10. The Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem
The Order of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem was a Catholic military order founded by crusaders around 1119 at a leper hospital in Jerusalem, Kingdom of Jerusalem, whose care became its original purpose, named after patron saint Lazarus. It was recognized by King Fulk of Jerusalem in 1142 and canonically recognized as hospitaller and military order of chivalry under the rule of Saint Augustine in the Papal bull Cum a Nobis Petitur of Pope Alexander IV in 1255. The titular seat was successively situated at Jerusalem, Saint Jean d’Acre and – after the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusalem the order split in two main branches in Italy and in Château Royal de Boigny sur Bionne in France. In 1572, the Order of Saint Lazarus in Italy was merged with the Order of Saint Maurice under the Royal House of Savoy to form the Order of Saints Maurice and Lazarus, which still exists until today, widely recognised as a dynastic successor.
9. The Knights of the Cross with the Red Star
The Knights of the Cross with the Red Star or Military Order of the Crusaders of the Red Star is a religious Order originating from Bohemia, devoted mainly to offering medical care. Throughout its history it was accustomed to the use of arms, a custom which was confirmed in 1292 by an ambassador of Pope Nicholas IV. The grand master is still invested with a sword at his induction into office, and the congregation has been recognized as a military order by Popes Clement X and Innocent XII, as well as by several Holy Roman Emperors.
8. The Order of Saint Stephen
The Order of Saint Stephen is a Roman Catholic Tuscan dynastic military order founded in 1561. The order was created by Cosimo I de’ Medici, first Grand Duke of Tuscany. The last member of the Medici dynasty to be a leader of the order was Gian Gastone de Medici in 1737. The order was permanently abolished in 1859 by the annexation of Tuscany to the Kingdom of Sardinia.The former Kingdom of Italy and the current Italian Republic also did not recognize the order as a legal entity but tolerates it as a private body.
7. The Order of the Dragon
The Order of the Dragon was a monarchical chivalric order for selected nobility, founded in 1408 by Sigismund who was King of Hungary (r. 1387–1437) at the time and later became Holy Roman Emperor (r. 1433–1437). It was fashioned after the military orders of the Crusades, requiring its initiates to defend the cross and fight the enemies of Christianity, in particular the Ottoman Empire. The Order flourished during the first half of the 15th century, primarily in Germany and Italy. After Sigismund’s death in 1437, its importance declined in Western Europe, but after the Fall of Constantinople in 1453, it continued to play a role in Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia and Wallachia which bore the brunt of the Ottoman incursions.
6. The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary
The Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, commonly the Knights of Saint Mary, was a military order founded in 1261. The rule of the order was based on that of the Augustinians, but by a precedent set by the Order of Santiago and the Militia of Jesus Christ, members could marry and did not live in communal poverty. Their chief task appears to have been the pacification of the Lombard cities, racked by factional strife. In this they were largely unsuccessful, due in no small part to their political allegiance to the Church. The unique position of the order and the nature of its rule has led to its being denied full status by historians, who have sometimes labelled it a mere brotherhood.
5. The Livonian Brothers of the Sword
The Livonian Brothers of the Sword was a military order established by the third bishop of Riga, Bishop Albert of Riga , in 1202. Pope Innocent III sanctioned the establishment in 1204 for the second time. The membership of the order comprised German “warrior monks” who fought Baltic pagans in the area of modern-day Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Alternative names of the Order include Christ Knights, Sword Brethren, and The Militia of Christ of Livonia.
4. The Teutonic Order
The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, commonly the Teutonic Order, is a Catholic religious order founded as a military order c. 1190 in Acre, Kingdom of Jerusalem. Purely religious since 1929, it still confers limited honorary knighthoods. The order was formed to aid Christians on their pilgrimages to the Holy Land and to establish hospitals. Its members have commonly been known as the Teutonic Knights, having a small voluntary and mercenary military membership, serving as a crusading military order for protection of Christians in the Holy Land and the Baltics during the Middle Ages
3. Knights Hospitaller
The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem, also known as the Knights Hospitalier or Hospitallers, is the medieval Catholic military order that continued into the contemporary Sovereign Military Order of Malta, which remains a sovereign subject of international law. It was headquartered variously in the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Rhodes and Malta, until it became known by its current name. The Hospitallers arose, in the early 12th century, at the time of the great monastic reformation, as a group of individuals associated with an Amalfitan hospital in the Muristan district of Jerusalem, dedicated to John the Baptist and founded around 1023 by Gerard Thom to provide care for sick, poor or injured pilgrims coming to the Holy Land. After the conquest of Jerusalem in 1099 during the First Crusade, the organisation became a religious and military order under its own Papal charter, charged with the care and defence of the Holy Land.
2. Order of the Holy Sepulchre
The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, also called Knights of the Holy Sepulchre, is a Roman Catholic order of knighthood under the protection of the Holy See. The pope is sovereign of the order. Founded as Milites Sancti Sepulcri attached to the Augustinian Canons Regular of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, recognised in 1113 by Papal bull of Pope Paschal II and of Pope Calistus II in 1122. It traces its roots to circa 1099 under the Frankish Duke Godfrey of Bouillon, “Defender of the Holy Sepulchre”, one of the leaders of the First Crusade and first ruler of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. With the fall of the Kingdom of Jerusallem the prerogative to honor Knights of the Holy Sepulchre was transferred to the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land, the highest Catholic authority in the Holy Land during the Middle Ages. In 1496, Pope Alexander VI vested the Grand Magistry in the Papacy. In 1847, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem was restored by Pope Pius IX and the chivalric order was reorganized based on legal and spiritual ties to the Holy See. From 1949, Grand Masters have been Cardinals. It is the only order of chivalry, together with the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, that is recognised and protectedby the Holy See. The order today is estimated to have some 30,000 members in 60 Lieutenancies around the world, including monarchs, heads of state, and their consorts. The current Cardinal Grand Master is Edwin Frederick O’Brien since 2011, and the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalemis Grand Prior. Its headquarters are situated at Palazzo Della Rovere and its official church in Sant’Onofrio al Gianicolo, both in Rome, close to the Vatican City.
1. Knights Templar
The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon or simply as Templars, was a Catholic military order recognized in 1139 by papal bull Omne Datum Optimum of the Holy See. The order was founded in 1119 and active from about 1129 to 1312. The order, which was among the wealthiest and most powerful, became a favored charity throughout Christendom and grew rapidly in membership and power. They were prominent in Christian finance. Templar knights, in their distinctive white mantles with a red cross, were among the most skilled fighting units of the Crusades. Non-combatant members of the order managed a large economic infrastructure throughout Christendom, developing innovative financial techniques that were an early form of banking, and building fortifications across Europe and the Holy Land. The Templars were closely tied to the Crusades; when the Holy Land was lost, support for the order faded. Rumours about the Templars’ secret initiation ceremony created distrust, and King Philip IV of France, deeply in debt to the order took advantage of the situation to gain control over them. In 1307, he had many of the order’s members in France arrested, tortured into giving false confessions, and burned at the stake. Pope Clement V disbanded the order in 1312 under pressure from King Philip.