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Badge of the Most Noble Order of the Garter

19th century

Silver, rock crystal, enamel H 12.5 cm, w 7 cm

The order of Garter, one of the oldest secular orders, was instituted by Edward III in 1348 as a military order consisting of the king and twenty five knights. St George was chosen as the order's patron saint and he is depicted on the order's badge. One of the reasons given for the institution of the order was the victory over the French at the Battle of Crecy in 1346 during the Hundred Years' War. A romantic legend tells how the king at a court ball chivalrously picked up off the floor a garter which one of the ladies had accidentally let slip, and tying it to his leg, said, Honi soit qui mal y pense! [Shame to him who thinks this evil]. The dark blue enamelled ribbon bearing this inscription encircles the depiction of the saint on the order's badge. The same inscription is on the ribbon, worn, with the order's robes, by men under the left knee, and by women around the left upper arm. The order, as the personal bestowal of the ruling monarch, has retained its exclusiveness to this day.

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