In medieval times, King
Edward III of England wanted to be King of France.
He wanted be important in Europe. So in 1344 he held a huge tournament
Castle and made a big announcement.
He promised to set up
an 'Order of the Round Table' like King
Arthur had done. An order was like a special club for knights.
He asked knights from
all over the country to join it. He wanted 300 of them, so they could help him
smash the French.
started on a 'Round Table Building' at Windsor Castle. It was a circular arena
for the knights to meet in; but it was never finished.
In 1346, King
Edward's army beat the French at the Battle of Crecy. He was important in
Europe now. He didn't need 300 knights to help him.
So he decided to
set up a much smaller order for the very best knights in England. They would
all be his friends.
In 1348, the King held a big party at Windsor
Castle (though some people say it was in Calais). He danced with the
'Fair Maid of Kent' and she dropped her garter (which kept up her stockings). This was like your knickers falling down today! Everyone was very shocked.
King Edward picked up the garter and shouted, "Honi soit qui mal y pense". This is French and means, "Bad things will happen to you too, if you think badly of this". This probably didn't help the lady's embarrassment.
The King used the garter as the symbol for his new order of knighthood. He called it the 'Order of the Garter'.
It contained the
King and 12 friends and his eldest son, the Prince
of Wales, and 12 friends: 26 knights all together.
The King rebuilt
the chapel at Windsor Castle for them to meet in. It became known as St.
George's Chapel. He is the patron saint of soldiers.
There are still
26 Knights of the Garter today. It is the oldest order of knights in the
World. They meet in St. George's Chapel for Garter Day in June every year.