H.M. King Juan Carlos II
Grand Master of
Order of the Golden Fleece -
Established: 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. It
is restricted to a limited number of knights, initially 24 but increased to 30
in 1433, and 50 in 1516, plus the sovereign. 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. The order, conceived in an
ecclesiastical spirit in which mass and obsequies were prominent and the knights
were seated in choir stalls like canons, was explicitly denied to
"heretics", and so became an exclusively Catholic award during the
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, Juan Carlos.
Order and Distinguished Spanish Order of Carlos
III (Spanish: Real y Distinguida Orden Española de Carlos III)
- Established: 19 September 1771
by King Carlos III. Its objective is to reward people for their actions in
benefit to Spain and the Crown. Since its creation, it has been the most
distinguished civil award that can be granted in Spain, despite its
categorisation as a military order. It was formally converted to a civil order
The Order was later regulated in an Royal Decree of 2002 (in which was set the objective of "rewarding the citizens who, with their effort, initiative and work, have brought a distinguished and extraordinary service to the Nation") and by an Order of 8 May 2000.
Today the Grand Master of the order is King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
Motto: Virtuti et mérito
Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic - Established: 14 March 1815 by King Ferdinand VII of Spain in honor of his ancestress, Queen Isabella I of Castile, with the name of "Royal and American Order of Isabella the Catholic" with the intent of "rewarding the firm allegiance to Spain and the merits of Spanish citizens and foreigners in good standing with the Nation and especially in those exceptional services provided in pursuit of territories in America and overseas." The Order was reorganized by Royal Decree on July 26, 1847, as the modern "Royal Order of Isabella the Catholic" with a broader focus.
Order of Montesa - Established: 10 June 1317 King James II, King James II persuaded Pope John XXII to permit him to regroup the Templar properties in Aragón and Valencia, and to create a new military order not essentially differing from that of the Templars, which should be charged with the defence of the frontier against the Moors and the pirates. The new order was dedicated to Our Lady, and based at Montesa. Pope John XXII approved it on 10 June 1317, and gave it the Cistercian rule.
The order derived its title from St. George of Montesa, its principal stronghold. It was affiliated to the Order of Calatrava, from which its first recruits were drawn, and it was maintained in dependence upon that order.
The first of the fourteen grand masters was Guillermo d'Eril. In 1485, Philip of Viana renounced the Archdiocese of Palermo to become grand master. He died fighting the Kingdom of Granada in 1488. The office of grand master was united with the Crown by Philip II in 1587.
Order of Alcantara -
Established: The Order of
Alcántara, also called the Knights of St. Julian, was originally a
military order of León, founded in 1166 and confirmed by Pope Alexander III in
This order's genesis is obscure, but according to a somewhat questionable tradition, St. Julian de Pereiro was a hermit of the country of Salamanca, where by his counsel, some knights built a castle on the river Tagus to oppose the Muslims. They are mentioned in 1176, in a grant of King Fernando of León, but without allusion to their military character. They are first acknowledged as a military order by a papal bull in 1177 by Pope Alexander III. Through their compact with the Knights of Calatrava, they accepted the Cistercian rule and costume, (a white mantle with the scarlet overcross), and they submitted to the right of inspection and correction from the Master of Calatrava. This union did not last long.
Order of Calatrava -
Established: The Order of
Calatrava was the first military order founded in Castile, but the second to
receive papal approval. The papal bull confirming the Order of Calatrava as a
Militia was given by Pope Alexander III on September 26, 1164.
In the Cistercian Order, then only recently formed (1098), there had been a large number of knights or sons of knights. In Calatrava, on the contrary, those who had been monks became knights. Monastic life has been called "a warfare", and it would be a mistake to suppose those rough medieval warriors sought in the cloister only a comfortable asylum after a troubled career. In both lives there was an heroic struggle to sustain, whether against one's passions or against the Muslims, and the austerities of an ascetic life could not have been more dreadful to them than the privations of camp life and the wounds of battle.
Order of Santiago -
Established: The Order of
Santiago or the Order of Saint James of Compostela was founded in the
12th century, and owes its name to the national patron of Spain, Santiago
(St. James the Greater), under whose banner the Christians of Galicia and
Asturias began in the 9th century to combat and drive back the Muslims of the
Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, the centre of devotion to this Apostle, is neither the cradle nor the principal seat of the order. Two cities contend for the honour of having given it birth, León in the kingdom of that name, and Uclés in Castile. At that time (1157–1230) the royal dynasty was divided into two rival branches, which rivalry tended to obscure the beginnings of the order. The Knights of Santiago had possessions in each of the kingdoms, but Ferdinand II of León and Alfonso VIII of Castile, in bestowing them, set the condition that the seat of the order should be in their respective states. Hence arose long disputes which only ended in 1230 when Ferdinand III, the Saint, united both crowns. Thenceforth, Uclés, in the Province of Cuenca, was regarded as the headquarters of the order; there the grand master habitually resided, aspirants passed their year of probation, and the rich archives of the order were preserved until united in 1869 with the "Archivo Historico Nacional" of Madrid. The order received its first rule in 1171 from Cardinal Jacinto (later Pope Celestine III), then legate in Iberia of Pope Alexander III.
Unlike the contemporary orders of Calatrava and Alcántara, which followed the severe rule of the Benedictines of Citeaux, Santiago adopted the milder rule of the Canons of St. Augustine. In fact at León they offered their services to the Canons Regular of Saint Eligius in that town for the protection of pilgrims to the shrine of St. James and the hospices on the roads leading to Compostela. This explains the mixed character of their order, which is hospitaller and military, like that of St. John of Jerusalem. They were recognized as religious by Pope Alexander III, whose Bull of 5 July 1175, was subsequently confirmed by more than twenty of his successors. These pontifical acts, collected in the Bullarium of the order, secured them all the privileges and exemptions of other monastic orders. The order comprised several affiliated classes: canons, charged with the administration of the sacraments; canonesses, occupied with the service of pilgrims; religious knights living in community, and married knights. The right to marry, which other military orders only obtained at the end of the Middle Ages, was accorded them from the beginning under certain conditions, such as the authorization of the king, the obligation of observing continence during Advent, Lent, and on certain festivals of the year, which they spent at their monasteries in retreat.