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Nemo me impune lacessit

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The Scottish royal coat of arms
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The Scottish royal coat of arms

Nemo me impune lacessit is the Latin motto of the Order of the Thistle, the Scottish chivalrous order. It translates into English as: No-one provokes me with impunity. It also appears on the Scottish royal arms, and is the motto of the Royal Scots and Black Watch regiments of the British Army. It also appears an inscription on the rim of the 1984 "Scottish" pressing of the British One Pound coin. This motto is referenced in the Edgar Allan Poe story "The Cask of Amontillado".

Probable origin of the motto

According to legend, the "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.

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