The Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece (Spanish: Insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro, German: Berühmt Orden vom Goldenen Vlies) is a Roman Catholic order of chivalry founded in Bruges by the Burgundian duke Philip the Good in 1430, to celebrate his marriage to the Princess Isabella of Portugal. Today, two branches of the Order exist, namely the Spanish and the Austrian Fleece; the current grand masters are Felipe VI, King of Spain, and Karl von Habsburg, grandson of Emperor Charles I of Austria, respectively. The chaplain of the Austrian branch is Cardinal Graf von Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna.
Having had only 1,200 recipients ever since its establishment, the Spanish Order of the Golden Fleece has been referred to as the most prestigious and exclusive order of chivalry in the world, both historically and contemporaneously. Unlike any other distinction, the Golden Fleece is only granted for life, meaning it must be returned to the Spanish Monarch whenever the recipient deceases. Each collar is fully coated in gold, and is estimated to be worth around $60,000 USD, making it the most expensive chivalrous order.
|Distinguished Order of the Golden Fleece|
Insigne Orden del Toisón de Oro
Insigne Ordre de la Toison d'Or
Berühmt Orden vom Goldenen Vlies
Insignes Ordo Velleris Aurei
Insignia of a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece of Spain. Modern manufacture, Cejalvo (Madrid).
|Awarded by the King of Spain |
and the Head of the House of Habsburg
|Motto||Pretium Laborum Non Vile|
|Founder||Philip III, Duke of Burgundy|
|Grand Masters||Felipe VI of Spain |
Archduke Karl of Austria
|Next (lower)||Royal and Distinguished Spanish Order of Charles III|
The Order of the Golden Fleece was established on 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. The jester and dwarf Madame d'Or performed at the creation of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Bruges. It is restricted to a limited number of knights, initially 24 but increased to 30 in 1433, and 50 in 1516, plus the sovereign. The Order's first King of Arms was Jean Le Fèvre de Saint-Remy. 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 choirstalls like canons, was explicitly denied to heretics, and so became an exclusively Catholic honour during the Reformation. The officers of the order were the chancellor, the treasurer, the registrar, and the King of Arms, or herald, Toison d'Or.
The Duke's stated reason for founding this institution had been given in a proclamation issued following his marriage, in which he wrote that he had done so "for the reverence of God and the maintenance of our Christian Faith, and to honor and exalt the noble order of knighthood, and also ...to do honor to old knights; ...so that those who are at present still capable and strong of body and do each day the deeds pertaining to chivalry shall have cause to continue from good to better; and .. so that those knights and gentlemen who shall see worn the order ... should honor those who wear it, and be encouraged to employ themselves in noble deeds...".
The Order of the Golden Fleece was defended from possible accusations of prideful pomp by the Burgundian court poet Michault Taillevent, who asserted that it was instituted:
Non point pour jeu ne pour esbatement,
Mais à la fin que soit attribuée
Loenge à Dieu trestout premièrement
Et aux bons gloire et haulte renommée.
Not for amusement nor for recreation,
But for the purpose that praise shall be given to God,
In the very first place,
And to the good, glory and high renown.
The choice of the Golden Fleece of Colchis as the symbol of a Christian order caused some controversy, not so much because of its pagan context, which could be incorporated in chivalric ideals, as in the Nine Worthies, but because the feats of Jason, familiar to all, were not without causes of reproach, expressed in anti-Burgundian terms by Alain Chartier in his Ballade de Fougères referring to Jason as "Who, to carry off the fleece of Colchis, was willing to commit perjury." The bishop of Châlons, chancellor of the Order, rescued the fleece's reputation by identifying it instead with the fleece of Gideon that received the dew of Heaven.
The badge of the Order, in the form of a sheepskin, was suspended from a jewelled collar of firesteels in the shape of the letter B, for Burgundy, linked by flints; with the motto "Pretium Laborum Non Vile" ("No Mean Reward for Labours") engraved on the front of the central link, and Philip's motto "Non Aliud" ("I will have no other") on the back (non-royal knights of the Golden Fleece were forbidden to belong to any other order of knighthood).
With the absorption of the Burgundian lands into the Spanish Habsburg empire, the sovereignty of the Order passed to the Habsburg kings of Spain, where it remained until the death of the last of the Spanish Habsburgs, Charles II, in 1700. He was succeeded as king by Philip V, a Bourbon. The dispute between Philip and the Habsburg pretender to the Spanish throne, the Archduke Charles, led to the War of the Spanish Succession, and also resulted in the division of the Order into Spanish and Austrian branches. In either case the sovereign, as Duke of Burgundy, writes the letter of appointment in French.
The controversial conferral of the Fleece on Napoleon and his brother Joseph, while Spain was occupied by French troops, angered the exiled King of France, Louis XVIII, and caused him to return his collar in protest. These, and other awards by Joseph, were revoked by King Ferdinand on the restoration of Bourbon rule in 1813. Napoleon created by Order of 15 August 1809 the Order of the Three Golden Fleeces, in view of his sovereignty over Austria, Spain and Burgundy. This was opposed by Joseph I of Spain and appointments to the new order were never made.
In 1812, the acting government of Spain conferred the Fleece upon the Duke of Wellington, an act confirmed by Ferdinand on his resumption of power, with the approval of Pope Pius VII. Wellington therefore became the first Protestant to be honoured with the Golden Fleece. It has subsequently also been conferred upon non-Christians, such as Bhumibol Adulyadej, King of Thailand.
There was another crisis in 1833 when Isabella II became Queen of Spain in defiance of Salic Law that did not allow women to become heads of state. Her right to confer the Fleece was challenged by Spanish Carlists.
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, Felipe VI.
Below a list of the names of the living knights and ladies, in chronologic order and, within parentheses, the year when they were inducted into the Order:
The Austrian Order did not suffer from the political difficulties of the Spanish, remaining (with the exception of the British prince Regent, later George IV) an honour solely for Catholic royalty and nobility. The problem of female inheritance was avoided on the accession of Maria Theresa in 1740 as sovereignty of the Order passed not to herself but to her husband, Francis.
Upon the collapse of the Austrian monarchy after the First World War, King Albert I of Belgium requested that the sovereignty and treasure of the Order be transferred to him as the ruler of the former Habsburg lands of Burgundy. This claim was seriously considered by the victorious allies at Versailles but was eventually rejected due to the intervention of King Alfonso XIII of Spain, who took possession of the property of the Order on behalf of the dethroned emperor, Charles I of Austria. Sovereignty remains with the head of the House of Habsburg, which was handed over on 20 November 2000 by Otto von Habsburg to his elder son, Karl von Habsburg.
Below a list of the names of the living knights, in chronological order, followed in parentheses by the date, when known, of their induction into the Order:
|I||30 November 1431||Lille||Saint-Pierre's Collegiate Church||Philip III of Burgundy|
|II||30 November 1432||Bruges||St. Donatian's Cathedral||Philip III|
|III||30 November 1433||Dijon||Sainte-Chapelle||Philip III|
|IV||30 November 1435||Brussels||Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula||Philip III|
|V||30 November 1436||Lille||Saint-Pierre's Collegiate Church||Philip III|
|VI||30 November 1440||Saint-Omer||Abbey of Saint Bertin||Philip III|
|VII||30 November 1445||Ghent||Saint Bavo Cathedral||Philip III|
|VIII||2 May 1451||Mons||Sainte-Waudru's Collegiate Church||Philip III|
|IX||2 May 1456||The Hague||Grote of Sint-Jacobskerk||Philip III|
|X||2 May 1461||Saint-Omer||Abbey of Saint Bertin||Philip III|
|XI||2 May 1468||Bruges||Church of Our Lady||Charles I of Burgundy|
|XII||2 May 1473||Valenciennes||St. Paul 's Church||Charles I|
|XIII||30 April 1478||Bruges||St. Salvator's Cathedral||Maximilian of Austria (Regent of the Order)|
|XIV||6 May 1481||'s-Hertogenbosch||St. John's Cathedral||Maximilian of Austria|
|XV||24 May 1491||Mechelen||St. Rumbold's Cathedral||Philip IV of Burgundy (Philip I of Castile)|
|XVI||17 January 1501||Brussels||Chapel of the Carmelite Convent||Philip IV|
|XVII||17 December 1505||Middelburg||?||Philip IV|
|XVIII||October 1516||Brussels||Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula||Charles II of Burgundy (Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor)|
|XIX||5–8 March 1519||Barcelona||Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. Eulalia||Charles II|
|XX||3 December 1531||Tournai||Cathedral of Our Lady||Charles II|
|XXI||2 January 1546||Utrecht||St. Martin's Cathedral||Charles II|
|XXII||26 January 1555||Antwerp||Cathedral of Our Lady||Philip V of Burgundy (Philip II of Spain)|
|XXIII||29 July 1559||Ghent||Saint Bavo Cathedral||Philip V|
|Spanish Branch||Austrian Branch|
|Sovereign's Neck Insignia||Knight's Neck and
Dame's Ribbon Insignia
Alexander Russell "Sandy" Vershbow (born July 3, 1952) is an American diplomat and former Deputy Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
From October, 2005 to October, 2008, he was the United States Ambassador to South Korea. Before that post he had been the ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2001 to 2005 and the ambassador to NATO from 1997 to 2001. For his work with NATO he was awarded the State Department's Distinguished Service Award.
In March, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Vershbow as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, a position that holds responsibility for U.S. policy toward NATO, coordination of U.S. security and defense policies relating to the nations and international organizations of Europe, the Middle East and Africa. He was confirmed in April, 2009.After almost three years with the U.S. Department of Defense, in February 2012, Vershbow moved back to Brussels where he took the position of Deputy Secretary General of NATO, becoming the first American to hold the position.Coat of arms of the King of Spain
The coat of arms of the King of Spain is the heraldic symbol representing the monarch of Spain. The current version of the monarch's coat of arms was adopted in 2014 but is of much older origin. The arms marshal the arms of the former monarchs of Castile, León, Aragon, and Navarre.
Traditionally, coats of arms did not belong to a nation but to the monarch who would quarter his shield with territorial claims of his dynasty. Formerly, the Spanish monarch's arms were much more complex than they are today, featuring the arms of the various territories of this dynasty. A simpler version of these arms, known as the lesser arms, was also used; The lesser arms were another set of arms within the centre of the full arms. During the later part of the Bourbon dynasty, this was quarterly Castille and Leon.
In 1868, during the provisional government that followed the overthrow of Queen Isabella II, an arms of national character was adopted; This 1868 arms created the present-day arrangement of elements in the shield. The "national arms" and "royal arms" coexisted after the restoration of the monarchy. In 1931, the "national arms" were revised into the royal arms, replacing the former lesser arms of the King (i.e. quarterly Castille and Leon). The monarchy was abolished later that year.
When don Juan Carlos, grandson of Alfonso XIII (the last king of Spain), was chosen to be the successor of General Francisco Franco, the arms adopted for his use in 1971 as Prince of Spain was quarterly Castille, Leon, Aragon, and Navarre. The heraldic achievement also included the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, the Cross of Burgundy and the yoke and bundle of arrows formerly used by the Catholic Monarchs, the same arms he would use as King. Upon Felipe VI's ascension to the throne in 2014, the cross, yoke, and arrows were dropped from the royal arms.Ferdinand I of Austria
Ferdinand I (19 April 1793 – 29 June 1875) was the Emperor of Austria from 1835 until his abdication in 1848. As ruler of Austria, he was also President of the German Confederation, King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia (as Ferdinand V), King of Lombardy–Venetia and holder of many other lesser titles (see grand title of the Emperor of Austria).
Ferdinand succeeded on the death of his father Francis II and I on 2 March 1835. He was incapable of ruling his empire because of his mental deficiency, so his father, before he died, made a will which promulgated that Ferdinand should consult Archduke Louis on all aspects of internal policy and urged him to be influenced by Prince Metternich, Austria's Foreign Minister.Following the Revolutions of 1848, Ferdinand abdicated on 2 December 1848. He was succeeded by his nephew, Franz Joseph. Following his abdication, he lived in Hradčany Palace, Prague, until his death in 1875.Ferdinand married Maria Anna of Savoy, the sixth child of Victor Emmanuel I of Sardinia. They had no children.Ferdinand VII of Spain
Ferdinand VII (Spanish: Fernando; 14 October 1784 – 29 September 1833) was twice King of Spain: in 1808 and again from 1813 to his death. He was known to his supporters as the Desired (el Deseado) and to his detractors as the Felon King (el Rey Felón). After being overthrown by Napoleon in 1808 he linked his monarchy to counter-revolution and reactionary policies that produced a deep rift in Spain between his forces on the right and liberals on the left. Back in power in 1814, he reestablished the absolutist monarchy and rejected the liberal constitution of 1812. A revolt in 1820 led by Rafael de Riego forced him to restore the constitution thus beginning the Liberal Triennium: a three year period of liberal rule. In 1823 the Congress of Verona authorized a successful French intervention restoring him to absolute power for the second time. He suppressed the liberal press from 1814 to 1833 and jailed many of its editors and writers. Under his rule, Spain lost nearly all of its American possessions, and the country entered into civil war on his death.
His reputation among historians is very low. Historian Stanley Payne writes:
He proved in many ways the basest king in Spanish history. Cowardly, selfish, grasping, suspicious, and vengeful, [he] seemed almost incapable of any perception of the commonwealth. He thought only in terms of his power and security and was unmoved by the enormous sacrifices of Spanish people to retain their independence and preserve his throne.Ferdinand VI of Spain
Ferdinand VI (Spanish: Fernando VI; 23 September 1713 – 10 August 1759), called the Learned (el Prudente) and the Just (el Justo), King of Spain from 9 July 1746 until his death in 1759, was the third ruler of the Spanish Bourbon dynasty. He was the fourth son of the previous monarch Philip V and his first wife Maria Luisa of Savoy.Fragments of a Cope with the Seven Sacraments
Fragments of a Cope with the Seven Sacraments refers to a 15th-century cope in the collection of the Historical Museum of Bern. It is part of the church treasure from the Cathedral of Lausanne sent to Bern after the Protestant conquest of Canton Vaud in 1536. The cope can be attributed to a master from the Netherlands in the circle of Rogier van der Weyden and was probably executed in Tournai where van der Weyden had a workshop from 1432 onwards.House of Zúñiga
The House of Zúñiga is a Spanish noble lineage who took their name from their domain. Their members were distinguished in the service of the Spanish crown in Europe and the Americas as viceroys, governors, military, diplomats, writers and members of religious orders. Charles I of Spain in 1530 named two members of the family, the duke of Béjar and Plasencia and the count of Miranda del Castañar, among his Immemorial Grandees, while eight members of the family were invested into the Order of the Golden Fleece.José Gabriel de Silva-Bazán, 10th Marquess of Santa Cruz
José Gabriel de Silva-Bazán y Waldstein, 10th Marquess of Santa Cruz de Mudela (Madrid, 18 March 1782 – Madrid, 4 November 1839), was a Spanish noble, first Director of the Prado Museum between 1817 and 1820 and Mayordomo mayor between 1822 and 1823.José López Domínguez
José López Domínguez, (Marbella, 29 November 1829 – Madrid, 17 October 1911), was a Spanish military and politician who served as Prime Minister of Spain between 6 July and 30 November 1906.Karl I, Prince of Liechtenstein
Karl I, Prince of Liechtenstein (30 July 1569 – 12 February 1627), was the first member of the Liechtenstein family to become a Prince of Liechtenstein, thus he was the founder of the Princely Family of Liechtenstein.
Karl was the elder son of Hartmann II, Baron of Liechtenstein (1544–1585) and his wife Countess Anna Maria of Ortenburg (1547–1601). Emperor Rudolf II of the Holy Roman Empire appointed Karl as Chief Intendant, an important position at his court. Karl held this position until 1607. In a dispute over land between Rudolf II and the heir to the throne, Archduke Mathias, Karl sided with Mathias, who made Karl a hereditary prince in 1608, in thanks for Karl's aid.
In 1614, Karl added the regency of the Duchy of Troppau to his possessions. In thanks for further aid at the Battle of White Mountain, Karl was appointed to the positions of proconsul and vice-regent of Bohemia in 1622, and he was bestowed with the Order of the Golden Fleece.
He gained the Duchy of Troppau on 28 December 1613 and the Silesian Duchy of Jägerndorf on 15 March 1622, along with much confiscated "rebel property", and he commissioned the Ducal hat of Liechtenstein.He became a Catholic in 1599. In 1605, Karl established the first branch north of the Alps of the Hospitaller Order of Saint John of God, at Feldsberg in Lower Austria (now Valtice, Czech Republic).
He was the 352nd Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in Austria. He died in Prague.Karl von Habsburg
Karl von Habsburg (Karl Thomas Robert Maria Franziskus Georg Bahnam; born 11 January 1961), also known as Karl of Austria and referred to by his ancestral titles as Archduke of Austria, Royal Prince of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia, is an Austrian politician, the current head of the House of Habsburg-Lorraine which ruled the lands of the Habsburg Monarchy, the Empire of Austria, the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, and the Kingdom of Hungary as well as the Crown lands of Bohemia and Croatia by hereditary right until the end of World War I. Born in Starnberg, Germany, in 1961, he is the son of Archduke Otto von Habsburg, Crown Prince of Austria and Princess Regina of Saxe-Meiningen, and the grandson of the last Austrian emperor, Charles I. He served as a Member of the European Parliament for the Austrian People's Party 1996–1999. Like his father, he is known as an advocate for the Pan-European movement.Louis I of Spain
Louis I (Luis Felipe; 25 August 1707 – 31 August 1724) was King of Spain from 15 January 1724 until his death in August the same year. His reign is one of the shortest in history, lasting for just over seven months.Matthew Bryza
Matthew James Bryza (born February 16, 1964) is a former United States diplomat. His last post in the United States foreign service was the United States Ambassador to Azerbaijan.Order of the Golden Fleece (Georgia)
The Order of the Golden Fleece (Georgian: ოქროს საწმისის ორდენი, ok'ros sats'misis ordeni) is an honor awarded by the government of Georgia. It was established in 1998 and comes next in rank to the Order of St. Nicholas. The Order is named after the mythical Golden Fleece, which was held in Colchis in what is now western Georgia.Orders, decorations, and medals of Georgia
Orders, decorations, and medals of Georgia are the orders, state decorations and medals that are granted by the national government of Georgia for meritorious achievements in national defense, state improvement, and the development of democracy and human rights.
They may be granted to any citizen of Georgia and to people with foreign citizenship or without any citizenship. Individuals may also be honored posthumously with state awards. Nominations are made by government officials.
Most of the Georgian state awards were established in 1992. Six years later, in 1998, the Order of the Golden Fleece was created. In 2004, the St. George's Victory Order and the Order of the National Hero of Georgia were added. Additional orders were created in 2009.
The current Georgian Law on Georgian State Awards recognizes 12 official awards: National Hero Award; St. George's Victory Order; David Agmashenebeli Order; Queen Tamar's Order; Presidential Order of Excellence, St. Nicholas Order; Golden Fleece Order; Vakhtang Gorgasali's Order – I, II, III ranks, Order of Honor, Medal “Civil Commitment”; Medal “Military Courage”; Medal “Military Honor”; “Honor” Medal.Philip the Good
Philip the Good (French: Philippe le Bon; Dutch: Filips de Goede; 31 July 1396 – 15 June 1467) was Duke of Burgundy as Philip III from 1419 until his death. He was a member of a cadet line of the Valois dynasty, to which all the 15th-century kings of France belonged. During his reign, Burgundy reached the apex of its prosperity and prestige and became a leading center of the arts. Philip is known in history for his administrative reforms, his patronage of Flemish artists such as Jan van Eyck and Franco-Flemish composers such as Gilles Binchois, and the capture of Joan of Arc. In political affairs, he alternated between alliances with the English and the French in an attempt to improve his dynasty's position. As ruler of Flanders, Brabant, Limburg, Artois, Hainaut, Holland, Zeeland, Friesland and Namur, he played an important role in the history of the Low Countries.Philippe François, 1st Duke of Arenberg
Philippe François de Ligne, (30 July 1625 - 17 December 1674), 7th Duke of Aarschot, 1st Duke of Arenberg, a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece, was the first son of the second marriage of Philippe Charles, Comte d'Arenberg and Isabelle Claire de Berlaymont.
On 14 July 1642 Philippe François married 15-year-old Magdalena de Borja y Doria, the elder sister of Ana Francisca de Borja y Doria. In 1646, aged 21, Philipe was made a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece.
1 François of Arenberg (5 September 1643 - 10 September 1643).
2 Isabelle Claire Eugénie of Arenberg (12 July 1644 - 5 October 1655).
When he died in December 1674, the title passed to his half-brother, Charles Eugene, Duke of Arenberg, (1633–1681), who was promoted to become a Knight of the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1678.Portrait of the Infante Don Carlos
Portrait of the Infante Don Carlos is a 1626/27 oil painting of Don Carlos of Spain (brother to Philip IV of Spain), produced by Diego Velázquez as one of the first paintings he produced during his stay in Madrid. It is now in the Prado.
Its subject is in a relaxed and elegant pose, wearing a black costume with grey braids and a thick gold shoulder chain with the Order of the Golden Fleece and holding a hat in his left hand and a glove in his right. The figure appears in the darkest point of the space and the artist added a 4 cm strip on each sides to add to its sense of authoritarianism.Strobe Talbott
Nelson Strobridge "Strobe" Talbott III (born April 25, 1946) is an American foreign policy analyst associated with Yale University and the Brookings Institution, a former journalist associated with Time magazine, and a diplomat who served as the Deputy Secretary of State from 1994 to 2001. He was president of Brookings from 2002 to 2017.
|Coats of arms of current Knights of the Spanish Golden Fleece|
Order of Elizabeth and Theresa
(but male recipients)
Category:Orders, decorations, and medals of Austria-Hungary