- In My Defens God Me Defend
"In my defens God me defend" is the
mottoof both the Royal coat of arms of the Kingdom of Scotlandand Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdomused in Scotland. [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=82cNAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA514&lpg=PA514&dq=%22in+my+defence+god+me+defend%22&source=web&ots=85gyff7umz&sig=fIX74AgSiyHgPnZoz0FJKt1g4lk&hl=en#PPA514,M1 The Progress and Public Processions of Queen Elizabeth, by John Nichols] ] [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=XlE0AAAAIAAJ&pg=RA2-PT218&lpg=RA2-PT218&dq=%22in+my+defence+god+me+defend%22&source=web&ots=T2JOZ2KOtt&sig=miJiHvbVmr2HSCoRvV2A63ZLcpg&hl=en The Fourth part of the Institutes of Laws of England: Concerning the Jurisdiction of Courts, by Edward Coke] ] Contemporary versions of the Royal arms show an abbreviated motto, in the form of "IN DEFENS" or, where English is used as an alternative to Scots, "IN DEFENCE". [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=5szc9GBZLwwC&pg=RA3-PA462&lpg=RA3-PA462&dq=%22in+my+defence+god+me+defend%22&source=web&ots=b9wOnHA6rd&sig=8EA-dKRp2-pytq2aYngJD7E2xpM&hl=en Public Sculpture of Glasgow by Ray McKenzie, Gary Nisbet] ] The motto appears above the crest of the arms, in the tradition of Scottish heraldry. [ [http://www.gg.ca/heraldry/pub-reg/project-pic.asp?lang=e&ProjectID=331&ProjectElementID=1125 The Public Register of Arms, Flags and Badges of Canada] ] [ [http://www.ngw.nl/int/gbr/scot/scot-nat.htm International Civic Heraldry] ]
Adopted during the reign of the
Stewart dynastyand originally the only motto associated with the Royal arms, [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=SwsIAAAAQAAJ&pg=PA1519&lpg=PA1519&dq=%22in+my+defence+god+me+defend%22&source=web&ots=VA_e1Tz27_&sig=zczHZE4a9tCwfJKl6zjxW7BhIZk&hl=en Typographical antiquities: an historical account of printing in England, by Joseph Ames] ] versions have appeared in both full and abbreviated forms; [ [http://nms.scran.ac.uk/database/record.php?scache=1cneew9jvb&searchdb=scran&usi=000-100-002-660-C National Museums of Scotland – Book stamp associated with James VI] ] "In my defens", for example, having been adopted for the Royal arms of James IV, King of Scots. (An embroidered wall hanging depicting these arms is displayed in the 'Great Hall' at Stirling Castle). Later versions of the arms which feature the abbreviated form "IN DEFENS" include the armorial by Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount, which appears in his "Register of Scottish Arms" ( 1542).
The motto is also associated with an old Scots
prayer, of which there are several versions where "In my defens God me defend" appears as the opening line, including:
:"In my defence God me defend":"And bring my sawl to ane good end":"ane vertuous lyf procureth ane happie death..." [ [http://www.electricscotland.com/History/women/scottish_women_chapter3.htm Electric Scotland] ]
:"In my defence God me defend":"And bring my soul to ane good end":"When I am sick and like to die":"Father of Heaven have mercy on me." [ [http://gen.deltanz.net/gen/banff/Banff6.html Annals of Banff: Index to old cemetry] ]
Also, in the form of a
couplet::"In my defense God me defend":"and bring my saulle to ane guid end O Lord." [ [http://books.google.co.uk/books?hl=en&id=orC1R2H5iKwC&dq=Cultural+Perspectives+on+the+Medieval+Miscellany&printsec=frontcover&source=web&ots=QCBMVt0F6t&sig=P15pb4MCcMD3JXtTnXvb0y0d9Pg&sa=X&oi=book_result&resnum=2&ct=result#PPP1,M1 The Whole Book: Cultural Perspectives on the Medieval Miscellany by Stephen G. Nichols, Siegfried Wenzel - 1996 - Bodleian Library MS Arch. Selden B.24: A "Transitional" Collection. "A S G Edwards - Appendix: Bodleian MS Arch f. 231v"] Accessed 28 July 2008]
Another variation of the phrase, appearing as "BE MY DEFENS GOD ME DEFEND FOREVER MORE", is to be found engraved upon a number of traditional Ballock knifes, with one particular example, (dated
1624), now forming part of the Arms and Armour collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. [ [http://www.myarmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2843 My Armoury] Accessed 28 July 2008]
Nemo me impune lacessit
of the Order of the Thistle had appeared on the arms).
The addition by King Charles of "Nemo me impune lacessit" ensured that the
blazonof his Royal arms used in Scotland complemented that of his Royal arms used elsewhere, in that two mottoes were displayed. The blazon used elsewhere had included the French motto of the arms, " Dieu et mon droit", together with the Old Frenchmotto of the Order of the Garter, the highest Chivalric order of the Kingdom of England. The motto of the Order of the Garter, " Honi soit qui mal y pense", appears on a representation of the garter surrounding the shield. Henceforth, the versions of the Royal arms used in Scotland and elsewhere were to include both the motto of the arms of the respective kingdom "and" the motto of the associated order of chivalry.
The rules governing
heraldryand armorial achievements in Englandhave possibly resulted in a degree of confusion as to the status of the mottoes associated with both the Royal coat of arms of Scotland and those of the United Kingdomused in Scotland. In English heraldry the motto is placed beneath the shield, whereas in Scottish heraldy the motto is placed above the crest. [ [http://cheshire-heraldry.org.uk/lesson.html Cheshire-Heraldry] ] Appearing beneath the shield may have led to the conclusion that "Nemo me impune lacessit" is the motto of the Royal arms, whereas historical evidence coupled with the conventions of heraldry in Scotland [ [http://www.cayman.gov.ky/servlet/page?_pageid=765&_dad=portal30&_schema=PORTAL30&_mode=3&orgcode=6 Cayman Islands Govt.] ] would suggest that "In my defens God me defend" is the motto of the Royal arms and therefore the motto of Scotland itself.
The motto "IN DEFENS" not only appears on the Royal arms, but also, in conjunction with the crest of the Royal arms, upon the
logoof both the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Serviceand the General Register Office for Scotland.
Royal coat of arms of Scotland
Royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom
Kingdom of Scotland
Order of the Thistle
http://www.wwp.brown.edu/encoding/training/titlepage/melvill.gifArms on publication dated 1606 showing full motto]
http://www.dorothydunnett.co.uk/2006AGM/mqos-arms-600.jpgWood carving of arms of Mary I showing full motto]
* [http://www.scotshistoryonline.co.uk/thistle/thistle.html Scots History on line]
* [http://www.royalcollection.org.uk/default.asp?action=article&ID=603 The Royal Collection]
* [http://www.honours.gov.uk/honours/chivalry.aspx UK Govt.]
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