Open main menu

Page:Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 10.djvu/353

This page needs to be proofread.




passing himself off as Gnind Master of the Order of Knights of St. George, which he pretended to trace to Constantine the Great. In 1632, Balthazar Giron, who called himself an Abyssinian, brought to Eurojje an order no less ancient, that of St. .■Vnthony of Ethio- pia, an imposture almost immediately unmasked by another Oriental, the learned .Abraham Echelensi-s (1646). At the court of Louis XIV, a negro, brought to France from the Ciold Coast, posed as a prince, even securing the honour of being baptized by Bossuet (1686), and instituted the Order of the Star of Our Lady before returning to his alleged dominions.

A regular order of knighthood means a brotherhood or confraternity which combines with the insignia of knighthood the privileges of monks. This supposes recognition on the part of both Church and State ; to belong to the regular clergy, they needed the pope's confirmation; they could not wear the sword of knight- hood without the authorization of the prince. Orders of knighthood lacking this official recognition should be expunged from history, even though they figure in the pages of all the old historians of the military orders. .\s a matter of fact, more than one rule of this kind, scarcely paising beyond the initial stages, has existed, and such are the orders which may be designated stillborn. No trace is to be found in the "Bullarium romanum" of the order called the Wing of St. Michael, attributed to King Alfonso I of Portugal (1176), nor of the Order of the Ship, which St. Louis was supposed to have founded on the eve of the crusade to Tunis where he died (1270), nor of that of the .Argonauts of St. Nicholas, attributed to CharlesIII, King of Naples, 1382. Philippe de Mezieres, chancellor of the King of Cyprus, drew up the statutes of an Order of the Passion of Christ (1360), the text of which has recently been published, but which were never enforced. .After the conquest of Lemnos from the Turks, Pope Pius II founded an order of Our Lady of Bethlehem, intending to transfer to it the possessions of older orders which no longer fulfilled their purpose (1459), but the loss of the island pre- vented its institution. The same fate befell the Ger- man Order of the Christian Militia, projected (1615) under Paul V; of the French ORler of The Magdalen for the suppression of duelling (1614); of the Conception of Our Lady, the statutes of which, drawn up by the Duke of Mantua and approved by Urban VIII (1623), have remained a dead letter. The age of the crusades had passed. The orders of any historical existence may be reduced to three cate- gories: I. The Greater Regular Orders; II. The Lesser Regular Orders; III. The Secular Orders.

I. The Gre.\ter Regular Orders. — The great military orders had their origin in the crusades, from which they retain the common badge of every order of knighthood, the cross worn on the breast. The oldest of these, the Knights Templars (q. v.), has served as a model for all the others. .After barely a century of existence, they were suppressed by Clement V; but two remnants remained after the fourteenth century, the Order of ChrLst (q. v.) in Portugal, and the Order of Montesa (q. v.) in Spain. In the twelfth century Portugal had borrowed their rule from the Templars and founded the Portuguese Order of .Aviz (q. v.). .Almost at the same time there arose in Castile the Order of Calatrava (q. v.) and in Leon the Order of .Alcantara (q. v.). Contemporary with these purely military ortlers, others were founded, at once military and hospitaller, the most famous of which were the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem and the Teutonic Knights, mo<lelled on the former, both still in existence. In the same category should be included the Order of Santiago (q. v.) which spread throughout Castile, Leon, and Portugal. Lastly, there are the purely hospitaller orders whose commanders, however, claimed the rank of knights though they had never been in battle, such as the X.— 20

Orders of St. Lazarus of Jerusalem (q. v.) and of the Holy Spirit of Montpellier (q. v.). With these may be connected the Order of Our Lady of Ransom {.\'uestra Sei'iora de Merced, also called Mercedarians), founded (1218) in Aragon by St. Peter Nolasco for the redemption of captives. Including religious knights as well as religious clerics, it was originally considered a military order, but dissensions arose and each rank chose its own grand master. John XXII (1317) re- served the grand-mastership to clerics, with the result of a general exodus of knights into the newly fomided military Order of Montesa.

II. The Le.sser Regul.^s Order.s. — There is men- tion in the twelfth century, in Castile, of an Order of

Knights of Livonia, or Swobd-bearers

Montjoie, confirmed by Alexander III (1180), but difficult to distinguish from the Order of Calatrava, with which it was soon amalgamated. In 1191, after the siege of .Acre, Richard I of England founded there in fulfilment of a vow, the Order of St. Thomas of Canterbury, an order of hospitallers for the service of English pilgrims. It seems to have been made de- pendent on the Hospitallers of St. John, whom it fol- lowed to Cyprus after the evacuat ion of Palest ine. Its existence is attested by the Bullarium of Alexander IV and John XXII; beyond this it has left but little trace except a church of remarkable architecture, St. Nicholas, at Nicosia in Cyprus. Better known is the history of the Schwertzbriider (linsifcri, or Sword- bearers) of Livonia, founded by .Alliert, first Bishop of Riga (1 197), to propagate the Faith in the Baltic Prov- inces and to protect the new Christianity there against the pagan nations still numerous in that part of Europe. .Against these pagans a crusade had been preached ; but, the temporary crusaders having made haste to withdraw, it became necessary, as in Pales- tine, to supply their place with a permanent order. This order adopted the statutes, the white mantle and the red cross of the Templars, with a red sword as their distinctive badge, whence their name of Enxiferi. The order was approved in 1202 by a Bull of Innocent III. Thrown open to all sorts of persons without ilistinction of birth, overrun by aimless ad- venturers whose excesses were calculated rather to exasperate the pagans than to convert, them, it en- dured but a short time,Tiaving only two grand mas-