The fount of honour (Latin: fons honorum) refers to a person, who, by virtue of his or her official position, has the exclusive right of conferring legitimate titles of nobility and orders of chivalry on other persons.
During the High Middle Ages, European knights were essentially armoured, mounted warriors; by virtue of its defining characteristic of subinfeudation, in feudalism it was common practice for knights commander to confer knighthoods upon their finest soldiers, who in turn had the right to confer knighthood on others upon attaining command. For most of the Middle Ages, it was possible for private individuals to form orders of chivalry. The oldest existing order of chivalry, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, was formed as a private organization which later received official sanction from church and state.
The 13th century witnessed the trend of monarchs, beginning with Emperor Frederick II (as King of Sicily) in 1231, retaining the right of fons honorum as a royal prerogative, gradually abrogating the right of knights to elevate their esquires to knighthood. After the end of feudalism and the rise of the nation-state, orders and knighthoods, along with titles of nobility (in the case of monarchies), became the domain of the monarchs (heads of state) to reward their loyal subjects (citizens) – in other words, the heads of state became their nations' "fountains of honour".
Many of the old-style military knights resented what they considered to be a royal encroachment on their independence. The late British social anthropologist, Julian A. 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." By the early thirteenth century, when an unknown author composed L'Histoire de Guillaume le Marechal), (a verse biography of William Marshal, 1st Earl of Pembroke, often regarded as the greatest medieval English knight) Richard W. Kaeuper notes that "the author bemoans the fact 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."
The question whether an order is a legitimate chivalric order or a self-styled order coincides with the subject of the fons honorum. A legitimate fount of honour is a person or entity who holds sovereignty when the order is awarded; ultimately, it is the authority of the state, whether exercised by a reigning monarch or the president of a republic, that distinguishes orders of chivalry from private organizations. Other persons, whether commoners, knights, or noblemen, no longer have the right to confer titles of nobility, knighthood or orders of chivalry upon others.
The official website of the British monarchy states: "As the 'fountain of honour' in the United Kingdom, The Queen has the sole right of conferring all titles of honour, including life peerages, knighthoods and gallantry awards." Some private societies in the United Kingdom (such as the Royal Humane Society) have permission from the monarch to award medals which may be worn by those in uniform provided the private society's medal is worn on the right-side rather than the usual left. In Spain the fount of honour is King Felipe VI as the head of state.
In France, only decorations recognised by the Grand Chancery of the Legion of Honour may be worn publicly, and permission must be sought and granted to wear any foreign awards or decorations. Dynastic orders are prohibited unless the dynasty in question is currently recognised as sovereign. (For example, the Royal Victorian Order is explicitly recognised, whereas the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus is not.) Failure to comply is punishable by law. A non-exhaustive list of collectively authorised orders is published by the government.
The Papal Orders of Knighthood comprise five orders awarded directly by the Holy See and two others which it 'recognises and supports': the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and the Order of the Holy Sepulchre. In response to queries regarding the Catholic Church's relationship to a large number of self-proclaimed Roman Catholic chivalric orders, the Holy See issued a statement in 2012 stating that any body other than its own seven approved orders, 'whether of recent origin or mediaeval foundation, are not recognised by the Holy See' and that 'the Holy See does not guarantee their historical or juridical legitimacy, their ends or organisational structures... to prevent the continuation of abuses which may result in harm to people of good faith, the Holy See confirms that it attributes absolutely no value whatsoever to certificates of membership or insignia issued by these groups, and it considers inappropriate the use of churches or chapels for their so-called "ceremonies of investiture".'
Every knight has the power to create knights
In practice, it may be found that the Royal Knighthoods still extant and the true Orders of Merit are identical, but they can differ in their external presentation. The Order can be either the prerogative of The Sovereign, which means that the reigning member of the Royal House rules the institution as the Master of the Order, or it can be a State institution, the President of the country, as Grand Master of the State Orders, having the final decision in all question concerning the Order.
Before the Royal Charter of Incorporation of 1888, the Order of St. John had no official status in Britain or throughout the British Empire as an honour. The situation was not unlike that now experienced by bodies using the name designation The Order of St. Lazarus. The Order of St. John was simply a charitable organization that involved itself in the teaching of first aid ambulance duties that happened to have attached to it an order of chivalry; on that was unrecognized by all relevant authorities--the Order of Malta, Papal officials, and, most important, the government of the United Kingdom...The involvement of the Prince of Wales was central in affording legitimacy to the Order as it evolved from what was little more than a private club to an official British order of chivalry engaged in important charitable works
As the 'fountain of honour' the Queen has the sole right of conferring all titles of honour, including life peerages, knighthoods and gallantry awards.
only the Life Saving Medal of the Order of St John, The Royal Humane Society medals, Stanhope Gold Medal and the medal of The Royal National Lifeboat Institution may be worn on the right side of the chest
Pursuant to the Constitution, the King is a symbol of the unity of the State, and as such, it is incumbent upon him to participate in important State acts...It is also incumbent upon the King to...Confer civil and military positions, as well as award honours and distinctions (Article 62 f).
The 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada Medal (French: Médaille commémorative du 125e anniversaire de la Confédération du Canada) is a commemorative medal struck by the Royal Canadian Mint to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada and was awarded to Canadians who were deemed to have made a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, to their community, or to Canada. Nominations were submitted to lieutenant governors and territorial commissioners, senators, members of parliament, provincial governments, the Public Service Commission of Canada, the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and various federal government departments, as well as organizations throughout the country, and some 42,000 medals were awarded.The medal's design was approved by the Canadian monarch, Elizabeth II. It is in the form of a 36 millimetres (1.4 in) diameter, rhodium plated copper and zinc alloy disc with, on the obverse, the image of the Royal Cypher surmounted by a St. Edward's Crown (symbolising the sovereign as fount of honour) all superimposed on a large single maple leaf and circumscribed with the words CONFEDERATION • CONFÉDÉRATION above and the years 1867 — 1992 below. The medal's reverse shows the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada encircled by the motto ribbon of the Order of Canada and ensigned by the crest of the Canadian arms (a crowned lion holding a maple leaf in the right front paw), all above the country's national motto, A MARI USQUE AD MARE. This medallion is worn at the left chest, suspended on a 31.8mm wide ribbon with blue edging and white between with five vertical red stripes arranged equally, each of those representing 25 year intervals, thus totalling 125 years.Award or decoration
An award is something given to a person, a group of people, like a sports team, or an organization in recognition of their excellence in a certain field. An award may be accompanied by a trophy, title, certificate, commemorative plaque, medal, badge, pin, or ribbon. The accompanying item may vary according to purpose. For instance, awards for sports tournaments often take the form of cups, following a tradition harking back to the ancient Greek tripod given to winners in athletic contests. The Stanley Cup is a modern example. In contrast, awards for employee recognition often take the form of plaques or crystal pieces.. An award may carry a monetary prize given to the recipient. For example, the Nobel Prize recognizes contributions to society, while the Pulitzer prize honors literary achievements. An award may also simply be a public acknowledgment of excellence, without any tangible token or prize. Finally, an award may recognize participation rather than victory. There is controversy regarding the appropriateness of participation awards for students in United States schools.A decoration is an object, such as a medal or an order's insignia, that is awarded to honor the recipient (see List of prizes, medals and awards). It may be awarded by a sovereign state (see state decoration), a fount of honour or an organization.
An honorable mention is an award, prize or recognition given to something that does not make it to a higher standing but is worth mentioning in an honorable way.Canadian Centennial Medal
The Canadian Centennial Medal (French: Médaille du centenaire du Canada) is a commemorative medal struck by the Royal Canadian Mint in 1967 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Canadian Confederation and was awarded to Canadians who were recommended by governments and professional, educational and cultural associations, as well as military and protective services, veterans' groups, sports associations, and philanthropic and charitable bodies, for having provided valuable service to Canada. Some 29,500 medals were issued after its inauguration on 1 July 1967, of which 8,500 went to personnel in the Canadian Forces.The Canadian Centennial Medal was designed by Bruce W. Beatty and is in the form of a 36 millimetres (1.4 in) diameter silver disc with, on the obverse, the words CONFEDERATION CANADA CONFÉDÉRATION surrounding a maple leaf with the Royal Cypher of Queen Elizabeth II superimposed on it, symbolizing her role as fount of honour. The medal's reverse shows the Royal Arms of Canada above the dates 1867 • 1967. This medallion is worn at the left chest, suspended on a 31.8mm wide ribbon coloured white with vertical red stripes, the outermost two wider than the four arranged equally between, each of those representing 25 year intervals, thus totalling 100 years.Cape Copper Company Medal for the Defence of O'okiep
In the Colonies and Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Cape Copper Company Medal for the Defence of O'okiep is a private campaign medal which was instituted by the Cape Copper Company Limited in 1902. The medal was awarded to members of the O'okiep Garrison who defended the town while it was besieged by Boer Commandos from 4 April to 4 May 1902, near the end of the Second Boer War.Commandant General's Medal
The Commandant General's Medal is a military marksmanship medal which was created by the Commandant General of the South African Defence Force in 1962 and formally instituted by the State President in 1965. It was awarded to the champion shot of the annual South African Defence Force Shooting Championships from 1962 to 1975. The year the award was earned, is shown on a bar which is worn on the ribbon. The award could be won multiple times, with each subsequent award indicated by an additional bar.International Order of Saint Stanislaus
The International Order of Saint Stanislaus is a Polish fraternal order founded on 16 May 2004.Although claiming to follow the "code of chivalry" it acknowledges itself as a recently founded private organisation without fount of honour and no legitimate order of chivalry. In doing so, the organisation frankly acknowledges the problems with its background organisation, Ordo Sancti Stanislai founded by Juliusz Nowina-Sokolnicki in 1979 as an attempted revival of the Polish Order of Saint Stanislaus, in turn founded in 1765.
The International Order of Saint Stanislaus is generally regarded as a fraternal order. It has been compared to the masonic movement.Johannesburg Vrijwilliger Corps Medal
In the Colonies and Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Johannesburg Vrijwilliger Corps Medal is an unofficial private campaign medal which was instituted in 1899 by Lieutenant Colonel S.H. van Diggelen, the founder and Commanding Officer of the Johannesburg Vrijwilliger Corps, for award to the officers and men of his unit.Kimberley Star
In the Colonies and Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. The Kimberley Star is an unofficial private campaign medal which was instituted by the Mayor of Kimberley in 1900. The medal was awarded to all who took part in the defence of the diamond mining town during the four months in 1899 and 1900 while Kimberley was besieged by Boer Republican Forces during the Second Boer War.Order (distinction)
An order is a visible honour awarded by a sovereign state, monarch, dynastic royal house or organisation to a person, typically in recognition of individual merit, that often comes with distinctive insignia such as collars, medals, badges, and sashes worn by recipients.
Modern honour systems of state orders and dynastic orders emerged from the culture of orders of chivalry of the Middle Ages, which in turn emerged from the Catholic religious orders.Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana
The Order of the Star and Eagles of Ghana is an order created by President John Kufuor of Ghana in June 2008. The award superseded the Order of the Star of Ghana as the highest national decoration. It is to be presented only to those who have obtained the office of President of the Republic of Ghana.
There was significant criticism to the order's creation. Some suggested it was inappropriate for such an order with such limited members to be the highest in the land. Others have suggested this is simple a vanity title for the outgoing president and comparisons have been made to African dictators who gave themselves titles (such as Idi Amin).
Others have suggested that the order is illegal as it was instituted by executive ordinance rather than being a parliamentary motion. It is questionable as to whether or not the President is legally allowed to create such an order Although the President is "fount of honour" (in that all honours flow from the president, similar to the British model where all honours flow from the Queen) it is debatable as to whether or not the President has the authority to simply create a new order.Orders, decorations, and medals of the Holy See
The orders, decorations, and medals of the Holy See include titles, chivalric orders, distinctions and medals honoured by the Holy See, with the Pope as the fount of honour, for deeds and merits of their recipients to the benefit of the Holy See, the Catholic Church, or their respective communities, societies, nations and the world at large.
Some of these honours are defunct or currently dormant, while some are still actively conferred.Peerages in the United Kingdom
The peerage in the United Kingdom is a legal system comprising both hereditary and lifetime titles, composed of various noble ranks, and forming a constituent part of the British honours system. The term peerage can be used both collectively to refer to the entire body of nobles (or a subdivision thereof), and individually to refer to a specific title (modern English language-style using an initial capital in the former case but not the latter). British peerage title holders are termed peers of the Realm.
Peerages are created by the British monarch, like all Crown honours, being affirmed by Letters Patent affixed with the Great Seal of the Realm. The government of the United Kingdom recommends to the Sovereign who should be elevated to the peerage, after external vetting by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Under present custom, the only new hereditary peerages granted are to members of the royal family; the last non-royal awardees of hereditary titles were in the Thatcher era. Since then, ruling parties have refrained from recommending any others to be elevated.
New Labour, elected to power in 1997, sought to remove all the seats in the House of Lords reserved for hereditary peers, but Prime Minister Tony Blair relented by allowing 92 members to remain by legislation enacted in 1999. The House of Lords' purpose is now that of a revising legislative chamber, scrutinising and potentially changing proposed Parliamentary Bills before their enactment. Its membership for the most part comprises life peers, created under the Life Peerages Act 1958, which includes those who can add value in specific areas of expertise in parliamentary debates, as well as former MPs and other political appointees from respective political parties.
The Sovereign, traditionally the fount of honour, cannot hold a British peerage (although the British Sovereign, whether male or female, is informally accorded the style of "Duke of Lancaster"). All British subjects who were neither Royal nor Peers of the Realm were previously termed Commoners, regardless of wealth or other social factors, thus all members of a peer's family are (technically) commoners too; the British system thus differs fundamentally from continental European versions, where entire families, rather than individuals, were ennobled. Nobility in Britain is based on title rather than bloodline, and correspondingly The Princess Royal (Princess Anne) who enjoys Royal status as daughter of The Queen, opted for her children to be Commoners by refusing offers of titles, despite their being grandchildren of the Sovereign (qv. Peter Phillips and Zara Tindall).
Certain personal privileges are afforded to all peers and peeresses, but the main distinction of a peerage nowadays, apart from access to the House of Lords for life peers and some hereditary peers, is the title and style thereby accorded. Succession claims to existing hereditary peerages are regulated by the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct and administered by The Crown Office.Self-styled order
A self-styled order or pseudo-chivalric order is an organisation which claims to be a chivalric order, but is not recognised as legitimate by countries or international bodies. Most self-styled orders arose in or after the mid-18th century, and many have been created recently. Most are short-lived and endure no more than a few decades.Sir Harry Smith's Medal for Gallantry
In the Colonies and former Boer Republics which became the Union of South Africa in 1910, several unofficial military decorations and medals were instituted and awarded during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Sir Harry Smith's Medal for Gallantry is an unofficial military decoration for bravery, awarded for actions following the siege of Fort Cox in December 1850, at the beginning of the 8th Cape Frontier War. The medal was privately instituted in 1851 by Major General Sir Henry George Wakelyn Smith Bt GCB, at the time the Governor and Commander-in-Chief of the Cape of Good Hope.Sovereign (disambiguation)
A sovereign is the supreme lawmaking authority within a particular jurisdiction.
Sovereign may also refer to:
Head of state
Monarch, the sovereign of a monarchy
Sovereign, head of local government (historical)
Fount of honour for honours and decorations
Sovereign, Saskatchewan, community in Canada
Sovereign, West Virginia, community in the United States
Sovereign Bank, banking institution in the United States
Sovereign (English coin), minted from 1489 to 1604
Sovereign (British coin), minted from 1817 to the present
Sovereign Hill, Victoria, Australia
Sovereign Limited, Insurances company of New Zealand
Sovereign Pontiff, a title for the Pope
Sovereign wealth fund, type of investment funds
Sovereign (building), a building in Burnaby, CanadaStar of South Africa, Commander
The Star of South Africa, Commander, post-nominal letters CSSA, is the third highest decoration of five non-military classes of the Order of the Star of South Africa, a South African military order that was instituted by the Republic of South Africa on 1 July 1975. The Order of the Star of South Africa was discontinued in 2002.Star of South Africa, Grand Cross
The Star of South Africa, Grand Cross, post-nominal letters SSA, is the senior decoration of five non-military classes of the Order of the Star of South Africa, a South African Military Order that was instituted by the Republic on 1 July 1975. The Order of the Star of South Africa was discontinued in 2002.Star of South Africa, Grand Officer
The Star of South Africa, Grand Officer, post-nominal letters SSAS, is the second decoration of five non-military classes of the Order of the Star of South Africa, a military order that was instituted by the Republic of South Africa on 1 July 1975. The Order of the Star of South Africa was discontinued in 2002.Star of South Africa, Officer
The Star of South Africa, Officer, post-nominal letters OSSA, is the fourth-ranked decoration of five non-military classes of the Order of the Star of South Africa, a South African military order that was instituted by the Republic on 1 July 1975. The Order of the Star of South Africa was discontinued in 2002.
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