Order of the Golden Fleece

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Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece
Insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro
Insigne Ordre de la Toison d'Or
Berühmt Orden vom Goldenen Vlies
Insignes Ordo Velleris Aurei
Insignia of the Order of the Golden Fleece (Spain).jpg
Insignia of a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece of Spain. Modern manufacture, Cejalvo (Madrid).
Awarded by the King of Spain
and the Head of the House of Habsburg
Established1430;589 years ago (1430)
MottoPretium Laborum Non Vile
Non Aliud
StatusCurrently constituted
Founder Philip III, Duke of Burgundy
Grand Masters Felipe VI of Spain
Archduke Karl of Austria
GradesKnight
Precedence
Next (higher)None
Next (lower) Royal and Distinguished Spanish Order of Charles III
Order of the Golden Fleece ribbon bar.svg
Philip III, Duke of Burgundy, with the collar of the Order (portrait in c.1450 by Rogier van der Weyden) Philip the good.jpg
Philip III, Duke of Burgundy, with the collar of the Order (portrait in c.1450 by Rogier van der Weyden)

The Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece (Spanish : Insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro, [1] German : Berühmt Orden vom Goldenen Vlies) is a Roman Catholic order of chivalry founded in Bruges by the Burgundian duke Philip the Good in 1430, [2] to celebrate his marriage to the Princess Isabella of Portugal. Today, two branches of the Order exist, namely the Spanish and the Austrian Fleece; the current grand masters are Felipe VI, King of Spain, and Karl von Habsburg, grandson of Emperor Charles I of Austria, respectively. The chaplain of the Austrian branch is Cardinal Graf von Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Order of chivalry Order, confraternity or society of knights

A chivalric order, order of chivalry, order of knighthood or equestrian order is an order, confraternity or society of knights typically founded during or inspired by the original Catholic military orders of the Crusades, paired with medieval concepts of ideals of chivalry.

Contents

Having had only 1,200 recipients ever since its establishment, the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece has been referred to as the most prestigious and exclusive order of chivalry in the world, both historically and contemporaneously. [3] [4] Unlike any other distinction, the Golden Fleece is only granted for life, meaning it must be returned to the Spanish Monarch whenever the recipient deceases. Each collar is fully coated in gold, and is estimated to be worth around $60,000 USD, making it the most expensive chivalrous order. [5]

Monarchy of Spain ruling monarchy in the Kingdom of Spain since the arrival of Felipe V

The monarchy of Spain, constitutionally referred to as The Crown, is a constitutional institution and historic office of Spain. The monarchy comprises the reigning monarch, his or her family, and the royal household organization which supports and facilitates the monarch in the exercise of his duties and prerogatives. The Spanish monarchy is currently represented by King Felipe VI, Queen Letizia, and their daughters Leonor, Princess of Asturias, and Infanta Sofía.

Origin

The Order of the Golden Fleece was established on 10 January 1430, by Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy, in celebration of the prosperous and wealthy domains united in his person that ran from Flanders to Switzerland. [6] The jester and dwarf Madame d'Or performed at the creation of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Bruges. [7] It is restricted to a limited number of knights, initially 24 but increased to 30 in 1433, and 50 in 1516, plus the sovereign. [8] The Order's first King of Arms was Jean Le Fèvre de Saint-Remy. [9] It received further privileges unusual to any order of knighthood: the sovereign undertook to consult the order before going to war; all disputes between the knights were to be settled by the order; at each chapter the deeds of each knight were held in review, and punishments and admonitions were dealt out to offenders, and to this the sovereign was expressly subject; the knights could claim as of right to be tried by their fellows on charges of rebellion, heresy and treason, and Charles V conferred on the order exclusive jurisdiction over all crimes committed by the knights; the arrest of the offender had to be by warrant signed by at least six knights, and during the process of charge and trial he remained not in prison but in the gentle custody of his fellow knights. [2] The order, conceived in an ecclesiastical spirit in which mass and obsequies were prominent and the knights were seated in choirstalls like canons, [10] was explicitly denied to heretics, and so became an exclusively Catholic honour during the Reformation. The officers of the order were the chancellor, the treasurer, the registrar, and the King of Arms, or herald, Toison d'Or.

Philip the Good 15th-century Duke of Burgundy

Philip the Good was Duke of Burgundy as Philip III from 1419 until his death. He was a member of a cadet line of the Valois dynasty, to which all the 15th-century kings of France belonged. During his reign, Burgundy reached the apex of its prosperity and prestige and became a leading center of the arts. Philip is known in history for his administrative reforms, his patronage of Flemish artists such as Jan van Eyck and Franco-Flemish composers such as Gilles Binchois, and the capture of Joan of Arc. In political affairs, he alternated between alliances with the English and the French in an attempt to improve his dynasty's position. As ruler of Flanders, Brabant, Limburg, Artois, Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, Friesland and Namur, he played an important role in the history of the Low Countries.

Duke of Burgundy was a title borne by the rulers of the Duchy of Burgundy, a small portion of traditional lands of Burgundians west of river Saône which in 843 was allotted to Charles the Bald's kingdom of West Franks. Under the Ancien Régime, the Duke of Burgundy was the premier lay peer of the kingdom of France.

A personal union is the combination of two or more states that have the same monarch while their boundaries, laws, and interests remain distinct. A real union, by contrast, would involve the constituent states being to some extent interlinked, such as by sharing some limited governmental institutions. In a federation and a unitary state, a central (federal) government spanning all member states exists, with the degree of self-governance distinguishing the two. The ruler in a personal union does not need to be a hereditary monarch.

Baudouin de Lannoy, c. 1435, one of the first Knights of the Golden Fleece, inducted in 1430 Jan van Eyck - Portrait of Baudouin de Lannoy - WGA7607.jpg
Baudouin de Lannoy, c. 1435, one of the first Knights of the Golden Fleece, inducted in 1430
the Marquess of Trazengnies with the Insignia, funeral of Albert VII of Austria Pompa funebris Albert Ardux - Trazegnies.jpg
the Marquess of Trazengnies with the Insignia, funeral of Albert VII of Austria

The Duke's stated reason for founding this institution had been given in a proclamation issued following his marriage, in which he wrote that he had done so "for the reverence of God and the maintenance of our Christian Faith, and to honor and exalt the noble order of knighthood, and also ...to do honor to old knights; ...so that those who are at present still capable and strong of body and do each day the deeds pertaining to chivalry shall have cause to continue from good to better; and .. so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order ... should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds...". [11]

The Order of the Golden Fleece was defended from possible accusations of prideful pomp by the Burgundian court poet Michault Taillevent, who asserted that it was instituted:

Translated into English: [12]

The choice of the Golden Fleece of Colchis as the symbol of a Christian order caused some controversy, not so much because of its pagan context, which could be incorporated in chivalric ideals, as in the Nine Worthies, but because the feats of Jason, familiar to all, were not without causes of reproach, expressed in anti-Burgundian terms by Alain Chartier in his Ballade de Fougères referring to Jason as "Who, to carry off the fleece of Colchis, was willing to commit perjury." [13] The bishop of Châlons, chancellor of the Order, rescued the fleece's reputation by identifying it instead with the fleece of Gideon that received the dew of Heaven. [14]

Golden Fleece fleece of the gold-haired winged ram in Greek mythology

In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the golden-woolled, winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

Colchis Historical region of Antiquity

In pre-Hellenistic Greco-Roman geography, Colchis was an exonym for the Georgian polity of Egrisi located on the coast of the Black Sea, centred in present-day western Georgia.

Nine Worthies medieval concept of a group of nine historical, scriptural, and legendary personages who personify the ideals of chivalry

The Nine Worthies are nine historical, scriptural, and legendary personages who personify the ideals of chivalry established in the Middle Ages, whose lives were deemed a valuable study for aspirants to chivalric status. All were commonly referred to as 'Princes', regardless of their historical titles. In French they are called Les Neuf Preux or "Nine Valiants", giving a more specific idea of the moral virtues they exemplified: those of soldierly courage and generalship. In Italy they are i Nove Prodi.

The badge of the Order, in the form of a sheepskin, was suspended from a jewelled collar of firesteels in the shape of the letter B, for Burgundy, linked by flints; with the motto "Pretium Laborum Non Vile" ("No Mean Reward for Labours") [15] engraved on the front of the central link, and Philip's motto "Non Aliud" ("I will have no other") on the back (non-royal knights of the Golden Fleece were forbidden to belong to any other order of knighthood).

Livery collar heavy chain, usually of gold or other metal, often with badges or other symbols attached, worn as insignia of office or a mark of fealty or other association

A livery collar or chain of office is a collar or heavy chain, usually of gold, worn as insignia of office or a mark of fealty or other association in Europe from the Middle Ages onwards.

Spanish Order

The Duke of Wellington wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1820 Field Marshal Arthur Wellesley, KG GCB - Google Art Project.jpg
The Duke of Wellington wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1820
Prince Albert wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1842 (portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter) Prince Albert - Franz Xaver Winterhalter 1842.jpg
Prince Albert wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1842 (portrait by Franz Xaver Winterhalter)
Emperor Pedro II of Brazil wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1838 RetratodompedroIIcrianca.JPG
Emperor Pedro II of Brazil wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1838
Louis XV of France wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1773 Francois-Hubert Drouais - Louis XV - 1773.jpg
Louis XV of France wearing the Spanish Fleece in 1773

With the absorption of the Burgundian lands into the Spanish Habsburg empire, the sovereignty of the Order passed to the Habsburg kings of Spain, where it remained until the death of the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II, in 1700. He was succeeded as king by Philip V, a Bourbon. The dispute between Philip and the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne, the Archduke Charles, led to the War of the Spanish Succession, and also resulted in the division of the Order into Spanish and Austrian branches. In either case the sovereign, as Duke of Burgundy, writes the letter of appointment in French.

The controversial conferral of the Fleece on Napoleon and his brother Joseph, while Spain was occupied by French troops, angered the exiled King of France, Louis XVIII, and caused him to return his collar in protest. These, and other awards by Joseph, were revoked by King Ferdinand on the restoration of Bourbon rule in 1813. Napoleon created by Order of 15 August 1809 the Order of the Three Golden Fleeces, in view of his sovereignty over Austria, Spain and Burgundy. This was opposed by Joseph I of Spain and appointments to the new order were never made. [16]

In 1812, the acting government of Spain conferred the Fleece upon the Duke of Wellington, an act confirmed by Ferdinand on his resumption of power, with the approval of Pope Pius VII. Wellington therefore became the first Protestant to be honoured with the Golden Fleece. It has subsequently also been conferred upon non-Christians, such as Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand.

There was another crisis in 1833 when Isabella II became Queen of Spain in defiance of Salic Law that did not allow women to become heads of state. Her right to confer the Fleece was challenged by Spanish Carlists.[ citation needed ]

Sovereignty remained with the head of the Spanish house of Bourbon during the republican (1931–39) and Francoist (1939–1975) periods and is held today by the present King of Spain, Felipe VI.

Knights of the Order are entitled to be addressed with the style His/Her Excellency in front of their name. [17]

Living members

Below a list of the names of the living knights and ladies, in chronologic order and, within parentheses, the year when they were inducted into the Order:

  1. King Felipe VI of Spain (1981) – As reigning King of Spain, Sovereign of the Order since 2014 after his father abdicated his rights to him.
  2. King Emeritus Juan Carlos I of Spain (1941) – Former Sovereign of the Order as King of Spain from 1975 to 2014.
  3. King Constantine II of Greece (1964)
  4. The King of Sweden (1983) [18]
  5. Emperor Emeritus Akihito of Japan (1985) [19]
  6. Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands (1985) [20]
  7. The Queen of Denmark (1985) [21]
  8. The Queen of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Realms (1989) [22]
  9. King Albert II of Belgium (1994) [23]
  10. The King of Norway (1995) [24]
  11. Tsar Simeon II of Bulgaria, Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, 2001–2005 (2004) [25]
  12. The Grand Duke of Luxembourg (2007) [26]
  13. Javier Solana (2010) [27]
  14. Víctor García de la Concha (2010) [28]
  15. Nicolas Sarkozy, Former President of the French Republic and Co-Prince of Andorra, 2007–2012 (2011) [29] [30]
  16. Enrique Valentín Iglesias García (2014) [31]
  17. The Princess of Asturias (2015) [32]

Armorial of the Spanish Golden Fleece

Austrian Order

Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria as Grand Master of the Austrian branch of the Fleece Ferdinand I; Keizer van Oostenrijk.jpg
Ferdinand I, Emperor of Austria as Grand Master of the Austrian branch of the Fleece
Gala uniform of the emperor Franz Joseph, with the insigna around the neck Galauniform von Kaiser Franz Joseph I.jpg
Gala uniform of the emperor Franz Joseph, with the insigna around the neck
Potence or neck collar of the King of Arms to the Order Golden Fleece dsc02935.jpg
Potence or neck collar of the King of Arms to the Order

The Austrian Order did not suffer from the political difficulties of the Spanish, remaining (with the exception of the British prince Regent, later George IV) an honour solely for Catholic royalty and nobility. The problem of female inheritance was avoided on the accession of Maria Theresa in 1740 as sovereignty of the Order passed not to herself but to her husband, Francis.

Upon the collapse of the Austrian monarchy after the First World War, King Albert I of Belgium requested that the sovereignty and treasure of the Order be transferred to him as the ruler of the former Habsburg lands of Burgundy. This claim was seriously considered by the victorious allies at Versailles but was eventually rejected due to the intervention of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, who took possession of the property of the Order on behalf of the dethroned emperor, Charles I of Austria. Sovereignty remains with the head of the House of Habsburg, which was handed over on 20 November 2000 by Otto von Habsburg to his elder son, Karl von Habsburg. [33]

Living members

Below a list of the names of the living knights, in chronological order, followed in parentheses by the date, when known, of their induction into the Order:

  1. The Duke of Bavaria (1960) [34] [35]
  2. Count Johann Larisch of Moennich (1960) [34]
  3. Archduke Karl of Austria (1961) [34] Sovereign (Grand Master) of the Order since 2000
  4. Archduke Andreas Salvator of Austria, Prince of Tuscany [34] [36]
  5. Archduke Carl Salvator of Austria, Prince of Tuscany [34] [37]
  6. Prince Lorenz of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este [34] [38]
  7. Archduke Michael of Austria [34] [39]
  8. Archduke Michael Salvator of Austria, Prince of Tuscany [34] [40]
  9. Archduke Georg of Austria [34] [41]
  10. Archduke Carl Christian of Austria [34]
  11. King Albert II of Belgium [34]
  12. Prince Albrecht of Hohenberg [34] [42]
  13. The Duke of Württemberg [34] [43]
  14. The Prince of Lobkowicz [34]
  15. Count Johann of Hoyos-Sprinzenstein [34]
  16. The Prince of Liechtenstein [34] [44]
  17. Prince Clemens of Altenburg [34] [45]
  18. The Duke of Braganza [34] [46]
  19. Count Josef Hubert of Neipperg [34] [47]
  20. The Duke of Hohenberg [34] [48]
  21. The Prince of Schwarzenberg (1991) [34] [49]
  22. Archduke Joseph of Austria (born 1960) [34]
  23. The Prince of Löwenstein-Wertheim-Rosenberg [34] [50]
  24. Count Gottfried of Czernin of Chudenitz [34]
  25. Mariano Hugo, Prince of Windisch-Graetz [34] [51]
  26. Baron Johann Friedrich of Solemacher-Antweiler [34]
  27. Baron Nicolas Adamovich de Csepin [34]
  28. Bernard Guerrier de Dumast (fr) (2001)
  29. The Prince of Panagyurishte (2002) [52]
  30. The King of the Belgians (2008)
  31. The Prince of Ligne (2011)
  32. Prince Charles-Louis de Merode (2011)
  33. Archduke Ferdinand Zvonimir of Austria [53]
  34. The Margrave of Meissen (2012) [54]
Neck insignia of the Order Orden del Toison de Oro AEAColl.jpg
Neck insignia of the Order

Officials

Chapters of the Order

NumberDateCityTempleSovereign/Grand Master
I30 November 1431 Lille Saint-Pierre's Collegiate Church Philip III of Burgundy
II30 November 1432 Bruges St. Donatian's Cathedral Philip III
III30 November 1433 Dijon Sainte-ChapellePhilip III
IV30 November 1435 Brussels Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula Philip III
V30 November 1436LilleSaint-Pierre's Collegiate ChurchPhilip III
VI30 November 1440 Saint-Omer Abbey of Saint Bertin Philip III
VII30 November 1445 Ghent Saint Bavo Cathedral Philip III
VIII2 May 1451 Mons Sainte-Waudru's Collegiate ChurchPhilip III
IX2 May 1456 The Hague Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk Philip III
X2 May 1461Saint-OmerAbbey of Saint BertinPhilip III
XI2 May 1468Bruges Church of Our Lady Charles I of Burgundy
XII2 May 1473 Valenciennes St. Paul 's ChurchCharles I
XIII30 April 1478Bruges St. Salvator's Cathedral Maximilian of Austria (Regent of the Order)
XIV6 May 1481 's-Hertogenbosch St. John's Cathedral Maximilian of Austria
XV24 May 1491 Mechelen St. Rumbold's Cathedral Philip IV of Burgundy (Philip I of Castile)
XVI17 January 1501BrusselsChapel of the Carmelite ConventPhilip IV
XVII17 December 1505 Middelburg ?Philip IV
XVIIIOctober 1516BrusselsCathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula Charles II of Burgundy (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor)
XIX5–8 March 1519 Barcelona Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia Charles II
XX3 December 1531 Tournai Cathedral of Our Lady Charles II
XXI2 January 1546 Utrecht St. Martin's Cathedral Charles II
XXII26 January 1555 Antwerp Cathedral of Our Lady Philip V of Burgundy (Philip II of Spain)
XXIII29 July 1559GhentSaint Bavo CathedralPhilip V [55]

Insignia

Spanish BranchAustrian Branch
Sovereign's Neck Insignia of the Spanish Order of the Fleece.svg
Insignia of Knights and Dames of the Spanish Order of the Fleece.svg
Insignia of Knights of the Austrian Order of the Golden Fleece.svg
Sovereign's Neck Insignia Knight's Neck and
Dame's Ribbon Insignia
Neck Insignia

See also

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Literature