Flower of Scotland - or Scottish thistle - has long
been recognised as the much loved national emblem of Scotland.
According to legend, this "guardian thistle" has
played its part in the defence of the ancient realm of Scotland
against a night attack by the Danes, one of whom let out a
yell of pain when he stepped on a prickly thistle, thus alerting
the Scottish defenders. In the motto "No-one provokes
me with impunity" (Latin: "Nemo me impune lacessit"),
"me" was therefore originally the thistle itself,
but by extension now refers to the Scottish crown and the
Scottish regiments which have adopted it.
The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle is an
order of chivalry associated with Scotland. While its original
date of foundation is unknown, James VII (also King of England
as James II) instituted the modern Order in 1687. The Order
consists of the Sovereign and sixteen Knights and Ladies,
as well as certain "extra" knights (members of the
British Royal Family and foreign monarchs). The Sovereign
alone grants membership of the Order; he or she is not advised
by the Government, as occurs with most other Orders. The sixteen
members are required to be Scottish-born, though not the "extra"
knights and ladies.
The Order's primary emblem is the thistle, the national flower
of Scotland. The motto is "Nemo me impune lacessit"
(Latin for "No-one provokes me with impunity");
the same motto also appears on the Royal Coat of Arms of the
United Kingdom for use in Scotland and on some pound coins.
The patron saint of the Order is St Andrew.
Most British orders of chivalry cover the entire kingdom,
but the three most exalted ones each pertain to one constituent
country only. The Order of the Thistle, which pertains to
Scotland, is the second-most senior in precedence. Its equivalent
in England, The Most Noble Order of the Garter, is the oldest
documented order of chivalry in the United Kingdom, dating
to the middle fourteenth century. In 1783 an Irish equivalent,
The Most Illustrious Order of St Patrick, was founded; since
the independence of the greater part of Ireland the Order
has fallen dormant (its last surviving knight died in 1974).
courtesy of Wikipedia.org
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