Knights of Alcantara to Knights of the Dragon

Knights of Alcantara, a military order of Spain, which took its name from the city of Alcantara, in Estremadura. These knights were previously called “Knights of the Pear Tree,” and subsequently “Knights of St. Julian.” The order was founded in 1156 for the defence of Estremadura against the Moors. In 1197 pope Celestine III. raised it to the rank of a religious order of knighthood.

Knights of Calatrava, a military order of Spain, instituted by Sancho III. of Castile. When Sancho took the strong fort of Calatrava from the Moors, he gave it to the Knights Templars, who, wanting courage to defend it, returned it to the king again. Then don Reymond of the Cistercian order, with several cavelleros of quality, volunteered to defend the fort, whereupon the king constituted them “Knights of Calatrava.”

Knights of Christian Charity, instituted by Henri III. of France, for the benefit of poor military officers and maimed soldiers. This order was founded at the same time as that of the “Holy Ghost,” which was meant for princes and men of distinction. The order was completed by Henri IV., and resembled our “Poor Knights of Windsor,” now called “The Military Knights of Windsor.”

Knights of Malta. First called “Knights of St. John of Jerusalem,” otherwise “Knights of Rhodes.” The most celebrated religious military order of the Middle Ages. In 1048 a hospital was dedicated to St. John the Baptist, which had been built by some merchants of Amalfi, to receive the pilgrims from Europe visiting the Holy Sepulchre. The nurses were first called the “Hospitaller Brothers of St. John the Baptist of Jerusalem.” The hospice was plundered by the Seljuk Turks; and the Crusaders under Geoffroy de Bouillon, in 1099, rescued the first superior Gérard from prison. He resumed his work at the hospital, being joined by several of the Crusaders. The order then became military as well as religious. After various vicissitudes, the Knights, in 1310, under their grand-master, Foulkes de Villaret, captured Rhodes and seven other islands from the Greek and Saracen pirates, but they had to surrender Rhodes to Solyman in 1523. In 1530 they were given the island of Malta, with Tripoli and Gozo, by Charles V. The order has existed in parts of Italy, Russia, and Spain.

Knights of Montesa, a Spanish order of knighthood, instituted by James II. of Aragon in 1317.

Knights of Nova Scotia, in the West Indies, created by James I. of Great Britain. These knights wore a ribbon of an orange tawny colour.

Knights of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (Chevaliers de l’Ordre de Notre Dame du Mont Carmel), instituted by Henri IV. of France in 1607, and consisting of a hundred French gentlemen.

N.B.—These knights must not be confounded with the Carmelites, or L’Ordre des Carmes, founded by Bertholde count of Limoges in 1156; said by legend to have been founded by the prophet Elijah, and to have been revived by the Virgin Mary. The religious house of Carmel was founded in 400 by John patriarch of Jerusalem, in honour of Elijah, and this gave rise to the legend.

Knights of Rhodes. The “Knights of Malta” were so called between 1310 and 1523. (See Knights of Malta.)

Knights of St. Andrew, instituted by Peter the Great of Moscovy, in 1698. Their badge is a gold medal, having St. Andrew’s cross on one side, with these words, Cazar Pierre monarque de tout le Russie.

Knights of St. Genette (Chevaliers de l’Ordre de St. Genette), the most ancient order of knighthood in France, instituted by Charles Martel, after his victory over the Saracens in 782, where a vast number of gennets, like Spanish cats (civet cats), were found in the enemy’s camp.

Knights of St. George. There are several orders so called—

1. St. George of Alfama, founded by the kings of Aragon.

2. St. George of Austria and Carinthia, instituted by the emperor Frederick III. first archduke of Austria.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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