The following chronology lists some notable dates and events relevant to the original Fraternal Society of St. George and other instances of the Knights or Orders of St. George appearing at different historical periods and in different countries typically as mutually independent bodies having nothing in common except for the veneration of St. George, the patron of knighthood.
Note: The accompanying illustrations are scans of the water-coloured painted images included in A.M. Perrot's book. [ 1 ]
The Order of St. George of Alfama was instituted in the diocese of Tortose in Spain, in the Kingdom of Aragon by King Pedro (Peter) II (1178-1213) as a Religious Military Order in honour of St. Peter, formed to fight the Moors and other Islamic invaders. The order received the approbation of the Holy See only in 1363, and had only a brief existence. The Order followed the Augustinian rule whereby the members wore a white habit but did not appear to have used the insignia until the union with the Order of Montesa, when they adopted the cross of that Order. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 4 ] [ 5 ]
The Council of Oxford ordained that the feast of St. George to be observed in England as a national festival, and later, in 1415, St. George's Day was constituted a major double feast, comparable to Christmas in that no work was to be done on that day.
Visegrád, Hungary - King Károly Róbert of Hungary (also known as Charles 1 of Hungary, Charles Robert, Charles Robert of Anjou; b: 1288, Naples, Italy - d: 16 July 1342, Visegrád, Hungary) founded the Fraternal Society of Knighthood of St. George, being the first of a monarchical order of chivalry created, however, the precise date of the foundation is not known, but it was certainly in existence on St. George's Day on the 23rd of April, 1326. The only historical source available describing this Fraternal Society is the sole surviving copy of its statutes records (Laws of the Order) in which its preamble indicates that a series of amendments were adopted on that date.
The order flourished during the reign of Károly and was even more successful under the reign of his like-minded son, Lajos "the Great". It was only when Lajos died leaving his Hungarian throne disputed between his relations did the kingdom once again dissolve into a civil war which probably divided and finally destroyed the Society Károly had founded. Further historical details of its foundation can be perused at About the Order. [ 3 ]
The Order of St. George of Alfama was, with the approval of antipope Benedict XIII (1328-1423), the order was amalgamated with the Aragonese Order of Montesa in 1369, thereafter, known as the Order of Montesa and St. George of Alfama since their aims were identical. [ 1 ] [ 2 ]
Philibert of Miolans, a gentleman of Burgundy, instituted the Order of St. George, France in 1390. He had appointed knights to the order assembled for the collection and preservation of relics pertaining to St. George that he pretended to have brought from the east. These were deposited in a small chapel, built for the knights reception, near the parish church of Rougemont. The knights formed a brotherhood and in 1485 extended the original statutes of the order and vowed to assist in the deliverance of prisoners, and safeguard the interests of widows and orphans. Previous to being admitted, it was necessary to prove sixteen descents of nobility. Louis XIV is said to have changed the tincture of the ribbon from Gules (red) to Azure (blue). The emblem to signify the order depicts St. George on horseback, slaying the dragon (depicted on the right). The Order exists today as the Confrerie Des Chevaliers de Saint-Georges, France and claims to a continous lineage to the original Order.
[ 1 ] [ 2 ]
Frederic III (1415-1493), Emperor of Germany, resurrected the Order of St. George of Carinthia and Austria, originally created by Rudolph, Count of Hapsburg who reigned as Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire from 1273-1291 and who founded the Order in Austria in 1290, with a new order in 1468 for the purpose of defending the religion against heretics, specifically, against the invading Turks. It had taken the form of a religious military order in Germany. The first thirteen Prince Grand Masters of the Order were all from the House of Habsburg ad were descended from the Emperor Rudolf I. The emblem to signify the Order is the classical St. George slaying the dragon, as depicted on the right. [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 5 ]
The Order of St. George in Rome, was instituted by Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503) in 1498 for the purpose of defending the coast of the Adriatic Sea against pirates. The order did not survive its founder. The emblem (badge) was a gold cross within a circle of gold. [ 1 ] [ 2 ]
The Order of St. George of Ravenna, a military Order supposedly instituted by Pope Paul III (1468-1549), who assigned the city of Ravenna for the residence of the knights, that they might more readily defend the city, and the marches of Ancona from the Muslims. The order was abolished by Pope Gregory XIII in 1574. The emblem (badge) was a star of eight points Gules (red), over it, a ducal coronet Or (gold) as depicted on the right (note: it was thought that the crown was to have been St. Stephen's crown, but the illustration does not depict that crown). [ 1 ] [ 2 ]
Order of St. George, Defender of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin, according to Bavarian historians, traces this order to the period of the Crusades, but little evidence supports this claim, however, what little is known is that the name had been in use since Charles VII of France (1403-1461). The order was re-instituted in April 1729 by Duke Charles d'Albrecht of Wittelsbach, Elector of Bavaria. The Papal Bull of March 15, 1728 confirms its formation and was issued and approved by Pope Benoit XIII. The Papal Bull stated: "We furthermore endow the Order of St. George with all titles of honour, prerogatives, privilegers, powers and favours, which, through the benevolence of the Apostolic See have granted in great abundance to, and which are enjoyed by, the Teutonic Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which has served as a role model in the foundation of the Order of St. George." The structure was such that the Grant Prior must be a noble. The emblem (badge) was a grand-cross, large ribbon and a central medallion of St. George slaying the dragon, as depicted on the right. [ 1 ] [ 4 ]
The Order of St. George the Triumphant in Russia, was instituted by the Empress Catherine II (1729-1796) as a military order, to reward the services of her military and naval officers. It was comprised of four classes, the first class receiving an annual pension of 700 roubles; the second class, 400; and the third, 200. No one was admitted into the order without having previously taken a vessel, battery, or some post occupied by the enemy; or having sustained a siege without surrender, or in the least, made some very extraordinary defence or contribution to gain a victory. The order had no Grand Master, but did have two councils, one representing the navy and the second representing the military. The emblems (badges) depending upon class was a cross patteée upon the centre of which is a medallion with the figure of St. George slaying the dragon as depicted on the right. [ 1 ] [ 2 ]
The Royal and Military Order of St. George of the Reunion (Two Sicilies), was instituted by King Ferdinand IV of Naples (1751-1825) by decree on January 1, 1819, to reward services rendered to the state. This order was also to replace the Order of the Two Sicilies. Little is known about the organization and status of this order. What little is known of this order is represented by the order's emblems (badges) of a cross Gules (red) upon the centre of which is a medallion with the figure of St. George slaying the dragon Or (gold), as depicted on the right. The Order became extinct de jure in 1894 after the death of Francis II, the last King of the Two Sicilies. [ 1 ]
- A.M. Perrot. Collection Historique des ordres de Chevalerie Civils et Militaries.....Chronologique des Ordres Éteints. Chez Aimé André Libraire-Éditeur, quai des Augustins, No. 59. Paris. 1820.
- Thomas Robson. The British Herald, or Cabinet of Armorial Bearings of the Nobility & Gentry of Great Britain & Ireland, from the Earliest to the Present Time...History of Heraldry.. Vol 1. Turner & Marwood. 1830.
- D'Arcy J.D. Boulton. The Knights of the Crown - The Monarchical Orders of Knighthood in Later Medieval Europe 1325-1520. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK. 1987. ISBN 0 85115 417 4.
- Guy Stair Sainty (editor), Rafal Heydel-Mankoo (deputy editor). World Orders of Knighthood & Merit. Burke's Peerage Gentry, USA. 2006. ISBN 0-9711966-7-2.
- Lowell Alan Barker, Esq. The Knightly Renaissance: A Guide to Knightly Orders. Published by the author. Post Office Box 76, Sylvester, West Virginia 25193, USA. 1987.