The History of the Order of the Fleur-de-Lys
The present Order is actually an amalgamation of three Orders (The Order of the Lys, the Order of the Crescent and the Order of St. James of Altopascio).
Ordre du Lys (Order of the Lily)
The avowed purpose of the Order was the re-establishment of the Judaic-Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem and, until the 1995 change to the constitution, this was still stated as the prime purpose of the Order. The Sovereign of the Order was in theory the Reigning King of Jerusalem of the Anjou dynasty. With the establishment of the State of Israel however, we have amended this and merely put this in a preamble to the new constitution as the reason for the Order's founding.
To understand how the Order was founded and its relationship with the Orders of St. James of Altopascio and the Crescent it is necessary to understand the historical conditions at the time of and prior to the Order's founding.
In 1307 the Order of the Temple was officially closed by the Avignon Pope, Clement V under the Orders of Philippe IV of France and Philippe arrested all members in France and sequestrated their goods. Scotland however was under excommunication from this same Pope, and was more than happy to give refuge to Templars. Many Templars would have had families or relatives in Scotland and it is likely that in return for safe haven that the Templars would have aided the Scots King in his fight against the English and it is possible that they took part in the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314.
Certainly on 24th. October 1358, Alexander Montgomery, 2nd. son of Alexander de Montgomery of Egglesham received a safe conduct from the English to 'Go abroad' with a party of 60 mounted Templar Knights and Men-at-Arms. (1) It seems that they went to join their brethren of the Order of the Sword in Lithuania. The Order of the Sword was originally a daughter Order of the Templars. It is not unreasonable to claim however that when Rene founded his Crusading Orders of the Lys and the Crescent that he considered them a continuation of the Templars.
The Order was given its first Document on 30th. August 1439 by Rene d'Anjou, who was at that time King of Jerusalem, Naples and Hungary, Duc d'Anjou, de Bar et Lorraine (2). Rene had married the heiress to the Duchy of Lorraine, but when he attempted to claim it on behalf of his wife, his claim was contested by Anthony de Vaudemont, who defeated Rene at the battle of Bulgneville on 2nd. July 1431. Rene was then handed over to the Duke of Burgundy for a large ransom. He was released on parole and eventually had to cede land for his ransom.Whilst a prisoner, he inherited Anjou from his elder brother and Naples and Sicily from his sister-in-law, Queen Joan. After his release from prison he ruled as King of Naples until 1442 and it was during this period that he constituted the Order, from what was originally a Company of Scottish Gentlemen at Arms in the Army of the King of France.
In the 1420s, The Earls of Buchan, Douglas, Murray and Mar had led some 6,000 Scottish Knights and Men-at-Arms to France to help the King of France against the English. They were under the command of the Scottish Constable Sir John Stewart of Darnley, though some authorities dispute this and state that he was a different Sir John Stewart, and the later Constable of the King of France's Scottish Division, Sir John de Montgomery, Laird of Giffen and Seigneur d'Azay-le-Rideau. They participated at the siege of Orleans alongside Rene d'Anjou and Joan of Arc (3). (See also Revue Cantonale de Livarot, 3e trimestre 1987, also History of the Art of War in the Middle Ages by Sir Charles Oman, volume 2, 1278 - 1485). In 1424 at the bloody battle of Verneuil large numbers of the Scots contingent were killed including Sir John Stewart, the Earls of Buchan, Douglas, Murray & Mar and Sir William Seton. Sir John de Montgomery, the only remaining commander drew off the remaining Scots in good order in a fighting rearguard action.
In 1425 Charles VII of France created an elite bodyguard of Scots consisting of two sub-divisions: a) 'Garde du Roi' - b) 'Garde de Corps du Roi'(4). However there were still a great number of Scots gentlemen who could not be accommodated in the Scots guards, as these two divisions were collectively known, and this group formed themselves into what amounted to an independent mercenary company called 'Compagnie des gentilhommes Ecossais' and wore a Fleur de Lys on their left breast to show that they owed allegiance to the King of France. Although the overall contingent was known by this name it was formed from five individual companies. The first company under the direct command of John de Montgomery consisted of 72 men-at-arms and 27 archers. The second company under Rankin Kennedy consisted of 47 men-at-arms and 3 guisarmers. The third company under David Haliday consisited of 21 men-at-arms, 59 archers and 7 guisarmers. The fourth company under Alan Forley was composed of 35 men-at-arm and 8 guisarmers and the fifth company under Alexander Seton consisted of 11 men-at-arm and and 12 archers these latter from the bodyguard of the King of France as per letter dated 7th January 1435. This contingent helped Rene d'Anjou to regain the Kingdom of Naples and for this, were granted recognition in the form of a Document by Rene in which Rene used the term 'Ordre du Lys'. The Order's badge now became a cross fleury outlined in gold or yellow with a fleur de lys at its centre (See: The Constitution of the Order). The obverse of Rene's Great Seal on the rear page of the Constitution of the Order shows the original cross fleury of the Order, which is slightly different from its present day descendent being in fact a cross fleurette. Rene's private Chapel in the Castle in Angers became the chapel of the Order and you can still see the cross fleurys in a circle around the chapel though sadly the gold leaf has faded.
The Scots Mercenary Companies were not always welcomed by the French themselves. It is recorded that a particular French nobleman tried to put down a Montgomery member of the Order on the grounds that he, the noblemen, fought for honour whilst the Order fought for money. 'Yes' replied Montgomery 'We all fight to gain that which we don't have'. One of the nicer 'put downs' of history I've always thought.
In his fight to gain the Kingdom of Naples, Rene had been supported by Cosimo de Medici the elder, whose descendants became Dukes of Florence and later Grand Dukes of Tuscany as well as John de Montgomery, mentioned above, one of the great military leaders of his day. (See "Revue Cantonale" de Livarot, op. cit). These three became the 'Founders' of the Order and the Sovereign Grand Commandership of the Order is restricted to the descendants of those three plus the Sforza family. Sforza had later commanded Rene's forces, which had included a large number of Scots mercenaries, against the Aragonese contender for the throne of Naples. Alfonso's forces were however successful and in 1442 Alfonso of Aragon was proclaimed King of Naples and Sicily. Apart from the Sforzas, the latest Constitution of the Order added two more families, who qualified by collateral marriage, to the list of Families entitled to become Sovereign Grand Commanders. The reason for calling the Order, the 'Order of the Lily' becomes immediately apparent, when one considers that the Fleur-de-Lys was the emblem of the Montgomerys in Scotland, Rene as a member of the French Royal House had the Fleur-de-Lys as part of his Coat of Arms and another form of the Fleur-de-Lys was the emblem of Florence of the Medicis.
In 1445 Charles VII created what amounted to a standing Army of 15 'Compagnies d'ordannance' of 600 men each, amongst which, was the 'Compagnie des Gendarmes Ecossois'. This company enjoyed pride of place in the French Army with its commander being given the title 'Premier Master of Camp of French Cavalry' and the company having the right to pass first in revue (5).
One therefore had two groups of Scots with slightly different allegiances. On the one hand, the 'Scots guards and Compagnie des Gendarmes Ecossois', who owed allegiance to the King and on the other the 'Ordre du Lys and Compagnie des gentilhommes Ecossais', who owed allegiance to the house of Anjou. I suspect however that the Scots Mercenary Companies were not particularly worried about their theoretical allegiance but would take service with whoever was willing to pay them and in reality the oath that they took was to their company commander and the Sovereign head of the Order. In 1445 John de Montgomery was killed and Rene appointed Francisco Sforza, to be the Commander of the remainder of the Compagnie, who at that time were acting as mercenaries for Sforza, now Duke of Milan with money provided by Cosimo de Medici. At this time too the enmity between the two branches of the French royal family started to turn murderous. Later, because of the death of Rene's two sons, probably from poisoning by the House of Valois, Fco. Sforza would become head of the Order as well, until Rene's grandson, Rene de Lorraine, could take over. Fco. had started life as head of a mercenary company and it is likely that the two groups either merged or at least worked together under one leader.
In 1444 members of the Order and the Company, had fought in what today we call Bosnia-Herzegovina, but which at that time was part of the Serbian Byzantine Empire and which was in the forefront of the fight against Islam. The Order succeeded in returning George Brankovich to the throne of Serbia and this event is still marked today by the Fleur-de-Lys Monument (Called the Fleur-de-Lys Obelisk) at Blatsha (See photographs & ref. note 6).
George Brankovich had built himself a Capital City at Smederevo, based upon Byzantium. Originally a compound that contained only the Royal Palace it was later enlarged to house a complete town (See photograph of model in the Museum at Smederevo. The inner part is the original palace complex). Built on the Byzantium style with great square towers overlooking the Danube, it was barely completed when overrun by the Turks.
The Order eventually managed to restore George Brankovich to the throne and the then Grand Commander announced the return of Brankovich to the throne from the steps of the palace in Smederevo. They also started to rebuild the defensive works and one can see two of the towers which were completed after the return of Brankovich are modelled on the Crusader/Templar castles, being round octagonal in shape, the better to withstand siege engines ( See photograph of model). In tribute to the work of the Order the seal of Brankovich after his return bears only the symbol of the Fleur-de-Lys on its reverse (See Photograph), whilst as previously his seal had shown on the obverse, his coat of arms. The handle of the key of the new citadel was in the form of the roseate cross (See photograph).
In 1448 the Order found itself once again fighting in Serbia or perhaps had simply continued there since 1444. At all events, on 19th October 1448 Janos Hunyadi, Regent of Hungary (Rene was Titular King of Hungary - See appendix in the Constitution - Angevin Dynasty of Hungary), led a European Army against Sultan Murad II. The Army consisted of Hungarians, Wallachians and Knights of the Orders of the Dragon (Hungarian), the Crescent and the Lys. They were defeated at the 2nd. Battle of Kossovo and many knights are slaughtered. Serbians having been forbidden by Brankovich from taking part (He had come to an arrangement with Murad and had married his daughter to the Sultan), joined one or other of the Orders and took part as members of those Orders. A number of Jewish warriors also joined one or other of the Orders, certainly the Lys, and fought or acted as physicians, alongside their Christian brethren. The reasons for this go back to the foundation of the Jewish Princedom in Septimania in the 8th Century. These warriors would have been subjects of the 'Exilarch of the West', who opposed Murad II.
Although the battle was lost and the greatest number of Europeans killed until the 1st. World War, Dracula the 17-year-old grandson of the Wallachian Prince Dracul, who had been a hostage of the Turks for 4 years, managed to escape during the battle and assumed the throne of Wallachia. So many knights were killed that it was not possible to identify them all, therefore all were buried with simple stones above them on which were inscribed a sword with either a circle (For members of the Dragon), a crescent (For members of the crescent) or a Fleur de Lys (For members of the Lys). The stones were still to be seen before the break up of Yugoslavia and a book with drawings of these graves was published in 1890 (7). For that we must be thankful as it is likely that with the troubles in Kossovo these graves may well have been destroyed, however two headstones of members of the Order are standing outside the Ethnic Museum in Belgrade (See photographs).
There appears to be a muddle about the gravestones of the members of the Orders and the Stecci in Bosnia. Some authorities have imputed the continuation of pagan or Bogomil traditions to these. There may well be some stones of which this is true but they should not be mistaken for the gravestones of the Orders (8). Indeed Asboth Janos specifically says that these are the graves of noblemen and even princes.
Interestingly enough a Serbian book called "Symbols of Serbian Statehood" by Zlatko V. Mladichevich, published in 1994 (Written in Serbo-Croat, but kindly translated by Gradimir Popovic KGL.) maintains that symbol of the Fleur-de-Lys did not come to Serbia with Helen d'Anjou (who married King Urosh and died in 1314 ) and originated not with the Anjous', but in Serbia about 100 years previously and that Charles d'Anjou had brought it back with him to France. Certainly there are Murals on the walls of a Monastery in Serbia with warriors wearing the fleur-de-lys on their armour. It is doubtful however that they are the originators of the present Order and the French Coat of Arms (Azure semi-de-lys Or) was already being used in 1137 by Louis VII and John de Montgomery's seal (Azure a fleur de lys Or) was being used as early as 1170.
All of the families who fought with the Order of the Fleur-de-Lys added two gold fleur-de-lys to their coats of Arms in the topmost part of the shield (In chief – heraldically). However if the field of the shield was already gold or yellow this was obviously not possible and at least one family, that of the Dobrijevic, added the fleur de lis to their crest. His Grace, Bishop Irinej, The Serbian Orthodox Bishop of Australia and New Zealand is a descendant of that family and holds the rank of a Chaplain Companion of the Order.
The Dobrijevic Coat of Arms
Since this history first appeared on the internet the order has been contacted by many people claiming to be descended from either Serbian or Bosnian families who served with the Order. Indeed some Bosnians maintain that it was they, who thinking that the battle had been won, rode to Vienna to inform them of a great victory. Alas the Turks regrouped after their initial defeat and whilst the European forces were disorganised proceeded to roll them up and slaughter them. Certainly some Bosnian families proudly use the fleur de lis.
Cosimo de Medici and the Sforzas
By 1434 Cosimo de Medici had returned to Florence in triumph and had the Albizzi banished as well as most of his enemies. In 1439 Cosimo had perhaps his most spectacular success by having the General Council of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic churches transferred from Ferrara to Florence. Cosimo had himself elected as Gonfaloniere for the occasion of the Emperor's entry into Florence.
The occasion of so many Greek scholars in Florence prompted Cosimo to found his academy of Platonic studies in Florence under the influence of John Argyropoulos and Marsilio Ficino. Indeed one can trace the Rinascimento to this group of humanists. His father Giovanni de Medici had become involved in the provision of new doors to the church of St. John the Baptist and which were completed under the patronage of Cosimo. The doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti are probably the greatest work of art of their type.
By 1437 Cosimo controlled Florence in all but name. Its ambassadors called upon him prior to departing and no important decision was taken without reference to the Medici palace. Cosimo however had another ambition and that was to wean Florence away from her alliance with Venice and into an alliance with Milan.
At this time the Duke of Milan was Filippo Maria Visconti, who had been encouraged to go to war with Florence by the exiled Albizzi. Filippo was grossly fat and probably mad (9) but was persuaded by the Albizzi to send troops to invest Florence. His troops were soundly beaten at Barga in 1437 and again in 1438 at which time Florence increased its lands at the expense of Milan. He had no legitimate heirs but had an illegitimate daughter called Bianca, who was courted by Francesco Sforza.
Franceso was the illegitimate son of an illiterate peasant from Romagna called Giacomo Attendolo, who had been abducted by a group of brigands and who, when their leader died, took over the group changed his name to Sforza and turned them into one of the finest mercenary companies around. In 1424 at the age of twenty-two Francesco took over the company and fought successfully for the Pope, the Venetians and latterly the Viscontis of Milan. He had already carved out a small Duchy for himself in the Marches, but now wished to marry Bianca Visconti and become Duke of Milan on her father's death. In November 1441 Filippo agreed to the marriage giving Bianca Pontremoli and Cremona as her dowry and promising Francesco the Duchy of Milan on his death.
However when Filippo died in 1447, his Will nominated Alfonso, the Aragonese King of Naples as his heir. Sforza now moved to invest Milan as what he regarded as his inheritance but was short of money. Cosimo was only too willing to advance this and not only lent him money but used all his diplomatic skills to help Francesco succeed. Indeed it was due in large measure to Cosimo that Francesco entered Milan as Duke in 1450.
It is worthwhile to look at the reasons for this. Florence had traditionally been allied to Venice, but by now the interests of the two republics were in conflict. Venice was at war with Turkey, with whose empire Florence enjoyed a profitable trade and her navy was a rival to that of Florence. Milan on the other hand in the control of the Sforzas and friendly to Florence would prove a real ally against Venice and allow Florence to gain possession of Lucca, which Florence had long coveted.
There was now a new alliance - the Venetians together with the German Emperor and the Aragonese versus Florence and Milan in alliance with France. Don Ferrante, the illegitimate son of King Alfonso marched on Tuscany. Cosimo sent to the French King for help, but France was still at war with England and could not help. Cosimo's ambassador, Agnolo Acciaiuoli however persuaded Rene d'Anjou to help. Rene did not have an army, but he did have a group of Scottish mercenaries, and who proceeded to come to the help of Cosimo (10). Eventually in 1454, at Lodi, the warring parties formed the Most Holy League to guarantee the status quo. Francesco Sforza was acknowledged as Duke and Cosimo became the paymaster of the Order of the Lys, paving the way for Francesco to become head of the Order in 1480.
On the 1st. August 1464 Cosimo de Medici died and in 1480 with the death of Rene d'Anjou, Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan became head of the Order.
Somewhere during the period 1490-1492 the Order of the Lys becomes involved in moving large numbers of Jews out of Spain and Portugal and resettling them in the domains of Rene de Lorraine (Grandson of Rene d'Anjou and Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ordre du Lys) and those of the Medicis. The Passover "Haggadahs" were used by the Jews to show whom to contact. The Sarajevo Haggadah is a beautiful example of the medieval Jewish manuscript and shows clearly how the Haggadahs used a secret code (16) (See also photograph). Many of the Jews were doctors, having skills acquired from Eastern and Islamic sources, and were very welcome additions to military orders. They also brought with them considerable literature, which was to form part of the Renaissance.
It was thought at one time, that the Order of the Lys only supported the House of Anjou in France, and certainly there appears to be an underground raison d'être, which only becomes apparent at certain key times and I believe that it was given the task of trying to protect the Anjou dynastic interests (later Guise-Lorraine). For example after Rene's death the House of Valois annexed all of Rene's lands and the members of the Order covertly supported the House of Lorraine against the Valois for the French Throne and one Gabriel de Montgomery, Sieur de Lorges and a senior member of the Order manages to 'inadvertently' kill King Henry II of France in a Tourney by sticking him through the eye with a broken lance. (Note the personal Crests of certain branches of the Montgomery family) (17).
Two things happened. The first, thanks to the work of Professor Yuri Stoyanov and others, it seems that in fact a part of the Order, probably one or two companies, together with the Order of the Crescent and the Order of the Dragon fought an ongoing campaign against the Turks in the Balkans and that many of the later Serbian Noble Families are in fact descended from the Knights of one or other of these three orders. There is in fact an underground crypt in Bosnia laid out in the form of a giant Fleur de Lys, where apparently members of the Order both lived and worshiped in hiding.
It is also notable that many of the members who fought in the Balkans were descendants of Jews brought out of Spain and later Byzantium by the Medicis. Notwithstanding this, the Order continued to supply Mercenary Companies to the French Crown from 1439 until 1652 and members fought in many of France's foreign campaigns like the Italian Campaign, where the Order fielded two companies, one under Robert Stuart, Lord of St. Quentin, the second under William Christon of Connestray.
The more important event however, was the marriage in 1538 of Marie de Guise to James V of Scotland. At once the Order needed to protect this major branch of the House of Guise-Lorraine and it switches its main base from France to Scotland. It is notable that nearly all the Grand Commanders from now on are Scots with the only exceptions being members of the Guise Lorraine families themselves.
The Order & the Scots Mercenary Companies 1439 -1782
The Order has in its possession Revue and Muster Rolls for the Order's Companies in France for the period 1413 (before the Order was officially founded) until 1652. Some are complete whilst others are only partially so.
For some 200 years (1572-1782), the Scots Mercenary companies were employed by a variety of States including the Dutch Republic though it seems that the 'French Company' as Order's Company became known, because of its Fleur de Lys badge, did not form part of the establishment of the Dutch Army. Nevertheless the same families sent by their local Chapters can be found taking part in the various wars time and time again (19).
Separate Companies enlisted under their own Captains and by 1573 had become 'District' Regiments. The regiment of Col. Ormiston is referred to in 1573. In 1586 the Scots Companies were divided into two regiments under Cols. Balfour and Patten (20).
In 1603 Lord Buccleuch took over a complete regiment to Holland and a third went over in 1628. The two older Regiments had an unbroken existence from 1522 (21).
In 1628 we find reference to Stuart's Regiment, and in 1629 the Regiment of the Earl of Morton was commanded by Lord Hay of Kinfauns. In 1697-98 there were the Regiments of Ferguson, Lord Strathnaver and the Hamiltons, whilst between 1747-1753 there was the regiment of the Earl of Drumlanrig. The above were all foot companies but there was also Companies of Horse (22).
Capt. Wishart's Horse existed from March 1586-1616, when it became known as Balfour's Horse under Sir William Balfour from 1616-1628. Capt. Patrick Bruce commanded 100 Lancers in 1593 and these were captained by Thomas Erskine and Henry Bruce in 1599 (23).
It is recorded in the muster rolls that Capt. Hamilton was killed at Nieuport in 1600 and that between 1617-1620 Robert Irving and William Balfour were both Cavalry Captains. By the end of the 30 years war the Cavalry Captains were William Hay and Sir Robert Hume (24).
The Regiment of Douglas (Earl of Dumbarton) (Now the Royal Scots – 1st. of the Line) saw service in France and has seen continuous service since then.
Other of the French Companies in France merged with the survivors of Gustavus Adolphus's Scots troops. By the early 1600s there were a great many mercenaries plying their trade based in and around Holland. These were not only Scots but also Germans, Flemish and French though one must be careful about the term French as many were in fact Scots. At the siege of Calmar in 1611 the Scottish Auxiliary Contingent of Gustavus Adolphus, fought under the 'Banner of the Lily' and all were either killed or wounded with the exception of their Quartermaster General, Johann von Monnichhofen, who in the words of one Scottish mercenaries writing home stated 'He surpassed the others in prudence, and knew how to fight from a distance' (25).
The same names and families served for generation after generation:
'The officers entered into service very early; they were trained up under their fathers and grandfathers, who had grown old in service; they expected a slow, certain and un-purchased promotion but almost always in the same corps and before they attained command they were qualified for it' (26).
'Though they served a foreign state,...they were still under the eye of their own, and considered themselves as depositaries of her military fame'.
'Punishments of the German nature were not accepted'
'Gentlemen of the families of Balfour, Scott, Preston, Halkett...Stewart, Hay, Sinclair, Douglas, Montgomery, Graham, Hamilton etc' served since the middle of the 15th. Century (27).
For example we learn from the muster rolls that Adam Montgomery of Braidstane was commissioned a Captain on Oct 22 1577 and that Robert Montgomery on 2nd. August 1572 was in command of 1000 Cavalry and 2000 Foot in Flanders, though still called a Captain and there was a Capt. Montgomery in Wisshart's Cavalry.
The following were on the Roll of Officers in the Regiment of Col. D'Offeraall:
- Francois d'Offeraall Col.
- Thomas Douglas Lt.-Col.
- There were 11 Captains of Companies:
- Heugh Montgumry
- Robbert MacKinze
- Will. Campbell
- Alex. Stretton
- Wm. Burnit
- Wm. Shairp
- Wm. Whyt
- John Pattersone
- John Kinghfort
- James Coneven
- Rob. Ride
(These later served under Lt. Gen. Churchill on 12 May 1689).
With the flight of the Stuarts to France in 1688 it looked as if the Order would follow its Grand Commander, John Graham of Claverhouse, into oblivion but Hugh Montgomery (2nd. Earl of Mount-Alexander) and his cousin by marriage, took over and the Order was able to continue, even if loyal toasts were drunk over a finger bowl and even if the Order has no record of any British Royal Marriages after that of James II until the advent of Queen Victoria. Many of the members of the Order and indeed a whole company remained loyal to the Stuarts and departed into exile. In the Jacobite rebellion of 1745 it looked once again as if the Order would go down in defeat with Charles Radclyffe, who commanded one of the companies of the Order, though others fought for the Hanoverians. The Order yet again it managed to survive only to have all of its property in France confiscated during the French Revolution in 1791.
When it became obvious that the Stuart cause was lost, the Order switched its loyalties to other branches of the Guise-Lorraine family, particularly to that of the Hapsburg-Lorraines, with Maximilian von Hapsburg becoming Sovereign Grand Commander in 1768. It was he who changed the Order from a group of Mercenary Companies into an Order of Chivalry. He was the Cardinal Elector of Cologne, a direct descendant of Rene d'Anjou and already the Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights. Unfortunately he wanted to make the Order of the Fleur-de-Lys similar to the Teutonic knights which was not acceptable to the vast majority who were Scots or English so in 1800 the mainly protestant members elected Hugh Montgomery of Grey Abbey as the Sovereign Grand Commander, thus breaking the link with the House of Anjou.
On the 30th. August 1839, four hundred years after their original founding, the then Sovereign Grand Commander, Archibald Montgomerie, Earl of Eglinton and Winton, celebrated the 400 years of the Order, by staging the famous Eglinton Tournament at Eglinton Castle in Scotland. It is from this date on that the Order becomes officially "The Order of the Fleur de Lys" and was probably totally reorganised. The Statutes of 1838 bear all the hallmarks of Charles Lamb, Archibald's half-brother (18).
The Order supported Louis Napoleon, he became its Sovereign Grand Commander in 1862, in his bid for the French Imperial throne. Napoleon I had married into the Imperial Hapsburg family and Napoleon II, his son was of Hapsburg blood. Napoleon III was therefore a cousin by marriage to the Hapsburgs. He was also a close personal friend of Archibald Montgomerie and had been the 'Visiting Knight' at the Eglinton Tournament. For a while it looked as if the Order might regain its place in France but this was not to be.
The greatest tragedy for the Order was the 1914-1918 war. Almost the entire membership of the Order was wiped out either on one side or the other. Even where a family survived, contact with the Order was lost. In Austria for example all members were forced to repudiate their membership and in some cases joined other Orders. In France no trace was found. There remained, in Britain, only Brig. Gen. John Montgomery and Sir Robert Montgomery as members.
With the resignation of Robert Hamilton in 1914, the Order entered a sort of limbo with Brig. John Montgomery, acting up. The Brig., who was the Grand Secretary of the Order and who knew King Leopold of the Belgiums during the latter's exile in England during the 2nd. World War, persuaded the King to become Sovereign Grand Commander, but with the King's return to Belgium after the War, the Order once more found itself with only two old men as members and looked as if it would finally succumb. It did however survive and since 1995, new members have been added year by year and the Order is once again on an upward curve with members in England, Belgium, France, Sweden, Canada, USA, Russia and Serbia.
Major John Montgomery in 1914. (Later Brigadier-General)
Today the Order is a social and charitable order. The Tenets of the Order are:
Honour, Duty, Truth and Justice. We believe in Honour above self, Duty above wealth, Justice above the law and Truth above all.
Our objectives are to teach better citizenship amongst the peoples based upon the
Ancient Knightly Code and to support worthy causes particularly Orphanages and Youth Centres where these ideas may be taught and to support the learning of foreign languages to help with these aims.
Any gentleman or lady of either the Christian or Jewish religion may join, by invitation, but the ranks of Knight Commander, Dame Commander are restricted to those who can show a Coat-of-Arms going back eighty years or three generations and for Knight Grand Commanders or Dame Grand Commanders three hundred years or ten generations. There are some exceptions at the discretion of the Sovereign Grand Commander, if the people concerned are considered worthy, and are prepared to obtain a grant of Arms.
St. James of Altopascio
The Order was formed in the middle of the XI century, possibly by some members of the Laity in Lucca and is cited in some documents of 1057 & 1086.
According to some authors it was constituted at the suggestion of Bishop Giovanni of Lucca (1023-1056), a cousin of the Margrave of Tuscany (11), and of the Emperor Henry III (1039-1056) of the Franconian Dynasty, as a consequence of Church thinking at that time which was in favour of the clergy ceasing to practice medicine and which thinking culminated in the decisions of the 3rd. Lateran Council of 1179 and the 4th. Lateran Council of 1215 (12).
Certainly about the year 1000 there existed in Lucca a group of physicians who had the title of 'Clerics' and who were apart from the general clergy ( Apparently always 12 in number) and who were the body of the 'Order' giving both spiritual and medical assistance to pilgrims. There is a little rhyme that translated into English goes something like "In the House and Hospital sings the Duodenal Choir". Unfortunately in English the words for 'Duodenal' and 'Choir' do not rhyme whilst they do in Italian. The uniform of the Order was a Sable Habit with a White or Silver Tau cross fitched emblazoned on the left breast (13).
One of the earliest foundations was at Leith in Scotland, near to the Church and Monastery of St. Anthony, whose sign was also a Tau Cross. Later these Knights built a chapel for the Order on Arthur's seat in Edinburgh. There is a copy of their seal with the Tau Cross and the Egyptian Hermit preserved in the Advocates' Library in Edinburgh.
The first requirement of the Order was to construct its own headquarters and hospital in Altopascio, an important point for pilgrims on their way from France to Rome. Equally pilgrims had to be protected in the forests of Cerbai.
The Order's duty to protect pilgrims dated from a papal bull of Eugene III (1145-1153) and in a bull dated 25th. June 1154 the Pope Anastacio IV confirmed papal protection for the Hospital of Altopascio and its possessions. Popes Alexander III (1169), Lucian III (1181-1185), Urban III (1185-1187), Clement III (1187) and Celestine III (1191-1197) confirmed this papal recognition. On 26th October 1216, Pope Honorius III recognised the previous papal bulls and granted the Order autonomy and the right to elect their own Grand Master.
On the 5th April 1239, Pope Gregory IX granted the Order a 'Rule', namely the same rule as that of St. John of Jerusalem and ordered that, in all its houses, brothers and knights world-wide should obey it, at the same time making clear that this gave the Order of St. John of Jerusalem (Known as the Knights Hospitallers and later the Order of Malta) no rights whatsoever to the Order of St. James of Altopascio.
The Order had also been given Imperial recognition, first by Frederick I (1152-1190)
then by Henry VI (1190-1197) and then by Frederick II in a Charter dated 2nd. April 1244. Charles IV in a charter dated 10th. February 1369 confirmed the charters of Frederick I and Henry VI and took under Imperial protection the Order and Hospital of St. James of Altopascio and all its goods and possessions. It should be noted that in France and possibly elsewhere ex-members of the Templars quietly joined the Order.
This Charter of 1369 is particularly important as it recognises amongst other things:
The Title of the Order and its possessions.
The legal Rule of the Order and its privileges, in particular the right of the Order to extract subterranean water, the right to mine and specifically the right and duty to construct a bridge over the river 'Arno Bianco', "So that all may pass without let or hindrance over the river".
The right of its members and brothers to pass freely anywhere in the Empire without paying taxes for portage both for themselves and their goods and exempts the Order from all taxes. Ordered that no Archbishop, Duke, Marquis, Count, Viscount or other noble, nor any Nuncio or Imperial Legate, nor any civic authority, nor any person noble, humble, ecclesiastical nor secular should infringe these rights and Imperial Decrees and that they should aid the members of the Order wherever possible, grant them hospitality in whatever place so as not to impede or hinder the "Poor of Christ".
(14) (Note the use of the same words as applied to the Templars).
In 1463 Pope Pius II ( 1458 - 1464 ) had decided to try and fan the embers of the crusading zeal and make the fight against the Turks the centrepiece of his Pontificate, to recapture Constantinople (Byzantium), to re-establish the Latin Kingdom of Romania, to re-unite the Roman and Byzantine Churches and finally to launch an all out attack to recapture Jerusalem. To do this he needed money and apart from his new Alum Monopoly he looked around for other ways of raising money and found various Orders who were wealthy and could be plundered to fund his crusade.
Amongst them was the Order of St. James of Altopascio and on 8th. August 1463 Pope Pius II attempted to abolish the Order by Papal Bull and demanded that all revenues be sent to the Order of St. Mary of Bethlehem, recently founded by him to be the Bankers for the Crusade ( See the work of Raymond E. Role MA from the documents in the possession of the Library at Altopascio ). The Grand Master of the Order, Giovanni Capponi, of a Florentine family, contested this and asked the Medicis to help and the Grand Commander in France asked Rene d'Anjou for his help, as there was a very powerful French branch in Rene's domains. The Capponis had on occasions supported the Medicis and on occasion had opposed them, but in this case Cosimo was willing to help in return I suspect for some say in the Order.
It seems likely that a deal was struck whereby Rene would send and finance troops
to fight the Turks in Serbia in return for the Order in France coming under his protection and the revenues in France coming to the Ordre du Lys. Cosimo de Medici probably did a similar deal in Tuscany. At all events, when Pius died on 14th. August 1464, two weeks after the death of Cosimo, the Bull was annulled and in 1472 Pope Sixtus IV, a great friend of Piero de Medici, ceded the administration of the Order of St. James of Altopascio in Tuscany to the Capponi family.
The Medicis became hereditary Dukes of Florence in 1530, at the same time as the second Medici Pope, Clement VII, was sitting on the Papal throne, and in 1552 Cosimo I, the second Medici Duke, took over control of the Order of St. James in Tuscany and appointed his second son, Cardinal Giovanni de Medici to be its Grand Master. In France the Order had adopted a red hood and belt with a gold Tau Cross (Van Duren in his book on the Orders of Chivalry calls them hammers) on the hood and although they continued to elect their own Grand Commander, were by now under the control of the Ordre du Lys and its Grand Master (Ferrante de Gonzaga, a cousin of the Medici Dukes).
The so called "Golden Bull" of the Emperor Charles IV had already eliminated papal interference in the Empire, particularly it excluded the Pope's right to act as vicar during elections to the Imperial throne and the Pope's supposed right to examine rival claimants to the Imperial Purple (see Encyclopaedia Britannica - Golden Bull). Now the Roman Emperor, Charles V (1519-1556), confirmed all the previous Imperial Charters and in his own Charter elevated the Knights of the Order to the category of other Knights Hospitallers and at the same time made the branches in each of the other countries autonomous to a large extent. Many monarchs had granted their own Charters to the Order. Thus for example the Order had houses in France, Navarre, Lorraine, the Dauphine, England, Scotland and Corsica as well as in other parts of Italy. Philip IV of France had granted the Order a charter in about 1300, James II of Aragon and Rene d'Anjou in 1465 and his Grandson Rene de Lorraine became Grand Master of the combined Orders of the Lys, the Crescent and St. James in France in 1485. Edward VI confirmed an earlier Charter to the Order in England.
The legal position of the Order had also changed. It was now an independent Order recognised as such by the Holy Roman Empire and subject and owing service only to the Emperor, (Mittelbaren des reichs), with its Knights becoming Knights of the Empire (Reichsritter) (15).
The Order was not however given a seat or vote on the Imperial Council, nor did its Grand Master become a Prince of the Empire as did the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (Now Knights of Malta), instead its knights became 'Junior nobility of the Empire' ('Petite noblesse') with its Grand Master being granted the Title 'Most Noble' (See 'Ordnung des Regiment de Augusta' of 1500). In consequence the Order was now an Independent and Sovereign Order within the Empire and its local Grand Commanders were able to take their own decisions.
In 1569, Cosimo I, Duke of Florence was created Grand Duke of Tuscany by Pope Pius V. He set about creating a powerful Tuscan Navy and a new body of Knights called the Military Order of Santo Stefano, into which he enrolled his two illegitimate sons Cosimo and Lorenzo. On 28th. February 1587, in total contravention of the Imperial Edict, Pope Sixtus issued a Bull annulling the Order of St. James at the request of the Medicis. There was at the same time an attempt to take over the Orders of both the Lys and St. James in France and to bring them all under the control of Santo Stefano. By now however the Lys was no longer in the pay of the Medicis and the Scots, who had regained control of the order of the Lys, did not see eye to eye with the Medicis.
The Order in Lorraine and Scotland had already accepted the head of the Lys as their Grand Master and Robert de St. Clair was easily able to fight off this attempted take-over. It is a moot point as to whether the Pope had any authority whatsoever over an Independent Imperial Order; but if he did, it was only over the ability of the Clergy to join such an order as both the Charters of Frederick II and Charles V specifically forbade any 'Ecclesiastical infringement of the Order's rights'. Certainly the Order's Chapters in France, Scotland and England took not the slightest notice and continued to act according to the Imperial Charters. The French Order gradually merged with the Ordre du Lys and the English Order continuing independently at its headquarters on the outskirts of London at Middlesex until late in the XVII century. It lost much of its wealth under Cromwell and in the reign of James II & VII eventually joined with the Order of the Lys to become known as the 'Hospital of St. James of Altopascio and Knights of the Lys'.
Today there exists a 'Knights of the Tau Cross' in Altopascio, which is a reconstituted Order and the Order of St. James of Altopascio within the Order of the Fleur de Lys, which is a continuation of the French, Scottish and English branches of the original Order. Its Grand Master ex-Officio is the Sovereign Grand Commander of the Fleur de Lys and since 2000, the Order of St. James is granted as an Order of Merit to members of the Fleur de Lys.
Order of the Crescent
In 1448 Rene had founded yet another Crusading Order, The Military Order of the Crescent. Just as the Order of the Lys was composed mostly of Scots, so the Order of the Crescent was composed mostly of French Aristocrats. The first documents of the Order date from Sunday 17th. July 1451 when the Statutes of the Order were given. The Order was dedicated to St. Maurice and its Chapel still exists today being the South Transept of the Cathedral at Angers. (See Nouvelle Histoire Genealogique de L'Auguste Maison de France, "Les Valois" by Patrick van Kerrebrouck, section Ducs d' Anjou, Rene dit " Le Bon", also the complete works of King Rene by Le Comte de Quatrebarbes 1845).
The original members include, besides Rene himself, the Duke of Calabre and the Comte de Vaudemont (Rene's sons), the Sieur de Beauvau, Grand Seneschal of Provence and Anjou and the Sforza, Duke of Milan, by now the Commander of the Company of the Lys. It also includes Jacobo Antonio Marcello of Venice who together with the Sforzas were members of the Order of the Lys, as well as the Sieur de Loges (or Lorges) whose only daughter, or possibly grand-daughter, was to marry Georges de Montgomery, son of Rene de Montgomery (1464 - 86), godson of Rene d'Anjou, and who became Seigneur de Lorges in his wife's name and was to accompany Charles VIII to Naples in 1495. Rene de Montgomery (The Elder) had married Jeanne d'Harcourt and obtained from her father the ancient Montgomery lands in Normandy and their daughter, Jeanne d'Harcourt de Montgomery, married Rene de Lorraine, grandson of Rene d'Anjou by his daughter Yolande de Bar, and who became known as Rene de Bar et Lorraine and who in turn became Sovereign Grand Commander of the Lys.
Rene de Montgomery (The Younger) married Lione de Loddes in Blois. Rene de Lorraine married secondly Philippe de Gueldres. James II of Scotland (1437-60) married Mary de Gueldres (See genealogy - Oxford History of the British Monarchy).
At some stage, the Order of the Crescent disappears or was suppressed by a Pope (Date and source unknown), at all events it eventually disappears and its members or their descendants appear in the Order of the Lys.
(1) Montgomery, H. (2001) - The Montgomery Millennium p.(7) – Megatrend, Belgrade & London. Also documents from the Clan Sinclair trust kindly shown to me by Maj. Niven Sinclair.
(2) The Seal of Rene d'Anjou as Sovereign of the Order from a photocopy in the possession of the Order.
(3) As a matter of interest Charles VII in December 1429 granted Joan of Arc's brothers letters of nobility and the name Du Lis. See Fox-Davies A.C. (1985) - A complete Guide to Heraldry (Revised Edition 1985), p.207, Bloomsbury Books, London.
(4) Forbes-Leith, The Scots Men-at-Arms & Life-Guards in France, vol.(i) pp.35-47
(5) Daniel, Histoire de la milice Francoise, vol.(ii) p. 170 also Baigent & Leigh (1989) - The Temple & the Lodge, p. 104, Jonathan Cape, London
(6) The Fleur-de-Lys Obelisk from a print in Asboth Janos, (1890) - An Official Tour through Bosnia-Herzogovina, English translation, p. 110,London, 1890. (See also Viestnik Hrv. Archoeol. Druztva).
Asboth was an official of the Austro-Hungarian court who was making an official journey through newly acquired territories. His drawings are probably more important than his comments.
(8) The Bosnian gravestones were associated with the Bogomils by Evans, A.J. (1878) – Through Bosnia and Herzegovina on foot during the insurrection, pp.174 –177, London. See also Stoyanov, Y.
(1994) – The Hidden Tradition in Europe p. 208, Penguin, London, UK. Also Solovjev, A. (1954) –
Cahier d'Etudes Cathares, 18 pp. 92 – 114. For the contrary case see Wenzel, M. (1965) – Ukransi motivi na steccima, Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Yuri Stoyanov does not himself come out on one side or the other merely comments on other scholars' opinions.
(9) Hibbert, C. (1979) – The Rise and Fall of the House of Medici, p. 79, Penguin Books, London,UK
(10) Ibid. p. 85
(11) The Margrave of Tuscany was held by the family of Canossa in the 11th. Century and Boniface of Canossa held the fief of Mantua. The last Margrave in her own right was Matilda who died in 1167. Thereafter Mantua became the fief of the Bonacolsi family until 1328 when they were replaced forcibly by the Gonzagas. See Encyclopaedia Britannica, Vol. 7, p. 798
(12) Actas da 1a. Conferencia do Mediterraneo, 'As Ordens de Cavalaria e O Mediterraneo', Lisboa, Setembro de 1996.
(13) Role, R.E., (1996)- Research into the Orders of the Fleur-de-Lys and St. James of Altopascio faxed to Dr. Hugh Montgomery and based upon documents in the Archives of the library at Altopascio.
(14) See note 12
(15) See note 12
(16) The Sarajevo Haggadah, (1983) - Prosveta, Belgrade & Svjetlost, Sarajevo – Yugoslavia
(17) Montgomery, H. op. cit. Coats of Arms
(18) Anstruther, Ian (1963) - The Knight & the Umrella, Bles Ltd., London
(19) Ferguson, J. (1899) – The Scots Brigade 1572-1782, T & A Constable, Edinburgh. Vol. I,
1572–1697. Vol. II, 1698-1782
Other references used or shown in the text:
Cannon,J. & Griffiths, R. (1988) - Oxford Illustrated History of the British Monarchy, Oxford University Press, Oxford & New York.
Revue Cantonale de Livarot (1987),- Montgomery, 1000 ans d'Histoire, Areo, Paris, France.
Photographs of the Losen Crois sant & Losen du Lys in Angers by Hugh Montgomery.
Photographs of the Statue of Rene and the Castle in Angers by Hugh Montgomery.
The Fleur-de-Lys headstones from photographs taken by Ivana Jovanovic & Hugh Montgomery outside the Ethnic Museum in Belgrade in October 2000.
Research by Prof. Yuri Stoyanov, Yates Fellow, at the Warburg Institute of the University of London
on Orders of Chivalry and kindly shown to Hugh Montgomery prior to publication.
This History has been researched by Dr. Hugh Montgomery over a period of several years and the copyright has been gifted by him to the Order.