- Fount of honour
The fount of honour (
Latin: "fons honorum") refers to a nation's head of state, who, by virtue of his or her official position, has the exclusive right of conferring legitimate titles of nobility and orders of chivalryto other persons.
High Middle Ages, European knights were essentially armoured, mounted warriors; it was common practice for knight commanders to confer knighthoods upon their finest soldiers, who in turn had the right to confer knighthood on others upon attaining command.
This "master-apprentice" system of knighthood began to change during the
Crusades, when military orders of chivalry were founded. As knights under these orders were bound by vows of obedience towards the orders' Grand Masters, they were prohibited from unilaterally granting knighthoods to others. This form of knighthood proved particularly attractive for monarchs, as a way to ensure their knights owed undivided allegiances to the monarchs themselves; to this end these monarchs either acquired grand masterships of existing orders, or created orders of their own. (In the case of the British Knight Bachelor, such knights have never been allowed to have their own soldiers in the first place, therefore their allegiances to the British Monarch have never been an issue.)
Many of the old-style military knights resented what they considered to be a royal encroachment on their independence. Julian Pitt-Rivers noted that "while the sovereign is the 'fount of honour' in one sense, he is also the enemy of honour in another, since he claims to arbitrate in regard to it" ("Honour and Social Status", 30 in Peristiany, ed., "Honour and Shame", Chicago, 1970). In the biography of
William Marshallthe author moans that, in his day, the spirit of chivalry has been imprisoned; the life of the knight errant, he charges, has been reduced to that of the litigant in courts.
After the end of
feudalismand the rise of the nation-states, orders and knighthoods, along with titles of nobility (in the case of monarchies), became the domain for the monarchs (heads of state) to reward their loyal subjects (citizens) - in other words, the heads of state became their nations' "fountains of honour".
Contrary to a popular myth, for a person to be made a noble or a knight does not give him or her the right to confer titles of Nobility or Orders of Chivalry to others. Given the historical background of the Orders of Chivalry as mentioned above, no person or organization, other than the head of state, can be a fount of honour; persons and organizations other than the head of state, heads of exiled dynasties, popes and certain patriarchs may confer such honours "only with the explicit permission of the fount of honour". For example, in the
United Kingdom, where the fount of honour is the Monarch, some societies have permissions from the Monarch to award medals, but these are to be worn on the right side of the chest. In France, however, with very few exceptions, non-government orders and medals are not allowed to be worn at all.
British honours system
Canadian honours system
* [http://www.etoile.co.uk/Columns/Margaret/060101.html Fount of honour] The Unofficial British Royal Family Pages
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
Orders, decorations, and medals of Canada — … Wikipedia
Monarchy of Spain — King of Spain redirects here. For other uses, see King of Spain (disambiguation). King of Spain Monarchy … Wikipedia
Chivalric order — Chivalric orders are societies and fellowships of knights that have been created by European monarchs in imitation of the military orders of the Crusades. After the crusades, the memory of these crusading military orders became idealised and… … Wikipedia
Orders, decorations, and medals of the United Kingdom — The British honours system is a means of rewarding individuals personal bravery, achievement, or service to the United Kingdom and the British Overseas Territories. The system consists of three types of award: honours, decorations and medals:… … Wikipedia
Order of Canada — Insignia of a Member of the Order of Canada Awarded by the … Wikipedia
2000 New Year Honours — The insignia of the Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George: Andrew Wood was awarded the Grand Cross in this Honours list. The New Year Honours 2000 for the United Kingdom were announced on 31 December 1999, to celebrate the year… … Wikipedia
Self-styled orders — Pseudo chivalric orders or self styled orders are organisations that claim to be chivalric orders in the same sense as orders such as the Order of the Golden Fleece or the Order of Saint Michael. Most of these have arisen starting from about the… … Wikipedia
Order of Nova Scotia — Awarded by the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia Type National order Eligibility Any Canadian citize … Wikipedia
heraldry — heraldist, n. /her euhl dree/, n., pl. heraldries. 1. the science of armorial bearings. 2. the art of blazoning armorial bearings, of settling the rights of persons to bear arms or to use certain bearings, of tracing and recording genealogies, of … Universalium
Order of British Columbia — Awarded by the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Type National order Eligibility … Wikipedia