Sword of the Black Prince
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The Black Prince
St. George & the Dragon (the George) was chosen by The Black Prince as the patron Saint for the Knight of the Garter, The Most Noble Order of the Garter. Prince Edward III, also known as The Black Prince, established the Order of the Garter around 1348 (exact date unknown). His motto for the garter is "Honi Soit Qui Mal Y Pense" which means "Evil be to him who think evil."
There are no known records of his epithet "The Black Prince." It is believed to refer to his black armor he may have worn, although other speculations attribute it to his dark temper. Early in life Edward III established an unyielding reputation as a soldier & was very occupied in upholding this claim. In doing so, the Black Prince provoked the long-running but intermittent battle between England & France, popularly known as the Hundred Years War.
Edward had a fascination with the legend of King Arthur & promised to renew the fraternity of the "Knights of the Round Table." Work even began, but was never completed, on a gigantic circular building two-hundred feet across within the upper sector of the castle to house this so-declared Order of the Round Table. Incidentally, the Order of the Garter came to play when founding the new college of St. George at Windsor. For the elite members of the order, twenty-five knights were provided with a stall in the chapel with the king at their head. Prince Edward III never became king, he died in 1376 before his father King Edward III. A year later the Black Prince’s ten year old son succeeded his grandfather and became King Richard II of England.
The institution of the Order of the Garter is an honor of knighthood going into battle. It is significant in comparison to other orders from the middle ages, fundamentally for prestige attached to the order and for its survival to present day.
Every June, members of the order meet at Windsor Castle for the annual Garter Service. Today Knights of the Garter wear what is the more distinctive of the various ensembles, the collar. This is worn on collar days with the George hanging from a collar composed of alternate gold knots and 26 blue garters enclosing red roses. In more than 500 years, little has changed in the current setting for the home of the Order. St. George’s Chapel & Windsor Castle continues to play a central role in the life of the Garter. Still, today, the Order of the Garter is the oldest surviving Order of chivalry in the world!
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