Order of Saint Michael

Last updated
Order of Saint Michael
Ordre de Saint-Michel
Saint Michel-Order.jpg
Badge of the Order
Awarded by the Royal Standard of the King of France.svg King of France
Type Dynastic order [1]
Established1 August 1469 [2]
Royal house House of France [3]
Religious affiliation Roman Catholicism
Motto Latin: Immensi tremor oceani
StatusAbolished by decree of Louis XVI on 20 June 1790 [4]
Reestablished by Louis XVIII on 16 November 1816 [3]
Abolished in 1830 after the July Revolution [5]
Recognised as a dynastic order of chivalry by the ICOC
Founder Louis XI of France
Next (higher) Order of the Holy Spirit
Next (lower) Order of Saint Louis
Ordre de Saint-Michel Chevalier ribbon.svg
Ribbon of the Order

The Order of Saint Michael (French : Ordre de Saint-Michel) is a French dynastic order of chivalry, founded by Louis XI of France on 1 August 1469, [2] [6] in competitive response to the Burgundian Order of the Golden Fleece founded by Philip the Good, duke of Burgundy, Louis' chief competitor for the allegiance of the great houses of France, the Dukes of Orléans, Berry, and Brittany. [1] As a chivalric order, its goal was to confirm the loyalty of its knights to the king. Originally, there were a limited number of knights, at first thirty-one, then increased to thirty-six including the king. An office of Provost was established in 1476. The Order of St Michael was the highest Order in France until it was superseded by the Order of the Holy Spirit. [3]

French language Romance language

French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. It descended from the Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire, as did all Romance languages. French evolved from Gallo-Romance, the spoken Latin in Gaul, and more specifically in Northern Gaul. Its closest relatives are the other langues d'oïl—languages historically spoken in northern France and in southern Belgium, which French (Francien) has largely supplanted. French was also influenced by native Celtic languages of Northern Roman Gaul like Gallia Belgica and by the (Germanic) Frankish language of the post-Roman Frankish invaders. Today, owing to France's past overseas expansion, there are numerous French-based creole languages, most notably Haitian Creole. A French-speaking person or nation may be referred to as Francophone in both English and French.

France Republic with mainland in Europe and numerous oversea territories

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.3 million. France, a sovereign state, is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

A dynastic order, monarchical order, or house order, is an order under royal patronage, bestowed by the head of a currently or formerly sovereign royal family as legitimate fons honorum. These are often considered part of the cultural patrimony of the royal family. They are orders of chivalry, and orders of merit just as those distributed by sovereign states, but dynastic orders were often founded or maintained to reward service to a monarch, or the monarch's subsequent dynasty.


Although officially abolished by the government authorities of the July Revolution in 1830 following the French Revolution, its activities carried on. It is still recognised by the International Commission on Orders of Chivalry. [7]

July Revolution July 1830 revolution in France

The French Revolution of 1830, also known as the July Revolution, Second French Revolution or Trois Glorieuses in French, led to the overthrow of King Charles X, the French Bourbon monarch, and the ascent of his cousin Louis Philippe, Duke of Orléans, who himself, after 18 precarious years on the throne, would be overthrown in 1848. It marked the shift from one constitutional monarchy, under the restored House of Bourbon, to another, the July Monarchy; the transition of power from the House of Bourbon to its cadet branch, the House of Orléans; and the replacement of the principle of hereditary right by popular sovereignty. Supporters of the Bourbon would be called Legitimists, and supporters of Louis Philippe Orléanists.

French Revolution Revolution in France, 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

International Commission on Orders of Chivalry organization

The International Commission for Orders of Chivalry is a privately run, privately funded organisation composed of scholars on chivalric matters and systems of awards. Founded in 1960, its stated purpose is to examine orders of chivalry to determine their legitimacy. Its President since 1999 is Dr. Pier Felice degli Uberti, and its seat is situated in Milan, Italy.


King Louis XI sitting on his throne. In the room, a painting of St. Michael killing a serpent. Title page of the Order's statutes, drawn by Jean Fouquet in the 15th century. Bibliotheque Nationale, fr. 19819 Louis XI preside le chapitre de Saint-Michel.jpg
King Louis XI sitting on his throne. In the room, a painting of St. Michael killing a serpent. Title page of the Order's statutes, drawn by Jean Fouquet in the 15th century. Bibliothèque Nationale, fr. 19819
Plaque marking the former site of the Chapel of Saint-Michel du Palais, home of the Order from 1496 to 1555 Plaque Chapelle Saint-Michel-du-Palais, Paris 1.jpg
Plaque marking the former site of the Chapel of Saint-Michel du Palais, home of the Order from 1496 to 1555

The first knights were among the most powerful nobles in France, close relatives of the king and a few from other royal houses in Europe. Originally, the number of members (called companions) was limited to thirty-five. [1] In 1565, during the Wars of Religion, when loyalties were strained and essential, Charles IX increased the membership to fifty, but there may have been as many as seven hundred knights under Henry III in 1574. [3]

Knight An award of an honorary title for past or future service with its roots in chivalry in the Middle Ages

A knight is a man granted an honorary title of knighthood by a monarch, bishop or other political or religious leader for service to the monarch or a Christian church, especially in a military capacity.

Nobility privileged social class

Nobility is a social class normally ranked immediately under royalty and found in some societies that have a formal aristocracy. Nobility possesses more acknowledged privileges and higher social status than most other classes in society. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be largely honorary, and vary by country and era. As referred to in the Medieval chivalric motto "noblesse oblige", nobles can also carry a lifelong duty to uphold various social responsibilities, such as honorable behavior, customary service, or leadership positions. Membership in the nobility, including rights and responsibilities, is typically hereditary.

French Wars of Religion civil infighting from 1562–98

The French Wars of Religion were a prolonged period of war and popular unrest between Roman Catholics and Huguenots in the Kingdom of France between 1562 and 1598. It is estimated that three million people perished in this period from violence, famine, or disease in what is considered the second deadliest religious war in European history.

The Order of St. Michael dedicated to the Archangel Michael conveyed to every member a gold badge of the image of the saint standing on a rock (Mont Saint-Michel) in combat with the serpent. [3] The motto of the order was "immensi tremor oceani" (meaning "The tremor of the immense ocean"), derived from the idea of Saint Michael looking out over the Atlantic from Mont Saint-Michel. [8] It was suspended from an elaborate gold collar made of scallop shells (the badge of pilgrims, especially those to Santiago de Compostela) linked with double knots. The statutes state that the badge could be hung on a simple chain, and later it was suspended from a black ribbon

Michael (archangel) archangel in Jewish, Christian, and Islamic teachings

Michael is an archangel in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran systems of faith, he is called "Saint Michael the Archangel" and "Saint Michael". In the Oriental Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox religions, he is called "Saint Michael the Taxiarch".

Atlantic Ocean Ocean between Europe, Africa and the Americas

The Atlantic Ocean is the second largest of the world's oceans, with an area of about 106,460,000 square kilometers. It covers approximately 20 percent of the Earth's surface and about 29 percent of its water surface area. It separates the "Old World" from the "New World".

Santiago de Compostela City and Municipality in Galicia, Spain

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, in northwestern Spain.

When the Order of St Michael was founded, the famous illuminator Jean Fouquet was commissioned to paint the title miniature of the Statutes, showing the king presiding over the knights (Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale, fr. 19819). [9] The original plan was for the knights to meet yearly on 29 September at Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy. [10] Such an isolated location was impractical causing Charles VIII to transfer this meeting place to the chapel of Saint-Michel-du-Palais, [1] part of Paris' medieval royal residence the Palais de la Cité which the kings no longer used, to the control of the order in 1496. [3] By letters patent dated 15 August 1555, the seat of the Order was transferred to the royal Château de Vincennes outside Paris. [1]

Jean Fouquet French painter

JeanFouquet (1420–1481) was a preeminent French painter of the 15th century, a master of both panel painting and manuscript illumination, and the apparent inventor of the portrait miniature. He was the first French artist to travel to Italy and experience first-hand the early Italian Renaissance.

Normandy Administrative region of France

Normandy is the northwesternmost of the 18 regions of France, roughly referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy.

Charles VIII of France King of France

Charles VIII, called the Affable, was King of France from 1483 to his death in 1498, the seventh from the House of Valois. He succeeded his father Louis XI at the age of 13. His elder sister Anne acted as regent jointly with her husband Peter II, Duke of Bourbon until 1491 when the young king turned 21 years of age. During Anne's regency, the great lords rebelled against royal centralisation efforts in a conflict known as the Mad War (1485–1488), which resulted in a victory for the royal government.

The Order of St. Michael was abolished by Louis XVI on 20 June 1790. [4] It was revived by Louis XVIII on 16 November 1816 [3] but the king took little interest in the order and no new knights were added after 1816. The Order was again abolished by the French authorities in 1830. [11] The Order's last member died in 1850, [3] although ten nominations of knights were conferred in 1929, 1930, and in the 1970s and 1980s.

The French government considers the Order to be the origin of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres:

Saint-Michel Order (1460–1830) can be considered as the precursor of the Order of the Arts and Lettres. Originally destined to the aristocracy, from 17th to 18th centuries it became an order of civil merit, which distinguished many artists, architects, collectors, and people of lettres [12] [13] [14]

Notable recipients

No formal list of members of the order exists. [1] The names of members can be gleaned from reference to their receipt of the order, from secondary sources, or from periodic lists compiled showing companions from particular families or regions. [1] [15]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Boulton, D'Arcy Jonathan Dacre (1986). The knights of the crown : the monarchical orders of knighthood in later medieval Europe, 1325-1520 (Paperback ed.). Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press. pp. 427–47. ISBN   978-0-85115-417-6.
  2. 1 2 Meader, John R (1904). Beach, Frederick Converse; Rines, George Edwin (eds.). "Orders (Royal) and Decorations of Honor". Encyclopedia Americana, Volume 11. The Americana company. the Order of Saint Michael, founded 1 August 1469 by King Louis XI
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Gout, Paul (1910). Le Mont-Saint Michel (in French). Paris: A. Colin. pp. 553–60.
  4. 1 2 Pinoteau, Benoit de Fauconpret ; préface d'Hervé (2007). Les chevaliers de Saint-Michel, 16651790 : le premier ordre de mérite civil (1ère éd. ed.). Paris: P. du Puy. ISBN   978-2-908003-35-2.
  5. Duckers, Peter (2008). European orders and decorations to 1945. Botley, Oxford, UK: Shire Publications. pp. 31–32. ISBN   978-0-7478-0670-7.
  6. Vachaudez, Christophe; Walgrave, Jan (2008). Diana Scarisbrick (ed.). Royal jewels : from Charlemagne to the Romanovs. New York: Vendôme Press. p. 146. ISBN   978-0-86565-193-7. Louis XI founded the Order of Saint Michael in 1469. Initially, there were thirty-six knights, but their numbers increased to such a point that the order began to lose its prestige. Louis XIV reformed the order on 12 January 1665, reducing the number of knights to one hundred
  7. http://www.icocregister.org/2016.ICOCRegister.pdf
  8. Adams, Henry (2010). Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres. [S.l.]: Read a Classic. p. 9. ISBN   978-1-61104-147-7.
  9. Duchhard, Heinz; Richard A. Jackson; David J. Sturdy, eds. (1992). European monarchy : its evolution and practice from Roman antiquity to modern times. Stuttgart: Steiner. pp. 86–90. ISBN   978-3-515-06233-6.
  10. Contamine, Philippe (1978). L'ordre de Saint-Michel au temps de Louis XI et Charles VIII. Paris: La Société nationale des antiquaires de France. pp. 217–20.
  11. Martens, Karl von and Ferdinand de Wegman (1851). Le guide diplomatique: Précis des droits et des fonctions des agents diplomatiques et consulaires; suivi d'un traité des actes et offices divers qui sont du ressort de la diplomatie, accompagné de pièce et documents proposés comme exemples, Volume 1. Leipzig, Germany: F.A. Brockhaus. p. 154.
  12. Culture-Acte2 Archived 28 May 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Archives de France,
  14. Mémodoc
  15. 1 2 D'Hozier, Jean-François-Louis and Paul de Chabot (1895). Carné, Gaston Louis Michel Marie (ed.). "Les Chevaliers de Saint-Michel de La Province du Poitou depuis La Fondation de L'Ordre en 1469 Jusqu'a L'Ordannance de 1669". Revue historique de l'Ouest. 11: 372–78. On le trouve nommé, en 1549, dans un compte du trésorier de l Ordre de Saint Michel, où il est dit qu il fut délivré à messire André de Montalembert sgr d Essé, chev de l Ordre, le grand collier de l'Ordre de Saint Michel du feu comte de Languillare, dont le Roy avait fait don au dit sgr d'Essé, en le faisant et créant chevalier de son Ordre, ainsi qu'il apparaissait par son récépissé du 27 septembre de cette année
  16. Bradford, Sarah (1976). Cesare Borgia: His Life and Times. Great Britain: Phoenix Press. p. 101. ISBN   1-84212-452-8.
  17. Cartwright, Julia (1905). Isabella d'Este: Marchioness of Mantua 1474-1539 a Study of the Renaissance - Vol. 1. New York: E.P. Dutton. p. 295.
  18. Graves, Michael A.R. (2008). Thomas Howard, third Duke of Norfolk (1473–1554). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
  19. Cameron, Jamie (1998). James V: The Personal Rule, 15281542. The Stewart Dynasty in Scotland. East Linton: Tuckwell Press. p. 121. ISBN   1-86232-015-2.
  20. Beer, B.L. (1973): Northumberland: The Political Career of John Dudley, Earl of Warwick and Duke of Northumberland The Kent State University Press p. 114 ISBN   0-87338-140-8
  21. Anderson, Duncan (1849). History of the Abbey and Palace of Holyrood. Edinburgh, Scotland: Keeper of the Chapel Royal. p. 58. Archived from the original on 15 December 2011. Retrieved 15 December 2011. about the beginning of February 1565-6, the Seigneur de Rembouillet, with a deputation from the King of France, arrived at the Palace, to present Darnley with the order of St. Michael, known as the Scallop or Cockle-shell Order, so called from the scallop shells of which the collar was composed. The investiture was performed after the celebration of mass in the Chapel-Royal
  22. 1 2 Hearn, Karen (1995). Dynasties: Painting in Tudor and Jacobean England 1530–1630. Rizzoli. p. 96. ISBN   0-8478-1940-X.
  23. Hellinga, Gerben Graddesz. (2007). Geschiedenis van Nederland: De Canon van ons Vaderlands Verleden. Zutphen: Walburg Pers. p. 83. ISBN   978-9057306006.
  24. Frazer, Robert Watson. (1896). British India, p. 42.
  25. Van der Cruysse, Dirk: Louis XIV et le Siam, Fayard, Paris 1991, p. 405. Cangelaris, P.D.: History and Genealogy of the Cangelari Family of Cephalonia (16th-20th Centuries), Corfu 2011, p. 91. (in Greek) ISBN   978-960-85532-2-4 Cangelaris, Panayotis D.: The French coat of arms of prime counsellor Costantin Gerachi (Constance Phaulkon), Athens 2013, p. 36-38. (reprint in Greek)

Related Research Articles

Albert I of Belgium third King of the Belgians

Albert I reigned as the King of the Belgians from 1909 to 1934. This was an eventful period in the history of Belgium, which included the period of World War I (1914–1918), when 90 percent of Belgium was overrun, occupied, and ruled by the German Empire. Other crucial issues included the adoption of the Treaty of Versailles, the ruling of the Belgian Congo as an overseas possession of the Kingdom of Belgium along with the League of Nations mandate of Ruanda-Urundi, the reconstruction of Belgium following the war, and the first five years of the Great Depression (1929–1934). King Albert died in a mountaineering accident in eastern Belgium in 1934, at the age of 58, and he was succeeded by his son Leopold III.

Mont-Saint-Michel An island and mainland commune in Britanny, France

Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island and mainland commune in Normandy, France.

The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is an Order of France, established on 2 May 1957 by the Minister of Culture, and its supplementary status to the Ordre national du Mérite was confirmed by President Charles de Gaulle in 1963. Its purpose is the recognition of significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields.

Order of Saint Lazarus Roman Catholic military order founded by crusaders around 1119

The Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, also known as the Leper Brothers of Jerusalem or simply as Lazarists, was a Catholic military order founded by crusaders around 1119 at a leper hospital in Jerusalem, Kingdom of Jerusalem, whose care became its original purpose, named after their patron saint, Lazarus. It was recognised by King Fulk of Jerusalem in 1142 and canonically recognised as hospitaller and military order of chivalry under the rule of Saint Augustine in the Papal bull Cum a Nobis Petitur of Pope Alexander IV in 1255. Although they were centered on their charism of caring for those afflicted with leprosy, the knights of the Order of Saint Lazarus notably fought in the Battle of La Forbie in 1244 and in the Defense of Acre in 1291. The titular seat was successively situated at Jerusalem, Saint-Jean-d'Acre and - after the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem - split in two main branches in Italy and in Château Royal de Boigny-sur-Bionne in France.

Order of the Holy Spirit order of chivalry

The Order of the Holy Spirit, is a French order of chivalry founded by Henry III of France in 1578. Today, it is a dynastic order under the House of France.

Aumont family

The family of Aumont is a French noble house which takes its name from Aumont, a small commune in the department of the Somme. The dukedom of Aumont in the peerage of France was created in 1665 for Antoine d'Aumont de Rochebaron (1601–1669), Marquis of Isles. For over two centuries, the Dukes of Aumont held the position of First Gentleman of the Bedchamber to the king.

Jean Le Veneur Catholic cardinal

Jean Le Veneur, son of a Norman baron, was a French Abbot, Bishop, Courtier, royal official, and Roman Catholic cardinal.

Garde du Corps (France)

The Gardes-du-Corps was the senior formation of the King of France's Household Cavalry within the Maison militaire du roi de France.

This page is a list of the orders of chivalry and orders of merit awarded by France, in the order they were established or incorporated in France, and their origins.

Paul François de Quelen de La Vauguyon or Paul François de Quélen de Stuer de Caussade, duc de La Vauguyon was a French nobleman. He was governor of Cognac, after having been involved in the last campaigns of the Seven Years' War. He wrote a Portrait de feu monseigneur le Dauphin and was menin to the future Louis XVI, one of the Dauphin's sons. A peer of France, brigadier, maréchal de camp, knight of the ordre du Saint-Esprit, he was chosen to be minister plenipotentiary to the Estates General of the Dutch Republic. He later became French ambassador to Spain, knight of the Golden Fleece, temporary minister of foreign affairs in 1789, then minister of the conseil d'État of Louis XVIII in Verona. He was the main intermediary among Louis's agents in France, but became the victim of intrigues. From the Restoration onwards he was lieutenant général and sat in the peerage of France, where he was noted for his moderation. He and his wife had four children, but the Quelen line died out with his children.

Louis Antoine de Pardaillan de Gondrin French nobleman

Louis Antoine de Pardaillan, marquis of Antin, Gondrin and Montespan (1701), then 1st Duke of Antin (1711) was a French nobleman. He was painted by Rigaud.

St├ęphane Bern French journalist

Stéphane Bern, OBE is a French-Luxembourguish journalist, radio host and television presenter. He is known as a specialist in nobility and royalty. He has been awarded honours by several nations, including the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France), the Order of Grimaldi (Monaco), and the Order of the British Empire.

Order of the Porcupine

The Order of the Porcupine was established by Louis de France, Duke of Orléans, in 1394, at the occasion of his elder son Charles of Orléans' baptism.

Jean de La Baume was a Marshal of France from 1422

Guy Michel de Durfort Marshal of France

Guy Michel de Durfort was a French general and nobleman. He was duke of Lorges and duke of Randan and was made a marshal of France in 1768.

Mont Saint Michel Abbey abbey

The Mont Saint Michel Abbey is located within the city and island of Mont-Saint-Michel in Lower Normandy, in the department of Manche.

Louis II de Beaumont-Bressuire also known as Louis II of Beaumont - also known as Louis de Beaumont, and also known as Louis of the Forest, (1407-1477), was a French Knight and Lord of Bressuire, the Plessis-Macé, and of Missé, and Commequiers, He was also Chamberlain of Louis XI. He also was the brother of André de Beaumont, grand master of Crossbowmen of France.

Royal Military and Hospitaller Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem united

The Royal Military and Hospitaller Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem united was a chivalric order instituted in 1608 by personal union of the medieval Order of Saint Lazarus in France and the new Order of Our Lady of Mount Carmel of King Henry IV of France. The union of the two orders was recognised by a bull of Cardinal Louis de Bourbon, papal legate in France, dated 5 June 1668.

Jacques de Luxembourg, Seigneur de Richebourg

Jacques de Luxembourg, Seigneur de Richebourg was a French noble who served Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy and later King Louis XI of France.

Armand-Maximilien-François-Joseph-Olivier de Saint-Georges, viscount and marquis of Vérac, was French soldier and politician of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. He born on August 1, 1768 in Paris and died on August 13, 1858 in his château in Temblay-sur-Mauldre.