to the “Acta Sanctorum,” III., was proverbial in France before Edward’s day.Lord Bridgewater, as proud of his horses as of his decoration of the garter, wrote over the door of his stable, “Honni soit qui mal y PANSE” (from panser, to groom a horse). On the return of M. de Lauraguais from a visit of philosophical study at London, Louis XV. asked him what he went there for. “Apprendre à penser, sire.”—“Horses?” (Les chevaux?) inquired the king, with the same pun on penser.