Fortis cadere, cedere non potest

Major-General Sir Nevill M. Smyth, in the Forward of Randwick to Hargicourt, highlights “[t]he 3rd Battalion exemplifying the proverb of the Romans, Fortis cadere, cedere non potest – the brave man shall fall, he cannot yield“, because of the loss of so many men compared to all other Australian Battalions and their involvement in “every epic victory of the Infantry of the Commonwealth”.

This proverb, in one form or another, has been used by families and police units over the years. Records as to its use by the Romans are scarce other than to say it is a proverb. The majority of references to this proverb actually state the translation as “The brave man may fall, but cannon yield“.

The proverb was used by the Fahnestock Family on their coat of arms as early as 1054 when “Rupert Von Fahnestock was made a Baron of the Roman Empire, by the Emperor Robert, of Normandy“.


In his book Peerage for the People, William Carpenter records that this proverb was the family motto for the Marquis of Drogheda, Edward Moore “who [with this brother] went over to Ireland, as soldiers of fortune, in the reign of Elizabeth”.

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The Internet Heraldry Store refers to the coat of arms for the Moore (More, O’Moore, O’More, O’Morda) family being used as far back as 1578 and confirms its use in Irish lineage :


Moore (Earl of Drogheda) Arms: Azure on a chief indented or three mullets pierced Gules. Crest: Out of a ducal coronet a Moor’s head proper wreathed argent and azure. Motto: Fortis cadere cedere non potest.

Moore (Ballina Co. Mayo and Alicante, Spain) Arms: Argent a chevron Gules between three moorcocks proper. Crest: On a ducal coronet a moorcock proper. Motto: Fortis cadere cedere non potest.

Further evidence of the continued use of the proverb through the generations is found on the grave stone of Charlotte, Countess of Drogheda, the widow of Henry Moore, 4th Earl of Drogheda (1700-1727).


The Right Honourable the Countess of DROGHEDA Eldest Daughter of the

LORD VISCOUNT FALMOUTH, died April the 3rd 1735 in the 32d Year of her age and will by all that had the happiness to be acquainted with her, be forever lamented

The quartering’s on the coat of arms have not been identified. The motto, FORTIS CADERE CEDERE NON POTEST is the Moore (Drogheda) family motto. Viscount Falmouth was Hugh Boscawen (c1680-1734).