A Brief History of Chivalry

The first Orders of Chivalry were formed during the 11th Century. The first of these was the Military Order of Malta. From this Order, others were formed such as the Order of Saint John (Knights Hospitaller) in 1080, the Military Order of the Temple of Jerusalem (Knights Templar) in 1119, the Order of Saint Lazarus in 1100, and the Order of Saint Mary’s Hospital in Jerusalem (Teutonic Knights) in 1190.

These orders were groups of Knights who banded together to create their own fraternal organization. These organizations were either sponsored by the Monarch of their home countries, or by the Pope (who is a sovereign power of himself). Each member of their organizations typically took vows and in essence became warrior monks. Their warrior nature (because they were all Knights their profession was war) gave the Pope an opportunity to use them as the military arm of the Church. Each one of them had a different charter, or reason for being in existence. For example, the Knights Templar were the guardians of pilgrims going to the holy land. These Templar Knights set up safe houses for pilgrims to seek shelter and safety within. The Templars also protected the pilgrims by setting up the first banking system. Instead of attracting bandits in search of stealing from the pilgrims, the Templars took the money from the pilgrims and gave them a note for how much the Templars were holding for them. Once at their destination, the Templars would give the money back to the pilgrim who gave their money to the Templars.

These Orders of Chivalry, acting as an arm of the Church, received donations. After time, the Orders of Chivalry became wealthy organizations. So large was the wealth and power of these Orders, Monarchs were threatened by them. The power and wealth of the Orders allowed them to gain lands of their own, giving them the ability to legitimately call themselves Sovereign. Monastic Orders like the Knights Templar were given special privileges so they only answered to the Pope and need not answer to any Monarch in whatever land they resided.

In 1291, when the last stronghold of Christendom fell to the Arabs, the missions of the Orders of Chivalry became obsolete. They now had neither hospitals to run, pilgrims to protect, or missions to achieve. Some Orders, like the Teutonic Knights, survived because they had already settled in eastern Europe. Others, like the Knights Hospitaller, conquered Malta and became a naval power and continued to wage war against the Arabs and later the Turks. Yet others, like the Knights Templar, tried to make a transition to become bankers (they also tried to merge with the Order of Saint John). However, because of their wealth, the French Monarchy falsely accused them of heresy and successfully disbanded the Order in 1312 (the way the King did this is how Friday the 13th became an unlucky day).

This did not last indefinitely, however. The Order of Saint John (Order of Malta) lost its sovereignty in 1798 and is now dedicated to medical and charitable activities. The Teutonic Order became a simple religious order in 1929. The Order of Saint Lazarus split into two factions which have now reunited.


Codes of Chivalry

Many different codes of chivalry have been set down; most contain the following eight issues:

  1. A knight shall defend the Church.
  2. A knight shall respect all weaknesses and shall constitute himself the defender of the weak.
  3. A knight shall love the country in which he was born.
  4. A knight shall not recoil before his enemy.
  5. A knight shall perform scrupulously his feudal duties, if they are not contrary to the laws of God and the Orthodox church.
  6. A knight shall never lie, and shall remain faithful to his pledged word.
  7. A knight shall be generous and give largess to everyone.
  8. A knight shall be everywhere and always the champion of the Right and the Good against Injustice and Evil.

The Virtues of Knighthood

Prowess: To seek excellence in all endeavors expected of a knight, martial and otherwise, seeking strength to be used in the service of justice, rather than in personal hyperbole. 1 Chronicles 5:18, Psalms 89:19, Proverbs 3:26, Psalms 18: 29, 32, Deuteronomy 31:6, 1 Corinthians 9:26–27, Isaiah 43:2–3, Psalms 28:7, 1 Timothy 4:8

Justice: Seek always the path of right, unencumbered by bias or personal interest. Recognize that the sword of justice can be a terrible thing, so it must be tempered by humanity and mercy. Proverbs 31:8–9, Luke 13:24, Proverbs 14:31, Deuteronomy 16:20, Psalms 41:1–2, James 2:2–4, Hosea 2:19, Luke 12:33–34, Hebrews 13:17, Isaiah 1:17

Loyalty: Be known for unwavering commitment to the people and ideals you choose to live by. There are many places where compromise is expected; loyalty is not among them. Psalms 37: 5, Psalms 86:2, Job 35:11, 2 Chronicles 16:9, Hebrews 13:17, Luke 22:27. 2 Chronicles 16:9

Defense: The knight is sworn by oath to defend his liege lord and those who depended upon him. Seek always to defend your nation, your family, and those to whom you have sworn to protect. James 1:27, Nehemiah 4:8, Romans 15:1, Titus 3:1, 2 Samuel 10:12, Psalms 72: 1,4, Proverbs 2:7–8, Psalms 35:23, Galatians 6:2, Mark 9:35

Courage: Being a knight often means choosing the more difficult path, the personally expensive one. Be prepared to make personal sacrifices in service of the precepts and people you value. At the same time, a knight should seek wisdom to see that stupidity and courage are cousins. Courage also means taking the side of truth in all matters, rather than seeking the expedient lie. Seek the truth whenever possible, but remember to temper justice with mercy, for the pure truth can bring grief. Psalms 27:3, Matthew 10:28, Isaiah 32:17, John 14:27, Hebrews 4:16, John 16:33, Psalms 46:1, Hebrews 13:6

Faith: A knight must stand firm in himself and in his beliefs, for this faith roots him and gives hope against the despair. John 3:16, John 20:29, John 6:47, John 14:2, Hebrews 11:6, James 20:29, Hebrews 11:1, James 2:18

Humility: Value first the contributions of others; do not boast of your own accomplishments, let others do this for you. Tell the deeds of others before your own, according them the renown rightfully earned through virtuous deeds. In this way the office of knighthood is well done and glorified, helping not only the gentle spoken of but also all those who may be called knights. Matthew 18:4, James 3:13, Philippians 2:3, Matthew 6:1, Proverbs 22:4, Psalms 147:6, James 4:10, Psalms 25:6, Psalms 149:4, Proverbs 15:33

Generosity: Be generous in so far as your resources allow; kindness used in this way counters covetousness. Proverbs 14:21, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Psalms 37:25-26, Matthew 6:3-4, Luke 11:41, Mark 9:41, Acts 20:35, Luke 6:38; 10:2; 22:27

Nobility: Seek great stature of character by holding to the virtues and duties of a knight, realizing that though the ideals cannot be reached, the quality of striving towards them ennobles the spirit. Nobility also has the tendency to influence others, offering a compelling example of what can be done in the service of rightness. 1 Peter 2:9, Titus 2:7–8, 1 Timothy 4:12, Proverbs 10:9, Ephesians 5:15, Job 17:9, Song of Solomon 3:7, Matthew 25:40, Romans 12:17, Matthew 5:5,9, Isaiah 32:8

Franchise: Seek to emulate the Code as sincerely as possible, not for the reason of personal gain but because it is right. Do not restrict your exploration to a small world, but seek to infuse every aspect of your life with these qualities. Should you succeed in even a tiny measure then you will be well remembered for your quality and virtue. Matthew 3:8, Philippians 3:14, 1 Timothy 4:15, Ephesians 5:9, Philippians 3:13–14, Proverbs 4:18, Philippians 1:9, 1 Corinthians 9:24, Matthew 5:41–42, 2 Chronicles 31:21, Matthew 7:20–21, 2 Peter 1:5–6


A Brief History of Emperor Constantine

It is believed that chivalry began with the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century. The Emperor faced a battle with Manentius. On October 28, 312 A.D., just before the battle he had a divinely inspired vision of a flaming cross in the heavens with an inscription in hoc signo vinces (in this sign you will conquer). Subsequently, he had a new imperial standard made in this design as it was carried into battle and guarded by fifty elite solders called the Praepositi Laberorum. Constantine was victorious under this sign, and the first Christian empire of Byzantium was founded. The fifty warriors were organized into a Sacred Knightly Guard, called Torquati (Golden Knights) and Perfectissimi (Most Perfect Knights). Thus, it is believed, was formed the first knightly or chivalric order.

The idea of knighthood and chivalry particularly flourished after the first millennium as part of the development of feudal states. It grew into a contract between the Lord of an area and chosen trained warriors. In this mutually beneficial contract the knight acquired status and land in return for service to his lord. These services included military support as well as service as police and social worker for the local area. The basic ethical code of chivalry stressed justice and care for the needy and the defenseless. Services to a local lord and to the church grew up at the same time. The Crusades began as church related orders simply protected and cared for pilgrims to the Holy Land. These orders later on also became involved in major wars surrounding the Holy Land.

 

The Historic Orthodox Christian Chivalric Ideal

There was always a chivalric idealistic element in knighthood. Today, there are more orders, knights and dames than there ever had been in the past. This is partly because of the growth in population. Partly also, because over time the military, warlike element has faded and disappeared leaving the idealistic element as supreme. Also, what was formerly male dominated has shifted to the point that chivalric orders are now equally for males and females. A further development of different kinds of orders has also taken place. There are dynastic orders, which are awarded to recognize supporters of a given dynasty, such as Britain's Royal Victorian Order.

The most common type of knightly orders are essentially recognition given by a state for some noteworthy contribution to the state, such as Britain’s Order of the Bath or the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. The purpose of these state orders is to recognize people seen as being superior and noble per se. Then there is a smaller number of chivalric orders which rest on some kind of service. Here service itself is recognized as noble.


Our Sovereign Chivalric Order

Today, there are many orders in both Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Most of these resemble state orders which recognize personal status. Our Sovereign Chivalric Order recognizes actual service and individual contribution to any church, religion, or cause. Status is this order rests solely on an individual's service or contribution. Simply, the Order recognizes those of good will. Some chivalric orders are of a single class, i.e. all are equally knights and dames. Others are of a hierarchy of classes as in this Chivalric Order.

The Order’s chivalric award is classified as a decoration. Thus holders of the award can use their respective postnominal.

There are two categories for all admissions to the Order at the rank of Knight or above, these being: Category of Grace and Category of Justice. The Category of Justice is restricted to postulants who have proved hereditary nobility from each of their four grandparents or, when paternal line alone is used, from their paternal great-grandfather. Those members who are unable to furnish proof of hereditary nobility will be admitted in the Category of Grace.

 

Levels of Honor

  • Postulant of the Red Cross of Constantine: The holder is entitled to use the postnominal letters PRCC.
  • Knight of the Red Cross of Constantine / Dame of the Red Cross of Constantine: The holder is entitles to use the postnominal letters KRCC.
  • Knight Companion of the Red Cross of Constantine / Dame Companion of the Red Cross of Constantine: The holder is entitled to use the postnominal letters KCRCC or DCRCC.
  • Knight Grand Companion of the Red Cross of Constantine / Dame Grand Companion of the Red Cross of Constantine: The holder is entitled to use the postnominal letters KGCRCC or DGCRCC.
  • Knight of the Holy Sepulcher and Saint John the Evangelist / Dame of the Holy Sepulcher and Saint John the Evangelist: The holder is entitled to use the postnominal letters KHSSJ or DHSSJ.
  • Sovereign Prince, Knight Grand Master of the Red Cross of Constantine / Sovereign Princess, Dame Grand Master of the Red Cross of Constantine: The holder is entitled to use the postnominal letters KGMRCC or DGMRCC.

Only authorized members may purchase these items of Regalia, please be advised. Please contact the Ambassador’s office for consideration and payment estimations.


The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all ages. Light of Light, true God of true God, begotten, not created, of one essence with the Father, through whom all things were made.

For us and for our salvation, He came down from heaven and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became man.

He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate, and He suffered and was buried.

On the third day He rose according to the Scriptures.

He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. His kingdom will have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father, who together with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who spoke through the prophets.

In one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church.

I acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.

I expect the resurrection of the dead.

And the life of the age to come.

Amen


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