THE HERALDIC REGULATIONS OF ORDERS OF KNIGHTHOOD
© Guy Stair Sainty
The practice of according particular heraldic devices or additions to the arms of members of Orders of Knighthood is an ancient one. Indeed, there are thirteenth century funereal monuments on tombs of knights of Saint John that provide early evidence of this. Although not codified until later, the badges of Orders were added to arms as a matter of custom almost as soon as arms themselves were used by knights and nobles. For knights of Saint John the arms of the Order - Gules, a Cross Argent - were quartered with their personal arms in the same fashion as Bishops quartered their Arms with those of their diocese. Later, the privilege of quartering the Arms of the Order was restricted to the highest ranks while knights surround their arms with the plain Ribbon (or a Rosary in the case of the professed) with the badge suspended therefrom. Knights of Justice (the first class) and Knights of Obedience (the second class) of the Order may superimpose the shield on the eight-pointed cross of the Order. Bailiffs may place the Order's Arms in chief.
The Arms of the 77th Prince & Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, Fra' Angelo de Mojana di Cologna (d. 1988) (painting BBH)
The privilege of placing the shield on the Cross of the Order was also assumed by the members of the non-Catholic Orders of Saint John. All the Johanniter Knights, whether of Justice or Honor, may use this privilege, and all Knights of the British Order of Saint John (the Most Venerable Order) may do likewise. This same practice was also adopted later by members of the Teutonic Order, and other religious-military Orders although generally restricted according to the rank in the Order.
I. HERALDRY AND THE ORDERS OF SAINT JOHN
2. HERALDRY AND THE GREAT COLLAR ORDERS
In the single rank Collar Orders - those in which the badge of membership was suspended from an ornate Collar - such as the Annunciation, and Golden Fleece, the Arms of members are surrounded by an image of the Collar of the Order with the device suspended. The shield of a Knight of the Garter is surrounded by a representation of the Garter inscribed with its motto, mimicking the central motif of the Order's star in which the Arms of England (the Cross of Saint George) are surrounded by the Garter. Some other Order's have adopted other signs of membership - knights of Saint Januarius, for example, may place their Arms, surrounded by the Collar from which the badge is supended, within a red mantle sewn with gold fleurs de lys and lined with ermine. This mantle is comparable to that of Grandees of Spain and Neapolitan and Sicilian Princes and Dukes.
(To be completed)