Orders of Knighthood and of Merit
Orders of Knighthood and of Merit

Orders of Knighthood and of Merit


The Pontifical, Religious and Secularised Catholic-founded Orders and their relationship to the Apostolic See
Hardcover ISBN: 0-86140-371-1 / 978-0-86140-371-4 £70.00
Limited signed edition, three-quarter morocco, vellum panels, marbled end-papers, in slip-case ISBN: 0-86140-380-0 / 978-0-86140-380-6 £450.00

23.4 x 15.5 cm.    xvi, 714 pp. + 48pp colour illustrations and  with c.400  b/w illustrations within the text

Since the publication in 1983 of Archbishop Cardinale’s Orders of Knighthood, Awards and the Holy See, and the two later editions (1984 and 1985) edited and revised by Peter Bander van Duren, whose own work The Cross on the Sword appeared in 1987, there have been major changes in the Holy See’s attitude towards Orders of Knighthood. These changes have meant that large sections of both books are now out of date, so it has been necessary for Peter Bander van Duren to completely rewrite and update the work Archbishop Cardinale began, and without which this book could not have been written.

Orders of Knighthood and of Merit presents the many Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood in a new perspective, and deals not only with the Pontifical Equestrian Orders and the two surviving religious Orders of Knighthood, but with the many Catholic-founded but secularised Orders – dynastic, state and crown – that exist today. He examines their relationship, where one exists, to the Apostolic See and the Papacy in the light of the changes that have taken place, as well as the dichotomy between the different rôles and functions of the Holy See and the Apostolic See, the Mater et Magistra of all Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood. Having been able to study various source materials hitherto and not since available to others, he exposes the misunderstandings and misinformation that exist in this field, and highlights errors that have been perpetuated, sometimes for centuries, through genuine lack of information, as well as those that, for political expediency, have been deliberately concealed.

The chapter and appendices on the Pontifical Orders of Knighthood are designed to assist papal knights in their rôle and functions that their appointments have given them.

The author places the Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood in perspective, and shows that the continued existence of many of them is based not only on authoritative ecclesiastical and temporal documents of foundation, Papal Briefs and Bulls, but also on their lay apostolate which has continued without interruption.

Neither the Codex Iuris Canonici in force from 1917 to 1983, nor that governing the Catholic-founded Orders during the pontificate of St. Pius X (who more than any other pope laid the foundations for the Pontifical Orders as we know them today), created the present situation where necessity dictates that one has to distinguish between the rôle and functions of the Apostolic See and the Holy See: this dichotomy was created by the 1983 Codex Iuris Canonici. The author shows the paradox that would arise if those who wish to equate them according to the latter’s rather vague Canons are not challenged to clarify their positions: their rulings would nullify the present enormous value of many of the Catholic-founded Orders to the Apostolic See and, indeed, to the whole Church. The author goes so far as to suggest that if the authority and the supremacy of the Apostolic See were to be further diminished, those mighty armies that once protected our Christian civilisation will have lost their raison d’être.

Special attention is paid to dynastic Orders of Knighthood, especially those that although secularised, in some cases for centuries, still fulfil a lay apostolate. Many state and dynastic Orders were secularised during the Reformation, and while they no longer have any link with the Apostolic See, they retain the character and insignia of their former existence, and now have a reciprocal relationship with the Holy See in its capacity as a sovereign power. Extinct Catholic-founded Orders, as well as those organisations that without justification claim chivalric status, are dealt with in detail. One of the most important matters dealt with by the author, and not hitherto considered elsewhere, is the raison d’être of several Orders, and some aspects of Hospitaller as well as Military Orders are also examined.

For over half the last millennium, from the time of the first Crusade to the latter half of the seventeenth century, members of Catholic-founded Orders of Knighthood were at the forefront of the defence of West European civilization, and the author suggests that they may once again find a rôle. There are also many appendices that give a wealth of information not readily available to those interested in phaleristics – the study of Orders, decorations and honours bestowed on meritorious individuals. Orders of Knighthood and of Merit is therefore one of the most important contributions to the study of phaleristics that has been published in the past decades.


I. The involvement of the Apostolic See and the Holy See in the field of chivalry – The origin and evolution of Orders of Knighthood.

II. THE PONTIFICAL ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD. The origin and evolution of Pontifical Orders of Knighthood and the attitude of individual pontiffs to the Orders – The Supreme Order of Christ – The Order of the Golden Spur, or The Golden Militia – The Golden Collar of the Pian Order – The Order of Pius IX – The Order of St. Gregory the Great – The Order of Pope St. Sylvester – Corollary on non-Catholic Knights of the Order of St. Gregory the Great.

III. PAPAL KNIGHTS. The rôle and function of the Pontifical Equestrian Orders – The procedure for admission – The implications of the Supreme Pontiff being the fons honorum of Pontifical Knighthoods.

IV. PONTIFICAL RELIGIOUS AWARDS OF MERIT. The Golden Rose – The Cross ‘Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice’ – The Medal ‘Benemerenti’.

V. RELIGIOUS BUT NON-PONTIFICAL ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD. The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of St. John of Jerusalem, of Rhodes and of Malta – The Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem – The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem.


VII. CATHOLIC-FOUNDED DYNASTIC ORDERS. Their nature, rôle and function, and their relationship with the Apostolic See
The Noble Order of the Golden Fleece of Burgundy
The Imperial and Royal House of Habsburg-Lorraine – The Noble Order of the Golden Fleece of Austria – The Order of the Dames of the Starry Cross
The Royal House of Bragança of Portugal – The Order of Our Lady of the Conception of Vila Viçosa – The Royal Order of Saint Isabel
The Royal House of Bourbon of the Two Sicilies – The Sacred Military Constantinian Order of St. George – The Royal Order of St. Januarius
The Royal House of Savoy-Italy – The Supreme Order of the Most Holy Annunziata – The Order of SS. Maurice and Lazarus
The Royal House of Bavaria Wittelsbach – The Order of St. George – The Order of St. Hubert – The Order of St. Michael
The Royal House of Bourbon of France – The Royal House of Bourbon Orléans – The Order of the Holy Ghost – The Royal and Military Order of St. Louis – The Order of St. Michael of France
The Ducal House of Habsburg-Tuscany: The Grand Duchy of Tuscany – The Order of St. Stephen – The Order of St. Joseph.

Denmark: The Order of the Elephant; The Order of the Dannebrog
Great Britain and Northern Ireland: The Most Noble Order of the Garter; The Most Ancient and Most Noble Order of the Thistle; The Most Honourable Order of the Bath; Knights Bachelor
Monaco: The Order of St. Charles
The Republic of Poland: The Order of the White Eagle; The Order of ‘Polonia Restituta’
The Republic of Portugal: The Riband of the Three Orders; The Military Order of the Tower and the Sword, of Valour, Loyalty and Merit (although not a Catholic-founded Order); The Military Order of Christ; The Military Order of Avis; The Military Order of St. James of the Sword
San Marino: The Equestrian Order of St. Marino; The Equestrian Order of St. Agatha
Spain: The Noble Order of the Golden Fleece (Spanish branch); The Monastic Military Orders of Alcantara, of Calatrava, of Montesa & of Santiago; The Most Distinguished Order of Carlos III; The Order of Isabella the Catholic; The Military Order of St. Ferdinand; The Royal & Military Order of St. Hermenegildus; The Orders of Cisneros, & of St. Raymond of Peñafort
Sweden: The Royal Order of the Sword (The Order of the Yellow Ribbon); The Royal Order of the Seraphim



XI. RECOGNIZED KNIGHTLY ORGANISATIONS. The Association of the Knights of Columbus -
The Knights and Dames of St. Michael of the Wing



1. Pontifical Equestrian Orders: Papal Letters of Foundation and Decrees
2. Additional Guidelines for Papal Knights and Investitures
3. Conferment of Pontifical Religious Awards
4. The Pontifical Medal
5. The Pontifical Corps of Guards: the Pontifical Noble Guard – The Pontifical Swiss Guard – The Palatine Guard of Honour – The Pontifical Gendarmerie
6. Perrot’s List of Extinct Orders
7. On Chronological Lists of Orders of Knighthood
8. The Prerogatives of the Dukes of Bragança
9. Bull of Foundation of the Portuguese Order of Christ and Royal Brief of Acceptance by King Dom Dinis I
10. Insignia as objets d’art
11. Orders and Decorations of the Republic of Poland
12. Appointment of S.A.R. Don Carlos de Borbón-Dos Sicilias y Borbón-Parma as Infante of Spain




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