The principle feature of the military order is the combination of military and religious ways of life. Some of them like the Knights of St John and the Knights of St Thomas also cared for the sick and poor. However they were not purely male institutions as nuns could attach themselves to a convent of the orders. One significant feature of the military orders is that clerical brothers could be, and indeed often were, subordinate to non-ordained brethren.
The role and function of the military orders has sometimes been obscured by the concentration on their military exploits in Syria, Palestine, Prussia, and Livonia. In fact they had extensive holdings and staff throughout Western Europe. The majority were laymen. They provided a conduit for cultural and technical innovation, for example the introduction of fulling into England by the Knights of St John, or the banking facilities of the Templars.
Joseph von Hammer in 1818 compared the Christian military orders, in particular the Templars, with certain Islamic models such as the shiite sect of Assassins. In 1820Jose Antonio Conde has suggested they were modelled on the ribat, a fortified religious institution which brought together a religious way of life with fighting the enemies of Islam. However popular such views may have become, others have criticised this view suggesting there were no such ribats around Palestine until after the military orders had been founded. Yet the innovation of fighting monks was something new to Christianity.
The modern era, from at least the 19th century to the present day, has seen the proliferation of bogus and self-styled orders. Bogus orders make fraudulent or unsubstantiable claims of ancient lineage while self-styled orders were not established by a legitimate and seated head of state. While all bogus orders are self-styled, not all self-styled orders are bogus.
Combat may take place under a certain set of rules or be unregulated.
Examples of rules include the Geneva Convention (covering the treatment of soldiers in war), medieval Chivalry (the code of many knightlyorders including the Knights of the Round Table of Arthurian legend), and the Marquess of Queensberry rules (covering boxing).
Combat in warfare involves two or more opposing military organizations, usually fighting for nations at war (although guerrilla warfare and suppression of insurgencies can fall outside this definition).
The Equestrian, Secular and Chapterial Order of Saint Joachim was established on the 20th of June, 1755 by fourteen nobles and distinguished military leaders of the Holy Roman Empire.
The Order of Saint Joachim passed the strict scrutiny and requirements for a knightlyorder set down by the British Royal College of Arms, which was confirmed by the King's Warrant in 1802, and granted Nelson permission to accept and wear the honour.
Today the Order provides for the establishment of Chapters or Commanderies in any country of the world under the control and authority of the Grand Chapter in the UK, where it operates as a registered charity, and under the authority of the Grand Master who is the Order's titular head.
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