Dieu et mon droit

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The motto appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the English version of the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom.

Dieu et mon droit (French pronunciation: ​[djø e mɔ̃ dʁwa]) is the motto of the British Monarch in England.[1] It appears on a scroll beneath the shield of the English version of the coat of arms of the United Kingdom.[2] The motto refers to the divine right of the Monarch to govern[3] and is said to have first been used by King Richard the Lionheart as a battle cry and official motto of battle, then adopted as the royal motto of England by King Henry V in the 15th century.[3]

Language[edit]

The motto is Old French for literally "God and my right", meaning that the king is "Rex Angliæ Dei gratia": King of England by the grace of God.[4][5][6][7][8] A better translation referring to the divine right of kings would be "My divine right",[9] this being an example of hendiadys.

For the Royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of England to have a French rather than English motto was not unusual, given that Norman French was the primary language of the English Royal Court and ruling class following the rule of William the Conqueror of Normandy and later the Plantagenets. Another Old French phrase also appears in the full achievement of the Royal Arms. The motto of the Order of the Garter, Honi soit qui mal y pense ("Spurned be the one who evil thinks"), appears on a representation of a garter behind the shield. Modern French spelling has changed honi to honni, but the motto has not been updated.

Other translations[edit]

Dieu et mon droit has been translated in several ways, including "God and my right," "God and my right hand,"[10][11] "God and my lawful right,"[12] and "God and my right shall me defend."[13] (a fuller version of the motto is also quoted as "God and my right shall me defend"[citation needed].)

The literal translation of Dieu et mon droit is "God and my right". However, Kearsley's Complete Peerage, published in 1799, translates it to mean "God and my right hand". (In standard French that would be Dieu et ma [main] droite, not mon droit.) The Kearsley volume appeared during publication of the 1st edition (1796–1808) of the German Brockhaus Encyclopedia, which emphasised the raising of the "right hand" during installations and coronations of German Kings.

Use as royal motto[edit]

Dieu et mon droit has generally been used as the motto of English—and later British (outside of Scotland)—monarchs since being adopted by Edward III.[14] It was first used as a battle cry by King Richard I in 1198 at the Battle of Gisors, when he defeated the forces of Philip II of France and after he made it his motto.[14][15] The belief in medieval Europe was not that victory automatically went to the side with the better army but that, as with personal trial by combat, to the side that God viewed with favour.[16] Hence Richard wrote after his victory "It is not us who have done it but God and our right through us".[14] So after his victories on the crusades "Richard was speaking what he believed to be the truth when he told the Holy Roman Emperor: 'I am born of a rank which recognises no superior but God'."[17]

Alternatively, the Royal Arms may depict a monarch's personal motto. For example, Elizabeth I & Queen Anne's often displayed Semper Eadem; Latin for "Always the same",[18] and James I's depicted Beati Pacifici, Latin for "Blessed are the peacemakers".[19]

Current usages[edit]

Dieu et mon droit has been adopted along with the rest of the royal coat of arms by The Times as part of its masthead. In 1785 when it incorporated the royal coat of arms half the newspapers in London were doing so. Since 1982 the paper abandoned the use of the current royal coat of arms and returned to using the Hanoverian coat of arms of 1785.[20]

Versions of the coat of arms, with the motto, are also used by other newspapers, including Melbourne's The Age in Australia, Christchurch's The Press in New Zealand, the UK's Daily Mail and Canada's Toronto Standard.

It is also found on the official belt buckle of the Jamaica Constabulary Force,[citation needed] the front page of a British passport, and the crests of Nottingham Law School and Sherborne School.[21]

The coined phrase was as well used by Michael Jackson at his Neverland Ranch's front gates. The crest on the main gates carried the Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, along with the phrase at the bottom.[22]

Variants[edit]

The Hearts of Oak, a revolutionary New York militia commanded by Alexander Hamilton, wore badges of red tin hearts on their jackets with the words “God and Our Right”.[23]

The phrase was the inspiration for a joke motto by The Beatles, Duit on Mon Dei ("Do it on Monday")[citation needed] and Harry Nilsson's 1975 album Duit on Mon Dei.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ British Royal Coat of Arms and Motto Accessed 23 December 2008
  2. ^ "Coats of arms". royal.gov.uk. Retrieved 25 April 2009. 
  3. ^ a b Dieu Et Mon Droit on British Coins Accessed 23 December 2008
  4. ^ Ted Ellsworth, Yank: Memoir of a World War II Soldier (1941-1945), Da Capo Press, 2009, p. 29.
  5. ^ Tony Freer Minshull, The Foley Family Volume One, Lulu.com, 2007, p. 114.
  6. ^ The Journal of the British Archaeological Association, vol. 17, British Archaeological Association, 1861 p. 33.
  7. ^ Henry Shaw, Dress and decoration of the Middle Ages, First Glance Books, 1998, p. 92.
  8. ^ Dresses and Decorations of the Middle Ages, vol. 1, William Pickering, 1843, section 2.
  9. ^ Date in history 16 December 1653 translating motto as "God and my [divine] right" http://footguards.tripod.com/08HISTORY/08_Date_in_history/08_Date_12.htm
  10. ^ Kearsley's Complete Peerage, of England, Scotland, and Ireland. 1799. p. xxiii. Retrieved 25 April 2009. 
  11. ^ Mary Ellen Snodgrass (2003). Coins and Currency: An Historical Encyclopedia. p. 227. 
  12. ^ Foreign Service Journal (Pg 24) by American Foreign Service Association (1974)
  13. ^ Edward Coke. The Fourth part of the Institutes of Laws of England: Concerning the Jurisdiction of Courts. Retrieved 25 April 2009. "The ancient Motto of the King of England is, God and my right (intelligitur) shall me defend" 
  14. ^ a b c Pine, Leslie Gilbert (1983). A Dictionary of mottoes. Routledge. p. 53. ISBN 978-0-7100-9339-4. 
  15. ^ Norris, Herbert (1999). Medieval Costume and Fashion (illustrated, reprint ed.). Courier Dover Publications. p. 312. ISBN 0-486-40486-2. 
  16. ^ "If a battle was followed by victory, it was understood that the army was to be seen as in God's favour and the victory viewed as a gesture of blessing." (Lehtonen, Tuomas M. S.; Jensen, Kurt Villads (2005). Medieval history writing and crusading ideology. Studia Fennica: Historica 9 (illustrated ed.). Finnish Literature Society. ISBN 951-746-662-5. )
  17. ^ Hallam, 1996. Medieval Monarchs. Crescent Books. p. 44. ISBN 0-517-14082-9. 
  18. ^ Watkins, John (2002). Representing Elizabeth in Stuart England: literature, history, sovereignty edition=illustrated. Cambridge University Press. p. 206. ISBN 0-521-81573-8. 
  19. ^ Biden, William Downing (1852). The history and antiquities of the ancient and royal town of Kingston-upon-Thames. William Lindsey. p. 6. 
  20. ^ Staff (25 January 2007). "FAQ: infrequently asked questions: The Times and Sunday Times are newspapers with long and interesting histories". The Times. 
  21. ^ Max Davidson (30 June 2009). "State vs independent schools: Sherborne, Dorset". The Telegraph. 
  22. ^ Brian Mills (4 May 2012). "A Night Inside Michael Jackson’s Abandoned Neverland Ranch". Fierth Magazine. 
  23. ^ Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. Penguin Press, (2004) (ISBN 1-59420-009-2).