The symbol of evil and protection

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Статья знакомит с основными фактами истории возникновения и становления национальной эмблемы Шотландии, известной как чертополох. Материал статьи может быть использован для проведения уроков в 8 классе по теме ‘Great Britain in Brief’.

Язык статьи – английский


The symbol of evil and protection

Common throughout the highlands, islands and lowlands of Scotland, the prickly purple thistle [1] has been Scotland's national emblem for centuries. This proud and regal plant, which grows to a height of five feet, has no natural enemies because of the vicious spines that cover and protect it like a porcupine.

The thistle


The thistle has nothing pleasant in it, especially if you carelessly touch its thorns. It's thorns symbolize both evil and protection. In Christianity it represents the suffering of Christ. But the thistle has an important meaning for the people of Scotland. It is the Scottish national emblem. Scotland, as you may know, is now part of Great Britain. Why did the Scottish people choose this thorny plant as the national emblem of their country? The answer is interesting, and it can be found in the history of Scotland.


There are several different legends that tell how the thistle became Scotland's symbol, but most date from the reign of Alexander III and in particular the events surrounding the Battle of Largs in 1263. It is often forgotten, that for hundreds of years much of Scotland was part of the Kingdom of Norway. By 1263 however, Norway seems to have had little interest in their former territory. However, that was until King Alexander III proposed to buy back the Western Isles and Kintyre from the Norse King Haakon IV. The thought of relieving King Alexander of some of his riches and territories appears to have re-kindled Norse interest in Scotland. Late in the summer of 1263 King Haakon of Norway,[2] now intent on conquering the Scots, set off with a sizeable fleet of longships for the Scottish coast. Gales and fierce storms forced some of the ships onto the beach at Largs in Ayrshire, and a Norwegian force was landed. Legend has it that at some point during the invasion the Norsemen tried to surprise the sleeping Scottish Clansmen. In order to move more stealthily under the cover of darkness the Norsemen removed their footwear. But as they crept barefoot they came across an area of ground covered in thistles and one of Haakon's men unfortunately stood on one and shrieked out in pain, thus alerting the Clansmen to the advancing Norsemen. His shout warned the Scots who defeated the Norsemen at the Battle of Largs, thus saving Scotland from invasion. The important role that the thistle had played was recognised and so was chosen as Scotland's national emblem.

The Order of the Thistle

The Order of theThistle

The first use of the thistle as a royal symbol of Scotland was on silver coins issued by James III in 1470.Scotland's highest chivalric order [3]is named for the national flower. The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle was established on a statutory basis in 1687 by James VII, who claimed to be reviving an order with ancient roots. The legend of the order's origin is tied to the story of the Saltire: it is said that Eochaidh, King of Dál Raita, established the Order of the Thistle after achieving victory over the Angles under the sign of Saint Andrew's cross in the eighth century, and dedicated it to the saint. Another more credible story dates the order's foundation to 809 A.D., when Eochaidh established it to commemorate an alliance with Emperor Charlemagne. There is also a tradition holding that the order was reinstituted on the battlefield of Bannockburn by Robert the Bruce.

The Order of theThistle

There is some evidence to suggest that James III also founded (or reinstituted) the order in the fifteenth century. Some historians also allege that James V founded the order in 1540 because he was embarrassed that he had no honour to confer on foreign monarchs, himself having been admitted to the Order of the Golden Fleece in the Holy Roman Empire, the Order of St. Michael in France, and the Order of the Garter in England. James VII [4]issued letters patent "reviving and restoring the Order of the Thistle to its full glory, lustre and magnificency" in May 1687. The order's motto, Nemo me impune lacessit, (or, no one provokes me with impunity,) recalls the legend of the thistle alerting the slumbering Scots army to a Norse presence. The British monarch is the order's Sovereign, and he or she grants membership without being advised by the government. Originally, the order had a maximum membership of twelve to symbolize the Twelve Apostles of Christ. That number was raised to sixteen in 1827, and Queen Elizabeth II [5] allowed for the regular admission of women into the order in 1987. While the sixteen Knights and Ladies must be Scottish-born "extra" memberships may be granted through special statue, and do not count towards the limit or require that the recipient be Scottish. The Knights and Ladies are installed during a service on Saint Andrew's Day held in Thistle Chapel in St. Giles High Kirk in Edinburgh. This, of course, was a good reason to choose the thistle - a thorny plant with a beautiful flower, as the national symbol of Scotland!

--[[Участник:Nataly Malchenko|Наталья Мальченко

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