Amende honorable

in France, was a degrading punishment inflicted on traitors, parricides, and sacrilegious persons, who were brought into court with a rope round their neck, and made to beg pardon of God, the king, and the court.

Now the public acknowledgment of the offence is all that is required.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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