Orders of Chivalry
Religious Orders

Orders of Chivalry -

    Knighthood inhabits a grey area between the Commons of a land and it's Nobility. The concept is an ancient one and, in its essence, revolves around a person who is a member of a distinguished clan or lineage and who is wealthy enough to own and maintain a horse, armour, and arms, serving their city or nation in the capacity of a semi-noble warrior. Such a person need not hold a noble or territorial title, but nearly always needs to be at least gentry, however that is defined by their society. Central to the idea is that of horse-borne arms - indeed, most words used to describe such a warrior or class evolved out of terms for "horse" or "rider" (Caballero, Cavaleiro, Cavaliere, Chevalier, Equites, Ritter - English forms the exception, "Knight" being derived from a word meaning "servant, companion, minion).
     Orders of Knighthood evolved more gradually, but are still of respectable antiquity. Although one can see some of the basic ideas of an Order contained within the ancient Roman order of the Equites, the clearest expression of the concept comes from Germanic cultures. In Pagan times there were to be found groups such as the Jomsberg Vikings, but in Christian times the foundation of Chivalric Brotherhoods began in earnest, and is the subject of most of the rest of this file.
     Another central theme has been a connection to accepted religious forms. While many of todays best-known Orders (Knights of the Garter, Knights of the Golden Fleece, etc.) are secular, the Orders in this file are essentially priestly, with full membership carrying vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. The Knights were in effect warrior-priests, and throughout history religious authorities have created Orders to serve their interests alongside Royal creations of secular Orders.

This file's chivalric orders: Order of Calatrava, Knights of St. John ("Kts. of Malta"), Order of Christ, Order of Santiago, Knights Templar, and Teutonic Knights. Local Commanderies of various Orders: (St. John: Heitersheim and Sonnenburg. Templars: England, Ireland, Scotland. TeutonicDeutschmeister, Biesen, Koblenz, Ootmarsum, and Utrecht).

Religious Orders -

    Included in this file are a variety of religious orders. These priestly organizations are not chivalric in the sense of the term detailed above, but they deserve inclusion here because they resemble in many ways their knightly counterparts, being tightly-knit organizations with a spiritual focus, and international in scope.

This file's religious orders: The Dominican Order, and the Jesuit Order.

ORDER of CALATRAVA The oldest of the military orders in Spain, the Order of Calatrava was established by two Cistercian monks to defend the Castle of Calatrava (located in south-central Spain about 12 miles (19 km.) east of Puertollano and 120 miles (193 km.) south of Madrid). The Order grew in influence and prosperity, and by the end of the Reconquista had 200,000 members.

MaltaMALTA The Knights of St. John Hospitaler of Jerusalem began as an order devoted to the construction and maintenance of medical facilities for use by pilgrims and others in the Holy Land. In this task they have perservered to the present day, and are still widely known for their charitable works in health and human services. As crusaders though, they quickly developed into a military order as well, and were instrumental in defending Acre and Cyprus, conquering and holding Rhodes, and holding Malta (by which name they are still generally known today). After Malta was captured by the French and British during the Napoleonic wars, the Order fell on hard times, but was revived in the later 19th century as an instrument of Roman Catholic charitable works. Go to Knights of Saint John possessions: Cos, Malta, Rhodes, St. Barthelemy, St. Croix, St. Martin, Strakonice, and Tortuga.

MILITARY ORDER OF CHRIST Order of the Knights of Our Lord Jesus Christ A crusading order created on March 14th, 1319 by Pope John XXII in the Bull "Ad ea ex Quibus". It inherited all lands and holdings of the Templars in Portugal. It was headquartered in Tomar, the former Templar seat in Portugal, and was dedicated to the reconquest of Iberia from the Muslims, and wars against Muslim states in Africa. Vasco da Gama was a prominent member of this Order.

ORDER of SANTIAGO An early military Order established in Castile to protect pilgrims on their way to the shrine of Santiago de Compostella, and to battle Iberian Muslims generally. Founded in the town of Cáceres (south-central Spain, in the Tagus Valley near the modern Portuguese frontier, 54 miles (86 km.) northeast of Badajoz) and orginally named after that town, it became known as the Order of Santiago in 1171. In 1174, Alphonse VII of Castile gave the Order the town (now village) of Uclés, (located 55 miles (88 km.) east-southeast of Madrid). The Order became very wealthy and influential, having close to 700,000 members when it was absorbed into the new Spanish monarchy.

TEMPLARS The Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon were for a time one of the most powerful organizations in Mediaeval Europe, particularly in France, where they owned enormous estates and were free of all feudal obligation save to the Papacy itself. They began as a small band of warriors housed in one wing of what had been the Temple in Jerusalem, who tasked themselves with the responsibility of escorting pilgrims safely through the Holy Land. As they grew, they diversified their activities, becoming in time a real military presence in the region. They were regarded by their Muslim opponents as deadly foes. Nevertheless, as their wealth and power grew, they became quarrelsome with Christians as well, and their habit of utter secrecy regarding internal affairs of the Order made them vulnerable to attack from outside, most notably the Knights of St. John and the King of France. They were suppressed at the beginning of the 14th century, ostensibly on doctrinal grounds, and most of their properties were siezed by various monarchs in Europe. They have continued to exert a fascination on subsequent generations however, and they have provided a murky yet real influence on the later development of European Freemasonry. Visit a Templar possession in the Middle East: Arvad.

The TEUTONIC KNIGHTS The Knights and Brothers of the German Houses at Beloved Lady of Jerusalem was created for service in the Holy Land during the Crusades, in 1191. Originally based at Acre, when that city fell they moved to Venice, in 1291. Finding life in that place uncongenial to their mission of converting the Heathen by military action, they obtained permission to establish themselves in the Baltics, there to establish control over the Pagan Prus and Letts. The last Grand Master with temporal authority, Albert von Hohenzollern, converted to Protestantism in 1525, secularized the Order, and established the territories it held as the Duchy of Prussia. The Order was reconstituted and relocated in 1527, surviving until the Napoleonic era, when it was again restructured into it's modern form as a charitable organization. As an aside, the Order's heraldry provided the basis for the design of the modern German military decoration, the Iron Cross. Go to Teutonic Knights possessions: Fulda, Latvia and Prussia.


The DOMINICANS The Order of Preachers (Ordo Praedicatorum), more commonly known as the Dominican Order, or Dominicans is a Catholic religious order, sometimes called "Blackfriars" because of the black cappa, or cloak, they wear over their white habits.  The Dominican Order was founded by Saint Dominic in the early 13th century as an Augustinian order. It was one of the great orders of mendicant monks that revolutionized religious life in Europe during the High Middle Ages. Founded to preach the gospel and to combat heresy, the Order is famed for its intellectual tradition, having produced many leading theologians and philosophers. Despite the attitude of their founder, who believed in persuasion by example, the Dominicans became closely allied with and at times dominated the Inquisition.

The JESUITS The Society of Jesus is an order of missionary clerics, whose work has involved preaching, education, and charity. Formed in the Counter-Reformation era, the organization's tightly disciplined structure, highly flexible approach to methodology, and strong emphasis on scholarship found immediate and lasting appeal. To this, a very strong loyalty to the Papacy gave the Jesuits a pre-emminent position in the early modern era among Roman Catholic Orders. This very loyalty, however, created considerable prejudice among other organizations and secular authorities, leading to the Order's eventual (if temporary) suppression. Revived in the early 19th century, the modern Society continues it's work in not much different a fashion from it's inception. Visit a semi-independent Jesuit "state" in Paraguay.

PROVINCIAL and DISTRICT AUTHORITIES Here are lists of various regional and local commanders of assorted chivalric orders.

Order of St. John: Grand Priory of Heitersheim Ranked as Princes of the Empire in their own right.

Order of St. John: Bailiwick of Sonnenburg

Templars: England (Masters of the English Province) The Templars held land in the British Isles from around 1135/44, and their chief administrative property was located at Old Temple, in Holborn Street in London (just adjacent to where the Patent Office is now), and then from around 1161 at a much larger establishment extending from Fleet Street to the riverside - after the suppression of the Order in 1308/12 this site evolved into the Inner Temple and Middle Temple Inns of Court, two of the four secular legal colleges in London.

Templars: Ireland (Preceptory of Clontarf) Clontarf was the senior Templar establishment in Ireland - technically, the Priors at Clontarf were subordinate to the Masters of the Temple in London, but as a practical matter they held wide latitude and autonomy, and were usually described as Masters of (the Province of) Ireland, owing to poor communication between London and Ireland. The chiefs of the order travelled throughout the province on Order affairs, and ought not be regarded simply as seated at this priory per se - in fact, only the last two are specifically named as Priors of Clontarf.

Templars: Scotland (Preceptory of Balantrodoch) The Templar presence in Scotland is poorly documented and, owing to the rise of Scottish Rite Freemasonry, much mythology and frankly silly speculation has become entrenched in the subject. They held comparatively few estates or lands in Scotland, and were under the administrative jurisdiction of London.
Teutonic Knights: Deutschmeister The overall administrator to properties of the Teutonic Knights in Germany.

Teutonic Knights: Bailiwick of Biesen

Teutonic Knights: Bailiwick of Koblenz

Teutonic Knights: Bailiwick of Ootmarsum A small town in eastern Overijssel, 4 miles (6½ km.) from the German border, and 6½ miles (10½ km.) northeast of Almelo.

Teutonic Knights: Bailiwick of Utrecht