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We know Richard III’s mottos, but what about other nobles….?

Cartoon Knight

Is anyone out there hot on chivalric mottos? Everyone knows Richard III’s motto, “Loyaulte mie lie”, and we even know of more he used, but it’s not so easy to find other mottos belonging to lesser known English figures of the 14th-century. Well, one gentleman in particular.

I am trying to discover what “Rendere Vero”. It’s Italian, or maybe Latin, but online translators do not give me an acceptable answer in either language. At least, nothing a Mediaeval knight would wish to boast in front of his peers. To me, it seemed to simply mean “Render the truth”, as in “give only the truth”. But that might not be the nitty-gritty of it at all.

To begin with, let me admit to being only 95% sure the motto is “Rendere Vero”. It appears almost complete on a site dealing with accurate, hand-painted diecast models of various times, including the 14th century. I can no longer find the particular model that has set me off on this quest, only an out-of-date picture of it. Its figures are holding aloft the windblown banner of Sir John Holland, Earl of Huntingdon and Duke of Exeter, the younger of Richard II’s two half-brothers. The banner is correct to show Sir John’s wheatear emblem, but I have never come across the motto before. Did he use it? Did he use any motto? I haven’t come across even one.

John de Holande's banner on left - wheatear badge

Paul Martin Remfry has kindly suggested that ‘Rendere’ means [You] Think, Believe, Deem, Reckon or Suppose, and that ‘Vero’ means Yes, Truly, In truth, However and Certainly. Thus he arrives at “Believe in Truth”. Which sounds promising to me. Thank you, Paul.

Sandy Swanson wonders if it’s “Return truly” or “Pay back in kind”. Diana Whitty suggests “Bring the truth”, and Frances Quinn offers “Give only the truth” or “Render the truth”. Regarding the latter, Frances – snap! <g>

And I am very grateful to Merlyn Macleod for going to the trouble of investigating at http://dictionary.reference.com/, which, at the bottom of each translation, gives the origins of words and their original meaning. For “Render” it has:-

Late 14c., “repeat, say again,” from Old French rendre “give back, present, yield” (10c.), from Vulgar Latin *rendere (formed by dissimilation or on analogy of its antonym, prendre “to take”), from Latin reddere “give back, return, restore,” from red- “back” (see re- ) + comb. form of dare “to give” (see date (n.1)).

Meaning “hand over, deliver” is recorded from late 14c.; “to return” (thanks, a verdict, etc.) is attested from late 15c.; meaning “represent, depict” is first attested 1590s. Irregular retention of -er in a French verb in English is perhaps to avoid confusion with native rend (v.) or by influence of a Middle English legalese noun render “a payment of rent,” from French noun use of the infinitive. Related: Rendered ; rendering.

It seems there are endless possibilities!

Now Brian Wainwright tells me of a 1988 illustrated book called Knights at Tournament by Christopher Gravett, ISBN: 9780850458367.

Elite book cover

It apparently contains an illustration of Sir John Holland, mounted, in jousting armour, being led to a tournament by his lady. Possibly his wife, Elizabeth of Lancaster? Needless to say, that particular picture does not appear when I “Look inside”. Fortunately I have been able to find a copy, and eagerly await its delivery tomorrow. Fingers crossed that his motto is shown. Too much to hope for? Probably. But I will keep trying. To use another motto: “Nil desperandum”!

So, if anyone knows anything more, or of a site that deals in some depth with mediaeval mottos, please, please let me know.

 

 

 

 

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